'Wives' in Oak Brook
Nearly penniless, Sir John Falstaff decides to court a pair of wealthy married women who turn the tables on the philandering knight in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," being staged outdoors by First Folio Theatre. Brian McCartney stars as Falstaff, with Patrice Egleston as Mistress Page and Lydia Berger Gray as Mistress Ford. Ensemble member Nick Sandys directs the production.
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Previews begin at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, at 1717 W. 31st. St., Oak Brook. The show opens July 12. $22-$37. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.
Golden age comedy
Neil Simon drew upon his experiences writing for Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows," a 1950s comedy-variety show, to inspire "Laughter on the 23rd Floor." Metropolis Performing Arts Centre revives the comedy in which assorted oddball writers struggle to put on a show while dealing with its temperamental star, cost cuts and meddling executives. David Belew directs.
Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 10, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. The show opens July 17. $30, $38. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
Steel Beam fundraiser
Folk singer Mark Dvorak, named Chicago's troubadour by WFMT 98.7-FM last year, headlines a Steel Beam Theatre benefit. Acoustic guitarists Ryan Caldwell and Ryan Worthy play during the light supper, after which Dvorak performs. Proceeds benefit the theater and its programs, including children's theater and workshops.
Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 11, at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. $40. (630) 587-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com.
• Griffin Theatre presents the Scottish drama "Men Should Weep" by Ena Lamont Stewart in its first American production in 30 years. Set during the Depression, the dramedy centers on the struggles of a poor Glasgow family. Ensemble member Robin Witt directs the production, which begins previews on Saturday, July 5, at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show opens July 13. (866) 811-4111 or griffintheatre.com.
• Performances begin Saturday, July 5, for Chicago Shakespeare Theater's production of the family-friendly musical "Seussical!" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The show, which combines bits from 14 Dr. Seuss tales, runs through Aug. 17 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.
• Gorilla Tango Theatre's adults-only parody "A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque" celebrates its third anniversary at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 5, at 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. To that end, Gorilla Tango offers a 20 percent discount through the end of July on tickets purchased in advance online. Use the code "happybirthday2014." (773) 598-4549 or gorillatango.com.
• Theater Oobleck inaugurates its two-year partnership with circus arts ensemble El Circo National de Puerto Rico to create a new work examining emigration with performances this weekend. Titled "SOS: A Summer Clown Cruise," the show is set on a marooned cruise ship in which the only survivors are the circus performers and audience members. The free, family-friendly event features clowning, music, acrobatics and dialogue in Spanish and English. Performances are at 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday, July 6-7, at Humboldt Park, east of the boathouse, 1359 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago. See theatreoobleck.com.
• Nothing Without a Company revives "Alice," Michael Monteiro Wise's promenade adaptation (meaning the audience stands or walks during the performance) of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." Performances take place Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 to Aug. 7 in Lincoln Park, at the corner of North Cannon Drive and Fullerton Avenue in Chicago. From Aug. 23-31, performances take place at the company's home in Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Admission is free, but reservations are required at nothingwithoutacompany.org.
• The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, stages its first Shakespeare play in its 13-year history. Kareem Bandealy stars as the titular "Othello," and Gift artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton plays his tormentor Iago in the production directed by Jonathan Berry. Previews begin Thursday, July 10. The show opens July 14. (773) 283-7071 or thegifttheatre.org.
• Performances begin Thursday, July 10, for 16th Street Theater's world premiere of EM Lewis' "The Gun Show," in which the playwright examines Americans' relationship with firearms through her own experiences. Juan Francisco Villa stars in the show, which runs through Aug. 2 at 6420 16th St., Berwyn. In other 16th Street Theater news, Deborah Stewart, Steppenwolf Theatre's former director of foundation and government relations, has been named managing director. (708) 795-6704 or 16thstreettheater.org.
• Previews begin Thursday, July 10, for the inaugural production by The Paradeigma Collective of "Shepherd's Daughter: A Joan of Arc Reimagining." Produced in association with The Chicago Mammals, the play by Whitney LaMora asks whether Saint Joan was a prophetic hero or a delusional child. Mora stars as Joan; Emily Sharp directs. It opens July 11 at Zoo Studios, 4001 N. Ravenswood, Suite 205, Chicago. See facebook.com/theparadeigma or brownpapertickets.com.
• The About Face Theatre Youth Ensemble teams up with the Chicago Park District to present the world premiere of "Checking Boxes," Shannon Matesky's play inspired by the true stories of immigrant members of the LGBTQ community. Free performances begin Thursday, July 10, at Washington Park, 5531 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago. July 17 and 18 performances take place at Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st. St., Chicago. July 24 and 25 performances take place at the Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., Chicago, and July 31 and Aug. 1 performances take place at Willye White Park, 1610 W. Howard St., Chicago. See aboutfacetheatre.com or nightoutintheparks.com.
• A rural family, whose members become wealthy after discovering oil on their land, falls prey to con artists in the "The Beverly Hillbillies, The Musical," a world premiere stage adaptation of the 1960s sitcom by Gregg Opelka (music and lyrics) and David Rodgers and Amanda Rodgers (book). The show begins previews Thursday, July 10, at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana. It opens July 13. (219) 836-3255 or theatreatthecenter.com.
• Performances of Dream Theatre Company's production of its signature piece "Anna, in the Darkness" continues at 5026 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Megan Merrill stars as a woman threatened by the residents of her small Texas town in this solo show by Dream Theatre artistic director Jeremy Menekseoglu. Performances run at 10 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 2. (773) 552-8616 or dreamtheatrecompany.com.
• Lifeline Theatre has extended its world premiere of "Monstrous Regiment," ensemble member Chris Hainsworth's adaptation of Terry Pratchett's fantasy novel. Performances continue through Aug. 3 at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (773) 761-4477 or lifetimetheatre.com.
• Wayward Productions has extended its world premiere "Burn the Black Dog," a reinterpretation of the Salem witch trials set at an upscale private high school for girls. Performances continue through July 19 at Luther Memorial Church, 2500 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago. See waywardproductions.org.
• Theo Ubique's original revue "A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters" has been extended through Aug. 31 at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (800) 595-4849 or theo-u.com.
• Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, added 7:30 p.m. performances of its Broadway-bound revival "This is Our Youth" on July 13 and 20. (312) 336-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
• Step Up Productions announced its 2014-2015 season, the first for which it will be Jeff Award eligible. The season begins Oct. 3 with the Chicago-area premiere of "Dead Accounts," Theresa Rebeck's 2012 comedy about a man whose unexpected return to his family home after several years in New York City causes an uproar. That's followed by the company's second annual "Holidaze" (Nov. 21-Dec. 21) comprised of one-acts showcasing the chaos of the holiday season. Performances begin Jan. 21, 2015, for "Handicap This!" a two-man show starring Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach that aims to raise awareness about people with disabilities and the value of inclusion. The season concludes with a revival of Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart" (May 1-31, 2015), about the reunion of three estranged sisters after the death of their father. Performances take place at several Chicago venues. Single tickets go on sale later this year. See stepupproductions.org for information.
• The second season of the Three Oaks Theater Festival -- founded by Chicago theater veterans Tim Evans, Marc Grapey and John Stoops -- begins Saturday, July 5, at several venues in Harbor Country, Michigan. First up is the all-ages production of "A Piano With Three Tales," a combination piano recital and puppet show by Blair Thomas & Co. Also on July 5, magician and House Theatre ensemble member Dennis Watkins brings "The Magic Parlour" to Michigan for two performances. That's followed by a staged reading of Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart," featuring the TimeLine Theatre cast, at 7 p.m. July 12, to benefit the festival. "Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie," featuring Jeff Award winner David M. Lutken, runs July 18 and 19. That's followed by Jackalope Theatre's "Exit Strategy," about the repercussions of a Chicago high school closing, on July 26 and 27. The season concludes with Brad Armacost playing small-time gambler Erie Smith in Seanachai Theatre Company's revival of Eugene O'Neill's one-act play "Hughie" on Aug. 1 and 2. (866) 811-4111 or threeoaksfestival.com.
• Two more Goodman Theatre productions were selected for international theater festivals this year. "Pedro Paramo," a 2013 premiere in collaboration with Cuba's Teatro Buendia, was featured last month at the Encuentro Festival in Montreal, Quebec. Also, Mary Zimmerman's recently concluded production of "The White Snake" will be featured in November during China's second Wuzhen Theatre Festival near Shanghai.