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updated: 12/8/2017 3:39 PM

Theater events: 'It's a Wonderful Life' returns to Improv Playhouse

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  • David Brian Stuart directs and stars in Improv Playhouse's staged radio play adaptation of the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life."

    David Brian Stuart directs and stars in Improv Playhouse's staged radio play adaptation of the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life."
    Courtesy of Improv Playhouse

 
 

On the air

The Improv Playhouse Radio Players reprise their radio production of director Frank Capra's beloved "It's A Wonderful Life" complete with sound effects and 1940s-era commercials. Executive producer David Brian Stuart directs and stars as George Bailey, a big-hearted everyman from a small town who learns just how profoundly he affected his friends and family. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8-9 and 15-16, at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. $5-$20. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.

Seasonal satire

The Second City Touring Company brings its "Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue" -- which sends up everything from holiday films to family gatherings to carols -- at the McAninch Arts Center this weekend. 6 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. $32-$46. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

'Mr. Show Business'

Black Ensemble Theater concludes 2017 with the premiere of "Sammy: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.," a bio-musical about the famed song-and-dance man who went from vaudeville to Broadway to Las Vegas. Michael Adkins stars as Davis in writer/director Daryl D. Brooks' salute to the man known as Mr. Show Business. Previews begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show opens Dec. 17. $45-$65. (773) 769-4451 or blackensemble.org.

Tim Benker performs "An Idiot's Guide to Fixing Stoopid" Monday, Dec. 11, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Tim Benker performs "An Idiot's Guide to Fixing Stoopid" Monday, Dec. 11, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Self-help humor

Comedian Tim Benker imparts life lessons as part of "An Idiot's Guide to Fixing Stoopid," the latest show in the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's comedy series. Benker uses multimedia in this one-man show offering "quick fixes on how to stop the spread of stoopid." 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $30, $35. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

Theater events

• Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament -- the dinner-theater venue showcasing jousting, sword-fighting and other knightly disciplines -- has revised its storyline for the first time in five years. Beginning this week, a queen presides over the festivities at the Schaumburg castle, located at 2001 N. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. The production includes new music, costumes and lighting. See medievaltimes.com/chicago.

• Trap Door Theatre presents "They" by early 20th-century Polish writer Stanislaw I. Witkiewicz. Adapted and translated by Daniel Gerould and C.S. Durer, the play is about a secret government committee destroying masterworks by renowned artists. Performances run through Jan. 13 at 1655 W. Cortland St., Chicago. (773) 384-0494 or trapdoortheatre.com.

• Performances begin Friday, Dec. 8, for "The Character Assassination of Donald Trump," Eric Coleman's vaudeville-inspired account of impeachment. The production runs Friday through Dec. 29 at Collaboraction Theatre, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (424) 212-1595.

• "Bad Hombres," a new sketch comedy revue celebrating Latino culture, opens Friday, Dec. 8, at iO Theater, 1501 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago. (312) 929-2401 or ioimprov.com/chicago.

• Congo Square Theatre brings "Nativity," its unique tale of the Christmas story, to the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago. Performances are at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. See congosquaretheatre.org.

• Chamber Opera Chicago presents a double bill of family-friendly, holiday-themed operas at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 and 17, at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. "The Miracle of Light," a one-act opera by Victoria Bond, tells the story of a boy learning about Hanukkah's miracles. Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" is the story of a shepherd boy whose life changes after he observes a special star. (312) 988-9000 or chamberoperachicago.org.

• Sex expert Dr. Lauren Streicher and educator Terri Kapsalis discuss the topic of "female hysteria" during a panel Sunday, Dec. 10. The discussion follows the 2 p.m. matinee of TimeLine Theatre's "In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play," Sarah Ruhl's play about how Thomas Edison inspired a 19th-century doctor to create a machine to treat the aforementioned "female hysteria." The performance and panel take place at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 327-5252 or timelinetheatre.com.

• Guests can drop in to share a story or a song during actor and humorist Harry Shearer ("The Simpsons," "Spinal Tap") and singer-songwriter Judith Owens' annual "Christmas Without Tears" variety show. Showtime is 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. (847) 492-8860 or evanstonspace.com.

• Make-Believe Association, a new Chicago-based production company, debuts with a staged reading of Thornton Wilder's 1931 one-act "The Long Christmas Dinner," which traces 90 years in the history of an American family. The reading, a co-production with the Chicago Public Library, takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., Chicago. See mbelieve.org.

• Erasing the Distance, an organization that uses performance to remove the stigma and spark conversation about mental health issues, premieres "The Holidays Unwrapped," a new show with music that examines how people manage the chaos and personal struggles this time of year. Performances run Monday, Dec. 11 through Dec. 20, at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago. See erasingthedistance.org.

• Pride Films & Plays partners with The Center on Halsted to host WeFest Monday, Dec. 11, at the Pride Art Center, at 4139 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago. Formerly known as SheFest and LezFest, WeFest celebrates Chicago's "queer female, nonbinary and trans artists" and is hosted by Molly Brennan, The Ghost of Christmas Past in Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," and Neo-Futurist Malic White. (800) 737-0984 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• Actor/musicians Erik Hellman and Jessie Fisher present a holiday edition of their variety hour at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre, at 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago. The show is part of Steppenwolf's LookOut performance series. Also at the 1700 Theatre, Caitlin Jackson channels Bette Midler and Jeremy Ramey plays Barry Manilow in a holiday version of Hell in a Handbag's cabaret re-creation of Midler's concert at New York City's Continental Baths. "Bette, Live at the Xmas Baths" runs at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 12-13. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.

• "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience -- A Parody by Dan and Jeff" returns to Chicago for a brief run. The show created by former BBC television hosts Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner combines the seven Harry Potter books into 70 minutes. Performances run from Wednesday, Dec. 13, through Jan. 7 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• The League of Chicago Theatres' Theatre Thursday series continues Thursday, Dec. 14, at The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, with a performance of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company's "Puff: Believe It or Not," a sendup of 19th-century Paris salon society. The event includes a preshow drink and a post-show conversation with the actors and artistic team. See chicagoplays.com.

• "DANKS," a new sketch comedy show that takes on a different theme every week, opens Thursday, Dec. 14, at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 697-9693 or theannoyance.com.

• Nothing Without a Company has extended its premiere of "Bobby Pin Girls," ensemble member Janey Bell's adult-themed play about the relationship between two roommates: a professionally unhappy actress and a personally unhappy visual artist. Performances run through Sunday, Dec. 10, at The Chicago Mosaic School, 1101 W. Granville Ave., Chicago. See nothingwithoutacompany.org.

• Chicago Dramatists recently announced that recent transplant Vanessa Bamber, former general manager of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Normal, Illinois, has taken over as managing director. The company also announced that resident playwright and Chicago Dramatists board member Dana Lynn Formby has assumed the duties of interim artistic director.

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