Edgar Allan Poe, whose life was animated by professional success and personal sorrow, inspired the musical "Nevermore -- The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe" by composer/lyricist/writer Jonathan Christenson. Black Button Eyes' Chicago area premiere, directed by Ed Rutherford, stars Kevin Webb as Poe. The ensemble includes Libertyville native Jessica Lauren Fisher. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago. $30. See blackbuttoneyes.com.
Living in rural Illinois and struggling with postpartum depression, new mom Cal seeks help -- first from her husband and then from her recently widowed brother -- in "Cal in Camo," a family drama by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble member William Francis Hoffman. Rivendell presents the play's Midwest premiere, directed by Hallie Gordon, artistic director for Steppenwolf for Young Audiences. Ashley Neal, Keith Kupferer and Eric Slater star. Previews begin at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 13. $18-$38. (773) 334-7728 or rivendelltheatre.org.
The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre presents "The Baby Boomer Show" featuring comedians Jan McInnis and Kent Rader waxing comic about family, kids and careers in what is described as "clean, stand-up comedy for people born before seat belts." 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $30, $35. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
'The Good Fight'
Babes With Blades, an ensemble devoted to telling women's stories and providing them emotional and physical expression up to and including violence, presents the premiere of "The Good Fight" by Anne Bertram. The play centers on the Women's Social and Political Union, a militant, women's suffrage group in early 20th century England, whose members staged hunger strikes following their arrests for demonstrating to secure voting rights. After the women were rearrested after regaining their health, a secret, all-female security team was established to protect suffrage movement leaders while fighting "the good fight." Previews begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 15. $10-$25. See babeswithblades.org.
• The New Colony concludes its season with the world premiere of "The Light," Loy Webb's romantic drama about a surprise proposal and a previously unrevealed secret that upends the lives of two people. Previews for the production -- starring Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr. and Tiffany Oglesby -- begin Friday, Jan. 5, at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show opens Monday, Jan. 8. See thenewcolony.org.
• Theater Wit examines the world inhabited by adult fans of the My Little Pony franchise in its premiere of Eric John Meyer's "The Antelope Party." Artistic director Jeremy Wechsler directs the play, which addresses violence and authoritarianism and unfolds during a gathering for The Rust Belt Ponies Meet Up Group. Previews begin Friday, Jan. 5, at 1229 N. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 16. (773) 975-8150 or theaterwit.org.
• Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon directs A Red Orchid Theatre's premiere of "Traitor," an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" by ensemble member Brett Neveu. Neveu sets the drama in a Chicago suburb where soil issues related to a new charter school lead to suspicion, bitterness and accusations. Previews begin Friday, Jan. 5, at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 13. (312) 943-8722 or aredorchidtheatre.org.
• Actor/writer Jamie Black (a veteran of The Factory and Noble Fool theaters) examines gender roles from his perspective as a trans male in "It's My Penis (And I'll Cry if I Want to)." Black's solo show runs Friday, Jan. 5, through Feb. 11, at Pride Films and Plays, 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago. (800) 737-0984 or pridefilmsandplays.com.
• After he gets stuck on his thesis on Nat Turner's slave rebellion, an African-American graduate student gets help from his 189-year-old great, great grandfather who takes the student back in time to meet Turner himself in "Insurrection: Holding History." Stage Left Theatre presents the Chicago-area premiere of Robert O'Hara's examination of race, identity and history, directed by Wardell Julius Clark. Previews begin Friday, Jan. 5, at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. The show opens Thursday, Jan. 11. (773) 935-6875 or stagelefttheatre.com.
• Chicago-area newcomer Spot On Company debuts with "Blue Over You (A Mysterious One-Man Love Story with Musical Bits)." Written and directed by Spot On co-founders Daniel Noonan and Sarah Whitney, the solo show is about a high school drama teacher who returns home to find his wife missing and must determine whether she ran off with someone or if something more sinister occurred. Performances begin Friday, Jan. 5, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave., Evanston. See blueoveryou.com.
• Interrobang Theatre continues its season-long examination of truth with Lee Blessing's new play "For the Loyal." Inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, it centers on the pregnant wife of a young assistant coach who learns a secret that makes her question her loyalties. Previews begin Saturday, Jan. 6, at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Blessing will participate in a talkback from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6. The show, directed by James Yost, opens Monday, Jan. 8. (773) 935-6875 or interrobangtheatre.org.
• Collaboraction hosts "Encounter," a mini-festival focusing on racism and racial healing that incorporates theater, visual arts, music, video and dance. The festival runs Tuesday, Jan. 9, through Jan. 20, at Collaboraction Studios, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Full-length shows include one by Ada Cheng who describes what life is like for immigrant women of color in "Not Quite: Asian-American by Law, Asian Women by Desire." Sonya Y. Jackson wrote and performs "Untitled Solo Show" about her experiences with race and identity. Short works include: "Soul in Suburbia" about an African American family in 1980s suburbia; "D on the South Side" about a Puerto Rican woman living in a predominantly black Chicago neighborhood; "Jets, Sharks and Beckys" about Latino theater artists debating race and casting while waiting to audition for "West Side Story;" and "The Blue Eyed Devil" about an interracial couple in 1940s Chicago, among others. The festival also includes storytelling and free staged readings. See the schedule at collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.
• Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 11, for Pride Films and Plays' Chicago area premiere of "Yank! A World War II Love Story" by writer/lyricist David Zellnik and composer Joseph Zellnik. The musical tells the story of a young Midwestern man who is drafted into the army and falls in love with another soldier. PFP executive director David Zak directs the production, which opens Jan. 18 at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (800) 737-0984 or pridefilmsandplays.com.
• Court Theatre continues its 63rd season with director Charles Newell's revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," beginning previews Thursday, Jan. 11, at 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago. The drama about guilt, idealism and responsibility centers around former friends and business partners accused of selling faulty parts to the military, which results in the death of 21 pilots. One was convicted and the other was exonerated. When two of their children announce their pending marriage, old grievances and guilt resurface. The production, starring Kate Collins, John Judd, Timothy Edward Kane, Heidi Kettenring and others, opens Jan. 20. (773) 753-4472 or courttheatre.org.
• Shattered Globe Theatre presents the Chicago area premiere of "Five Mile Lake," a new drama by Rachel Bonds. The Anton Chekhov-inspired play is about five adults nearing 30 who are dealing with unrequited love and loss while confronting their futures in their small Pennsylvania town. Previews begin Thursday, Jan. 11, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Cody Estle directs ensemble members Steve Peebles, Drew Schad, Joseph Wiens and Daniela Colucci in the show which also features Aila Peck. It opens Jan. 14. (773) 975-8150 or shatteredglobe.org.
• "The Second City's She the People: Girlfriends' Guide to Sisters Doing it for Themselves," a new sketch comedy show created, designed and performed entirely by women, begins performances Thursday, Jan. 11, at UP Comedy Club, Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.
• Speaking of comedy, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival returns for its 17th year on Thursday, Jan. 11. Performances run through Jan. 21 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Returning are Chicago ensembles The Cupid Players, Clown Car to Sicily and Rehner & Nixon, along with troupes from around the country. Tickets are $15. An all-festival pass is $250 and a weekend pass is $125. (773) 327-5252 or stage 773.com.