Winter theater forecast: 10 shows to make theater lovers leave their cozy confines

Even the most ardent theater fans may be reluctant to leave the cozy confines of their home this winter.

These 10 shows (including several premieres) opening at suburban and city theaters in the upcoming months be the incentive theater lovers need.

And if that’s not sufficient motivation, theaters participating in Chicago Theatre Week (Feb. 8-18) — including Goodman, Marriott, TimeLine, Writers and Chicago Shakespeare — will make a select number of tickets on select dates available for $15, $30 or less. Check for a list of participating theaters.

“Highway Patrol”: Jan. 20-Feb. 18 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, (312) 443-2800, Goodman Theatre premieres a new play inspired by the true-life experiences of Emmy Award-winning actress Dana Delany and the relationship that developed between her and a 13-year-old fan on Twitter. Co-developed with co-creator/curator Jen Silverman and creator/director Mike Donahue, the production stars Delany, Dot-Marie Jones (“Glee”) and Thomas Murphy Molony.

“In the Heights”: Jan. 24-March 17 at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, (847) 634-0200, James Vásquez directs Marriott’s revival of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning tuner. William Carlos Angulo choreographs this snapshot of New York’s Washington Heights, whose residents dream of their futures as their neighborhood changes around them.

“Selling Kabul”: Jan. 25-Feb. 25 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, (847) 673-6300, Northlight Theatre artistic fellow Hamid Dehghani directs the regional premiere of this Pulitzer Prize finalist. It centers on Taroon, an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Left behind after the army withdraws, Taroon becomes a target of the Taliban and goes into hiding until the pending birth of his son forces him to choose between himself and his baby.

Original company members Jonathan Fahoury, clockwise from bottom, Matthew Johnson, Jennifer Florentino and Byron Tittle perform in "Illinoise" a stage adaptation of singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 concept album currently running at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Courtesy of Matt Murphy

“Illinoise”: Jan. 28-Feb. 18 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, (312) 595-5600, Singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 concept album “Illinoise” — a portrait of the state’s people, history and landscape — inspired this stage adaptation, which premiered last summer and heads to New York in March following CST’s run. Justin Peck and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury crafted the story.

Chiara Trentalange and Ben Biggers appear in the Broadway tour of "Girl From the North Country" featuring the music of Bob Dylan. The show runs Feb. 1-25 at CIBC Theatre. Courtesy of Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

“Girl From the North Country”: Feb 1-25 at Broadway in Chicago at the CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, Bob Dylan’s songs — including “Forever Young,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along the Watchtower” — comprise the soundtrack for this 2017 musical written and directed by playwright Conor McPherson and featuring Tony Award-winning orchestrations by Simon Hale. The jukebox tuner tells the story of a group of travelers residing in a Minnesota rooming house during the years following the Great Depression.

Neo Del Corral plays the titular character in Paramount Theatre's "Billy Elliot: The Musical." Del Corral shares the role with Sam Duncan.

“Billy Elliot: The Musical”: Feb.7-March 24 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Balena Blvd., Aurora, (630) 896-6666, Paramount Theatre’s revival of “Billy Elliot” stars two young singer/actor/dancers. Neo Del Corral and Sam Duncan alternate playing the role of Billy, an 11-year-old whose passion for ballet threatens his relationship with his father and brother, northern England coal miners who are in the middle of a crippling strike. Artistic producer Trent Stork directs.

Sam Duncan plays the titular character in Paramount Theatre's "Billy Elliot: The Musical." He shares the role with Neo Del Corral.

“The Band’s Visit”: Feb. 8-March 17 at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, (847) 242-6000, Based on the 2007 film about Egyptian musicians in Israel for the opening of an Arab cultural center who take the wrong bus and wind up in a backwater city whose residents take them in overnight, “The Band’s Visit” is a lovely show about music’s power to unite disparate people. The show, by writer Itamar Moses and composer/lyricist David Yazbek, won 10 Tony Awards in 2018.

Mildred Marie Langford, left, Adhana Reid and Shariba Rivers co-star in TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago premiere of "Notes From the Field," a docu-drama by Anna Deavere Smith.

“Notes From the Field”: Feb. 8-March 24 at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago, (773) 281-8463, ext. 6, Mildred Marie Langford, Adhana Reid and Shariba Rivers play 18 real-life people in TimeLine Theatre’s regional premiere of “Notes From the Field.” Anna Deavere Smith’s docu-theater piece incorporates verbatim dialogue from real accounts by more than 250 prisoners, victims’ families, activists and politicians to examine America’s broken criminal justice system, the proliferation of police brutality and the ongoing struggle for civil rights.

Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad directs Steppenwolf Theatre’s world premiere of "Purpose" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

“Purpose”: March 14-April 21 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, (312) 336-1650, Two-time Tony winner and TV veteran Phylicia Rashad directs Steppenwolf Theatre’s regional premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ dramedy about a prominent Black political family forced to reconcile its faith and its legacy when youngest son Nazareth returns home with an uninvited friend. Broadway, TV and film veterans Harry Lennix (“The Blacklist,” “The Five Heartbeats”) and Tamara Tunie (“Law & Order: SVU”) star.

Jason Michael Evans, left, Michael Metcalf, Adrian Aguilar and Andrew MacNaughton star in Mercury Theater's first made-in-Chicago production of "Jersey Boys." Courtesy of Mercury Theater Chicago

“Jersey Boys”: March 15-May 19 at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, Mercury Theater debuts the first home-grown production of the jukebox tuner chronicling the rise and fall of the 1960s pop quartet The Four Seasons. Adrian Aguilar, Jason Michael Evans, Andrew MacNaughton and Michael Metcalf star in the rags-to-riches tale in which each member offers his perspective on the group’s history.

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