Spring theater forecast: City, suburban theaters showcase new works

Adventurous theatergoers eager for new works have a lot to look forward to come spring and summer, including world and regional premieres, two of which feature bona fide sitcom stars.

“Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander makes his Chicago stage debut in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s premiere of “Judgment Day” and longtime Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Laurie Metcalf returns to her theatrical home for the Chicago premiere of “Little Bear Ridge Road.”

Listed below are a dozen shows for spring. If you can’t wait that long, don’t despair. Steppenwolf’s blistering premiere of “Purpose,” a family dramedy by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, runs through May 12. Also in Chicago, the first locally made production of the jukebox tuner “Jersey Boys” is scheduled to run through July 28.

Brooklyn Laundry’

Northlight Theatre participates in the rolling national premiere of “Brooklyn Laundry,” John Patrick Shanley’s new play that opened off-Broadway in February. The tale centers around the budding romance between perpetually single, cash-poor Fran (Cassidy Slaughter-Mason) and laundry owner Owen (Mark Montgomery). Artistic director BJ Jones directs. April 11-May 12 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or

Tony and Emmy Award-winner Jason Alexander makes his Chicago stage debut in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's world premiere comedy “Judgment Day.” Courtesy of Rebecca J. Michelson

Judgment Day’

Tony and Emmy Award-winner Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld’s” George Costanza) makes his Chicago stage debut in the world premiere of “Judgment Day” by TV writer/producer Rob Ulin (“Roseanne,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “The Middle,” “Anger Management”). Alexander plays Sammy Campo, a corrupt lawyer whose near-death experience and fear of eternal damnation prompts him to redeem himself aided by a Catholic priest in the middle of his own crisis of faith. Tony-nominated director Moritz von Stuelpnagel (“Hand to God,” “Bernhardt/Hamlet”) helms the play. April 23-May 26 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or

Audrey Francis, clockwise from upper left, Tim Hopper, Nate Santana and Paloma Nozicka star in Steppenwolf Theatre's Chicago premiere of “The Thanksgiving Play,” Larissa FastHorse's satire on everything right, wrong and woke in America.

The Thanksgiving Play’

Four theater artists attempt to produce an elementary school Thanksgiving pageant that won’t offend anyone in “The Thanksgiving Play,” Larissa FastHorse’s satire on “wokeness” whose Chicago premiere comes courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre. Jess McLeod directs a quartet that includes ensemble members Audrey Francis and Tim Hopper along with Paloma Nozicka and Nate Santana. April 25-June 2 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1646 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or

Death Becomes Her’

Chicago welcomes the pre-Broadway premiere of “Death Becomes Her,” a new musical by composer/lyricists Julia Mattison and Noel Carey and writer Marco Pennette based on Robert Zemeckis’ dark 1992 comedy starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. Aging actress Madeline Ashton and middling writer Helen Sharp are frenemies who fell out years earlier over a man, but find themselves uncomfortably reunited when offered a chance to remain forever young. Tony Award-nominees Megan Hilty and Jennifer Simard star. April 30-June 2 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

‘Into the Earth With You’

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble member Kurt Naebig stages the world premiere of “Into the Earth With You,” a drama by Brian Watkins (Amazon’s “Outer Range”). It centers around three women who make disturbing discoveries about their late grandfather. May 2-June 2 at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. (630) 942-4000 or

‘Gods and Monsters’

Chicago theater artists Paul Oakley Stovall and Tom Mullen collaborate on “Gods and Monsters,” the stage adaptation of Christopher Bram’s 1995 novel “Father of Frankenstein,” about British filmmaker James Whale, the director of such classic films as “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein.” Like the novel and the 1998 film starring Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser, the play unfolds during the dying director’s final days as he reminisces about his life and ogles his handsome landscaper. Stovall directs Mullen’s adaptation, which imagines the landscaper as a Black man. May 9-June 2 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.


In a storefront school near Tehran, four Iranian adults prepare for an English language exam that, if they pass, could be the key that unlocks a new life in “English,” the 2023 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Sanaz Toossi. Goodman Theatre’s Chicago premiere, a co-production with The Guthrie Theater, will be directed by Hamid Dehghani, who helmed Northlight Theatre’s regional premiere of “Selling Kabul” earlier this year. May 10-June 9 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or

Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Laurie Metcalf returns home to star in the theater's premiere of “Little Bear Ridge Road.” Courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre

‘Little Bear Ridge Road’

Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Laurie Metcalf returns home to star in the Chicago premiere of “Little Bear Ridge Road” by Samuel D. Hunter (“The Whale,” “A Bright New Boise”). Tony Award winner and Rockford native Joe Mantello (“Wicked,” “Three Days of Rain,” “The Humans”) directs the play about an estranged aunt and nephew, the last surviving members of their family, who try to establish a relationship. June 13-July 21 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1646 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or

‘The Hot Wing King’

A Memphis cooking competition serves as the backdrop for “The Hot Wing King,” Katori Hall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy examining Black masculinity, fatherhood and family. The action unfolds at the home of Dwayne and Cordell, whose friends gather to help hot wing master Cordell prepare his entry in his bid to reclaim the Memphis hot wing crown. Chicago veteran Lili-Anne Brown directs. June 20-July 21 at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. (847) 242-6000 or

‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’

John Berendt’s 1994 nonfiction novel chronicling the trials of James Arthur Williams, a Savannah antiques dealer tried four times for shooting to death a male prostitute with whom he had a casual sexual relationship inspired the new musical “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown (“The Last Five Years,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) and actor/writer/performance artist Taylor Mac. Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Promises, Promises”) helms Goodman Theatre’s premiere. June 25-Aug. 4 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’

Drury Lane Theatre revives “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the rollicking tribute to jazz pianist/composer Thomas “Fats” Waller, the stride piano master and Harlem Renaissance pillar who composed such standards as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Mean to Me,” “This Joint is Jumpin’” and the titular tune. Actress/director E. Faye Butler returns to the suburban theater for the first time in seven years to direct the revue. June 26-Aug. 18 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-0111 or

‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Aurora’s intimate Copley Theatre is the setting for Paramount Theatre’s revival of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Rick Elice and composer Wayne Barker’s enchanting tuner based on “Peter and the Starcatchers,” Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's 2004 prequel to J.M. Barrie's “Peter Pan.” The action-packed show centers on Peter, a 13-year-old orphan destined to be enslaved on a remote island, who, together with plucky young apprentice starcatcher Molly, tries to keep the pirate Black Stache from stealing magical starstuff. July 24-Sept. 1 at the Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666 or

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