Take an improv break from holiday hassle

Updated 12/15/2010 3:49 PM

Improv antidote

Holidays getting a bit hectic? Schaumburg's Laugh Out Loud Theater invites harried families to its all-ages, early improv show on Fridays. Additionally, the comedy club hosts New Year's Eve dinner-theater shows, which include cocktails, dinner from Maggiano's, improv show and champagne toast.


All-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at the Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg. An adults-only show follows at 9:30 p.m. New Year's Eve shows at 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. (847) 240-0386 or laughoutloudtheater.com.

Zanies hosts toy drive

Standup comedian Dobie Maxwell, a veteran of "The Late, Late Show" with Craig Ferguson and an instructor for Zanies comedy classes, headlines weekend shows at the Vernon Hills club, which include a Toys for Tots gift drive on Friday.

8 and 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17 (free admission with a new, unwrapped toy); 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at 230 Hawthorn Village Commons, Vernon Hills. (847) 549-6030 or zanies.com.

Humor amid holidays

Schaumburg's Improv invites harried last-minute shoppers (and early returners) to "Ha Ha Holiday," a couple of shows featuring young Chicago-area comedians, which bookend the upcoming holiday weekend.

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7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26, at 5 Woodfield Road, Schaumburg. (847)

Other new and notable

• The Quest Theatre Ensemble, People's Theatre of Chicago brings its annual traveling production of "Blue Nativity" to the Beacon Hill Retirement Community, 2300 S. Finley Road, Lombard, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. The show tells the Christmas story using large puppets and live music, For a complete schedule and ticket information, call (312) 458-0895 or questensemble.org.

• The fortunes of a failing toy shop turn around when the owner finds a special toy for a mysterious visitor in "The Fantastic Toy Shoppe," a holiday musical which The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati performs at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park. (708) 235-2222 or centertickets.net.

• A psychologist experiences a dual reality in "Parallel Universe," an examination of existence that runs Saturday through Tuesday, Dec. 18-21, at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 598-4549 or gorillatango.com.

• The family friendly "That's Weird, Grandma!" the Barrel of Monkeys show made up of stories generated by schoolchildren, hosts special performances on Monday, Dec. 20 and 27, at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. (312) 409-1954 or barrelofmonkeys.org.


• The Mime Company examines tribulations, touching moments and triumphs of the holiday season with its production "Snow Days and Plane Delays" opening Wednesday, Dec. 22, at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago. (773) 599-9185 or themimecompany.com.

• Hell in a Handbag Productions has added extra performances of its adults-only holiday show, "Rudolph The Red-Hosed Reindeer," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22 and 29, at Mary's Attic, 5400 W. Clark St., Chicago. (800) 838-3006 or handbagproductions.org.

• Reserve a ticket to the New Year's Eve performance of Theo Ubique's revival of "Cats" by Monday, Dec. 20, and you'll get hors d'oeuvres, dinner, post-show cabaret and champagne toast at midnight in addition to the performance. Tickets are $75 through Dec 20, and $100 after. The show has been extended through Feb. 20 at No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. (800) 595-4849 or theo-u.com.

• The Artistic Home's revival of Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth," about a gigolo returning to his hometown to reclaim his lost love, has been extended. Performances run through Sunday, Jan. 16, at 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. (866) 811-4111 or theartistichome.org.

• Lookingglass Theatre has extended its world-premiere production of "Peter Pan (A Play)" for the second time. The show now runs through Sunday, Jan. 23, at the Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (312) 337-0665 or lookingglasstheatre.org.

• In the spirit of the season, the "Million Dollar Quartet" a jukebox musical inspired by a 1956 impromptu jam session between Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at the legendary Sun Studios added "Run, Run Rudolph" to the finale. The hit show also has added performances including two New Year's Eve shows to the schedule running from Tuesday, Dec. 21, to Sunday, Jan. 2. Tickets are on sale through May 29. (773) 935-6100 or milliondollarquartetlive.com.

• The revival of "The Other Cinderella," Black Ensemble Theater's rendition of the timeless tale, has been extended. Performances run through Sunday, Jan. 23, at 4520 N. Beacon St., Chicago. (773) 769-4451 or blackensembletheater.org.

• Craig Wright's adaptation of Homer's "The Iliad," featuring the young actresses of A Red Orchid Theatre's youth ensemble, has been extended through Sunday, Jan. 2, at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. (312) 943-8722 or aredorchidtheatre.org.

• The American Theatre Wing, which sponsors the Tony Awards, has awarded a $10,000 grant to Chicago's Silk Road Theatre Project which showcases Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern playwrights and About Face Theatre whose productions examine gender and sexual identity. This is the first time the organization has considered companies outside New York City. "We decided to use our limited resources to bring national attention and acknowledgment to what we feel are some of the most inspiring and innovative theater companies on our national landscape," said grants chairwoman Lucie Arnaz.

• Harrington College of Design student Matthew McGrane and alumna Sarah Kuchar won Chicago Dramatists' competition to refurbish its lobby. The winning team receives $750 and a plaque in the lobby. The interior is scheduled to be completed by the premiere of "Bordello" in February.