Theater events: Duo 'Raising the Standard' at Steel Beam

Updated 7/29/2016 11:08 AM
  • Matt and Cynthia Gruel sing American songbook favorites Saturday, July 30, in "Raising the Standard" at Steel Beam Theatre.

    Matt and Cynthia Gruel sing American songbook favorites Saturday, July 30, in "Raising the Standard" at Steel Beam Theatre. Courtesy of Steel Beam Theatre

  • Kelvin Roston Jr. plays soul singer Jackie Wilson in Black Ensemble Theater's revival of its hit show, "The Jackie Wilson Story," as part of the company's 40th anniversary celebration.

    Kelvin Roston Jr. plays soul singer Jackie Wilson in Black Ensemble Theater's revival of its hit show, "The Jackie Wilson Story," as part of the company's 40th anniversary celebration. Courtesy of Black Ensemble Theater

Jazz at Steel Beam

Steel Beam Theatre hosts "Raising the Standard," an evening of American songbook standards performed by Matt and Cynthia Gruel. The program includes tunes by Fats Waller, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and other American masters. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $20, half price with purchase of a 2016-2017 season subscription. (630) 587-8521 or

Magic in the 'burbs

The Comedy Shrine revives a onetime Chicago tradition when it transforms into a magic lounge this weekend. The Aurora nightspot hosts magicians performing close-up or tabletop magic in the tradition of Lakeview's shuttered Schulien's. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 29-30, at 4034 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora. $25, plus a two beverage minimum. (630) 585-0300 or

BET favorite

Black Ensemble Theater's 40th anniversary season continues with a revival of one of its most beloved shows, "The Jackie Wilson Story." Written and directed by founder and artistic director Jackie Taylor, this jukebox musical chronicles the life of the seminal R&B singer who popularized such hits as "(Your Love Keeps Liftin' Me) Higher and Higher," "To Be Loved" and "Danny Boy." Kelvin Roston Jr. stars as Jackie Wilson. Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, at 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. The show opens Aug. 7. $55, $65. (773) 769-4451 or

Other theater events

• Citadel Theatre -- in partnership with the Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart and Elawa Farm -- stages Frank Farrell's new adaptation of Edgar Lee Master's "Spoon River Anthology" outdoors. The show, which chronicles the lives of the residents of a fictional town in America's heartland, features original music by Mark Adamcyzk. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, July 29-31, at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, 21850 N. Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods. Performances take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 5-7, at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, 760 E. Westleigh Road, Lake Forest. A final performance takes place at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 at Elawa Farm, 1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest.

• Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, presents the original comedy "The Right Amount of Tequila!" opening Saturday, July 30. The play centers around the alcohol-fueled romance between a couple of college acquaintances who run into each other at a bar. The adults-only show runs Saturdays through Aug. 20. (773) 598-4549 or

• Sideshow Theatre Company and the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers presents CLLAW XXV: The Summer Showdown beginning at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $15 at the door for the benefit, which includes live music and a cash bar. Proceeds from the arm wrestling match benefit Sideshow and Chicago's Women's Health Center, which provides health care and education for women and trans people. See

• The solo performance series LIVINGroom returns to Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 31, with "Playlist," which pairs sound designed by Joseph Jefferson Award winner Jeffrey Levin with solo performances. The showcase consists of individual, autobiographical, spoken word and musical performances on select Sundays through Dec. 11. (773) 327-5252 or

• Albany Park Theater Project's "Learning Curve," produced in collaboration with New York City's Third Rail Projects, opens Sunday, July 31, at Ellen Gates Starr High School, 3640 W. Wolfram St., Chicago. The production, for audiences age 14 and older, is designed to immerse audiences in the world of high school students struggling to get their diplomas. (773) 866-0875 or

• Performances begin Wednesday, Aug. 3, for Cirque du Soleil's "Toruk: The First Flight," inspired by director James Cameron's film "Avatar." The show runs through Aug. 7 at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago. (800) 745-3000 or

• ComedySportz Chicago presents "Kill Your Darlings: A Live Lit Mash-Up" beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, and continuing Wednesdays through Sept. 14. Performances combine improv, music, guest readers and audience participation. They take place at 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 549-8080 or

• First Floor Theater announces its fourth FitzFest, showcasing eight short plays inspired by the life and work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Featured playwrights include Ike Holter, Calamity West, Ken Urban, and ensemble members Sid Branca and Jesse Roth among others. The mini festival runs Thursday, Aug. 4, through Aug. 13, at Collaboraction's Pentagon Theatre, The Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. See

• When Albert Einstein learns that findings by his friend and fellow scientist Fritz Haber have been appropriated by the state for military purposes, he makes an impassioned appeal against it in Vern Thiessen's play "Einstein's Gift." Performances begin Thursday, Aug. 4, for Genesis Theatrical Productions' staging at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. (773) 935-6875 or

• The Solo Celebration at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, continues Thursday, Aug. 4, with "Mother (and me)." The dramedy by Melinda Buckley is about a mother slipping into dementia as her daughter slips into middle age. The show runs through Aug. 14. (773) 404-7336 or

• Writers Theatre has extended its production of "Company," the modern relationship musical by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, about a 35-year-old single man trying to figure out how to have a relationship with a woman without making a commitment. Performances continue through Aug. 7 at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. (847) 242-6000 or

• Tickets are on sale for a benefit performance by Tony Award winner LaChanze ("The Color Purple") Aug. 20 at The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway St., Chicago. Tickets are $100 to $150. Proceeds benefit newcomer The Chicago Theatre Workshop. See

• Oracle Productions announced Vanessa Stalling, current Michael Maggio Directing Fellow at The Goodman Theatre, as the company's new artistic director. "The aim of Oracle's Public Access Theatre is much more than a free ticket; it is to provide accessibility by dismantling cultural, structural and physical barriers," said Stalling in a prepared statement. "One of my primary goals will be to create theatrical programming that is inclusive and representative of all the people who make up our city." Additionally, having outgrown its Broadway Street home, Oracle will move this month to 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago. See

• Interrobang Theatre Project announced that its seventh season, titled "Flesh and Blood," will begin Sept. 28 with the Midwest premiere of "Still," Jen Silverman's drama about loss and grief in which a dead man searches for his mother. That's followed by the Midwest premiere of "Falling" (March 15-April 16, 2017), Deanna Jent's drama about a mother attempting to raise her severely autistic 17-year-old son on her own. Performances take place at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 1. See

• Eta Creative Arts Foundation begins its 2016-2017 season Sept. 23 with George C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum" about a satirist who targets a beloved institution. The company's holiday show (to be announced) runs Nov. 11-Dec. 24. That's followed on Feb. 3, 2017, by Ntsako Mkhabela's "By the Apricot Tree," about a daughter's reflections on her mother's life under apartheid after her arrest following the 1976 student uprising in Soweto Township, South Africa. The season concludes with Vantile Whitfield's "Among All This You Stand Like a Fine Brownstone" (May 12-June 11, 2017), adapted from Gwendolyn Brooks' portraits of members of Chicago's African-American community. Performances take place at 7558 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago. Tickets are on sale. (773) 752-3955 or

• Adventure Stage Chicago continues its commitment to new work when it opens its 13th season Sept. 16 with "Reprise," a new play with music created by the ensemble and commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland for its Home Away Festival. It tells the life story of an elderly man who returns a violin he received 80 years earlier by a woman who made him promise to return it when he was done. The season continues Oct. 29 with "Jack's House," a site-specific piece by Jessy Lauren Smith that chronicles the story of The Northwestern Settlement House -- established in 1891 by Northwestern University to aid poor and immigrant residents of Chicago -- on its 125th anniversary. Performances take place at the Northwestern Settlement's Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago. Tickets are available now. (773) 342-4141 or

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