Spotlight: Goodman revives 'Gem of the Ocean' and First Folio premieres 'The Secret Council'

  • Goodman Theatre revives August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" this month.

    Goodman Theatre revives August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" this month. Courtesy of Goodman Theatre

Posted1/20/2022 11:19 AM

'Fireflies' at Northlight

Northlight Theatre inaugural artistic fellow Mikael Burke helms its production of "Fireflies," Donja R. Love's drama examining the role Black women played during the 1960s Civil Rights struggle. Chanell Bell plays Olivia, the pregnant wife of a charismatic civil rights leader who has been ghostwriting his fiery speeches but who has become increasingly dissatisfied with her role in the movement and increasingly fearful for her child's future. Al'Jaleel McGhee plays her preacher husband, Charles.


Previews continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21-22; 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23; and through Jan. 27 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. The show opens Jan. 28. $30-$89. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination and masking required. (847) 673-6300 or

Goodman revives 'Gem'

Goodman Theatre resident director Chuck Smith directs its revival of August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean," which premiered at Goodman in 2003. The play is first chronologically in Wilson's 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle chronicling the African American experience in America during each decade of the 20th century. The story centers on Citizen Barlow (Sharif Atkins), guilt-ridden over a crime he committed for which another man was accused, who seeks out the legendary Aunt Ester (Lisa Gaye Dixon) to help him cleanse his soul.

Previews at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23; and through Jan. 30 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. The show opens Jan. 31. $25-$80. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within six hours of the performance start time and masking required. (312) 443-3800 or

First Folio premiere

Melanie Keller and Andrés Enriquez star as Tuppence and Tommy, a crime-solving couple who uncover a conspiracy involving the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, in First Folio Theatre's premiere of "The Secret Council," adapted by David Rice from Agatha Christie's whodunit "The Secret Adversary." Brigitte Ditmars directs.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

Previews at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, and Friday, Jan. 28; 3 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook. The show opens Jan. 29. $29-$59. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination including booster and masking required. (630) 986-8067 or

Melanie Keller plays Tuppence and Andrés Enriquez plays Tommy in First Folio Theatre's premiere of "The Secret Council" adapted by David Rice from an Agatha Christie mystery.
Melanie Keller plays Tuppence and Andrés Enriquez plays Tommy in First Folio Theatre's premiere of "The Secret Council" adapted by David Rice from an Agatha Christie mystery. - Courtesy of First Folio Theatre
In other news

Check venues for COVID-19 precautions.

• Stage Left Theatre launches Off-Stage Left, a monthly online series of new play readings at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24. The reading of "White People by the Lake" by Rachel Lynett will be followed by a Zoom discussion with the playwright. Admission is pay-what-you-can, $5 minimum. (773) 883-8830.

• In response to the COVID-19 surge, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble has postponed its production of Mat Smart's "Naperville," which was to have opened later this month. It's been rescheduled for April 28 through May 29 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage. To accommodate the shift, BTE canceled its previously announced "One Man, Two Guvnors." "Naperville" ticket holders will automatically have their tickets exchanged for a corresponding date on the new schedule. They can also exchange their tickets for a new date, receive a credit or refund, or donate the value of their tickets to BTE. "One Man, Two Guvnors" ticket holders will automatically receive a credit on their account for the value of their tickets. This credit may be applied toward any of the remaining performances at the MAC. They also may donate the value of their tickets to BTE or request a refund. For details, contact the box office at (630) 942-4000 or

• Broadway in Chicago has extended its hilarious production of the hit farce "The Play That Goes Wrong." Performances run through April 3 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or


• The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University are seeking applications for songwriters and writing teams for the 17th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, a weeklong songwriting workshop held on the Evanston campus June 19-25. Applications from songwriters 18 to 30 will be accepted through Feb. 28. See for the application and submission guidelines.

• Haven Chicago announced Festival au Cinema, its first film and media festival, will take place Aug. 26-28, at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The festival is accepting original video submissions in categories including creative narrative feature and short films, screenplays, documentary, animation, experimental media and music videos through June 1. See for details.

• Pegasus Theatre Chicago received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support its 2023 Young Playwrights Festival, a competition for high school playwrights. The winning entries will be workshopped and staged by theater professionals. "The timing of this grant is perfect as we are currently streaming the 35th festival to audiences. The NEA's grant also greatly supports our mission of hearing from Chicago's young playwrights and sharing their stories," said executive and producing director Ilesa Duncan in a prepared statement.

• Black Ensemble Theater announced its 2022 season -- dubbed Season of Excellence: The Season of Healing -- begins March 12 with "It's Just Like Coming to Church," a collection of vignettes about life's ups and downs. That's followed by "Grandma's Jukebox" (May 21-June 26) about a family who feels lost following the death of their matriarch until they start playing her jukebox. Next up is "My Brother Langston" (Aug. 13-Sept. 18) an examination of jazz poet Langston Hughes' legacy set against music from the Harlem Renaissance. The season concludes with "Blue Heaven" (Oct. 22-Nov. 27) in which blues legends Big Momma Thornton, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan reminisce about their careers while awaiting the arrival of the new guy, B.B. King. Performances take place at 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago. Seating is limited to 100 people and masks are mandatory. See

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.