Theater events: Steel Beam puts the funny in sibling-centered 'Three the Hard Way'
After their gambler father dies, three estranged sisters meet in a Reno, Nevada, hotel room to grieve his death and reconnect with each other in Lisa Eisenstein's comedy "Three the Hard Way." Ann Keen directs Steel Beam Theatre's production, which stars Amanda Tomczak, Jessica McCartney and Georgann Charuhas. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, and continuing through March 18 at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $22-$28. (630) 857-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com.
Royal fairy tale
Next up at the Marriott Theatre is a young audiences production of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes." Declan Desmond plays 14-year-old emperor Marcus the Third, who orders ornate attire in an effort to feel more confidant in his new role. Garrett Lutz plays Arno, the mop boy who sees the situation as it really is. Amanda Tanguay directs and choreographs. Previews begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25, at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. The show opens March 3 and continues through May 12. $18.23. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.
Salute to the queen
Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actress Donica Lynn brings her tribute to Aretha Franklin to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre as part of the Artists Lounge Series. Developed by performer/producer Michael Ingersoll ("Jersey Boys," "Under the Streetlamp"), the series showcases the Chicago area's top theater artists in a cabaret setting. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $45, $50. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
Other theater events
• "Cards Against Humanity: Late Night Writers Room," improv comedy inspired by the politically incorrect card game, returns to the Greenhouse Theater Center Friday, Feb. 23. The adults-only performance is at 10 p.m. at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or greenhousetheater.org.
• Powerhouse Productions and the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts team up to present "Last Night as King," a program chronicling the last 24 hours of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg. Maurice D. Proffit wrote, directed and produced the show. See bsideproduction.com.
• Pride Films and Plays presents its monthly, adults-only Pac the House variety show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. Drag artists Coco Ian and Ryan Royale host the show, which features comedians and drag performers. (800) 737-0984 or pridefilmsandplays.com.
• Chicago-area favorite and "Wicked" veteran Gene Weygandt hosts Porchlight Music Theatre's New Faces Sing 1959 at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. Each incarnation of the series showcases emerging musical theater artists who perform Broadway tunes from a specific year. This concert features music from "Gypsy," "Flower Drum Song," "Once Upon a Mattress," "The Sound of Music" and others. (773) 777-9884 or porchlightmusictheatre.org.
• Chicago-area theater standouts Meghan Murphy, Danni Smith and Cassie Slater -- who co-starred last year in Marriott Theatre's "Mamma Mia!" -- reunite at Steppenwolf Theatre's 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago, as part of the LookOut performance series. The trio performs the show "We Three: Loud Her. Fast Her. Funny Her" at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 26-27. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org/lookout.
• Theater on the Lake presents a staged reading of Sandra Delgado's play-in-progress "Felons and Familias" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, as part of the theater's ongoing In the Works series. Admission is free and a talkback follows the performance, which is for audiences 18 and older. The theater is located at 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. See theateronthelake.com/theater.
• Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Kogan moderates a panel discussion on A Red Orchid Theatre's production of Brett Neveu's "Traitor," adapted from Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People." Neveu, Dado and Lawrence Grimm will join Kogan at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. (312) 943-8722 or aredorchidtheatre.org.
• Previews begin on Thursday, March 1, for About Face Theatre's Midwest premiere of "Time is on Our Side," a comedy by R. Eric Thomas about best friends and podcasters researching LGBTQ history. The show, directed by Megan Carney, opens March 7 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or aboutfacetheatre.com.
• Neo-Futurist ensemble member Trevor Dawkins created "A Story Told in Seven Fights," a new work pitting the Dadaists against the Surrealists, two artistic and literary movements that helped define Modernism. Tony Santiago directs. Previews begin Thursday, March 1, at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. The show opens March 5. (773) 275-5255 or neofuturists.org.
• Pegasus Theatre Chicago and ShPIeL Performing Identity have collaborated on the Chicago-area premiere of Calvin A. Ramsey's "The Green Book," inspired by the travel guide first produced in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green and known as "The Negro Motorist Green Book" and "The Negro Travelers' Green Book." During the Jim Crow Era, Green's book served as a guide for African-American travelers on places throughout the country that did not discriminate against people of color. Ramsey's drama centers on African-American family members who open their home to African-American travelers in the South. Over a weekend, during which Dr. W.E.B. DuBois is set to deliver a lecture, they welcome a Caucasian visitor who turns out to be a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Pegasus artistic director Ilesa Duncan directs the production, which begins previews on Thursday, March 1, at Chicago Dramatists, 765 N. Aberdeen, Chicago. The show opens March 4. (312) 423-6612 or pegasustheatrechicago.org.
• Tales about shooting a TV commercial with a basketball star, being drafted into the Vietnam War and discovering a soul mate are among the stories on tap for the next installment of Short Story Theatre. Storytellers Bonnie Hillman Shay, Julie Isaacson, Rino Liberatore and Edward Zifkin share their tales at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Miramar Bistro, 301 Waukegan Ave., Highwood. (847) 433-1078 or shortstorytheatre.com.
• The SAG-AFTRA Senior Radio Players in association with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events re-create a pair of classics from the golden age of radio including live sound effects. The ensemble performs "The Great Gildersleeve: Eve and Gildy Get Together" from 1944 and "The Saint: No Hiding Place" from 1950 at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., Chicago. Admission is free.
• The League of Chicago Theatre's Theatre Thursday series continues Thursday, March 1, at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, with a performance of "Anna Karenina," adapted by Jessica Wright Buha from Leo Tolstoy's novel about a woman torn between raising her son in a loveless marriage or abandoning her family to be with her lover. Tickets are $15 and include preperformance appetizers and a drink. It begins at 6:15 p.m. A post show panel with the cast and the artistic team follows the performance. See chicagoplays.com.
• Porchlight Music Theatre announced an extension of its revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical "Merrily We Roll Along." Told in reverse chronology, it's about a composer who leaves New York and his friends and creative partners to become a Hollywood producer. Performances run through March 17 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (773) 777-9884 or porchlightmusictheatre.org.
• Paramount Theatre in Aurora received the largest grant in its history, $2.5 million, from the Dunham Fund, which John C. Dunham established in 1996 to "make the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper." The money will go to the creation of a new performing arts school, the replacement of the theater's 1,888 seats through a dollar-for-dollar matching grant and the modernization of the Copley Theatre, Paramount's 173-seat sister stage, which is located across the street.
• Goodman Theatre has awarded Jo Cattell, a veteran of Chicago Shakespeare and Steppenwolf theaters, its 2017/2018 Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship. Awarded to early-career Chicago-based directors, the fellowship is named for the late director Michael Maggio, who directed 22 Goodman productions and more than 60 shows around the country. Cattell will have an opportunity to assist on a Goodman production, from early research and design through the casting and rehearsal process to the opening. Cattell is currently creating a work for Chicago Children's Theatre with Goodman artistic associate Henry Wishcamper.
• Steppenwolf Theatre Company recently announced the addition of new ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper, a Court Theatre veteran who appeared in Steppenwolf's recent production of "BLKS," and Steppenwolf regular Cliff Chamberlain, who appeared in the company's recent premiere of "The Minutes" by ensemble member Tracy Letts. "We are thrilled to add Cliff and Celeste to the Steppenwolf ensemble. Both of these actors bring a commitment to excellence in their work that already has brought so much to our stages," said artistic director Anna D. Shapiro in a prepared statement.
• Lifeline Theatre announced ensemble member Andrés Enriquez has taken over as casting director responsible for overseeing the audition processes for the company's three main stage and three KidSeries productions. He succeeds Lavina Jadhwani, who served as casting director since 2015, and is now focusing on directing.
• Hell in a Handbag Productions announced its 2018 season will begin March 31 with "L'Imitation of Life." It's a parody of the 1959 film "Imitation of Life," a racially tinged tale of mother-daughter relationships, adapted by Ricky Graham and Running with Scissors. That's followed by a new edition of the company's popular TV sitcom spoof "The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2" (June 19-Sept. 7). "The Artificial Jungle," Charles Ludlam's play about a mild-mannered pet shop owner, his wife and his overly protective mother whose lives are upended by a handsome drifter, runs Sept. 20 to Oct. 28. Lastly, the company presents "The Golden Girls: Bea Afraid -- The Halloween Edition" from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3. Most performances take place at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago. "L'Imitation of Life" takes place at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Subscriptions and single tickets will be available at a later date. See handbagproductions.org.
• Female playwrights dominate Victory Gardens Theater's 44th season, which begins Sept. 21 with "Indecent," Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel's drama about the controversy that swirled around the 1923 debut of Jewish playwright Sholem Asch's "God of Vengeance" about a lesbian romance. The theater premieres playwright Ike Holter's "Rightlynd" (Nov. 9-Dec. 23), the latest in Holter's seven-play cycle set in Chicago. This play is about a woman who runs up against a political machine when she attempts to save her neighborhood. Next up is Dominique Morisseau's "Pipeline" (Feb. 1-March 3, 2019), about an inner-city, public high school teacher whose son is threatened with expulsion from his private school. That's followed by Lauren Yee's "Cambodian Rock Band" (April 5-May 5, 2019), a combination comedy, rock concert and mystery centered on a father and daughter's response to new evidence about those responsible for Cambodia's attempted genocide. The season concludes with Madhuri Shekar's "Miriam for President" (June 7-July 7, 2019), about a young girl who escapes from a sex trafficking ring and then runs for president of her high school's student council. Performances take place at 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Season subscriptions start at $99. (773) 871-3000 victorygardens.org.