Theater events: BBE plays 'Ghost Quartet,' Teatro Zinzanni sets up its tent

  • Rachel Guth appears as one-fourth of the "Ghost Quartet" in Black Button Eyes' Chicago-area premiere of the supernatural song cycle.

    Rachel Guth appears as one-fourth of the "Ghost Quartet" in Black Button Eyes' Chicago-area premiere of the supernatural song cycle. Courtesy of Cole Simon

Posted7/11/2019 7:45 AM

• Performances of Connective Theatre Company's inaugural production of Naomi Wallace's "One Flea Spare," continue at Nox Arca Theatre, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago. Set during the London plague of 1665, the play is about a wealthy, middle-aged couple who are quarantined with a young girl and a sailor after the younger couple sneak into their home. Connective Theatre produces the play in partnership with RefugeeOne, an organization that assists refugees and immigrants. See

• Black Button Eyes launches its 2018-2019 season with "Ghost Quartet," a song cycle by Dave Malloy ("Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812") that channels the Brothers Grimm, Stephen Sondheim, Edgar Allan Poe and the Arabian Nights to tell the story of four friends bound together over the centuries. Previews begin Friday, July 12, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show, directed by artistic director Ed Rutherford, opens July 19. (773) 327-5252 or or


• Previews begin Friday, July 12, for American Blues Theater's revival of "The Spitfire Grill," the musical by composer James Valeq and lyricist Fred Alley and based on the 1996 film by Lee David Zlotoff about a young, female parolee who tries to make a new start at a small town diner. Jacquelyne Jones plays Percy, the ex-con and Catherine Smitko plays Hannah, the woman who employs her in director Tammy Mader's production. It opens July 19 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 654-3103 or

• The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble celebrates its 20th anniversary with "20/20," a show inspired by true stories that dramatize the experiences of the youngest members of the LGBTQ community over the last two decades. Performances run Friday, July 12, through July 28 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (773) 784-8565 or

• Silk Road Rising presents "Staging the Stans," a mini-festival of staged readings of plays by Central Asian and Eurasian playwrights from former Soviet republics and Muslim-majority republics including: Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Tartarstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The festival runs Friday through Monday, July 12-15, at the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago. Featured works include the satirical "Uzbek" by Talgot Batalov and Yekaterina Bondarenko, in which Central Asian immigrants' stories become fodder for a comedy routine. Inspired by true events, Olzhas Shanaydarov's "The Store" is about the plight of Kazakh migrants in Moscow. "The Izmailovo Studio," by Emilia Kazumova and Zarema Zautdinova, is about women who seek refuge from domestic violence in a squalid Moscow apartment. (312) 857-1234 or

• Corn Productions presents an evening of stand-up, sketch and improv comedy to benefit Gilda's Club Chicago. "Let's Laugh for Gilda's Club Chicago" runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See

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• Performances begin Saturday, July 13, for "With Tequila y Amor by Las Tinas," an improvised telenovela inspired by audience suggestions and performed by the Latinx comedy ensemble Las Tinas. Performances of the adults-only show (which is performed in English and Spanish) are at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays at the McKaw Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave., Chicago. See

• Citadel Theatre hosts its annual fundraiser "A Royal Ball" beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at the David Adler Estates at 830 Green Bay Road, Lake Forest. The event includes dinner, entertainment, dancing to the Stanley Paul Orchestra and a silent auction. Tickets start at $300. Proceeds benefit the theater. (847) 735-8554, ext. 1, or

• Factory After Dark 10, the latest incarnation of The Factory Theater's late-night show, takes place at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at 1623 W. Howard St., Chicago. A combination of "The Tonight Show" and "Playboy After Dark," the show features spoken-word performances, poetry and stand-up comedy. (866) 811-4111 or

• "Cats," Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical inspired by T.S. Eliot's poems from the "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," returns to Chicago for a brief run. Performances run Tuesday, July 16, through Aug. 4 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or

Monty Cole, left, Arti Ishak, Salar Ardebili and Cassidy Slaughter-Mason appear in Haven's Chicago-area premiere of "Kiss" by Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderon.
Monty Cole, left, Arti Ishak, Salar Ardebili and Cassidy Slaughter-Mason appear in Haven's Chicago-area premiere of "Kiss" by Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderon. - Courtesy of Joe Mazza/Brave Lux

• The newly rebranded Haven (formerly Haven Theatre) concludes its 2018-2019 season with the Chicago-area premiere of "Kiss" by Chilean playwright/director Guillermo Calderón. The play is about two couples who gather weekly to view their favorite soap opera. But the double date takes a dramatic turn when secrets and scandals surface. Previews begin Thursday, July 18, at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show opens July 23. See

• Previews begin Thursday, July 18, for The Comrades' premiere of "Roast" by writer/comedian and Northwestern University alum Harry Wood. The play centers around a late comedian's friends who, per his request, gather not for a funeral but for a roast. The play opens July 20 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or

• Teatro ZinZanni presents "Love, Chaos & Dinner," a circus/dinner-theater spectacle that combines cabaret, comedy, aerialists, acrobats and music. Performances begin Thursday, July 18, in The Spiegeltent ZaZou, a long-forgotten space discovered in 2017 during renovations of the Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Tickets range from $99 to $189 and are available at

• Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Park District team up for the annual Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, which commences free performances Thursday, July 18, at Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Performances of "The Comedy of Errors," continue through Aug. 18 at parks throughout the city. See

• Speaking of free theater, nine Chicago theaters take up summer residencies at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, in celebration of the previously announced Year of Chicago Theater celebration. Emerald City Theatre performs "The Adventures of Peter Rabbit" on the Great Lawn Thursday through Sunday, July 18-20. The show is for kids 5 and younger. Admission is free. See

• In honor of the Year of Chicago Theater, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events grants ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 to 116 Chicago theater makers. Recipients encompass both individuals and ensembles and include: Aguijon Theater Company, Albany Park Theater Project, Barrel of Monkeys, Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Collaboraction, Emerald City Theatre, eta Creative Arts Foundation, Free Street Theater, Haven in cooperation with DirectorsLabChicago, Jackalope Theatre Ensemble and Victory Gardens Theater among others.

• The MC-10 Playwrights' Ensemble, a collection of 10 midcareer Chicago playwrights that previously called the Greenhouse Theater Center home, relocated to the 16th Street Theater, which will produce one play per year by each of the writers beginning in 2020. The ensemble consists of Lydia Diamond, Lisa Dillman, Marsha Estell, Rebecca Gilman, Mickle Maher, Carlos Murillo, Julie Marie Myatt, Brett Neveu, Tanya Palmer and Laura Schellhardt.

• Collaboraction Theatre Company announced its upcoming season, titled "We Are Each Other's Business," will take place at the Kennedy-King College Theater, 740 W. 63rd St., Chicago. The move to the college theater is part of Collaboraction's commitment to "use theater to incite healing and transformation in Chicago." The season begins Aug. 15 with the Peacebook Festival consisting of 21 short plays about peace in Chicago. The season continues Oct. 4-6 at Cloudgate Plaza, with "Book of Peace," showcasing select Collaboraction works from the last five years. In December (dates to be announced), the company premieres "All I Want for Chicago Is ..." an examination of teenagers' relationships with each other and social media, at the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. In January 2020 (dates to be announced) the company resumes its Encounter Series, an examination of inclusion through theater, film, dance and spoken word. The premiere of artistic director Anthony Moseley's "Red Island," an examination of racism in America through the eyes of John Punch, Donald Trump and Jussie Smollet, takes place in spring 2020 (dates to be announced). See

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