14 for fall: Premier picks for Chicago, suburban theater productions
On Chicago-area stages this fall, theatergoers will encounter fairy tales and literary adaptations, historical events re-imagined and true stories retold -- including a remarkable survival saga recounted by the son of the woman who lived it.
Here are a few of the key offerings this season:
If there's a lesson to be learned from the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical "Into the Woods," it's this: Be careful what you wish for because happily ever after isn't all it's purported to be. Gary Griffin returns to Writers Theatre to direct a revival of the fairy tale-inspired musical.
Through Sept. 22 at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. (847) 242-6000 or writerstheatre.org.
Bethany Thomas plays The Witch, who promises The Baker (Michael Mahler) and his wife (Brianna Borger) a child if they procure certain items in Writers Theatre's revival of the musical "Into the Woods."
- Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
Marriott Theatre's regional premiere of "Something Rotten!" stars KJ Kippensteel and Alex Goodrich as brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, a pair of Renaissance playwrights competing (unsuccessfully) with William Shakespeare in 1595 England. That is until a fortuneteller suggests they incorporate singing and dancing in their show.
Aug. 28-Oct. 20 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.
Remy Bumppo Theatre
Three families in turn-of-the-century England search for love, acceptance and purpose in "Howards End," by E.M. Forster, adapted by Douglas Post. The production, Remy Bumppo Theatre's first commission, is directed by producing artistic director Nick Sandys.
Aug. 29-Oct. 5 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or remybumppo.org.
Dina (Chilina Kennedy) spends time with Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay) in "The Band's Visit," the Tony Award-winning musical playing Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre Sept. 3-15.
- Courtesy of Matthew Murphy
Broadway in Chicago -- Cadillac Palace Theater
After a misunderstanding at the border, an Egyptian police band hired to play at an Arab arts center arrives at a remote Israeli town in "The Band's Visit." Adapted from the 2007 film, it's directed by Skokie native David Cromer and stars Sasson Gabay reprising his film role as band leader Tewfiq.
Sept. 3-15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.
American Blues Theater
American Blues Theater presents the Chicago premiere of "Five Presidents" by Rick Cleveland ("The West Wing," "Mad Men," "House of Cards"). Set before the memorial for disgraced former President Richard Nixon, the play imagines what occurred the only time President Bill Clinton and predecessors George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were together in the same room.
Sept. 6-Oct. 19 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 654-3103 or americanbluestheater.com.
Goodman Theatre, in collaboration with the Center Theatre Group, stages "Dana H.," the true story of psychiatric ward chaplain Dana Higginbotham who was abducted and held captive by an ex-convict for five months in 1997. Higginbotham's son Lucas Hnath ("A Doll's House, Part 2," "Hillary and Clinton") adapted his mother's story for the stage.
Sept. 6-Oct. 6 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org.
TimeLine Theatre Company
TimeLine Theatre Company, which staged the local premiere of "The History Boys" in 2009, once again snags a hot New York property. This time it's "Oslo." J.T. Rogers' Tony Award-winning political drama is based on the real-life efforts of Norwegian diplomats during the early 1990s to arrange behind-the-scenes peace talks between Israeli authorities and representatives from the Palestine Liberation Organization. Broadway in Chicago co-produces the production.
Sept. 10-Oct. 20 at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. (773) 281-8463, ext. 6, or timelinetheatre.org.
Isabelle Arc, a peasant woman whose daughter Joan led the French army against their English enemies, struggles to raise her exceptional, unconventional daughter in "Mother of the Maid" by Jane Anderson. Northlight Theatre artistic director BJ Jones helms the company's 45th season opening production.
Sept. 12-Oct. 20 at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
David Seidler intended "The King's Speech," about King George VI's struggles to overcome his stammer, as a play. But his Oscar-winning screenplay for the 2010 film came first. Seidler revised the script for the stage in 2012. Chicago Shakespeare Theater's U.S. premiere stars Harry Hadden-Patton ("Downton Abbey") as George VI and James Frain ("The Tudors") as speech therapist Lionel Logue.
Sept. 12-Oct. 27 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.
Drury Lane Theater
2018 Joseph Jefferson Award-winning director Lili-Anne Brown helms Drury Lane Theater's revival of "The Color Purple," about the struggles of a young African-American woman overcoming abuse and heartbreak during the early part of the 20th century.
Sept. 13-Nov. 3 at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. (630) 530-0111 or drurylanetheatre.com.
Steppenwolf Theatre premieres "Lindiwe," a play with music written by ensemble member Ericon Simonson and featuring the famed South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Actress/singer/songwriter Nondumiso Tembe plays the titular character in this love story that stretches from South Africa to Chicago's Kingston Mines.
Nov. 7-Dec. 29 at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
Paramount Theatre revives "Beauty and the Beast," the musical adapted from the 1991 Disney animated film about a bright young woman who inspires an enchanted beast to love unselfishly to regain his human form, as its holiday season alternative.
Nov. 13-Jan. 19, 2020, at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. (630) 896-6666 or paramountaurora.com.
Renee Fleming stars in a limited run of "The Light in the Piazza" at the Civic Opera House in December.
- Courtesy of Dewynters London
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Soprano Renée Fleming, Lyric Opera of Chicago creative consultant, stars in a revival of "The Light in the Piazza," composer/lyricist Adam Guettel and writer Craig Lucas' musical about a vacationing mother and her daughter, who falls in love with a charming Florentine boy while on vacation in Italy in 1953.
Dec. 14-29 at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. (312) 827-5600 or lyricopera.org.
Broadway in Chicago -- James M. Nederlander Theatre
Another holiday alternative, "Mean Girls," the tuner adapted from the 2004 film about a teenage outsider who infiltrates the No. 1 clique at her new high school, opens in Chicago on Christmas Day.
Dec. 25-Jan. 26, 2020, at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.