On stage: 'Fantasticks' revival by MadKap, 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' at Chicago Children's Theatre

  • Graham Todd and Jessica Surprenant appear in MadKap Productions' revival of "The Fantasticks."

    Graham Todd and Jessica Surprenant appear in MadKap Productions' revival of "The Fantasticks." Courtesy of MadKap Productions

Posted9/20/2019 6:00 AM

• MadKap Productions' revival of "The Fantasticks," the chamber musical by Tom Jones and Harvey L. Schmidt, continues through Oct. 6, at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. The story centers on Luisa and Matt, whose fathers orchestrate a love affair between them that leaves both children sadder but wiser. (847) 677-7761 or skokietheatre.org.

• Performances continue for "Revolution Chicago," a new musical about the early days of house music in Chicago written and directed by Mickey "Mixin'" Oliver, with music by Oliver and Lidell Townsell. Performances run through Sept. 29, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 327-5252 or revolutionchi.com.


• The Original Improv Gladiators take on all comers in improv contests at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The weekly competition concludes with the semifinal round Sept. 27 and the grand finale Sept. 28. See cornservatory.org.

• Performances continue through Oct. 13 for Theatre at the Center's revival of "The Pajama Game," the 1954 musical by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Based on Richard Bissell's novel "7½ cents," the show is set at the Sleep-Tite pajama factory where employees and owners are at odds over the employees' demand for a 7½ cent raise. Curtis Bannister ("Chicago Fire") and Elizabeth Telford star in artistic director Linda Fortunato's production. The theater is at 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana. (219) 836-3255 or theatreatthecenter.com.

• A college freshman and football player longs to distance himself from his older brother and make a name for himself on the field in "His Shadow: A Parable," a new play by Loy A. Webb. The premiere, directed by Wardell Julius Clark, runs through Oct. 12 at 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. (708) 795-6704 or 16thstreettheater.org.

• Previews begin Friday, Sept. 20 for Idle Muse Theatre Company's production of "Equivocation," Bill Cain's examination of the lengths people will go to reveal the truth. Six performers play more than 30 characters in this tale about William Shakespeare's commission to write a "true history" of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to assassinate England's King James I. Artistic director Evan Jackson directs the show, which opens Monday, Sept. 23, at The Edge Theatre Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa Ave., Chicago. (773) 340-9438 or idlemuse.org.

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• Brown Paper Box Co. hosts a two-night fundraiser "Come Rain or Come Shine: A Judy Garland Cabaret" Friday, Sept. 20, and Saturday, Sept. 21, at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., Chicago. Ensemble members, past performers, friends of the ensemble and special guests will perform Garland's hits. Among them are host M. William Panek, Erin Shea Brady, drag queen Dixie Lynn Cartwright, Lynnette Li, Andrew Principe and others. See brownpaperbox.org.

• Bad Taste Productions presents the adults-only "Homersexual: A Simpsons Burlesque Parody" inspired by characters from the long-running TV comedy. It takes place Friday, Sept. 20, at The Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See elboroomlive.com.

• The next chapter of Collaboraction Theatre Company's 2019 Peacebook Festival continues Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Ave., Chicago. The free festival includes short works about peace by dance, theater and spoken-word artists. (312) 226-9633 or collaboraction.org/peacebook.

• Children's musician Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players show kids how to make their own music during "Be Your Own Band" concerts this weekend at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. The hourlong interactive concerts take place at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Tickets are $20. (847) 634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com/show/justin-roberts.


• Filament Theatre presents "Luna," Ramón Esquivel's story of Soledad, a young girl from a family of migrant agriculture workers, her struggles to make friends while moving from town to town and her constant companion, the moon. Previews begin Saturday, Sept. 21, at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. The show opens Sept. 28. Resident artist Alejandro Tey directs. See filamenttheatre.org/luna.

• City Lit Theater Company, in association with the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom, commemorates Banned Books Week with Books on the Chopping Block, consisting of readings of short excerpts from the Top 10 challenged books from 2018. The readings will take place Sunday, Sept. 22, through Oct. 1 at Chicago area venues. Includes a reading at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St., Mount Prospect. Other venues include Chicago libraries and DePaul University. See citylit.org/books-on-the-chopping-block for dates and times.

• City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago hosts "Eight Nights: A Staged Reading to Benefit HIAS" at noon, Sunday, Sept. 22. "Eight Nights" is a new play by Jennifer Maisel that spans eight decades to tell the story of Holocaust survivor and refugee Rebecca, while also touching on the "global refugee experience." HIAS is a Jewish organization that assists refugees around the world. See citywinery.com/chicago.

• Court Theatre's Spotlight Reading Series showcasing rarely produced plays by writers of color, continues Monday, Sept. 23, at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, Chicago. The play is Charlie L. Russell's dark comedy "Five on the Black Hand Side," about a woman rebelling against her iron-fisted husband. See courttheatre.org.

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show," based on Eric Carle's children's book, comes to the Chicago Children's Theatre beginning Sept. 24 as part of the show's national tour.
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show," based on Eric Carle's children's book, comes to the Chicago Children's Theatre beginning Sept. 24 as part of the show's national tour. - Courtesy of Russ Rowland

• The Chicago Children's Theatre opens its season Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a "The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show," a new adaptation of Eric Carle's children's book about a caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly on its first U.S. tour. Performances run through Oct. 27, at The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. (312) 374-8835 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• Chicago Fringe Opera hosts a Fringe at the Taproom fundraiser featuring beer, food and karaoke beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Lagunitas Brewing Company, 2607 W. 17th St., Chicago. See chicagofringe.com.

• Walkabout Theater Company, in cooperation with the Delhi-based Guild of the Goat theater and Toronto, Canada vocalist Fides Krucker, premieres "The Raveling," a play about family inspired by the personal narratives of the performers. The preview is Wednesday, Sept. 25. The show opens Thursday, Sept. 26, at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Walkabout artistic director Thom Pasculli directs. (773) 871-3000 or victorygardens.org or walkabouttheater.org.

Walkabout Theater Company presents "The Raveling" featuring Cooper Forsman, left, Nigel Brown, Amba-Suhasini Jhala, Katie Mazzini, Dana Murphy, Anirudh Nair, Anastacia Narrajos and McCambridge Dowd-Whipple.
Walkabout Theater Company presents "The Raveling" featuring Cooper Forsman, left, Nigel Brown, Amba-Suhasini Jhala, Katie Mazzini, Dana Murphy, Anirudh Nair, Anastacia Narrajos and McCambridge Dowd-Whipple. - Courtesy of Matthew Gregory Hollis

• A newly wedded socialite and her financially strapped husband, his former fiancee, a physician, an aristocratic older woman and her niece, a champion of the working class and the ship's steward are among the passengers on a deadly riverboat cruise in Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Nile," adapted from her mystery novel "Death on the Nile." Oil Lamp Theater's production opens Thursday, Sept. 26, at 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. (847) 834-0738 or oillamptheater.org.

• Previews begin Thursday, Sept. 26, for Rough House Theater Co.'s remount of its 2018 Halloween show "The Silence of Harrow House." Described as an immersive puppet horror experience, it's set in the secluded home of reclusive, fictional architect Milton Harrow. The promenade show is for audience members age 14 and older. It opens Oct. 3, at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. See roughhousetheater.com.

• Windy City Playhouse has extended its production of "The Recommendation," Jonathan Caren's play about the friendship between the struggling son of Ethiopian immigrants and the privileged son of a successful attorney that is tested after one of them spends time in jail. Performances run through Oct. 20, at 3014 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago. (773) 891-8985 or windycityplayhouse.com.

• Destinos -- The 3rd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival featuring ensembles from Chile, Chicago and New York -- continues Thursday, Sept. 26, at 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, with "La Tia Mariela," in which actresses Conchi León, Regina Orozco and Montserrat Marañón share stories of their 12 aunts whose names begin with "M." See clata.org for tickets and information.

• In local theater news, Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr seek applications for Rhino Fest 2020. The application deadline is Oct. 15. For more information see rhinofest.com.

• ComEd and the League of Chicago Theatres recently announced grants to more than a dozen northern Illinois arts organizations in recognition of their efforts to expand programs to underserved audiences. The organizations include Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin; the Elmhurst Choral Union; Faubourg Theatre in Hanover Park; Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest along with Chicago ensembles Shattered Globe, Adventure Stage Chicago, Stage Repertorio Latino Theater, Chimera Ensemble and others.

• The Illinois Theatre Association awarded its 2019 Award of Honor to the Actors Training Center of Wilmette for its educational contribution to Chicago area theater. "ATC encourages 'being' not 'acting,' and that is a huge responsibility for those of us that work with young actors," said founder Carole Dibo in a prepared statement.

• Midsommer Flight, a company that for seven summers has brought free Shakespeare to Chicago area parks, has established a professional development program "Directors Flight" for Chicago area directors who want to improve their skills directing the classics.

• The Gift Theatre's 2020 season begins Feb. 27, 2020, with a revival of Martin McDonagh's tragicomedy "The Pillowman" about a writer whose unsettling stories bear a striking resemblance to a string of child murders. That's followed by the Chicago premiere of Naomi Iizuka's "At the Vanishing Point" (July 11-July 19, 2020), a part-fact and part-memory drama set among the onetime residents of a former meat packing district in Louisville. The season concludes with premiere of "The Locusts" (Oct. 8-Nov. 15, 2020) Jennifer Rumberger's drama about a Miami, Florida, police officer called back to her small hometown to help hunt for a serial killer. Performances take place 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Season subscriptions start at $75. (773) 283-7071 or thegifttheatre.org.

• Pride Films and Plays announced the remainder of its 2019-2020 season, which includes the premiere of the holiday tuner "America's Best Misfit Toy" (Nov. 29-Jan. 12, 2020, at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago,) about how the misfit toys Rudolph rescued returned to America where they became celebrities. Now they've returned to the island to compete for America's Best Misfit Toy. That's followed by a coproduction with The Arc Theatre of Diana Son's "Stop Kiss" (Jan. 16-Feb. 9, 2020, at 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago) about a public kiss between two women that prompts an attack by an angry bystander. Next up is the U.S. premiere of John donnelly's "The Pass" (Feb.-March, 2020, at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago) which chronicles the career of a soccer player from a 17-year-old newcomer to a 29-year-old legend. The season concludes with the adults-only "I Promised Myself to Live Faster" (April-May, 2020, at 4129 N. Broadway, Chicago.), an "intergalactic gay extravaganza" about the quest for the Holy Gay Flame conceived and created by Pig Iron Theatre Company. Six ticket flex passes are available for $144 and can by used for any show or special event. (773) 857-0222 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• Chicago Fringe Opera's season begin Nov. 14 with the Chicago area premiere of the Tom Waits-Kathleen Brennan "alt-chamber-opera" "Woyzeck" based on Georg Buchner's unfinished play about the titular soldier who kills his lover Marie after she cheats on him. That's followed by another Chicago premiere "Two Remain (Out of Darkness)" based on the journals of two Holocaust survivors. It begins March 28, 2020. Performances take place at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. See chicagofringeopera.com.

• Trap Door Theatre's season continues Dec. 5 with Karel Capek's "The White Plague" about a dictatorship overwhelmed by sickness. That's followed by "Lipstick Lobotomy" (Feb. 13-March 20, 2020), Krista Knight's tale about the imagined friendship between Rosemary Kennedy and her institutionalized aunt. The season concludes with "The Water Hen" (May 7-June 13, 2020) by Stanislaw Witkiewicz. Performances take place at 1655 W. Cortland Ave., Chicago. Four flex passes, used in any combination, are $75; eight passes, used in any combination, are $120. A super subscriber package, including eight passes, complimentary beer or wine and priority seating, is $150. (773) 384-0494 or trapdoortheatre.com.

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