On stage: More holiday theater, 'Dance Nation' dances onto Steppenwolf stage

  • David Brian Stuart performs in Improv Playhouse's radio-play adaptation of "It's A Wonderful Life."

    David Brian Stuart performs in Improv Playhouse's radio-play adaptation of "It's A Wonderful Life." Courtesy of Improv Playhouse Theater

 
 
Updated 12/9/2019 10:16 PM

• Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, presents standup veteran Tim Benker in "The Idiot's Guide to Fixing Stooopid: A Multimedia Presentation" at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. (815) 356-9212 or rauecenter.org.

• When Santa and his reindeer come down with a nasty case of the Candy Cane Flu, Holly and her fellow elves pitch in to ensure children receive their gifts in the family-friendly musical "Holly the Elf Saves Xmas Eve." Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Tickets are $16 and $20. Dinner/show packages available. (630) 584-6300 or pheasantrun.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Improv Playhouse Theater remounts its radio play production of "It's A Wonderful Life" performed in 1940s style with period commercials and sound effects. It opens Saturday, Dec. 7, at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door for adults; $15 and $20 for seniors and $7.50 and $10 for children. (847) 968-4529 or improvplayhouse.com.

Jack Morsovillo, bottom center, plays the titular Hershel in Strawdog Theatre's remount of its 2018 hit, "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins."
Jack Morsovillo, bottom center, plays the titular Hershel in Strawdog Theatre's remount of its 2018 hit, "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." - Courtesy of Jon Cole

• A young man attempts to dislodge goblins from a synagogue in time for Hanukkah in "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins," adapted by Strawdog Theatre Company's Michael Dailey from Eric Kimmel's book. Strawdog remounts its 2018 hit musical at 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago. The preview is Saturday, Dec. 7. The show, directed by Lauren Katz, opens Sunday, Dec. 8. See strawdog.org.

• The College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, welcomes The Second City touring company whose members perform the holiday sketch-comedy revue "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Sweater." Performances are at 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

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An impertinent red squirrel named Nutkin (Kay Kron), right, narrowly escapes the owl Old Brown in one of three classic tales that make up Chicago Children's Theatre's "The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party," which also features Ray Rehberg, left.
An impertinent red squirrel named Nutkin (Kay Kron), right, narrowly escapes the owl Old Brown in one of three classic tales that make up Chicago Children's Theatre's "The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party," which also features Ray Rehberg, left. - Courtesy of Charles Osgood

• "The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party," the Chicago Children's Theatre's all-ages puppet show, returns Saturday, Dec. 7. "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse" are among the four stories included in the show featuring Petter Rabbit and his pals. Performances run through Dec. 29 at 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. (312) 374-8835 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• Mercury Theater Chicago and Michael Ingersoll's Artists Lounge Live collaborate on a pair of holiday cabaret-style showcases. Actor/singer Evan Tyrone Martin ("Jesus Christ Superstar") channels crooner Nat King Cole in "An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas" from Saturday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. He's followed by Joseph Jefferson Award winner Heidi Kettenring in "Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter" Dec. 20-29. Tickets are $65. (773) 325-1700 or mercurytheaterchicago.com.

• Irish Theatre of Chicago presents a new holiday musical titled "Parcel From America" in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Chicago. Megon McDonough joins ITC members Jeff Christian and Barbara Figgins in this show set in 1950s Ireland where townspeople, including a lonely widow, await packages sent from relatives in America. (773) 878-3727 or irishtheatre.org.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Saint Sebastian Players host Side By Side by SSP and Studio BE: a Retrospective Musical Fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at St. Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey, Chicago. Ensemble members will perform excerpts from past productions including "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "The Fantasticks" among others. Tickets are $45 and include light refreshments. (773) 404-7922 or saintsebastianplayers.org.

• Collaboraction's teen ensemble presents its inaugural full-length production "All I Want for Chicago Is ...," about teenagers who gather on Christmas Eve to share their hopes, fears and dreams. The production, which incorporates puppetry, music and poetry, runs Saturday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 15, at 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (312) 226-9633 or collaboraction.org.

• The Neo-Futurists hold their annual fundraiser at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. It consists of a performance of the company's signature show, "The Infinite Wrench," consisting of 30 plays in 60 minutes. In this incarnation, the show is written, rehearsed and performed within a 24-hour period. Proceeds support productions, artists' scholarships and accessibility performances. Additionally, performers present the best of 2019's "Infinite Wrench" from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 15. See neofuturists.org.

• PlayMakers Laboratory's "That's Weird, Grandma: Holiday Extravaganza," showcasing adaptations of stories written by Chicago elementary school students, runs Monday, Dec. 9, through Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. (773) 506-7140 or playmakerslab.org.

• Stage Left Theatre's DrekFest, a showcase of the country's worst 10-minute plays produced in cooperation with ComedySportz Theatre Chicago, takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. (773) 883-8830 or stagelefttheatre.com.

• Writer/lyricist Larry Todd Cousineau ("America's Best Outcast Toy," "All That He Was") sings original songs Monday, Dec. 9, as part of his annual concert "Songs From My Holiday Closet." The performance is at the Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• "Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the Musical," adapted from the 1954 film musical, runs Tuesday through Sunday, Dec. 10-15, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

• Previews begin Wednesday, Dec. 11, for redtwist theatre's revival of "Death Tax," Lucas Hnath's darkly comic tale about money, mortality and family and the capacity of wealth to prolong life, compel behavior and alienate others. Believing her daughter is paying her nurse to "nudge her into the grave," the ailing Maxine makes a deal with nurse Tina to "cheat both death and taxes." The show opens Dec. 15 at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago. (773) 728-7529 or redtwisttheatre.org.

• The off-Broadway how "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience -- A Parody By Dan and Jeff" returns Wednesday, Dec. 11, to the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. Created by BBC television hosts Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the show condenses all seven Harry Potter books into 70 minutes. (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com.

Ariana Burks, left, Adithi Chandrashekar, Shanésia Davis, Ellen Maddow and Karen Rodriguez rehearse Steppenwolf Theatre's Chicago premiere of "Dance Nation."
Ariana Burks, left, Adithi Chandrashekar, Shanésia Davis, Ellen Maddow and Karen Rodriguez rehearse Steppenwolf Theatre's Chicago premiere of "Dance Nation." - Courtesy of Lowell Thomas

• Members of a teenage dance troupe prepare for a national competition in "Dance Nation," Clare Barron's comedy about adolescent friendship, rivalries and insecurities. Steppenwolf Theatre's Chicago premiere, directed and choreographed by Lee Sunday Evans, begins previews Thursday, Dec. 12, at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. The show opens Dec. 19. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.

• Otherworld Theatre presents "The 12 Fights of Christmas," in which Christmas Wrestling League champion Santa is challenged by his rival, the Sugar Plum Fairy. Performances run Thursday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 22, at 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. See otherworldtheatre.org.

• In other theater news, condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Chicago actor John Kelly Connolly. A member of The Gift Theatre since its inception, Connolly, 56, died Nov. 22 following a four-year battle with colon cancer during which he continued to perform with The Gift. In his Facebook tribute, artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton described the "legendarily and comically loud" Connolly as "life itself," a man and theater artist who "felt big things and tried to wrangle them to earth." A practicing Catholic, Connolly "approached the theater with deep reverence. Acting for him was an expression of his faith. Theatre was church; dialogue: prayer," Thornton wrote.

• Performances continue through Dec. 21 for Corn Productions' adults-only comedy "Happy Holly-Daze: A Holiday Drinking Game Performance," at 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See cornservatory.org.

Jennifer Latimore plays Lydia Wickham in Northlight Theatre's premiere of "The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley." The theater has added performances.
Jennifer Latimore plays Lydia Wickham in Northlight Theatre's premiere of "The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley." The theater has added performances. - Courtesy of Charles Osgood Photography

• Northlight Theatre added performances to its world premiere of "The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley," the second of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's holiday-centered sequels to Jane Austin's "Pride and Prejudice." Performances run through Dec. 22 at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.

• Raven Theatre has extended its revival of "Hoodoo Love," Katori Hall's blues-infused drama about an aspiring singer in Depression-era Memphis who falls in love with a musician and seeks a Hoodoo expert's help to make him return her love. Performances run through Dec. 22 at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. (773) 338-2177 or raventheatre.com.

• Citadel Theatre has extended its production of "Annie." Performances run through Jan. 5 at 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. (847) 735-8554, ext. 1, or citadeltheatre.org.

• The Passage Theatre's premiere of "Happy Birthday, Mars Rover" has been extended through Dec. 16 at Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church, 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago. See thepassagetheatre.com.

• Blue Man Group, in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago exhibition "Andy Warhol -- From A to B and Back Again," offers a $79 package that includes a main floor seat to a Blue Man Group performance at the Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago, and an admission ticket to the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Use the code word "WARHOL" when ordering Blue Man Group tickets online at blueman.com/chicago.

• The Greenhouse Theater Center announced the launch of the Young People's Theatre of Lincoln Park, a new ensemble that will produce shows for children and families. The company's inaugural season begins this spring at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

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