On stage: Porchlight & Windy City revive classics, Chicago Shakes premieres Jane Austen-inspired tuner

  • Lora Lee Gayer plays the titular role in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's premiere of "Emma," a new musical by Paul Gordon.

    Lora Lee Gayer plays the titular role in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's premiere of "Emma," a new musical by Paul Gordon.

Posted1/24/2020 6:00 AM

• The popularity of its winter opera series prompted the New Philharmonic to add an additional performance of "The Merry Widow," Franz Lehar's operetta based on an 1861 comedy about a wealthy widow whose countrymen try to find her a husband in order to keep her from taking her money outside the fictional country. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. Tickets are $59. (630) 942-4000 or atthemac.org.

• Porchlight Music Theatre celebrates Duke Ellington, one of the country's greatest composers, with a revival of his greatest hits revue "Sophisticated Ladies" featuring such hits as "Take the 'A' Train," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "Satin Doll" and "Mood Indigo" among others. Previews begin Friday, Jan. 24, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Directed and choreographed by Lincolnshire native Brenda Didier, the revival features West Chicago's Lorenzo Rush Jr. and fellow Joseph Jefferson Award winner Donica Lynn. It opens Tuesday, Jan. 28. (773) 777-9884 or porchlightmusictheatre.org.


• The Elgin Fringe Festival hosts a Winter Mini Fringe beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Grumpy Goat Tavern, 875 Sports Way, Elgin. The adults-only event kicks off with The Bad Taste Crimecast, a podcast detailing strange and violent crimes. That's followed by "In Memoriam," a part-scripted/part-improvised show at 5 p.m. Next up is "Manifest Destiny," a combination of sketch comedy and stage combat by American Maniacs UnLTD at 6:30 p.m. The mini-fest concludes with Dee Volitious' tuner "Mansplain: The Musical." Tickets are $10 per performance or $30 for the entire day. See elginfringefestival.com.

• Metropolis Performing Arts Centre hosts its annual wine-tasting fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. The event includes a raffle, silent auction, hors d'oeuvres, entertainment and the tasting. Wines are available for purchase, with 10% of the sales donated to the Metropolis. Tickets are $45. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.

• "Wake Up, Brother Bear!" the new, interactive production from Chicago Children's Theatre opens on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. Geared toward children up to age 6, the play is a journey through the four seasons led by a pair of lovable bears. (312) 374-8835 or chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

• Silk Road Rising presents staged readings written by students in its Empathic Playwriting Intensive Courses who hail from Boone Elementary, Cantata Senior Living, Lutz Center for After School Matters and Turner-Drew Elementary. The EPIC Showcase readings are at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26, at the Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago. (312) 857-1234, ext. 201, or silkroadrising.org.

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• Pride Films and Plays presents Lezsing, its second annual cabaret benefiting female and nonbinary members of the LGBTQ community. Performers sing pop, classical, musical theater and original works at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26, at 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago. (773) 857-0222 or pridefilmsandplays.com.

• Comedian Drew Michael, whose first comedy special aired on HBO last year, performs at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. (773) 697-3830 or thedentheatre.com.

• Previews begin Tuesday, Jan. 28, for Chicago Shakespeare Theater's new musical adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma," with music, lyrics and book by Paul Gordon, whose "Sense and Sensibility" premiered at CST in 2015. The musical centers around Emma Woodhouse (Lora Lee Gayer) who eagerly makes love matches for her friends and acquaintances, but is clueless when it comes to her own romantic life. Director Barbara Gaines' production opens Feb. 5 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or chicagoshakes.com.

• In 1968, eight gay men -- some of them closeted, some of them out and some of them passing as heterosexual -- confront truths about themselves during a birthday celebration in "The Boys in the Band," a seminal play by Mart Crowley. Windy City Playhouse's revival is directed by associate artistic director Carl Meninger. Previews begin Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 3014 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago. The play opens Feb. 13. (773) 891-8985 or windycityplayhouse.com.


• The League of Chicago Theatre's Theatre Thursday series continues Thursday, Jan. 30, with The House Theatre of Chicago's "Verboten" at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. The show is inspired by the true story of youngsters whose punk rock band is preparing for a show at Chicago's Cubby Bear that they are sure will change their lives. Tickets are $27 with the code THTH. They include a preshow chat with composer Jason Narducy and director Nathan Allen and a post show reception with the cast. See chicagoplays.com/theatre-thursdays.

• Steppenwolf Theatre's LookOut series continues Thursday, Jan. 30, with "Get Out Alive," a new autobiographical musical by artist Nikki Lynette, who chronicles her mental health journey. It runs Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 30-Feb. 2, at Steppenwolf's 1700 Bar, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org/lookout.

• Corn Productions celebrates the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois with its adults-only show "Dazed and Confused." It runs at 11 p.m. Saturdays through Feb. 15 at 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. See cornservatory.org.

• The Second City etc's 44th revue continues its 10-week development at Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago. Ensemble members Atra Asdou, E.J. Cameron, Mark Campbell, Laurel Krabacher, Chuck Norment and Terrence Carey perform Thursdays through Sundays. (312) 337-3992 or secondcity.com.

• Redtwist theatre has extended its revival of Lucas Hnath's dark comedy "Death Tax" about a wealthy, terminally ill woman who believes her daughter has arranged with the hospice nurse to push her into an early grave. Performances run through Jan. 26 at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago. (773) 728-7529 or redtwisttheatre.org.

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