Spotlight: Northlight's BJ Jones co-stars with Tracy Michelle Arnold in virtual reading of 'Wright/Rand'
Northlight Theatre's Interplay New Play Development Program virtual readings continue with "Wright/Rand," a two-hander by Jeffrey Hatcher and Eric Simonson. The play is about the friendship between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and writer/philosopher Ayn Rand whose "The Fountainhead" protagonist was inspired by Wright. Artistic director BJ Jones plays Wright opposite Tracy Michelle Arnold's Rand. David Ira Goldstein directs.
Premieres at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18, followed by a live, post-show discussion. Available on demand through Thursday, April 22. Admission is free, but donations are accepted and registration is required. See northlight.org/events/interplay-wright-rand.
Women of Steel
Steel Beam Theatre continues its "Women of Steel" series with a virtual performance devoted to Amelia Earhart. Leslie Goddard portrays the famed aviator. The first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart disappeared while attempting a solo flight around the world.
Streams at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 18. Tickets are $10. See steelbeamtheatre.com.
4 Chairs Theatre presents a virtual production of the musical "Island Song" featuring, from left: Kaitlin Feely, Joe Farrell (top row), Jasmine Lacy Guy (bottom row), Aalon Smith and Nick Arceo.
- Courtesy of 4 Chairs Theatre
4 Chairs Theatre presents a virtual production of the pop musical "Island Song" by lyricist Sam Carner and composer Derek Gregor. The tuner centers on five twentysomethings in New York negotiating their various love affairs with the city. 4 Chairs founder Lauren Berman directs the virtual Midwest premiere.
Tickets are available beginning Saturday, April 17, at 4chairstheatre.org/island-song. Streams on demand from April 23 to May 2.
In other news
• Nothing Without a Company collaborates with Hawaii's Kuma Kahua Theatre for a virtual 24-hour Play Fest during which theater artists will create six new 10-minute plays centered on the theme of cannabis all within a 24-hour period. The event commences at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17, with a virtual meet-and-greet during which teams -- consisting of one director, one writer and actors -- will be chosen. Playwrights will complete a play by 9 a.m. Sunday, April 18, after which actors and the director will rehearse in preparation for an 8 p.m. show on Sunday, April 18. Performances will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook.
• Pride Arts resumes virtual play readings with "Speech and Debate," Stephen Karam's dark comedy about three teens attempting to expose a drama teacher who preys on teenage boys. The performance takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. That's followed on May 4 by Del Shores' "Southern Baptist Sissies," about four gay boys, members of the Baptist Church, who are searching for love and acceptance. A reading of "Jeffrey," Paul Rudnick's comedy about a gay man who decides to become celibate just before he meets the man of his dreams, follows on May 18. The four-week series concludes on June 1 with "Shakespeare's R & J" adapted from the original by Joe Calarco and set at a girls' boarding school where students' lives begin to parallel Shakespeare's tragedy after the girls read the play. Readings are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. (773) 857-0222 or pridearts.org.
• First Flight Theatre Company streams the second half of its virtual production of "The Whitlings," a rarely performed 1779 comedy of manners by Franny Burney that sends up 18th-century literary society. Part two of First Flight's two-part production -- featuring 12 actors from the United States and Great Britain -- will be livestreamed at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 18. It will stream on demand Tuesday through Thursday, April 20-22. See firstflighttheatreco.com for more information.
• "That's Weird, Grandma: House Par-tay," PlayMakers Laboratory's virtual online revue made up of stage adaptations of stories penned by Chicago public school students, continues through June 28. Performances stream at 8 p.m. Mondays. Tickets range from $2 to $4 and are available at playmakerslab.org.
• "The Plane That Took a Train," a new musical radio play for children by Chicago singer/songwriter Steve Dawson and Milwaukee psychiatrist/musician Bob Druker, is available on Apple and Spotify podcast platforms. It unfolds in six episodes chronicling a group of humans, animals and a plane that go on a quest to save their homeland. See theplanethattookatrain.com.
• Metropolis Performing Arts Centre hosts its annual gala Mask-erade as a virtual event on April 30. Metropolis School of the Performing Arts faculty and students will perform selections from upcoming shows including "Little Shop of Horrors" and "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra." The evening also includes online live and silent auctions. Tickets range from $25 to $1,500 (which includes a VIP house party for eight people). See metropolisarts.com.
• Ma-Yi Theater Company, in coordination with the Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival, premieres "Vancouver," a puppet play by Ralph B. Pena about a biracial family that moves from Japan to the Pacific Northwest. The production, which is for ages 13 and older, debuts online on April 30 at mayistudios.com or at chicagopuppetfest.org. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged at the Ma-Yi website.
• Filament Theatre, a Chicago ensemble that creates theater for young audiences, established a new initiative to allow youngsters in grades 3 through 7 to choose what appears next on stage. Dubbed SPARK, the initiative consists of 12 children from around the country who evaluate artist submissions along with education director Molly Blunder. The artists selected for monthlong Filament residencies include actress/writer/musician Sonia Goldberg, composer/teaching artist Danny Clay and painter/designer Hannah Markey.
• Mercury Theater Chicago announced it will reopen under new artistic leadership with Christopher Chase Carter stepping into the role of artistic director. Mercury Theater executive producer Walter Stearns announced last July the venue would close permanently, but subsequent federal support and refinancing will now enable management to "remake theater into something better for the future," said Stearns in a prepared statement. "We will create art that represents the world in which we live," said Carter in a prepared statement. "I am determined to create a safe and fair environment while focused on equality and inclusivity. We look forward to welcoming and supporting a new generation of artists."