Spotlight: Northlight Theatre's Interplay series continues with 'A Distinct Society'
Northlight Theatre's Interplay New Play Development program consisting of readings of plays in progress continues with "A Distinct Society." Written and directed by Kareem Fahmy, it unfolds in a library on the U.S./Canada border where an Iranian family -- separated by the U.S. "Muslim ban" -- meets, which forces the head librarian, a U.S. Border Patrol officer and a local teen to make some difficult choices.
Premieres at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 16, followed by a live, post-reading discussion; streaming through Thursday, May 20, at northlight.org/events/interplay-distinct-society. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
Hershey Felder live
Pianist/adapter/director Hershey Felder's "Live From Florence" continues with the premiere of "Anna & Sergei," a memory play with music starring Felder as composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. The play chronicles a meeting between the composer and Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the Duchess Anastasia Romanov, who was thought to have been executed along with her father Czar Nicholas II, mother and siblings by Bolsheviks in 1918 Russia.
Premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 16, and streams on demand through May 23. Tickets are $55 per household. Proceeds will benefit theaters in North America and Europe including Chicago's Porchlight Music Theatre. See porchlightmusictheatre.org/events/anna-sergei.
In other news
• First Folio Theatre has added new, family-friendly bedtime tales to its YouTube channel. Artistic associate Diana Coates reads "Mirandy and Brother Wind" by Patricia McKissack while artistic associate Michael Goldberg reads "Uncle Wiggily and Fido Flip Flop" by Howard R. Garis. Stories continue through July 15. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.
• Lucy Godinez, Angela Ingersoll, Michelle Lauto and Donica Lynn are among the Chicago-area singing actresses participating in the virtual "Belting for Life," a benefit concert for Howard Brown Health, an organization devoted to the health and wellness of LGBTQ people. The concert premieres at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 16, and streams through May 31. Tickets are $20. They're available at howardbrown.org.
• PrideArts presents a virtual reading of "Jeffrey," Paul Rudnick's comedy about a gay man who embarks on a life of celibacy around the time he meets the man of his dreams. The reading is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 18. Tickets are $10 and are available at pridearts.com.
• Pivot Arts returns to live, in-person events on Friday, May 21, with "Reimagining Utopia," a festival featuring theater, dance, puppetry, music and video premieres. The 12 artists and companies participating include: Ishti Collective, a dance ensemble; playwright Christin Eve Cato; The Puppet Wonder Wagon; and KAIA String Quartet among other groups. Performances run through June 5 at indoor and outdoor locations in the vicinity of The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, Chicago; The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago; and ColorCircles Studios, 5524 N. Broadway, Chicago. Tickets range from $10 to $30. See pivotarts.org/festival.
• BoHo Theatre's In the Wings series of virtual play readings continues on May 24 with the in-development "National Merit" by Valen-Marie Santos. Stephen Schellhardt, in association with Northwestern University's Next Step Project, directs the play about six high school students competing to become a National Merit Scholar. The reading is at 7:30 p.m. $5 suggested donation. See bohotheatre.com.
• Steppenwolf Theatre recently announced its 2021-2022 Comeback Season will consist of plays written by ensemble members. In-person performances resume Nov. 11, with a continuation of the revival of Tracy Letts' "Bug," which the COVID-19 pandemic cut short. That's followed by the premiere of "King James" (Feb. 24-April 3, 2022), Rajiv Joseph's examination of the impact NBA superstar LeBron James had on Cleveland through a conversation that unfolds between two friends and sports fans. Inaugurating Steppenwolf's new theater building is director/adapter/translator Yasen Peyankov's "Seagull" (April 28-June 12, 2022) adapted from Anton Chekhov's play. That's followed by Tarell Alvin McCraney's "Choir Boy" (June 16-July 24, 2022) about a prep school senior and leader of the school's prestigious choir who is struggling with his identity. Steppenwolf's virtual offerings include three short plays by Tracy Letts. "The Old Country" features William Peterson and Mike Nussbaum as men waxing philosophic in a diner. "Night Safari" is a monologue performed by Rainn Wilson and another monologue is titled "The Stretch." They begin streaming in September. Another new play by McCraney will begin streaming in October and Tina Landau's "The Light Remains," comprised of six short stories about intersecting lives, begins streaming in November. For information on membership packages, see steppenwolf.org/memberships.
• Black Button Eyes Productions launches its 2021-2022 season Oct. 8 with an adaptation of the web series "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" by Joss Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon about a wannabe super villain and his efforts to join the Evil League of Evil. That's followed on Jan. 7, 2022, by the premiere of "Mary Rose," adapted from J.M. Barrie's story about a young woman's mysterious connection to an eerie house on a Scottish isle. Performances take place at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago. See blackbuttoneyes.com.