Spotlight: Live, in-person laughs resume at Aurora's Comedy Shrine

  • Porchlight Music Theatre's "Broadway in Your Backyard" summer concert series features performances by theater veterans Nik Kmiecik, clockwise from upper left, Michelle Lauto, Lorenzo Rush Jr. and Bethany Thomas.

    Porchlight Music Theatre's "Broadway in Your Backyard" summer concert series features performances by theater veterans Nik Kmiecik, clockwise from upper left, Michelle Lauto, Lorenzo Rush Jr. and Bethany Thomas.

  • Courtesy of Dean La PrairieRaven Theatre hosts "Friday Nights at Raven," a series of outdoor summer events.

    Courtesy of Dean La PrairieRaven Theatre hosts "Friday Nights at Raven," a series of outdoor summer events.

Updated 7/16/2021 6:22 AM

Comedy at the Shrine

The Comedy Shrine welcomes headliners Brad Tassell and Patti Vasquez, former WGN radio host, to the main stage this weekend. Additionally, the club has revived Mike Maxwell's monthly workplace sendup "The anti-Ross." COVID-19 precautions, including masks and physical distancing, may be in effect.


8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 16-17, at 2228 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora. $25, plus a two-beverage minimum. "The anti-Ross" runs at 8 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month. $10. (630) 585-0300 or

Backyard Broadway

Porchlight Music Theatre begins its Broadway in Your Backyard concert series consisting of free performances at outdoor venues in Chicago and Skokie. Porchlight veterans Nik Kmiecik, Michelle Lauto, Lorenzo Rush Jr. and Bethany Thomas perform 90 minutes of Broadway songs celebrating family, friends and community.

4 p.m. Sunday, July 18, at Washington Square Park, 901 N. Clark St., Chicago (rain date 4 p.m. July 25). Free.

Annoyance live

Live, in-person performances have resumed at the Annoyance Theatre. Improv shows reopening this weekend include: "Missed Call," inspired by phone messages left at the club; the Alfred Hitchcock-inspired "Hitch Cocktails"; a free, late-night, adults-only comedy show; house ensemble Fire and Beer; and performances by the sketch comedy and improv ensemble known as Cigarette Sandwich. "Dick Wolf: Special Improv Unit" takes place on the main stage.

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"Missed Call": 8 p.m. Friday, July 16; "Hitch Cocktails": 10 p.m. Friday, July 16; "Holy (expletive) Comedy Hour": 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 16; house improv Fire and Beer: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 17; Cigarette Sandwich: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17; and "Dick Wolf: Special Improv Unit": 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. $10-$20. (773) 697-9693 or

In other news

• Performances of Citadel Theatre's original adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" continue through Saturday, July 17, at Mellody Farms Nature Preserve, 350 N. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. Performances are at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $15. See

• Outdoor performances of 16th Street Theater's concert version of "Botanic Garden The Musical" continue through Thursday, July 22, at the park at 1529 S. Harlem Ave., Berwyn. The musical is adapted from Todd Logan's play about a widow preparing to go on her first date after the death of her husband. It features a score by Lindsay Jones and lyrics by Jones and Logan. The play, which premiered in 2008 at Victory Gardens Theater, starred married actors Carmen Roman and James Leaming, who reprise their performances for this concert version. Performances are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$22. Theatergoers should bring a chair or blanket. Masks are required for unvaccinated attendees when moving about the park. See

• Trap Door Theatre livestreams "And Away We Stared," a work incorporating text by the writers Chuck Mee, Gertrude Stein and Matei Visniec that examines the concepts of live performance and automation. The show livestreams at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 22-24, at Tickets are $10-$15.


• Raven Theatre debuts "Friday Nights at Raven," a series of free outdoor events at the theater's parking lot at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. The series begins at 8 p.m. Friday, July 23, with a screening of the family-friendly "James and the Giant Peach." That's followed by a screening of "Inherit the Wind" at 8 p.m. Aug. 6. Seating is limited to 50 per screening. COVID-19 precautions may be in effect. Reservations required at

• Performances continue through July 31 for Eclectic Full Contact Theatre's live, in-person, family-friendly production of "Mother Goose Lost," about the recently retired storyteller whose friends try to persuade her to resume her role. Performances are at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. $12. See

• Shattered Globe Theatre announced its Global Playwright Series aimed at BIPOC and LGBTQIA writers and writers with disabilities to assist in the development of a new play to be produced at the theater. SGT is accepting submissions for the program through Aug. 15. Playwrights whose works are selected will receive $500. For information, see

Director Marti Lyons has been named Remy Bumppo Theatre's new artistic director.
Director Marti Lyons has been named Remy Bumppo Theatre's new artistic director. -

• Director Marti Lyons (a veteran of Writers, Victory Gardens and Chicago Shakespeare theaters among others) has been named Remy Bumppo Theatre's new artistic director. "Remy Bumppo and I share a passion for language-based work whether extant, new or adaptive. We also share a love for both ensemble-based work as well as new collaborations," said Lyons in a prepared statement. "As we transform, we honor the work that has come before while striving to ever better ourselves. We are committed to anti-racist and anti-exploitative practices and to operating with transparency, accountability and integrity."

• Actor/director Lorena Diaz and comedian/writer/director Wendy Mateo were named Teatro Vista co-artistic directors. "With this particular ensemble, we'll be able to deepen that storytelling and bring in a kind of nuance and complexity to our stories that our audiences will be inspired by," said Mateo in a prepared statement. "Lorena and I will tackle this by doing the work of true inclusion, listening to the creative needs of the ensemble, pushing them beyond their comfort zone and into their highest potential of creative expression."

"Teatro Vista has an abundance of thought-provoking artists who are exploring different genres of creative expression, from writing for television, to audio plays with visual components, to full-fledged plays with music," said Diaz in a prepared statement. "Expect that kind of excitement going forward."

• Raven Theatre announced its 2021-2022 season will mark its first as an equity theater company. The season commences Oct. 27 with the premiere of "The Last Pair of Earlies," Joshua Allen's play about spouses who begin to wonder if they're still meant for each other. That's followed by "Beautiful Thing" (Feb. 9-March 27), Jonathan Harvey's play about two working-class friends from southeast London taking solace in each other. The season concludes with the Chicago premiere of "The Luckiest" (May 4-June 19), a play by Melissa Ross about a woman diagnosed with a serious illness whose mother and best friend have different opinions on how her life should proceed. Performances take place at 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago. Subscriptions range from $45 for patrons younger than 30 to $100. (773) 338-2177 or

• Haven Chicago's 2021-2022 season begins Oct. 28 with "Rocky Horror Picture Show (A Shadowcast Extravaganza)" during which actors perform the show while the 1975 cult film plays alongside them. That's followed by "Get Out Alive" (July 12-Aug. 7, 2022), Nikki Lynette's "autobiographical afrogoth musical" incorporating storytelling, music, dance and visual media to chronicle her experiences with abuse, grief, sexual assault and suicide. The season concludes in summer 2022 with "Save Face," a short film by artistic director Ian Damont Martin about a Black boy who encounters a world where all people of color are presumed extinct. Performances take place at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Memberships range from $7 per month to $100 per month. See

• Mercury Theater Chicago resumes performances Nov. 5 with a revival of "Sister Act," adapted for the stage from the hit 1992 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer who enters protective custody at a convent after she witnesses a mob murder. Next up is "Women of Soul" (Jan. 27-March 13), a revue by Daryl D. Brooks paying tribute to such greats as Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Janis Joplin, Janet Jackson and others. A revival of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," about female impersonators/performers traveling across the Australian outback, runs from June 10 to Aug. 7, 2022. The season concludes with "Clue" (Aug. 26-Oct. 30, 2022), the musical adaptation of the 1985 movie based on the board game. Performances take place at 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Memberships available. (773) 325-1700 or

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