Spotlight: Lifeline Theatre remounts pandemic-interrupted 'Middle Passage'

  • Ajax Dontavius, left, and Patrick Blashill (seen here in a photo from the 2020 production) star in Lifeline Theatre's remount of its pandemic-interrupted production "Middle Passage."

    Ajax Dontavius, left, and Patrick Blashill (seen here in a photo from the 2020 production) star in Lifeline Theatre's remount of its pandemic-interrupted production "Middle Passage." Courtesy of Jackie Jasperson

Posted4/15/2022 6:00 AM

Lifeline's 'Passage'

Lifeline Theatre remounts its pandemic-interrupted production of "Middle Passage," co-adapted by director Ilesa Duncan and David Barr III from Charles Johnson's 1990 historical novel. The play tells the story of Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave, who in 1830 seeking to avoid debtors, unwittingly stows aboard a slave ship bound for Africa. Ajax Dontavius stars as Calhoun.


Previews at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, April 15 and 22; 8 p.m. Saturdays, April 16 and 23; and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. Opening performances are April 24 and 25. $20-$45. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination and booster or PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time and masking required. (773) 761-4477 or

Rethinking parenthood

A Rogers Park couple plans to adopt the child of a pregnant teenager named Emma but find the experience threatens their marriage and upends their concept of parenthood in "Emma's Child" by City Lit Theater resident playwright Kristine Thatcher. Kat Evans and James Sparling play the couple and Katie MacLauchlan plays the titular teen in the City Lit production, which is directed by Terry McCabe.

Previews at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 15-16 and 22-23, at 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. The show opens April 24. $25-$34. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination required. (773) 293-3682 or

Comedy at Citadel

Citadel Theatre concludes its season with a revival of Steve Martin's comedy "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," which imagines a 1904 meeting at a Parisian cafe between 23-year-old Pablo Picasso (Travis Ascione) and 25-year-old Albert Einstein (Mark Yacullo) whose discussion of genius and talent is interrupted by their fellow patrons. Founding artistic director Scott Phelps directs.

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Previews at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, April 20-21, at 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, April 22. $20-$45. COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination or negative COVID test and masking required. (847) 735-8554, ext. 1, or

Kevin Bozeman performs at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
Kevin Bozeman performs at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.
Laughs at Metropolis

"For an hour a night, I'm wildly successful," quips Kevin Bozeman (HBO's "Comedy Competition," "Last Comic Standing"), who began his stand-up career playing open mics in Madison, Wisconsin, and headlines the latest in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's ongoing comedy series. "An Evening With Kevin Bozeman and Friends" also features Zanies veteran Anthony Bonazzo.

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $30. COVID-19 precautions: Masking encouraged. (847) 577-2121 or

In other news

Check with venues about COVID-19 precautions.

• Broadway in Chicago presents the national tour of "The Prom," the 2016 musical inspired by the true story of a Mississippi girl who in 2010 planned to bring her girlfriend to her prom and wear a tuxedo, until school officials canceled the prom altogether. The musical by Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics) is about four fading Broadway stars who travel to Indiana to help a lesbian banned from attending the prom with her girlfriend. Performances run Tuesday, April 19, through April 24 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. (800) 775-2000 or


• Previews begin Thursday, April 21, for A Red Orchid Theatre's world premiere of "Last Hermanos," Exal Iraheta's play about Miguel and Julio, two men on the run who take refuge in a Texas state park. Recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic as an audio play, director Ismael Lara Jr.'s production marks the play's theatrical world premiere. The show opens April 30 at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. See

• Collaboraction seeks submissions for The Light, a yearlong training program for youth artist/activists. Collaboraction will select five entrants who will be paired with mentors to create live and digital works for performance. Applicants will be asked to submit a video sample, state their social justice focus and share how they seek to put that out into the world as an artist who wants to cultivate positive social change. Submissions are due by May 20. See

• Porchlight Music Theatre's 2022-2023 season includes three main stage productions, the Porchlight Revisits series showcasing rarely performed musicals and the New Faces Sing Broadway series showcasing Broadway hits from a specific year. The main stage series begins Oct. 29 with "Rent," followed by "Cabaret" (Jan. 14-Feb. 12, 2023) and the Chicago premiere of "Ernest Shackleton Loves Me" about a video game composer who's contacted across time by the famous polar explorer who shares with her his epic Antarctic journey. Porchlight Revisits includes: "The Apple Tree" (Dec. 7-8) consisting of three vignettes about love and romance; "I Am a Camera" (Feb. 8, 2023), a staged reading of the play that inspired "Cabaret" and "Two by Two" (May 24-25, 2023) which tells the story of Noah, the flood and its aftermath. Performances take place at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Subscription renewals available through May 1. New subscriptions available beginning May 2. (773) 777-9884 or

• Kokandy Productions marks its 10th anniversary season with two musicals and a celebratory concert (TBA) featuring artists who appeared in productions over the last 10 years. The season begins June 9 with a revival of "Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical," adapted from the film about the king and queen bees at an elite prep school whose vengeful bet wrecks havoc on their classmates. That's followed on Sept. 8 by "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical about an unjustly exiled 19th-century barber who returns to London after yearslong imprisonment to exact vengeance upon the corrupt judge who assaulted his wife and sent him away. Performances take place at The Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. See

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