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Theater Season 06-07: Meet Your Neighbors

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 1, 2006 7:43PM

September is traditionally the start of Chicago’s theater season. But since there’s no real off-season, we can simply take heart that local houses big and small are rolling out their big guns and, for the next few months, we’ll never have an excuse not to get our butts in the seats. The theater community has all sorts of personalities, here are just a few:

This weekend

shakeslogo.jpgThe Grand Dame: Shakespeare Theatre
Hamlet by You Know Who

The Scene: Melancholy, indecisive Dane tries to avenge his father’s death via actors (not so effective), contemplation (really ineffective), and swordplay (effective, but fatal) in one of Shakespeare’s most loved, most quoted shows.
Why see it?: Director Terry Hands kicked it with Royal Shakespeare and on Broadway.
When?: Sept. 2 – Nov. 18
Cost?: $40-67

CST’s 20th Season lightens up for Twelfth Night & Two Noble Kinsman, romances with Troilus and Cressida, and gets showy with Three Musketeers.

infcommlogo.gifThe Grim Reaper: Infamous Commonwealth Theatre
Betty’s Summer Vacation by Christopher Durang

The Scene: Betty’s housemates are a little… metabolically challenged. Sounds weird, but hey, it’s Durang!
Why see it?: The surfacing of Betty’s ‘housemates’ is typically a highlight.
When: Sept. 2 – Oct 1
Cost?: $8-15

Infamous Commonwealth Theatre turns 5 and contemplates death, theirs and others, through the work of Durang, Mark Medoff & Edward Albee.

We profile the next couple of weeks after the jump.

Next week:

keyholelogo.gifThe Drama Kid Trying to Fit In: Keyhole Theatre
When She Was God by Tony Dallas

The Scene: Head of psychiatric hospital really wants to prove herself. Careful what you ask for…
Why see it?: Young theater company takes on a script with bite. Can they pull it off? For that matter, can quality theater find a home in Wicker Park?
When?: Previews Sept. 5-7, Runs Sept. 8- Oct 15
Cost?: $20

Keyhole’s been quietly winning praise since 1999, presenting life lessons about the human character while a few blocks away, legions of recent college grads are drinking enough to escape such knowledge. Their winter show is Merchant of Venice.

claylogo.gifThe Magicians: Lookingglass Theatre
Clay, written & performed by Matt Sax

The Scene: Eminem escapes his hardscrabble life on the 8 Mile by... no, wait... Suburban boy finds solace in hip hop and a mentor named Sir John. Expect lots of hippin’ and hoppin’.
Why see it?: Even if Sax doesn’t deliver, it is your first chance to see their Studio Theater.
When?: Previews Sept 6-12, Runs Sept 13-Nov 19
Cost?: $25-30

Lookingglass produces the kind of grand visuals that are easier seen than described. After the hip hop collaboration with About Face, Mary Zimmerman brings us another Greek-inspired spectacle. Lookingglass Alice (yes, that Alice) returns next summer, in a bid to be the company cash cow.

The Out of Staters: Theatre at the Center
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Scene: Biblical brothers learn not to mess with the favorite son.
Why see it?: This show ages well and Theatre at the Center typically nails revival shows.
When?: Sept 7 - Oct 22
Cost?: $35

Northern Indiana’s Theatre on the Center is on a calendar cycle, so the 2006 season will conclude, once again, with A Christmas Story.

Silver Tongued and Sexually Mature: Theatre Building Chicago
Kama Sutra: The Musical
The Scene: The ancient sex manual brought to life for Dick, Gina, and you!
Why see it?: Maybe you need help in the bedroom, maybe you’re just curious. Frankly, that’s none of our business…
When?: Sept 7 – Dec 30
Cost?: $36.50

Theatre Building celebrates its 30th season producing and presenting musical theater with the premiere of Black, White, and Grey, and two new musicals for the kiddies. We’re fairly certain Hedy will be invited to review these.

Learlogo.jpgBig Poppa: Goodman Theatre
King Lear by that Shakespeare dude
The Scene: Stacy Keach stars as the old man who just wants to hand over his kingdom to his daughters without strife or bloodshed. Since this is Shakespeare, that ain’t gonna happen.
Why see it?: Keach is more than Mike Hammer and the Warden on Prison Break. Lear is more than a typical Shakespearean history play.
When?: Sept 9 – Oct 22
Cost?: $20-60

Goodman 06-07 also features the Chicago premiere of August Wilson’s last play and work by local faves Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman.

Later on:

profileslogo.jpgThe Rebel in Horn Rimmed Glasses: Profiles Theatre
Fat Pig by Neil LaBute

The Scene: Tom falls for Helen. Helen is huge. Tom’s friends can’t stop teasing him about that.
Why see it?: Whether you love or hate LaBute—best known for In the Company of Men and Bash—you never forget his shows. And leading man Darrell W. Cox is consistently dynamite.
When?: Previews Sept 11 – 13, Runs Sept 14 – Oct 29
Cost?: $15-25

Profiles has a reputation for producing that brand of powerful storefront theater that keeps theater geeks like us happy.

The Life of the Party: Bailiwick Rep
Jerker by Robert Chesley

The Scene: Phone sex adventures at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Why see it?: Maybe you’re reliving your own phone sex past, maybe you’re just curious. Frankly, that’s none of our business…
When?: Previews Sept 11-12, Runs Sept 13 – Oct 8
Cost?: $15-25

Bailwick’s Pride 2006 continues with a Leopold & Loeb musical (now playing) and the final voyage of holiday favorite Christmas Schooner.

marriottlogo.gifThe Extended Family: Marriott in Lincolnshire
Into the Woods by some guy named Sondheim

The Scene: Your favorite fairy tales meshed together and reimagined as a musical.
Why see it?: Admit it, you want to see if the Big Bad Wolf wins.
When?: Sept 13 – Nov 26
Cost?: $42-45

Chicagoland’s most subscribed to theater keep the musicals coming—next up are Beauty and the Beast and the swingin’ All Night Strut.

steppenwolflogo.jpgThe Slightly Unhinged Uncle: Steppenwolf Theatre
The Pillowman by Martin McDonaugh

The Scene: When a writer’s fictional accounts of small town murders start to resemble actual crimes, the police step in and make his life difficult. It’s just a coincidence… or its it?
Why see it?: To find out if it’s just a coincidence. And McDonaugh is a darling among the modern Irish writer set.
When?: Sept 14 – Nov 12
Cost?: $38-65

Steppenwolf’s 31st Season trots out the big names: Tony Morrison, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury and others, brought to life by some of the biggest names in Chicago theater.

courtlogo.gifThe Other South Side Sluggers: Court Theatre
Raisin by Robert Nemiroff and Charlotte Zaltzberg

The Scene: The civil rights movement can’t come fast enough for a South Side African-American family just trying to get their slice of the American Dream.
Why see it?: The original source material is great, and the artistic team brought us last year’s visionary Man of La Mancha. And Raisin was the hottest musical of 1974!
When?: Sept 14 – Oct 22

The 25th anniversary of that Hyde Park theatre you’ve always meant to get over to presents a new crop of modern classics by Pearl Cleage, Anton Chekhov, and Tom Stoppard.

metropolislogo.jpgThe Suburban Dad: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts

The Scene: The secrets of your relationship… set to music!
Why see it?: Because you don’t want to drive to Chicago. And it stars a real life married couple.
When?: Sept 14 – Oct 22
Cost?: $20-38

Metropolis’ season gets darker by the month: Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire, then murderous farce Don’t Dress for Dinner.

nextlogo.gifThe Righteous Grad Student: Next Theatre
Helen by Ellen McLaughlin

The Scene: Helen of Troy waits for her husband in 21st century Egypt.
Why see it?: Chicago area premiere.
When?: Sep 14 - Oct 15
Cost?: $25-35

Risk-taking Evanston Equity company presents 3 local premieres and 1 world premiere.

Stay tuned for the rest of September.