Audrey Francis, a white woman in blue jeans and a black jacket, is standing left, and Glenn Davis, a Black man in dark trousers and shirt, is standing right in front of the empty new theater at Steppenwolf.
Coartistic directors Audrey Francis and Glenn Davis announced Steppenwolf's 2023-24 season earlier this week. Credit: Frank Ishman

The warmer temperatures, blossoming flowers, and budding trees aren’t the only harbingers of spring. It’s also the season of the season announcements, with the major Chicago companies letting us know what to expect in 2023-24 on their stages.

The Goodman presents the first season selected by Susan V. Booth, who took over as artistic director after Robert Falls’s long tenure last fall. Branded as “Remix Reality,” the lineup includes old Goodman favorites such as August Wilson (Chuck Smith directs Joe Turner’s Come and Gone next April) and Mary Zimmerman (she’ll be directing The Matchbox Magic Flute, her take on the Mozart classic, on the smaller Owen stage in February). The Owen is also featuring work by up-and-coming writers Sanaz Toossi (creator of the Obie-winning comedy, English, scheduled for May 2024) and Christopher Llewyn Ramirez, whose wrestling extravaganza, Lucha Teotl (originally created for Prism Movement Theater of Dallas), receives a coproduction through the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance’s annual Destinos festival in September. (Maybe the Goodman can partner with Lucha Libre in the Park for some events for that show!)

Other intriguing offerings on the Goodman slate include Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, directed by Booth and remixing Homer through a feminist lens; Pearl Cleage’s The Nacirema Society, a comedy about 60s-era Black debutantes directed by Lili-Anne Brown (who directed School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play for the Goodman); and Highway Patrol, curated by Jen Silverman (The Moors) and created by actor Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives) and Dane Laffrey from tweets and DMs Delany received from “a 13-year-old fan in a desperate medical condition.” (Mike Donahue directs.) For more information, see

Steppenwolf’s upcoming season includes three world premieres and three local premieres. In the former category, there’s Purpose by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon), about a family whose status as a pillar of the Black civil rights community is challenged; Matthew Paul Olmos’s a home what howls (or the house what was ravine), described as “a modern myth drawn from the real-life struggles of displaced communities around the globe” and presented as part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series; and an untitled new work from Samuel D. Hunter (author of The Whale), which will feature Laurie Metcalf under the direction of multiple Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.

The Chicago premieres include Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse’s comedy, The Thanksgiving Play, about a school pageant that exposes the hypocrisy of well-meaning liberals; the deliciously (and expansively) titled POTUS, or Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger; and onetime Chicago writer Martyna Majok’s Sanctuary City, about two DREAMers who face rising xenophobia in the U.S. alongside their own complicated feelings for each other. (The latter will also move on to the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series after its initial run.) See for information.

Court Theatre’s emphasis on classics continues in its 69th season, with planned productions of James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter (directed by Ron OJ Parson); Sophocles’s Antigone, directed by associate artistic director Gabrielle Randle-Bent; and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, staged by artistic director Charles Newell. But they’re also offering a world premiere by native Chicagoan Nambi E. Kelley, Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution, tracing the career of civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture). Tasia A. Jones directs. More information at

Kokandy Productions cleaned up at the recent Non-Equity Jeff Awards for last fall’s production of Sweeney Todd. For next season, they’re going from light to dark. They kick off June 22 with The SpongeBob Musical, directed by JD Caudill and based on the long-running popular kids’ show about smart-alecky sea creatures. (The show, featuring songs by Sara Bareilles, David Bowie, Aerosmith, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, and others, made its world premiere in Chicago in a pre-Broadway tryout in 2016.) After that effervescent outing, they’re moving in another direction with the Chicago premiere of American Psycho: The Musical, directed by producing artistic director Derek Van Barham and opening just in time for Halloween. The show, based on Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial 1991 novel, features music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (known for his work with Marvel Comics, as well as many stage and screenwriting credits). Find more information at

For larger-scale musical (and dramatic) action, Broadway in Chicago offers the touring production of the recent acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, directed by Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Angels in America); Beetlejuice, based on the 1988 Tim Burton film about a ghostly couple and the title demon who torments them and the gothy teenager who moves into their house; and a pre-Broadway outing of a new revival of The Wiz. There’s also a pre-Broadway run of the new Louis Armstrong biomusical, A Wonderful World (not to be confused with the late Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf), and BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical, which opens in a world premiere just in time for Christmas. Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots) directs and choreographs this show about the spit-curled comic pinup.

In a more serious vein, Broadway in Chicago is also partnering with TimeLine Theatre for the Chicago premiere of Stefano Massini’s epic three-parts-in-one-evening The Lehman Trilogy, about the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers, from 1844 to the financial market collapse of 2008. TimeLine, which is still working on its new Uptown venue, will take over the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place for this production. Info for all BiC shows is at

Tonika Lewis Johnson Credit Philip Dembinski

Tonika Lewis Johnson and Rivendell win Roberson fellowship

Late last month, the League of Chicago Theatres announced that the Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Fellowship, created to support the work of a Black artist in residence at a Chicago company, would be presented to Tonika Lewis Johnson and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble for a collaboration on expanding Johnson’s groundbreaking Folded Map Project.

Johnson’s work creates “map twins” between addresses on the south, west, and north sides of Chicago to create a visual tool for exploring the ways racial segregation has affected how Black and white communities have developed over decades. Rivendell’s theatrical version will gather stories from residents across the city that reflect on the social and psychological impact of racism.

Named for the late Congo Square Theatre artistic director, the Roberson fellowship (now in its third year) is funded through the McMullen & Kime Charitable Trust and administered through the League. The winning artist receives $20,000, and the partner organization is granted $7,500.