Blue Over You Francis can’t find his wife, Mitzi. She was gone when he came home from work yesterday, didn’t sleep at home last night, and hasn’t called in. So now he’s rooting around in her stuff, searching for clues. Maybe she lit out for Phoenix. Maybe she ran off with Joey, the macho maintenance engineer at the school where she teaches first grade. After a few minutes with Michael Joseph Mitchell’s Francis, though, you might suspect that she just couldn’t take his loopy, manic style anymore—his best-gay-friend asides (“Don’t you just love Angela Lansbury?”), his tendency to break into a Broadway show tune at the least provocation. You’d think that Francis’s many affectations would have some bearing on the ultimate trajectory of Dan Noonan’s play, getting its world premiere here as the debut production of Spot On Company. But they don’t. They’re apparently just there to give us something to focus on until an unremarkable surprise ending arrives. —Tony Adler
It’s My Penis and I’ll Cry If I Want To Trans performer Jamie Black has been suffocated by gender norms for his entire life. Before transitioning, he felt the pressure women are under to be docile in a society that expects them to silently do what they are told. After his transition, he felt the pressure men are under to confine their emotions and appear stronger than the other sex. Black’s solo show explores three different relationships where gender norms have been negated, revealing men who openly express their vulnerability and women who aren’t afraid to be lustful, angry, or withdrawn. The performance has passion, but lacks polish; It’s My Penis . . . feels underrehearsed, which shouldn’t be an issue for a remounted solo production. —Oliver Sava
Nevermore—The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe Though the subtitle promises an “imaginary life,” Jonathan Christenson’s 2009 musical sticks pretty faithfully to the facts about Edgar Allan Poe. Yes, he was the son of actors, abandoned by his father and then orphaned when his mother died. Yes, he was taken in by the Allans, Frances and John, only to lose Frances and fight with John. And yes, yes, yes, he married a 13-year-old cousin who succumbed to TB, fought a literary war with the nasty Rufus Griswold, and died under mysterious circumstances at 40. Christenson recounts all this while giving surprisingly short shrift to the reason why any of it matters: Poe’s great poetry and fiction. The show consequently lacks heft—which may be why director Ed Rutherford is so willing to push lurid atmospherics at the cost of clarity. Still, Christenson’s score is far better than his book, and, under Nick Sula’s strong music direction, the band and cast of this Black Button Eyes production make the most of it. —Tony Adler
Young Playwrights Festival The concept of overthinking comes up an awful lot in this year’s edition of Pegasus Theatre’s annual festival of plays by Chicago-area high school students. Which seems surprising given the stereotype of teenagers as thoughtless and impulsive. But much drama comes from overthinking; just ask Hamlet. Or check out the four well-crafted plays that have been chosen here, all of which entertain and enlighten without preaching or resorting to straw-man arguments. This is best shown by Mairi Glynn’s morality tale Monster, about a hijab-wearing high-schooler falsely accused of terrorism; by the end of this subtly written and performed drama we come to understand the how and why of Islamophobia, yet it never demonizes the student’s misguided accusers.