The Toad Knew
News items always ID James Thierrée as “Chaplin’s grandson,” but he deserves something more like “physical theater genius” or “cunning surrealist.” Back at Chicago Shakespeare after a ten-year absence from the theater, the creator of Farewell Umbrella will help the company inaugurate its new space, the Yard, with The Toad Knew, a meditation on sibling love.
9/19-Sat 9/23: Tue-Fri 8 PM, Sat 8:30 PM, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600, chicagoshakes.com, $48-$88.
Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of familial love and fecklessness, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s exquisite musical has had a hit run on Broadway and a well-received tour. Now it’s ready to be released into the wild of regional productions. Gary Griffin directs.
9/19-11/12: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 PM and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000, victorygardens.org, $15-$75.
Chicago International Latino Theater Festival
Without visits from the world’s theaters, Chicagoans literally don’t know what they’re missing. Here’s a chance to fill in some of the blanks. Artists from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, and, yes, Chicago present 11 works, ranging from a world premiere to a reimagined version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie
9/29-10/29: Various locations, times, and prices, clata.org.
Tarell Alvin McCraney got a share of the glory last winter when Moonlight—adapted from his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue—won the best picture Oscar. But his achievement doesn’t stop there. His trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays amounts to an early masterpiece. Coming after the trilogy, in 2012, Choir Boy follows a gay kid’s attempt to navigate a black all-male prep school known for its gospel choir.
9/27-11/12: dates and times vary, Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, 773-338-2177, raventheatre.com, $43, $38 seniors and teachers, $15 students and military.
Evening at the Talk House
Talk is never cheap in a play by Wallace Shawn, author of Aunt Dan and Lemon and the guy who had a famous dinner with Andre. This 2015 dark comedy offers what the New York Times‘s Ben Brantley called an “excavation of moral cowardice in a fascist age”—and no, it isn’t set in Nazi Germany.
9/29-11/19: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 PM and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, A Red Orchid, 1531 N. Wells, 312-943-8722, aredorchidtheatre.org, $35.
A Memory Palace of Fear
Sure, zombies are scary, but few things haunt a house like, say, the threat of eviction. A Theater Oobleck production, curated by Martha Bayne and Andrea Jablonski and featuring contributions by a coterie of artists, this “immersive theater installation” explores “the ways the spaces we call home can turn from refuge to menace and back again.” Tours start every 30 minutes, the first two of them on each date geared for younger audiences; the ones after that may be too much for kids under ten.
Theater Oobleck at Silent Funny, 10/19-10/31: dates and times vary, Silent Funny, 4106 W. Chicago, theateroobleck.com, $10 suggested donation.
Mariticide seems to be in vogue. Like Machinal, so powerfully staged by the Greenhouse Theater Center over the summer, Federico García Lorca’s 1934 tragedy concerns a woman made murderous by a patriarchy whose demands she can’t satisfy. Max Truax directs a Theatre Y-Red Tape Theatre coproduction using a new adaptation and songs based on Lorca’s poems.
10/27-12/10: dates and times vary, Theatre Y, 4546 N. Western, theatre-y.ticketleap.com, $25, $20 students and seniors.
Already scheduled for a Broadway run even though the Steppenwolf world premiere won’t open for another two months, Tracy Letts’s new comedy purports to expose “the ugliness behind some of our most closely-held American narratives.” It’s directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who also staged Letts’s august August: Osage County, and boasts a killer nine-member cast—including Kevin Anderson, whose visits to Steppenwolf are few and far between.
Steppenwolf Theatre, 11/9-12/31: dates and times vary, Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650, steppenwolf.org.
The Lizzie of the title is Lizzie Borden, famously reputed to have given her mother and father a total of 81 whacks with an ax. An all-female rock band revisits Lizzie’s legend in this show, which will also mark the debut of Firebrand Theatre, a new musical theater company “committed to employing and empowering women.”
11/11-12/17: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Firebrand Theatre at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee, firebrandtheatre.org, $20-$45.
They’re calling this a “breakthrough ice experience,” which seems like a poor choice of words—one pictures a skating pond with a big hole in the middle and somebody in a knit cap desperately trying to climb out. Still, danger is Cirque du Soleil’s business—as is really, really fabulous design. How will the Montreal-based megaproducer of circus spectacles transfer its aesthetic to frozen water?
11/16-11/19: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3:30 PM and 7:30 PM, Sun 1 PM-5 PM, Cirque du Soleil at Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates, 847-649-2222, cirquedusoleil.com, $36-$138. v