325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe, 847-242-6000, writerstheatre.org
Several Chicago-area theater troupes are developing new facilities right now, but nobody’s got sexier blueprints than Writers Theatre. Once housed in the back of a North Shore bookshop, the 22-year-old Glencoe company will soon break ground on a complex designed by Studio Gang Architects, the outfit headed by MacArthur fellow Jeanne Gang, whose Lakeshore East tower Aqua has been acclaimed worldwide. Under the circumstances—which include the need to hit a $31 million capital campaign goal—you’d think something besides the donors would have to give, that there’d be some slippage in production quality while artistic director Michael Halberstam builds his dream house. But exactly the opposite happened. Starting in October 2013, Writers ran no fewer than three brilliant shows in a row: Port Authority (which I called “exquisitely orchestrated”), Hedda Gabler (“up there with—and maybe beyond—the best I’ve seen”), and The Dance of Death (“fierce”). The secret of Halberstam’s success may lie in knowing when and how to delegate. Each of the three productions was staged by a local director possessing extraordinary theatrical smarts: William Brown, Kimberly Senior, and Henry Wishcamper.
Correction: This item has been amended to correctly reflect the first name of Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam.