Ana Gasteyer
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
Ana Gasteyer
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
October offers a bountiful autumn harvest for musical theater fans. First up is Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Passion, staged by Gary Griffin and starring Ana Gasteyer as the painfully unattractive Fosca (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, October 2-November 11). Next comes the long-awaited Chicago edition of the smash hit Jersey Boys at the LaSalle Bank Theatre (October 6-April 13). Finally the month ends with a return visit by the tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, (Cadillac Palace, October 31-January 5).

That's not all! Windy City residents can also take in the Chicago premiere of the Off-Broadway gay musical, Zanna, Don't! (Bailiwick Repertory, through November 4); Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World (Bohemian Theatre Ensemble at the Heartland Studio, October 5-November 4); I Do! I Do!, the two-character marital musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (American Theater Company, October 8-November 4); a new production of Altar Boyz, the hit spoof of Christian boy bands, (Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place, beginning October 7); a new production of The Rocky Horror Show (Mercury Theatre, beginning October 17); the movie-to-stage adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, October 25-December 16); and a production of Cabaret squeezed into a 50-seat storefront venue (Theo Ubique at the No Exit Cafe, October 26-December 16).

On the non-musical front, one of the month's highlights is the remounting of the House Theatre of Chicago's The Sparrow (Apollo Theater, through December 31) the clever tale of a Midwestern teenage girl with superpowers. Meanwhile, two legendary films are making the transition to stage vehicles this month: Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds gets the screen-to-stage treatment courtesy of Hell in a Handbag Productions, a firmly tongue-in-cheek troupe known for both male and female drag (Berger Park Coach House, October 6-November 17), while the late, great Ingmar Bergman's iconic 1947 film, The Magician, receives a serious-minded world premiere stage adaptation from the National Pastime Theatre and Clock Productions (October 18-December 15).

This month's other world premieres include The Defiant Muse, a wordplay-and-swordplay look at the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the 17th-century Mexican nun, poet, and social crusader (Victory Gardens Theater, through October 28), and MiLK a new work from notable actor/author Nambi E. Kelley, concerning the lives of three girls in the Chicago housing projects (MPAACT at Victory Gardens Greenhouse, October 7-November 11).

On the revival front are Moliere's The Miser (Northlight Theatre, October 10-November 11), Samuel Beckett's Endgame (Red Tape Theatre at St. Peter's Church, October 4-28), Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge in a very intimate production (Actors Workshop Theatre, October 12-November 11); Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty (Backstage Theatre at The Viaduct, October 12-November 3); and Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana (Raven Theatre, October 14-December 8).

Other noteworthy productions include The Siddhartha Project, a collaborative retelling of Herman Hesse's tale of Hindu mysticism, presented at a hip lounge with a programmable LED ceiling (Collaboraction at Lumen Lounge, through October 14); Lifeline Theatre's version of H. G. Wells' oft-imitated sci-fi tale, The Island of Dr. Moreau (October 22-December 2); The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe, performed by the remarkable Larry Neumann, Jr. in a restored semi-gothic mansion (First Folio Shakespeare Company at the Peabody Mayslake Estate, October 6-28); and Emma (Trap Door Theatre, October 18-Dec. 1), with the feisty Beatta Pilch playing the even more feisty firebrand revolutionary Emma Goldman.