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Chicago Spotlight: August 2007

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John Jeffrey Martin and company
in Disney's High School Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
Catching its collective breath before the deluge of September and October productions, Chicago theater has fewer than half the usual number of new productions opening this month. Leading the pack is the official opening of the national tour of Disney's High School Musical at the LaSalle Bank Theatre (through September 2), based on the ultrapopular Disney Channel movie about high schoolers in love (and envy). Meanwhile, Emerald City Theatre Company, a highly regarded local children's troupe, is staging its own version of High School Musical at Victory Gardens Greenhouse (through August 9) using an all-adolescent cast.

Broadway in Chicago is presenting the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Auditorium Theatre (through August 12) with Tom Hewitt and D.B. Bonds as the lovable con-men who find out the true meaning of friendship -- and what it's like to be on the other end of a con!

For a very different type of musical, head to Northwestern University for a fully-produced workshop of In the Bubble (through August 12), a new musical set in the 1970's, directed by Michael Greif and written by Rinne Groff (book and lyrics), and Michael Friedman and Joe Popp (music and lyrics). Also in Evanston, Light Opera Works is staging the rarely-seen Noel Coward operetta, Bittersweet, at Cahn Auditorium on the Northwestern University campus (August 18-26).

Drama is represented by a diverse selection of 20th-Century fare, including Sam Shepherd's Fool for Love, produced by the Signal Ensemble at Chopin Theatre (August 5-September 2); Tennessee Williams' 1950's experimental play Camino Real, staged by Mom and Dad Productions at the Athenaeum (August 10-September 15); Neil Simon's The Odd Couple at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace Theatre (August 16-October 7); and Clifford Odets' seldom-seen Paradise Lost, presented by Timeline Theatre Company (August 25-October 21).

Those seeking the new, unknown and untested might check out the world premieres of Killing Women, the second production by the new Theatre Seven, at Chicago Dramatists (August 17-September 2); Envoy by distinguished actor and teacher Belinda Bremner, staged by Echo Theatre at Theatre Building Chicago (August 19-September 16); and The Fool (Returns to his Chair), a new show by the always-interesting Neo-Futurists at the Neo-Futurarium, as they call their roomy and informal playhouse above a funeral parlor (August 25-September 29).

Finally, Anton Chekhov's masterpiece The Three Sisters, is being presented at the intimate Gift Theatre Company (August 20-September 30), a small troupe that has set extremely high artistic goals for itself and generally has achieved them.

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