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Chicago Spotlight: August 2010

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Patti LuPone
(© Tristan Fuge)
Patti LuPone and Patrick Cassidy star as Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, respectively, in the Ravinia Festival's production of the classic Irving Berlin tuner Annie Get Your Gun, August 13-15. Lonny Price will direct, with the cast also including George Hearn as Buffalo Bill Cody.

David H. Bell directs and choreographs his jazz and gospel-infused adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, retitled Hot Mikado, and performing at the Drury Lane Theatre, August 12-October 3. Tony Award nominee Ted Levy plays The Mikado. Meanwhile, the Second City's popular musical satire Rod Blagojevich Superstar lands at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre for a limited run, August 6-September 18.

Musical works also include the beloved Carousel, with an orchestra of 30, presented by Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston (August 13-29), which should be a treat for all who like traditional musicals. Another popular, but less traditional, musical opens the same weekend as the Provision Theatre Company presents the soft-rock tuner Godspell, based on the Gospel according to Matthew (August 11-September 26), with music by Stephen Schwartz.

Among several August world premieres, the Genesis Ensemble explores the evolution of the American love letter in a group-created work, In Love's Bright Coils, at a venue with the charming name of the Charnel House (August 8-30). Then, the Quest Theatre invites audiences to become drummers exploring the myth of Pandora's Box in The People's Drum Circle Pandora, conceived and staged by Quest artistic director Andrew Park (August 13-September 19). Also on the world premiere list is Daredevil's Hamlet, by Ryan Walters, which is a physical theater homage to, and reduction of, Shakespeare's play, presented by the Neo-Futurists at the Neo-Futurarium (August 19-September 25). A final world premiere will be Emily Dendinger's Hideous Progeny, a gothic exploration of the friendship between Mary Shelley and Lord Byron in the early 1800's that produced Frankenstein, presented by LiveWire Chicago Theatre at the Storefront Theatre (August 26-September 26).

Signal Ensemble launches its 2010-2011 season with the rarely-seen The Real Inspector Hound, the career-making comedy by Sir Tom Stoppard that lampoons both theater critics and Agatha Christie murder mysteries. It's presented at Signal Ensemble's new permanent home at 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago (August 16-September 18). Later in the month, a new troupe, Greentree Productions, presents Pearl Cleage's Harlem-based drama, Blues for an Alabama Sky (August 26-September 19) at Stage 773 (formerly Theatre Building Chicago).

Lifeline and Live Bait theaters have combined forces for the 14th annual Fillet of Solo Festival to be staged at several different Off-Loop venues (through August 21), among them Live Bait Theatre, the Artistic Home and Theater Wit. Originated by Live Bait, the festival took a hiatus last year but comes roaring back in 2010 with solo shows by some 20 artists such as Nicole Hollander (the cartoonist), the Sweat Girls and Tekki Lomnicki (a unique and beloved figure in local story-telling circles).

For sheer audacity it's tough to beat the anything-goes folks at the Annoyance Theatre, who take the prize for Tasteful Title of the Month with Fisting: A Period Piece (through September 2). They say the original comedy is set in the late 1800's and concerns love, Irish pugilism (boxing) and innuendo, which we certainly can imagine.

Finally, the non-show specific big news out of Chicago is the unrelated mid-July announcements that three long-serving artistic leaders will retire at the end of the 2010-2011 season. William Mason will step down as General Director of internationally-renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago after 15 years. Also--working just blocks from each other--James Bohnen and Dennis Zacek will retire from Remy Bumppo Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater respectively.

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