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Chicago Spotlight: July 2007

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Faran Tahir and Lisa Tejero
in Mirror of the Invisible World
(© Brian Warling)
The summer doldrums have not exactly hit Chicago yet, but the theater action in July is a tad slower than usual. Fortunately, two of Chicago's leading non-profit theaters now continue their seasons nearly year-round, resulting in summertime openings that were unheard of a decade ago.

The Goodman Theatre offers Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman's Mirror of the Invisible World, based on classical Persian love literature (through July 29), while Steppenwolf Theatre Company rounds out its 2006-2007 season with the world premiere of August: Osage County by Tracy Letts and featuring Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry (July 5-August 26).

Chicago's newest theater space debuts this month: the Hoover-Leppen Theatre of the Center on Halsted, the new, built-from-the-ground-up GLBT community center. Seating 154, this well-equipped, flexible space will house several resident companies includinAbout Face Theatre, GayCo, Hubris Productions, and Windy City Performing Arts. First out of the gate, Hubris inaugurates the theater with Love! Valour! Compassion! (July 5-August 12), Terrence McNally's Tony-winning play about eight gay male friends who spend the three major holiday weekends of one summer together at a house in Upstate New York.

Much of this month's theater action takes place outdoors. Theatre Hikes, a novel outfit that combines an easy walk of up to two miles with the presentation of a play, offers A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Morton Arboretum (through July 9), a famous regional nature preserve in the western suburbs. The scenes of the play unfold as audience members follow a trail through meadows and woods.

Also in the western 'burbs, First Folio Shakespeare Company presents Richard III at its usual lovely haunts, the formal gardens of the Peabody Estate, Mayslake Forest Preserve in Oak Brook (July 13-August 12). A little closer to Chicago proper, the Oak Park Festival premieres an original swashbuckler titled The Historie of Robin Hood in Austin Gardens (July 19-August 25). Completing the outdoor circuit is The Taming of the Shrew, presented at Ravenswood Manor Park in the city by GroundUp Theatre (through August 5).

Coming off a huge, Jeff Citation-winning spring hit with Equus, Actors Workshop Theatre offers Les Liaisons Dangereuses, adapted from the racy 18th-century French novel, in its tiny storefront theatre (through August 5). The Mill essays Strindberg's A Dream Play at the Chopin Theatre (through July 29), while Apex Theatre Company debuts at Theatre Building Chicago with Machiavelli's cynical Renaissance comedy Mandragola (July 5-22). Another newcomer, Remarcable Productions, offers Clifford Odets' 1930s classic of proletariat idealism, Waiting for Lefty, at the Gorilla Tango Theatre (July 20-August 19).

As always, there are quite a few musical offerings, including a new production of Cats at Theatre at the Center (through August 19), with always-energetic Marc Robin as director and choreographer; Married Alive by Sean Grennan, making its world premiere at the Marriott Lincolnshire (July 6-September 2); and the national tour of The Light in the Piazza, based on the 1950's novella by Elizabeth Spencer and featuring a richly theatrical (and Tony Award-winning) score by Adam Guettel.

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