TheaterMania Logo
Theater News

Chicago Spotlight: July 2009

Back in Blackbird logo
William Petersen and Mattie Hawkinson
in Blackbird
(© Victory Gardens)
For pure star power, no July show can top the regional premiere of Blackbird at Victory Gardens Theater (July 3-August 9). The British two-character drama by David Harrower features William Petersen and Mattie Hawkinson. Now that Petersen has left CSI, he has resettled in Chicago (where he is from and where his career began), performing at Steppenwolf Theatre last December and now at Victory Gardens, the company through which he received his Actors Equity card decades ago.

Chicago musical theater fans will have their first look at Disney's Aladdin, thanks to Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier (through August 30) and their last look -- at least until the tour comes back -- at Mary Poppins, which winds up a long run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre on July 12. Cavalia, the equestrian spectacular, parks its tent for a brief local stop (July 14-26). Musical offerings will also include the first local production of The Light in the Piazza since the award-winning musical's world premiere at the Goodman Theatre; it will be staged in-the-round by the reliable Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire (July 22-September 20). The Mistress Cycle (July 22-August 8), an Apple Tree Theatre hit being remounted at the Auditorium Theatre, is a musical based on historic facts about the lives and careers of notable female lovers from 12th Century China to the 20th Century United States, among them novelist Anais Nin.

Although June is officially LGBT Pride Month, gay-themed theater offerings spill over into July. Bailiwick Repertory, returning from hiatus, offers its usual summertime Pride Series show in the form of The Cousins Grimm (Center on Halsted, July 10-August 8), a musical authored by Don Martin and Michael Brollo in which a playwright is inspired by his lesbian cousin to re-imagine classic -- ahem -- "fairy" tales. Hubris Productions presents Martin Sherman's contemporary gay classic, Bent, at the Greenhouse Theatre Center (July 11-August 15). It's also probably worth throwing in Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical, Hell in a Handbag Productions' over-the-top camp-drag version of the over-the-top disaster film, promoted with the slogan, "It ain't over until the Fat Lady swims." It plays at the Chopin Theatre through July 26.

Buffalo Ensemble presents a rare revival of John Ford Noonan's A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking at the MacIninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn (July 3-26). National Pastime Theatre offers Tennessee Williams' never-really-finished take on painter Jackson Pollack, The Day on Which a Man Dies (July 3-August 1). Local playwright of note, Bret Neveu, is author of The Last Barbeque in a new staging at the 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn (July 11-August 8). A new troupe, Innate Volution Theatre Company, presents Edward Albee's early one-act plays The Zoo Story and Sandbox at Oracle Theatre (July 11-August 9). Gift Theatre offers the regional premiere of The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groffe (July 13-August 30), with artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton featured in the cast. Then, Collaboraction and Teatro Vista team to present a cast of 15 in the world premiere of El Grito del Bronx, by Migdalia Cruz, at the Goodman Theatre (July 15-August 2).

A rainy June in Chicago produced an incredibly lush summer landscape of flowers and greenery, although several Cubs games, White Sox games and outdoor theater performances were washed away. For July, rain notwithstanding, intrepid theater patrons will find a match between the Great Classics and the Great Outdoors as First Folio Theatre presents Macbeth at the lovely Mayslake Forest Preserve in west suburban Oakbrook (July 8-August 9), while closer-in Oak Park Festival Theatre mounts Rostand's lyrical romance Cyrano de Bergerac in Austin Gardens (July 15-August 15).

Finally, patrons can see remounts of a half-dozen hits from the 2008-2009 season at Theater on the Lake, the annual encore series presented by the Chicago Park District in an open-sided historic pavilion at the foot of Lincoln Park. Each remount runs one week, through August 9, with July productions including hits from the Improvised Shakespeare, Theo Ubique, Rivendell, Barrel of Monkeys and Artistic Home theater companies. Fare ranges from Jacques Brel songs to Sean O'Casey to, well, improvised Shakespeare.

Tagged in this Story