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Chicago Spotlight: June 2009

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Janelle Snow, Stephanie Childers, and Linda Gehringer
in The Crowd You're In With
(© Eric Y. Exit)
June is an odd month that's neither all spring nor all summer, and so it is with theater in Chicago. Subscription seasons are winding down but aren't quite finished while outdoor summer theaters unfurl their tents (sometimes literally so).

The month offers a nod to contemporary drama with the Chicago premiere of Rebecca Gilman's The Crowd You're In With at Goodman Theatre (through June 21), Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mount Morgan at Redtwist Theatre (June 3-July 3), and the late Wendy Wasserstein's final play, Third, at Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park (June 3-28). Also, the Festival Theatre in Oak Park launches its outdoor season with Lanford Wilson's The Fifth of July, which actually opens in Austin Gardens on June 10 and runs through July 11.

On a more classical note, there's Sophocles' Oedipus in an adaptation for three actors by wunderkind director Sean Graney of The Hypocrites, at Building Stage (through July 12). Actually, of course, Sophocles used just three actors in the original production in 429 BCE plus a chorus of 15 men. George Bernard Shaw's Candida is the inspiration for A Minister's Wife, a world premiere musical offered at Writers' Theatre (through July 26).

Bailiwick Repertory debuts Bombs Away! at Mary's Attic (June 4-July 11), a musical about the worst musicals ever written, by Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering, the team responsible for the huge Bailiwick hit several years ago, Dr. Sex. Estimable playwright (and actor) Nambi E. Kelley unveils Hope VI, a ghetto drama, at Chicago Dramatists (June 5-July 12), where she is a resident playwright. Tina Haglund's world premiere Clitoris Stories dares to go on beyond The Vagina Monologues, and is presented by A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company (June 5-July 12) at The Cornservatory. Perhaps for Ms. Haglund it isn't just about sex but about satisfaction.

June offerings also include Pearl Cleage's A Song for Coretta, about Coretta Scott King, presented by Eclipse Theatre at The Greenhouse (June 11-July 26), and a revival by eta Creative Arts Foundation of Samuel L. Kelly's drama Pill Hill (June 18-August 9). Steep Theatre, in a spiffy new location in the Andersonville neighborhood (larger, more comfortable and less noisy), returns to one of its favorite playwrights, Howard Korder, to present The Hollow Land (June 25-August 1), an immigrant epic spanning 40 years and featuring 14 actors in 30 roles. Next up is the unique physical theatre troupe, 500 Clown, who always feature any number of "don't try this at home, kids" stunts and routines. They claim Brecht as the inspiration for 500 Clown and the Elephant Deal, presented at Steppenwolf Upstairs for a brief run (June 20-July 11). A month of drama closes with Bridget Carpenter's Up at Steppenwolf Downstairs (June 18-August 23) and Jose Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted at Goodman Theatre (June 20-July 26), both of them regional premieres.

The musical month begins in grand style as the Ravinia Festival (summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) opens its 2009 outdoor season with a June 5 concert presentation of Lerner and Loewe's Camelot, featuring George Hearn, Sylvia McNair and Rod Gilfry with full orchestra. Among other June musicals are Pump Boys and Dinettes at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace (through August 2) and the elegant Sondheim-Wheeler A Little Night Music presented at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston by the always-musically-impeccable Light Opera Works (June 5-14). Then, Chaim Topol troupes his Tevye to Chicago one more time -- even though he is far, far, far too old for the role -- in Fiddler on the Roof at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre (June 10-28). This production features the original Jerome Robbins choreography. The Black Ensemble offers one of its patented feel-good musical revues, A Tribute to the Black Crooners (beginning June 14). The musical month ends with a sinking feeling as Hell in a Handbag Productions revives its disaster-movie-inspired hit, Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical at the Chopin Theatre (June 20-July 26). As the poster says, "It ain't over until the fat lady swims!"

Just a few hours' drive from Chicago, The Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Bloomington-Normal opens its three-play rotating rep on June 25 with A Midsummer Night's Dream, to which will be added Moliere's farce Scapin and Richard III (through August 9).


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