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Chicago Spotlight: March 2011

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Stephen Schwartz
(© Tristan Fuge)
Two old shows wearing new clothes come to town in March with the touring company of the Broadway revival of Hair at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre (March 8-20) and the initial pre-Broadway shake-down of Working, at the 500-seat Broadway Playhouse (through May 8), where composer Stephen Schwartz has been in residence for several weeks. A few of us old-timers still remember the world premiere of the original version of this musical based on the book by Studs Terkel, at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 1977, with Studs himself dancing across the stage during the curtain calls.

Several other companies are trying the book-to-stage adaptation route as well. Lookingglass Theatre Company tackles Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome adapted by ensemble member Laura Eason (through May 17). Then, Court Theatre offers Virginia Woolf's Orlando (March 10-April 10) as adapted by Sarah Ruhl. Also, Northlight Theatre follows up on past success with Jane Austen by offering Sense and Sensibility in a world premiere adaptation by Jon Jory.

Indeed, adaptations of one sort or another seem to rule the theatrical roost in Chicago in March. The month kicks off with Arthur Miller's version of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, presented by Stage Left Theatre Company at Theater Wit (through April 3). Also, Porchlight Music Theatre offers a musical version of the 1930's film Meet John Doe, at Stage 773 (March 8-April 17). Continuing in the musical vein, Theo Ubique Theatre Company stages a compilation of Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes in the revue Some Enchanted Evening, at the No Exit Cafe (March 11-April 30). Then, the Black Ensemble Theater adapts songs of Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Brook Benton and others into the revue, All in Love is Fair (March 12-May 8). Finally, Babes With Blades adapts Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to suit their special female-dominant style of stage combat, at the Raven Theatre (March 28-April 30).

As for new works, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble presents the world premiere of Precious Little, by Madeline George, at the Storefront Theatre (through April 3), a drama about the power of communication beyond words. Established works are represented by Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, which turns to Harold Pinter's masterpiece, The Homecoming, at the Angel Island Theatre (March 4-April 10), and Project 891 Theatre Company's take on Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane at City Lit Theatre (March 6-27). Also, Victory Gardens Theater presents the regional premiere of Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation, directed by Dexter Bullard (through April 10); and Gift Theatre offers another regional premiere, Richard Greenberg's Night and Her Stars (March 3-April 24).

Marching through March, theater-goers also can sample Brian Friel's Faith Healer at the Oak Park Festival Theatre (March 10-April 16); F. Murray Abraham as Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, at the Bank of American Theatre (March 15-27); a production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Theatre Mir at The Viaduct (March 12-April 3); and Tracy Letts' Man from Nebraska, offered by Redtwist Theatre (March 26-April 24).

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