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Chicago Spotlight: November 2010

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The cast of Departure Lounge
(© Bailiwick Chicago)
By the time November ends, Chicago theater pretty much will be sugar-plums-and-treacle with a plethora of holiday shows . . . but until then, there's plenty of non-seasonal musicals and more serious drama.

Bailiwick Chicago presents the US premiere of the UK musical Departure Lounge (Royal George Theatre, through December 12), featuring book, music & lyrics by Dougal Irvine, and about four less-than-innocent 18-year olds caught between adolescence and adulthood. Next, six male professors from Northern Kentucky University are performing 20-plus female characters in their original musical Church Girls, Umatilla USA, The Musical at Stage 773 (November 4-21). We're not making this up, you know. Then, the Marriott Theatre rolls out The Music Man -- which hasn't been seen locally in quite a few years -- directed by Gary Griffin and staring Bernie Yvon (November 3-January 9).

The musical month continues with the classic Cole Porter show Kiss Me Kate, presented by Circle Theatre in their new space in Oak Park (November 12-January 30), and then the American premiere of an Australian musical about Lewis Carroll, Boojum! Nonsense, Truth and Lewis Carroll, in a Caffeine Theatre co-production with Chicago Opera Vanguard at the Storefront Theater (November 18-December 19). Finally, Cats comes creeping over the fence at the No Exit Cafe, presented by Theo Ubique Theatre (November 18-January 2).

November also features three singular events. First, Broadway In Chicago opens its newest venue, the 500-seat Broadway Playhouse, with Traces, a physical theater work by French Canadian troupe Seven Fingers (through December 19). Then, Signal Ensemble offers a brief re-run of Aftermath (November 6-December 12), its hit show about the life and death of original Rolling Stone Brian Jones, featuring cover performances of early Stones hits. Finally, Chicago Muse presents the two-man musical The Story of My Life, directed by Tony winner Richard Maltby, Jr. at Stage 773 (November 7-January 2). Authors Neil Bartram and Brian Hill are in residence in Chicago re-working the show, which had a brief Broadway run in early 2009.

As far as plays go, Martin McDonagh's visceral The Lonesome West, kicks off November at the almost-too-intimate Gift Theatre (November 4-December 19), directed by legendary veteran Sheldon Patinkin. Next, playwright Will "Hellcab" Kern offers a new work, Kid Sister, at Profiles Theatre (November 4-December 19) about a 19-year-old mother and her ex-con big bro'. Then, Next Theatre opens its 2010-2011 season with Julia Cho's drama The Piano Teacher (November 4-December 5).

The serious stuff continues with Jose Rivera's Brainpeople produced by the UrbanTheater Company at a club venue, Batey Urbano (November 12-December 12), and Jonathan Lichtenstein's Memory, which juxtaposes Holocaust-era Berlin with present-day Israel and Palestine, presented by BackStage Theatre Company at The Viaduct (November 12-December 18). Then, A Red Orchid offers Craig Wright's version of The Iliad, the Homeric Trojan War epic, as adapted for an all-female cast (November 12-December 19). Soon after, Court Theatre presents Samm-Art Williams' 1981 drama Home (November 11-December 12), directed by Ron O. J. Parsons, and Hubris Productions stages Terrence McNally's two-hander Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune at the Greenhouse (November 18-December 31). Also, Writers' Theatre presents Giles Havergal's stage adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt at the troupe's Books-on-Vernon venue (November 9-March 27).

While the McNally and Greene shows can pass as comedy, for more guaranteed laughter audiences can turn to Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Project 891 Theatre Company at the North Lakeside Cultural Center (November 27-December 19), and Oscar Wilde's masterwork, The Importance of Being Earnest, at Remy Bumppo Theatre (November 24-January 9), with ensemble member David Darlow as Lady Bracknell. The New Colony closes November with a world premiere family reunion comedy, Pancake Breakfast, by Tara Sisson, presented at The Viaduct (November 27-December 19).

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