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Chicago Spotlight: October 2008

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Nick Sandys in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
(© Michael Brosilow)
Halloween has emerged as the second favorite holiday among Chicago theater companies. It never will catch Christmas, but each year there seems to be more and more creepy-crawly shows served up in October. Just consider the following: Jeffrey Hatcher's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Northlight Theatre (through October 26); a world premiere adaptation of Oscar Wilde's metaphysical horror story, The Picture of Dorian Gray, at Lifeline Theatre (through November 2); Frankenstein in Love, presented by Will Act For Food at the Chemically Imbalanced Theatre (through November 1); The Texas Chainsaw Musical offered by New Millennium Theatre Company at the National Pastime Theatre (through November 1); and The Passion of Dracula, presented in a genuine neo-gothic mansion by First Folio Theatre (through November 2).

Also, a new work of adult fairytale fantasy called Gregor and the Squonk from Tympanic Theatre Company at Bailiwick (October 4-November 1); Night Falls at Annoyance Productions (October 5-November 2), offering four original episodes in the style of The Twilight Zone; Disturbed III, a 30-minute, environmental Grand Guignol-style shock show offered every half-hour by Oracle Productions (October 10-November 1); A Horrifying Evening featuring readings from Lovecraft and Poe, offered by Azusa Productions at the North Lakeside Cultural Center (October 17-November 1); and Martian Invasion! Decoding the War of the Worlds, performed by WNYC's Radio Lab at Victory Gardens Theatre (October 26-27), honoring the 70th anniversary of Orson Welle's War of the Worlds radio broadcast.

October is especially rich for musical theater fans with Dirty Dancing at the Cadillac Palace (through December 7), the U.S. premiere of the successful London show, adapted from the famous film; All Shook Up at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, staged by award-winning Marc Robbin and starring New York hottie Tyler Hanes (through December 7); Side by Side by Sondheim at Light Opera Works (through November 9); Forbidden Broadway Dancing with the Stars, at the Royal George Cabaret (beginning October 14); Chicago diva Barbara Robertson playing the title role in Mame at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace Theatre (October 9-December 21); and John Herrera (Tony nominated former Chicagoan) starring in a new musical, co-authored by Julia Cameron, The Medium at Large, at the Village Players (October 17-November 16).

Drama will be represented by Kita y Fernanda, an English-language play about two Latina women separated by economic class, by noted Latina author Tanya Saracho, at the 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn (October 2-25); then, the North American premiere of generational drama On the Shore of the Wide World, by Simon Stephens, winner of the 2006 Olivier Award for Best New Play, presented by Griffin Theatre at Theatre Building Chicago (October 5-November 16). Another American premiere will be Seven Doors/Seiben Turen, translated from the German of contemporary author Botho Strauss, staged by the Premiere Theatre at Prop Thtr (October 5-26).

Also, local wunderkind director Sean Graney (artistic director of The Hypocrites) tackles Christopher Marlowe's messy Elizabethan drama, The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward II, for Chicago Shakespeare Theater (October 8-November 9) with Jeffrey Carlson in the title role; Profiles Theatre offers the world premiere of Jason Wells' assassination comedy, Men of Tortuga (October 10-December 7), successfully developed in 2007 as part of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company First Look Festival; Victory Gardens Theater offers acclaimed writer Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice (October 3-November 9); while Stage Left presents the regional premiere of After Ashley (October 14-November 15), the prize-winning dark comedy by Gina Gionfriddo.

Finally, great literature takes center stage in two October productions. Connoisseurs of the work of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, martyred in the Spanish Civil War, anticipate Cabaret of Desire, an evening of mixed-media and multi-imaging inspired by his texts, presented by Blair Thomas & Company at the Storefront Theater (October 11-November 8); and the month closes with Lookingglass Theatre Company returning to Dostoevsky (they did The Idiot some years ago) with a new stage adaptation by Heidi Stillman of The Brothers Karamazov (October 15-December 7).


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