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Chicago Spotlight: October 2010

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Andre Jackson and company in The Lion King
(© Joan Marcus)
Even by Windy City standards, 50 new productions in one month is a lot, but that's what's squeezed into October. Four shows open October 1 alone, a cross-section of Chicago's theatrical diversity. Consider: The Lion King returns to the Cadillac Palace Theatre (through November 27); InFusion Theatre offers the world premiere of Ghostbox by Randall Coburn, a hot young Chicago author, at the Apollo (through October 31); the National Pastime Theatre presents Terry Abrahamson's tale of a 1960's Black barber, Doo Lister's Blues (through November 28); and a new sketch comedy troupe, White Rainbow, teams with DING!, a two-woman musical act, to offer the LGBT-themed Big Gay Pudding and Friends at a local bar, The Call (through October 23).

Other musicals: Sondheim and Furth's Company, presented by Griffin Theatre at Stage 773 (through November 14); Jones and Schmidt's I Do! I Do!, offered by Light Opera Works' second stage series (October 3-November 14); Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace (October 14-December 19); and The Other Cinderella, the familiar tale retold as a musical, set in a housing project, at Black Ensemble Theatre (beginning an open run October 16).

It's a big month for Russian Anton Chekhov. First, there's an adaptation by shooting star playwright Sarah Ruhl of Chekhov's Three Sisters, at Piven Theatre Workshop (October 16-November 21), directed by co-founder (and mother of Jeremy), Joyce Piven. Then, a week later Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls stages The Seagull in Goodman's smaller Owen Theatre (October 16-November 11).

Classical repertory is also represented by Oracle Productions' staging of Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding -- billed as a Halloween show! (October 8-November 20); Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's Betrayal, presented by the Oak Park Festival Theatre (October 7-November 13); a rare revival -- appropriately for Election Day -- of Russell Crouse and Howard Lindsay's 1946 political drama, State of the Union, at Strawdog Theatre (October 7-November 13); and Tennessee Williams's steamy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Raven Theatre (October 12-December 19), staged by artistic director Michael Menendian.

More classics include Bertolt Brecht's In the Jungle of Cities (one of three plays Brecht set in Chicago, which he never visited), staged by Ka-Tet Theatre Company at the Red Tape Theatre (October 30-November 25), and, finally, Peter Pan at Lookingglass Theatre (October 30-December 12), a world premiere version adapted from the original James M. Barrie books by director Amanda Dehnert.

Among newer dramas of interest are Too Much Memory, a contemporary play by Keith Reddin and Meg Gibson that draws on the Greek Antigone, offered by the Sinnerman Ensemble at The Side Project (October 7-Novenber 13); also Scorched, a significant work at Silk Road Theatre Project (October 6-November 7) by Wadji Mouawad, concerning a Lebanese-French Canadian couple who return to the Middle East; and Moises Kaufman's Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, the debut show of Black Elephant Theatre, at the Raven space (October 10-November 14).

Also, Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater opens its season with Edward Albee's At Home At the Zoo (October 1-31), his famous early one-act play, Zoo Story, paired with a new "prequel" play. Then, Trap Door Theatre presents the U.S. premiere of Me Too, I Am Catherine Deneuve (October 14-November 11) by Pierre Notte; and the Teatro Vista and Rivendell troupes team up for Quiara Alegría Hudes ' 26 Miles, staged at Chicago Dramatists (October 16-November 21), a tale of a Cuban mother and her half-Jewish daughter. October closes with two world premieres: The War Plays by Emily Schwartz, a tale of young American and Brit World War II couples, offered by Schwartz's innovative Strange Tree Group at the Athenaeum (October 28-November 21); and To Master the Art, a play about Julia and Paul Child, written by William Brown and Doug Frew for award-winning TimeLine Theatre (October 27-December 19).

Finally, for a Halloween treat catch Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, staged outdoors at the Morton Arboretum (in Lisle) by Theater-Hike (October 2-31) or The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe -- based on his life and writings -- staged in a Gothic mansion by First Folio Theatre (October 6-November 7).

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