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Chicago Spotlight: September 2008

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Rachel York and Jeff Daniels star in
Turn of the Century
Lovers of musicals have a month of treats that closes with a world premiere wallop: the Goodman Theatre's Turn of the Century (September 19-October 26), an original fantasy musical by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (co-authors of Jersey Boys, which continues its long Chicago run), directed by Broadway legend Tommy Tune, starring Jeff Daniels and Rachel York and featuring songs of the Great American Songbook (from Irving Berlin to Henry Mancini). Other musical offerings include a Rodgers and Hammerstein revue, Some Enchanted Evening, at the Noble Fool Theatre (September 12-November 1); an intimate staging of Bernstein et al.'s Candide by Porchlight Music Theatre at Theatre Building Chicago (September 12-November 2); and a robust production of The Producers by Theatre at the Center (September 18-October 19).

Also on the musical docket are the regional premiere of Tesori and Kushner's unusual tuner Caroline, or Change at Court Theatre (September 17-October 19); Damn Yankees at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre (September 18-November 2); and the spoof-ish Texas Chainsaw Musical by New Millennium Theatre at the National Pastime Theatre, running late-nights just long enough for Halloween (September 26-November 1).

September is especially rich in antique and modern classics: The Hypocrites present Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera at the Steppenwolf Garage (September 2-October 12); Shattered Globe opens its season at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse with Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (September 5-November 2); the Bricklayers partner with visiting French troupe Collectif Masque in an intergalactic version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Athenaeum (September 12-October 12); Chicago Shakespeare Theater kicks off the season with Amadeus, directed by Gary Griffin (September 16-November 9); and Writers' Theatre presents Inge's Picnic (September 16-November 16).

Strawdog Theatre Company offers science-not-so-fiction in Karel Capek's rarely-seen seminal 1920 drama, R.U.R. (in which the word "robot" was invented, September 18-October 25); then, Remy Bumppo opens its Victory Gardens Greenhouse season with David Mamet's adaptation of Harley Granville-Barker's stylish social drama, The Voysey Inheritance (September 18-November 2); Lifeline Theatre delves into Oscar Wilde with a new adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray (September 18-November 2); Northlight Theatre also delves into late 19th-century philosophical literature with Jeffrey Hatcher's stage version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (September 24-October 26); finally, in suburban Glen Ellyn the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble offers Peter Shaffer's Sleuth at the MacAninch Arts Center (September 25-October 19).

We also will have shows inspired by the classics but taking decidedly different paths. The comedic Piccolo Theatre (housed in a one-time train station in downtown Evanston) is resurrecting vintage vaudeville routines for Vaudeville and Vixens (September 12-October 4); playwrights David Farr and James Sherman use Gogol's 1830's satire The Government Inspector as their source for The U. N. Inspector at Next Theatre Company (September 15-October 12); City Lit Theatre pairs up a classic Shakespearian murder mystery and a classic mystery writer in Dashiell Hamlet, in which the Melancholy Dane is placed in 1945 Los Angeles (September 16-October 26); and author Jeff Whitty finds comedy where few have dared to tread, in the solemn works of Henrik Ibsen, with The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler (who shoots herself to end the Ibsen original), presented by Dog & Pony Theatre Company at the Viaduct (September 26-October 26).

Trap Door Theatre offers the English language world premiere of No Darkness Round My Stone by French author Fabrice Malquiot (September 4-October 11), American Theater Company revisits the Jonestown Massacre with The People's Temple, directed and co-authored by Tectonic Theatre Project member Leigh Fondakowski (September 5-22) and Purple Bench Productions brings the politically controversial My Name is Rachel Corrie to the Artistic Home (September 12-October 5). Also, eta Creative Arts stages the Gloria Bond Clunie world premiere African-American drama, Drip (September 18-November 9); Infamous Commonwealth Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Robert Koons' prize-winning ecological drama, Odin's Horse, at the Raven Theatre (September 19-October 19); and Gift Theatre revisits David Rabe's Vietnam era play Streamers (September 19-November 16).

Two more highly-anticipated dramas are Kafka on the Shore and Yohen, both with Asian connections. The former is a world premiere adaptation by director Frank Galati of a work by contemporary Japanese author Haruki Murakimi, to be staged at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (September 18- November 16). The latter is the play by Asian-American author Philip Kan Gotanda, presented by the Silk Road Theatre Project (September 18-November 2).

Finally, for the first time in its 27-year history, the Off-Loop Lifeline Theatre is transferring a show: its run-away summer hit The Mark of Zorro -- a highly creative adaptation of the original 1919 Zorro pulp novel -- reopens at Theatre Building Chicago (September 27-November 23). It's filled with live Spanish-Mexican music, dance, chases on horseback, and, of course, sword fights.

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