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Chicago Spotlight: September 2010

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Laurie Metcalf stars in Detroit
(© Saverio Truglia)
September can mean only two things: the kids are back in school and every subscription theater in town is launching its 2010-2011 season.

All of Chicago's largest non-profit theaters are represented in September (save for Victory Gardens Theater, which begins its season October 1). Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre Company is first out of the gate with Lisa D'Amour's Detroit (September 9-November 7), featuring Steppenwolf Ensemble members Laurie Metcalf and Kevin Anderson in the cast, directed by Austin Pendleton. Then, Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater is next with Romeo and Juliet (September 15-November 21), staged by Australian director Gale Edwards.

Northlight Theatre is next, offering a new musical version of Daddy Long Legs (September 16-October 24), staged by London and New York heavy-hitter John Caird, and aiming for a Broadway transfer. Court Theatre unveils a "reimagined" Comedy of Errors (September 16-October 17) performed by only six actors as conceived by aging "wunderkind" director Sean Graney. The Goodman Theatre rounds out the month in spectacular fashion with the musical Candide (September 17-October 24), directed by Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman, who will keep the famous and fabulous Leonard Bernstein music but is writing a new adaptation of the book, based on Voltaire's biting 18th-century social satire.

Chicago's second-tier (in size, not in quality) subscription companies also jump to life in September as Theatre at the Center presents the musical version of the film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (September 9-October 10), while Porchlight Music Theatre offers an intimate staging of Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George (September 10-October 31) at Stage 773. Broadway veteran Mara Davi stars as Cassie in the Marriott Theatre's production of A Chorus Line, September 1-October 31.

Lifeline Theatre -- specializing in adaptations of non-theatrical literature -- presents a world premiere version of Wuthering Heights (September 20-October 31), adapted by Christine Calvit. Then, actor/director Rick Snyder stages David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow and Oleanna (September 9-October 24) in rotating rep at American Theater Company. Completing the month are the ever-charming musical She Loves Me (September 14-November 21) at the intimate Writers' Theatre in Glencoe, staged by artistic director Michael Halberstam, and Tom Stoppard's 1978 play, Night and Day (September 22-October 31), presented by Remy Bumppo Theatre at The Greenhouse.

You want a third tier of varied and quality fare at Chicago's smaller storefront Off-Loop theaters? Check out Deirdre O'Connor's sexy drama of under-age girls chasing older men, Jailbait (September 1-October 17) at Profiles Theatre. In Evanston, Piccolo Theatre -- comedy specialists -- mounts a new version of Dario Fo's political comedy Low Pay? Don't Pay! (September 3-October 23) in its cozy playhouse, a former train station. At the Chopin Theatre, Collaboraction produces Jason Grote's Arabian Nights-inspired 1001 (September 9-Octover 9), followed by the Broadway musical version of The Wedding Singer (September 17-October 31), based on the 1998 movie, at Circle Theatre (now in new digs at 1010 Madison Street, Oak Park). Next, Steep Theatre opens its 10th anniversary season with A Brief History of Helen of Troy (September 23-October 30), by Mark Schultz.

There are numerous world premieres on the boards in September, including The Invasion of Skokie (September 2-October 10) by Steven Peterson at Chicago Dramatists. Set in 1978, it's a comedy about a gentile boy wooing a Skokie Jewish girl as neo-Nazis prepare to march through town. Author Jacob Juntunen takes a more serious look at the U.S.A. in Under America (September 3-26), the second production of Mortar Theatre, at the Athenaeum. Then, director Damon Kiely turns playwright for Thieves Like Us (September 9-October 30), opening the season for the hot-as-a-pistol young House Theatre of Chicago at the Chopin Theatre. Chicago-based playwright Robert Koons is inspired by archaeology in his new work, Menorca (September 9-October 16), at the 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn, staged by founding artistic director Ann Filmer. The world premiere month winds up with Jennifer Barclay's Obscura: a voyeuristic love story (September 23-October 23) at Red Tape Theatre.

Finally, the whole family will enjoy the annual outdoor spectacular by world-class puppet-and-mask Redmoon Theatre, offering The Astronaut's Birthday (September 9-26), an original five-story-high shadow play thrown against the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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