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Chicago Spotlight: June 2006

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Bakesta King and Nambi E. Kelley in
Crumbs from the Table of Joy
(Photo © Michael Brosilow)
The grand opening of the LaSalle Bank Theatre, the result of a year-long, $14 million renovation, was the highlight of last month. Now, the public can see just what all that money can buy with the showplace's first theatrical offering, the national tour of Golda's Balcony, with Valerie Harper as the famed Israeli prime minister (May 31-June 11).

One of the city's most prominent companies, The Goodman Theatre rounds out its current season with two strong offerings: Lynn Nottage's drama, Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Owen Theatre, June 6-25), and Regina Taylor's The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove, with Tony Award winner L. Scott Caldwell as the famed hair culturist Madam C.J. Walker (Albert Theatre, June 17-July 23).

June is Gay Pride Month in Chicago and several shows will cater specifically to the large local GLBT community: The improv troupe GayCo presents The DaVinci GayCode at Theatre Building Chicago (June 3-July 8). Bailiwick Repertory continues its summer-long Pride Series with Pins, the tale of a gay high school wrestler (June 18-July 23), and seduction..., an all-gay and sexually explicit British version of Schnitzler's La Ronde (June 27-July 9). About Face Theatre celebrates the great author Marcel Proust with M. Proust, a one-woman show written by Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman (Steppenwolf Theatre, June 8-July 16).

Fans of musical theater will also have their share of treats, such as the Bohemian Theatre Company's Side Show, the cult favorite about Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (Theatre Building Chicago, through July 9), the early Kander/Ebb collaboration, Flora the Red Menace (No Exit Cafe, June 9-July 30), and the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel vehicle, Movin' Out, which returns to the city where it started over three years ago ( Auditorium Theatre, June 28-July 9). Meanwhile, Black Ensemble Theater rolls out yet another in its endless series of original musical biographies: Don't Make Me Over, a tribute to singer Dionne Warwick (June 11-August 27).

Since June is the month when weather in the entire Upper Midwest turns reliably pleasant, outdoor theaters start to gear up for the picnic-and-firefly crowd. First Folio Shakespeare Festival in Oakbrook offers Shakespeare's The Tempest on the gardened grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate (June 24-July 30), while the Festival Theatre, in the Austin Gardens in Oak Park, offers the Bard's Julius Caesar in rotation with William Inge's 1950s classic, Picnic (June 29-August 15).

There's attractive summer-weight fare indoors as well. Lifeline Theatre offers Gaudy Night (June 2-July 30), its fourth adaptation of the popular mystery novels by Dorothy L. Sayers. Victory Gardens Theater closes its season with the world premiere of Half and Half by its resident comedy playwright, James Sherman (June 5-July 9). Elsewhere around town, the Factory Theatre offers a world premiere parody of an Elvis Presley movie, GI's in Europe (Prop Thtr, June 11-August 15); Trap Door Theatre presents Franz Xavier Kroetz' Request Programme (June 22-July 29); Back Stage Theatre Company tackles Euripides' Medea (Chopin Theatre, June 24-July 23); and the Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park presents the area premiere of Lee Blessing's The Winning Streak, a father-son drama with a baseball background (June 25-July 16).

Speaking of fathers and sons, expect to see lots of them at the Skyline Stage at Navy Pier, which offers the world premiere of the family attraction Cirque Shanghai, featuring all-Chinese performers (June 7-September 9).

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