Theater News

Lord of the Rings Musical, Kinks Tuner Sunny Afternoon Set for American Premieres

The season includes 10 productions, starting with the children’s show Corduroy.

LOTR Company 2 CPamela Raith
A scene from the Watermill production of Lord of the Rings
(© Pamela Raith)

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced its 2024-2025 season.

The season begins with two summer productions: the US premiere of The Lord of the Rings – A Musical Tale, in a new staging by Paul Hart. Based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – A Musical Tale features book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and original music by Academy Award winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire), Finnish folk band Värttinä, and Tony Award winner Christopher Nightingale (Matilda the Musical). It will run from July 19-September 1 at the Yard, coming to America after an acclaimed run in London.

Corduroy will run from June 18-July 14 at the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater. The beloved story is adapted by Barry Kornhauser from the books by Don Freeman and directed by Amber Mak.

Winner of four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Sunny Afternoon makes its North American premiere March 21-April 27, 2025 at The Yard. With an original story, music, and lyrics by the Kinks’ Ray Davies and a book by Joe Penhall, the musical tells the story of the rise to stardom of the Kinks through their songs, including “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” and “All Day and All of the Night.” Edward Hall helms the production after directing the world premiere in London.

The season also includes Henry V by William Shakespeare and directed by Edward Hall (September 6-October 6, Jentes Family Courtyard Theater), the return of the Royal Shakespeare Company to Chicago for the first time in 30 years with a new production of Shakespeare’s Pericles directed by Tamara Harvey (October 20-December 8, Jentes Family Courtyard Theater), the regional premiere of Jaja’s African Hair Braiding by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Chicago native and Obie Award winner Whitney White (January 14, 2025-February 2, 2025, The Yard) in a co-production with Arena Stage and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Avaaz written and performed by Emmy Award nominee Michael Shayan and directed by Tony Award nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (January 21, 2025-February 9, 2025, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater Upstairs), and Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream adapted and directed by Edward Hall for student matinees and public performances on Saturdays (February 4, 2025-March 8, 2025, Jentes Family Courtyard Theater).

In partnership with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA), CST introduces Teatro La Plaza from Lima, Peru to Chicago audiences with a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet running March 13-23, 2025, at the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater Upstairs. Teatro La Plaza’s founder Chela de Ferrari directs a group of young performers with Down syndrome who will perform Shakespeare’s text blended with personal anecdotes from their lives.

The season will conclude with Olivier Award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn, running April 29, 2025-May 25, 2025, at the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater. Originally set in London, Chakrabarti will reframe the play about male friendship for CST to be set in Chicago.

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Performances begin: June 18, 2024