The expectations are high, but Chicago theatre is ready to rise to the challenge. The city that was the starting place for shows like Kinky Boots, The Producers, and Spamalot is no stranger to cross-country success. But 2018 presents even new challenges. The times we live in have asked a lot of us to think deeply, empathize regularly, and find the joy where you can, and you can most often find joy at the theatre. These organizations and their work exemplify the best Chicago has to offer going into this new season. We’ve included the biggest names in Chicago theatre, the “stopover” shows that come by here before they turn into blockbusters, and the original, homespun art for which we’ve become famous.
The Chicago to Broadway pipeline has been crowded of late. New York audiences are currently enjoying the latest transfer, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. In the spring, Broadway-bound Pretty Woman will give its first performance right here in Chicago. The synchronistic relationship between these two towns, historically, has led for better theatre for us to all enjoy. Most Chicagoans are cheering the transfer of the brilliant Pass Over to Lincoln Center Theater. But there is so much more to see, no matter your taste. We all hope those making the pilgrimage for the exciting premiere of Pretty Woman will stop by and try out the rest of our incredible scene. Here’s just a sampling of what you can expect in the spring:
January 25: You Got Older by Clare Barron
This Chicago premiere is described as a “darkly comedic look at a young woman following the thorny path to adulthood — right over a cliff.” Jonathan Berry directs.
April 5: THE DOPPELGÄNGER by Matthew-Lee Erlbach
This is the world premiere of Erlbach’s latest play. Directed by Tina Laundau, the play is desrcibed as such: “After a British businessman's untimely death, his unwitting American doppelgänger is thrust into background deals that could shape the face of Africa.”
January 20: Blind Date by Rogelio Martinez
Don’t let the title fool you, Blind Date is much more than what meets the eye. If we’re being honest about our curiosity, who wouldn’t want to eavesdrop on date night with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev? Robert Falls directs.
February 9: The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe
The New York Times has called The Wolves one of the year’s best plays, and it was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A suburban girls soccer team starts a war with their older, more aggressive counterparts. The Village Voice called it a “smart, hilarious, delightful meditation on society, sex and soccer.” Come, watch them score a few goals. Vanessa Stalling directs.
March 10: An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
Chicago legend Falls also directs this new take on what many consider Ibsen’s greatest work. An impure water supply begins a political battle amongst the townspeople that leaves the audience wondering what the fate will be for their small community.
April 7: 9 to 5 The Musical
We’re all familiar with Dolly Parton’s empowering tale of women taking over the workplace. Combine that with Chicago’s hottest new theatre company, Firebrand, and you’ve got the ingredients for a real hit. Artistic Director Harmony France directs.
DRURY LANE THEATRE
January 19: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The show itself needs no introduction, and Drury Lane has a well-established history of handling theatre classics like this with equal parts art and fun. Two-time Drama Desk winner and Off-Broadway and YouTube sensation Christina Bianco will narrate her way through the story we all know so well. Backed by a cast full of the best Broadway and Chicago have to offer, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Alan Souza will direct the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical.
April 5: South Pacific by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Who doesn’t love a classic? The professionals at Drury Lane theatre are looking to continue their trend of presenting top-notch offerings of some of America’s favorite shows. Hopefully it will teach audiences, as it always has, that nothing can protect us from the violent times we live in. Victor Maog directs.
February 7: Cabaret by Kander & Ebb
Truly, what good is sitting alone in your room, when you can go spend a night at the club in Aurora? It’s worth the drive to see Broadway alum Kelly Felthous take on Sally Bowles, the enigma that Cliff can’t quite pin down. Hometown favorites like Meghan Murphy, Hollis Resnik, and Ron Raines round out a supremely talented supporting cast. Katie Spelman directs.
April 25: Once by Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, and Enda Walsh
A girl, a boy, and a guitar. Once is pretty straightforward about what story it is trying to tell, and it does so magnificently. If you’re looking for a tuneful show that draws you right into its romantic, nostalgic world, Once is the perfect escape. Jim Corti directs.
February 9: Breach by Antoinette Nwandu
Breach takes a scenario that is uncomfortably familiar, an accidental pregnancy, and tells it in her own voice and from an authentic perspective that we do not get to hear often enough. Ultimately, as Nwandu says, it’s a love letter to black women. Lisa Portes directs.
April 6: Lettie by Boo Killebrew
Directed by Artistic Director Chay Yew, Lettie navigates the post-incarceration world as Lettie tries to take up welding to make ends meet; we follow her as she strives to build a future and live a life that is not haunted by her past.
May 25: Mies Julie by Yael Farber
Farber’s Mies Julie is adapted from the Strindberg work Miss Julie, ableit this time set in the backdrop of post-Apartheid South Africa. Dexter Bullard (Sucker Punch) directs what he calls an “explosive and simmering” adaptation.
Note: The above is not a complete listing of all productions or theatrical houses in the Chicago area. We encourage you to continue to explore all Chicago has to offer.