12 Must-See Plays on Stage in Chicago This Spring

12 Plays in Chicago to See This Spring: "A Taste of Things to Come"

We turn the spotlight on the hottest shows in town with this list of plays in Chicago that you won’t want to miss this season.

An Enemy of the People

March 10 to April 15

Although it was written in 1882 by a Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen’s darkly comedic drama has gained new relevance in America’s current political era. The Goodman’s esteemed artistic director, Evanston resident Robert Falls, will direct this play about the contamination of a resort town’s water supply, which sparks a political and ethical struggle between the town’s mayor and his brother, a respected doctor. Falls is an insightful and thoughtful risk-taker, so expectations are high for this production. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, 312-443-3800

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

March 15 to April 22

Martin McDonagh’s latest work is the Golden Globe-winning movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” but the Irish writer made his name back in 1996 with this biting black comedy for the stage. As the Vulture website observes, there’s something “hilariously grim” about the Ireland that McDonagh brings to life in his plays. “Beauty Queen,” the story of a 40-year-old spinster in a battle of wits with her manipulative mother, will be directed by Northlight artistic director BJ Jones, with a star turn by one of Chicago’s most talented and empathetic actresses, Kate Fry. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300

A Taste of Things to Come

March 20 to April 29

Even though this show’s creators aren’t local, they chose the North Shore as the ideal setting for their story about four women making their way through changing American society in the 1950s and ’60s. The characters are best friends who meet once a week in preparation for a Betty Crocker cooking contest, but the kitchen gatherings are mostly an excuse for them to confide their hopes, dreams, and frustrations to one another. Their conversations are interspersed with original songs that evoke the era’s rock and pop hits, performed by an all-female band. When the show ran Off-Broadway, The New York Times praised its catchy music. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, 312-977-1700

Smart People

March 21 to June 10

plays in Chicago: "Smart People" at Writers Theatre
Photo courtesy of Writers Theatre.

Lydia Diamond’s new play follows four young urban professionals — a doctor, an actress, a psychologist, and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race — as they look for love and success while grappling with racial and sexual politics. During an earlier run of this play, The Boston Globe called it “splendid,” praising the way it “holds up a mirror to the choppy, one-step-forward-one-step-back workings of an increasingly multicultural society.” Hallie Gordon, who’s best known for her work leading Steppenwolf Theatre’s shows for young adults, will direct this local premiere. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000


April 25 to June 24

plays in Chicago: "Macbeth" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Ian Merrill Peakes is Macbeth and Chaon Cross is Lady Macbeth in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Macbeth,” in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25 to June 24, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Sciortino.)

When Aaron Posner and Teller (the taciturn half of the magic duo Penn & Teller) teamed up for a lively reimagining of “The Tempest” at Chicago Shakespeare in 2015, it was one of that year’s most innovative performances. Now, Posner and Teller are cooking up a new magical stew, as they devise a spectacle based on Shakespeare’s “Scottish play.” “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble …” If those witches are as wise as they claim to be, they forecast an enchanting show. The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-595-5600

Other plays worth checking out:

  • hang,” March 21 to April 29, Remy Bumppo Theatre (at Greenhouse), 773-244-8119
  • The Doppelgänger,” April 5 to May 20, Steppenwolf Theatre, 312-335-1650
  • South Pacific,” April 5 to June 17, Drury Lane, 630-530-0111
  • Lettie,” April 6 to May 6, Victory Gardens, 773-871-3000
  • Oklahoma!,” April 11 to June 3, Marriott Theatre, 847-634-0200
  • Once: The Musical,” April 25 to June 3, Paramount Theatre, 630-896-6666
  • Until the Flood,” April 27 to May 13, Goodman Theatre, 312-443-3800


More from Make It Better: 

Robert Loerzel is a freelance journalist who lives in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. His work has also appeared in Playbill and on WBEZ, and he is the author of the book “Alchemy of Bones: Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.”




  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate