14 Shows Hitting Chicago Stages This Summer

14 Shows Hitting Chicago Stages This Summer ("Pamplona" at Goodman Theatre)

We turn the spotlight on the hottest shows in town this summer.

“Murder for Two”

July 3 to Aug. 26

One actor, Noel Carey, plays a detective who’s trying to solve a murder mystery. The other actor, Jason Grimm, plays … everyone else. That’s the concept of this fun show, which won the Jeff Award for best new musical in 2011, when it was at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. After charming audiences and critics in New York, it returns in this new production. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200


July 10 to Aug. 19

Last year, Stacy Keach suffered a mild heart attack in the middle of his performance on opening night for this new one-man play by Jim McGrath about Ernest Hemingway in his final years. In spite of Keach’s valiant efforts, the show was stopped and the rest of the play’s run was canceled. Now, he has recovered and is returning to the same stage for this do-over, once again directed by Goodman’s artistic director, Robert Falls of Evanston. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, 312-443-3800


Aug. 15 to Sept. 23

The Chicago premiere of Qui Nguyen’s play about Vietnamese refugees plunging into the strange new land of 1970s America. The New York Times called it “a raucous comedy … that strafes just about every subject it tackles and every character it presents.” And the playwright has called it “the anti-Miss Saigon” because it puts Asian-American characters at the center of the narrative instead of relegating them to supporting roles. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000

“Anything Goes”

Aug. 18-26

Cole Porter’s 1934 madcap musical features some of his most beloved tunes, including the title song, “You’re the Top,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.” The setting is an ocean liner whose passengers include a second-rate gangster (“Public Enemy 13”) posing as a missionary, an evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer, and a stowaway who’s in love with an heiress. Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston, 847-920-5360

American Players Theater summer season

Through Oct. 7

This rustic venue in Wisconsin’s rolling hills makes for a delightful getaway. Highlights this summer include Aaron Posner (who co-directed the recent “Macbeth” at Chicago Shakespeare) directing his adaptation of George Bernard Shaw‘s “Heartbreak House.” Other directors include Chicagoans Ron OJ Parson (“Blood Knot” by Athol Fugard) and William Brown (“Recruiting Officer” by George Farquhar), and the slate also features Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and “Measure for Measure,” absurdist Eugene Ionesco’s “Exit the King,” and the quintessentially American comedy “Born Yesterday.” American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisconsin, 608-588-2361

Other shows worth checking out:


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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.”







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