Summer is just around the corner, and Chicago-area theaters are pulling out all the stops with their big spring shows.
The themes on display include French comedy, Chicago history, a neighborhood tavern and Hollywood’s treatment of black actors.
Stella & Lou
May 3–June 9
Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Four-time Emmy winner Rhea Perlman stars in this world premiere by Bruce Graham, who also wrote “The Outgoing Tide.” Like “Cheers,” the TV show that made Perlman famous, this play is also set in a bar. Two kindred spirits are seeking solace at Lou’s Bar as they reflect on the passage of time. Perlman may be the star attraction, but she’s got excellent company at the bar. One of Chicago’s finest actors, Francis Guinan, plays Lou, while Gift Theatre member Ed Flynn rounds out director BJ Jones’ cast.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
April 27–June 2
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Lynn Nottage, who wrote the memorable, moving plays “Intimate Apparel” and “Ruined,” takes on the troubled history of the relationship between Hollywood and African-American actors. With Chuck Smith directing at the Goodman, expect a thought-provoking look at race relations—but it should be funny, too. A New York critic called it a “sharp-toothed comedy.”
May 21–July 28
Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Playwright David Ives, who is renowned for his clever use of language, adapted this script from a French comedy, originally written in 1644 by Pierre Corneille, about a case of mistaken identity involving a charismatic scoundrel and a couple of comely young ladies. With William Brown directing at Writers’ Theatre, it’s all but certain this comedy-in-verse will offer a fun time, as well as intellectual delights.
The Glass Menagerie
May 22–June 30
Mary Arrchie at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago
Mary Arrchie Theatre Co.’s innovative staging of Tennessee Williams’ classic American play deservedly won high praise from critics this winter, and now the company is bringing it back for an encore at Theater Wit. Don’t miss this haunting and heartbreaking production. (Pictured top right)
Ivywild: The True Tall Tales of Bathhouse John
May 1–June 15
The Hypocrites at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
Chicago playwright Jay Torrence has created some fascinating shows for the Neo-Futurists that draw on local history, and now he’s turning to the 1908 follies of Chicago politics and vice for this production by The Hypocrites.
CADILLAC PALACE THEATRE
May 16–June 23
May 9–June 9
HOUSE THEATRE (AT THE CHOPIN)
Ploughed Under: An American Songbook
Through June 9
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Ganesh Versus the Third Reich
The Miss Neo-Futurist Pageant
May 16–June 22
Through May 25
Blood and Gifts
Through July 8