Magic of leprechauns, a greener-than-usual Chicago River and society’s tacit approval of late winter’s annual revelry dedicated to all things Irish serve as perfect backdrops for terrific March offerings in Chicagoland’s theater scene.
Broadway in Chicago’s “Riverdance”
Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, Chicago
How appropriate that St. Patrick’s Day week brings the farewell touring performances of this extraordinary celebration of Irish music, song and dance. Now in its 17th and final year of U.S. production, this international sensation has played more than 10,000 performances and been seen live by more than 22 million people. The Chicago Tribune called it “an explosion of sight and sound that takes your breath away.”
Lifeline Theatre’s “Hunger”
February 3-March 25
6912 N. Glenwood Avenue, Chicago
OK, so this drama is not about the Irish potato famine, as its title suggests. Instead, this world premiere adaptation of the 2003 novel by Elise Blackwell looks at the 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad through the eyes of a Russian botanist charged with protecting a cache of valuable seeds for future generations. As weeks turn to months and the city starves, the botanist and his co-workers are torn between their lives’ work, the dictates of a brutal regime and the harsh realities of survival in a time of war.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
February 7-April 8
800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
If a theatrical leprechaun exists outside of Brigadoon, he’s embodied in the Bard’s spritely Robin Goodfellow, a.k.a. Puck. The little imp’s mischievous antics drive this 400-year-old comedy’s main plots, centering on four young Athenian lovers. In this new production by Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin, Chicago’s finest classical actors are joined by comedic talents from The Second City, Broadway and “Saturday Night Live” to weave Shakespeare’s tale of feuding fairies and misguided passions.
Emerald City Theatre’s “Snow White”
January 21-May 20
The Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Everyone knows the “fairest of them all” just has to be Irish. In this production, T.J. Barker’s Troupe of Theatricals presents an original version of the classic fairytale. Snow White fleeing her wicked stepmother and finding safety with the seven dwarfs and some magical talking animals in an enchanted forest. But with the stepmother scheming, a prince searching and White’s cadre of leprechaun wannabes “hi-hoing,” it’s a good guess she can’t stay hidden for long.
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s “A Light in the Piazza”
March 11-April 29
No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago
As St. Patrick’s Day gives way to the feast of Italy’s patron St. Joseph on March 19, so too may theatrical attentions turn to Italy. In this musical drama, set in Florence and Rome in 1953, a young American tourist meets and falls for a young Italian man. The young lady’s mother opposes the relationship for reasons that become apparent as the story unfolds. It’s intriguing to imagine this small but mighty company’s take on the musical that took home six Tony Awards in 2005.