Theater Guide: Summer Theater in Chicago

While many theater groups take a pause for summer vacation, others keep busy in June and July. Highlights include the launch of a new season by the North Shore company Light Opera Works and a new version of a familiar story about a whale.

The Fantasticks
June 6–14

It’s famous as the longest-running play in history. This musical by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones opened in 1960 at a theater in New York’s Greenwich Village and didn’t close until 2002, with a staggering 17,162 performances. Even if you’ve never seen this play—about two neighboring fathers who pretend to feud as a way of tricking their children into falling in love—you’ve heard its hit song, “Try to Remember.” Until now, no Chicago theater has ever performed the extended 1980s version of the show, which was designed for a full orchestra, making it a perfect fit for Light Opera Works. Light Opera Works, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston, 847-920-5360

Moby Dick
Opens June 10

The Lookingglass space inside the historic Water Tower Water Works will transform into one of literature’s most famous ships, the whaling vessel Pequod, and the ocean itself. Working in collaboration with The Actors Gymnasium from Evanston, Lookingglass is setting sail with a new adaptation of Herman Melville’s great American novel about Captain Ahab’s maniacal quest to kill the monstrous white whale. David Catlin, who created the entrancing and enormously popular “Lookingglass Alice,” is adapting and directing the show. Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-337-0665

City of Angels
June 10 to Aug. 2

This homage to film noir and Hollywood won six Tony Awards in 1990—including the big one for best musical—but it hasn’t been seen much on stages recently. The Marriott hopes to breathe new life into it. The story follows a writer in 1940s Los Angeles who’s trying to turn his best-selling crime novel into a screenplay. The private eye in the pages of his book springs to life alongside him on the stage, even arguing with him about the script. Larry Gelbart, the creator and producer of the “M*A*S*H” TV series, wrote “City of Angels,” with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel. The Marriott is also presenting a one-hour children’s show of “Pinocchio,” the famed tale of the wooden puppet who comes to life. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200 

”Grand Concourse” 
July 2 to Aug. 30

Heidi Schreck’s drama takes place in a church soup kitchen in the Bronx, where a serious-minded nun is the boss. The arrival of a young woman with rainbow-colored hair shakes things up a bit. Reviewing a 2014 production, The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood wrote that Schreck “writes fluid, natural dialogue and creates detailed characters that offer generous opportunities for actors.” Yasen Peyankov will direct the Chicago premiere for Steppenwolf, with a cast including ensemble member Tim HopperSteppenwolf Theatre Garage, 1624 N. Halsted St., Chicag, 312-335-1650

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