Theater Guide: The Musical Month of May

Putting together a new musical is a big deal. It isn’t easy finding the right combination of words, melodies, characters and spectacle that will win over audiences. But three new musicals are hitting local stages in May, and hopes are high that they’ll leave us humming as we walk out the doors.

Sense and Sensibility
Through June 7

Jane Austen’s novels seem like a natural fit for stage musicals, with romance, longing and wit to spare. Chicago Shakespeare commissioned Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon to write the book, music and lyrics for this new version of Austen’s first published novel, which follows the lives and loves of the Dashwood sisters. Chicago Shakespeare’s masterful artistic director, Barbara Gaines, is directing this world premiere. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-595-5600

Shining Lives
May 8 to June 14

This world-premiere musical tells the story of women who worked at Chicago’s Radium Dial Co. in the 1920s, hand-painting watch dials with radium—a supposedly harmless element that turned out to be deadly. Based on Melanie Marnich’s play “These Shining Lives,” the musical was created by three veterans of Chicago theater: Jessica Thebus wrote the book and lyrics, while Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert collaborated on the music. It has the potential to move us with its tale of courage. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300

Melancholy Play: A New Chamber Piece
April 30 to June 14

Piven Theatre is where magic realist Sarah Ruhl got her start, and now the little stage in Evanston is hosting the Midwest premiere of the Tony Award-nominated playwright’s chamber musical, which features an onstage string quartet. North suburban native Polly Noonan, who frequently works with Ruhl, is directing and starring in the show, which adds Todd Almond’s music to an earlier play by Ruhl. It’s a portrait of a melancholy woman whose life turns strange when she suddenly becomes happy. (Another Ruhl play, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” runs May 15-24 at Northwestern University’s Josephine Louis Theater.) Piven Theatre, 927 Noyes St., Evanston, 847- 866-6597

Doubt: A Parable” 
May 5 to July 12

As Writers Theatre prepares to move into its shiny new home this fall, it’s wrapping up its “under construction” season with John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a Catholic priest suspected of sexual abuse in the 1960s. The esteemed William Brown, a Writers Theatre regular, is directing the show inside the library of an actual church, which should enhance the illusion that we’re eavesdropping on this riveting drama. Writers Theatre, performing at Glencoe Union Church, 263 Park Ave., Glencoe, 847-242-6000

 

Theater Guide

AMERICAN BLUES THEATER (AT GREENHOUSE)
Side Man
April 24–May 24
773-404-7336

BANK OF AMERICA THEATRE
The Book of Mormon
Through May 17
312-977-1700

CADILLAC PALACE THEATRE
Jersey Boys
May 12–24
800-775-2000

CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE (RUTH PAGE CENTER FOR ARTS)
Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure
April 22 to May 24
872-222-9555

CITADEL THEATRE
Don’t Dress for Dinner
April 24 to May 24
847-735-8554

COURT THEATRE
The Secret Garden
May 21 to June 21
773-753-4472

DRURY LANE
Billy Elliot the Musical
Through June 7
630-530-0111

GOODMAN THEATRE
stop. reset.
May 23 to June 21
312-443-3800

LIFELINE THEATRE
Soon I Will Be Invincible
May 29 to July 19
773-761-4477

MARRIOTT THEATRE
Anything Goes
Through May 31
847-634-0200

PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Menopause the Musical
May 6 to June 28
630-896-6666

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE (AT STAGE 773)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Through May 24
773-327-5252

PROFILES THEATRE
Our New Girl
May 8 to June 28
773-549-1815

RAVEN THEATRE
The Birdfeeder Doesn’t Know
Through May 16

Beast on the Moon
Through June 6
773-338-2177

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE
The Herd
Through June 7
312-335-1650

TIMELINE THEATRE
Inana
May 6 to July 26
773-281-8463

WRITERS THEATRE
The Diary of Anne Frank
Through Aug. 2
847-242-6000