Fall Footlights: 5 Shows Hitting Chicago Stages

This month brings two musical productions about teens to our local stages – along with a bio of Richard Pryor, an octogenarian struggling with her memory and a revue of classic movie songs.

Hollywood’s Greatest Song Hits” 

Oct. 2 – 11

Singers from the North Shore group Light Opera Works give voice to the most delightful tunes ever put on celluloid, including “Moon River,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “The Way We Were” and “As Time Goes By.” Light Opera Works at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-920-5360

American Idiot

There aren’t many rock bands of recent vintage with hit Broadway musicals, but Green Day’s 2004 album drew big crowds when the stage adaptation opened in 2010. The story of three young men trying to find their way in the world, it is now getting two local stagings: the professional Chicago premiere by the innovative Hypocrites, as well as a student version – likely to be filled with all of the necessary youthful spirit – at Northwestern, directed by local actress and cabaret singer Lili-Anne BrownThrough Oct. 25, The Hypocrites at the Den Theater, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 773-525-5991; Oct. 16-25, Northwestern University (Ethel M. Barber Theater), 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, 847-491-7282

Ride the Cyclone

Sept. 29 – Nov. 8

This is the U.S. premiere of an offbeat musical comedy-tragedy that was a big hit in Canada – about a Saskatchewan teen choir that dies in a freak roller-coaster accident. A critic for The Globe and Mail in Toronto described it as “Glee meets Survivor.” Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-595-5600 


Oct. 6 – Nov. 8 

What began in New York as a one-man show about the life of Richard Pryor is now an ensemble drama, but it still features its original star, James Murray Jackson, Jr., as the legendary comedian from Peoria. The New York Times praised his “magnetic lead performance,” saying that he “renders the emotional turmoil of the role with brutal honesty.” Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, 312-977-1700

Marjorie Prime” 

Oct. 21 – Feb. 28

The 86-year-old title character in Jordan Harrison’s new play worries that her memory is fading. But then a mysterious young man appears, helping her to uncover her past. Critics have called this comedy thought-provoking and tender – and this local premiere directed by Kimberly Senior features a top-notch cast: Mary Ann Thebus, Aaron Todd Douglas, Kate Fry and Erik Hellman. Writers Theatre at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe , 847-242-6000

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