Like kids back from camp, the Chicago theater community emerges each September from the languid summer months in a mixture of excitement and high hopes, eager for the commencement of yet another bountiful season and the prospect of witnessing great art not only firsthand but first, period, as our city continues to deepen its commitment to new work of all kinds.
In order to better reflect this abundance and achieve our mission of covering Chicago theater in all its myriad forms and venues, we have expanded our annual Fall Theater Preview. What follows represents a comprehensive (although still incomplete) listing of this season’s upcoming performances, from classics at internationally recognized regional theaters to brand new work in unconventional and unexpected places and everything (we mean everything) in between.
Snatch your tickets. Grab your friends. And get yourself to the theater.
Editor’s note: the show descriptions below are courtesy of the producing companies. All events listed are subject to change. Check each company’s website for details and confirmation.
(Remy Bumppo Theatre Company)
Experience the journeys of three families as they search for love, purpose and connection against the tide of class, money and sex in this enthralling world-premiere adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel by Chicago playwright Douglas Post.
September 1-October 5
(Exit 63 Theatre)
An immersion into middle-school deception and lies, this dark, twisted play infiltrates the world of pre-teens, their obsessions, their insecurities, their selfies and their desperate need to find a place in the world.
Murder in the Cathedral
(Curious Theatre Branch & Poetry Foundation)
T.S. Eliot’s drama in verse, first performed in 1935, portrays the 1170 assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral during the reign of Henry II.
September 10 & 11
Midsummer (A Play with Songs)
(Greenhouse Theater & Proxy Theatre)
A night of raucous sex turns into a weekend of car chases, gangsters, wedding busts, midnight trysts—and a second chance at life and love—all set in Edinburgh to a joyous indie folk-pop score.
September 7-October 6
Be Here Now
(Shattered Globe Theatre)
An atheist and misanthrope loses her job teaching nihilism in NYC and winds up working in a fulfillment center in her small hometown. Meanwhile, her recurring headaches get more intense, manifesting as ecstatic and almost religious experiences, changing her entire outlook and also possibly killing her.
September 8-October 19
The Storefront Project
(Prop Thtr & MCA Chicago)
Six Chicago-based directors (Dado Gyure, Lucky Stiff, Denise Yvette Serna, Coya Paz, Sydney Chatman and Mikael Burke with April Cleveland) each choose a text—not written for theater—and devise a new project, tailor-made for MCA Chicago and Prop Thtr: a major downtown institution and a scrappy Avondale stalwart.
(Nothing Without a Company)
The second in Hannah Ii-Epstein’s trilogy of drug plays set on the North Shore of O’ahu, cannabis and culture collide in this unexpected and heartbreaking tale.
September 17-October 5
Vanya on the Plains
(The Artistic Home)
In a future totalitarian society, seventy-nine-year old Elijah convinces his friends and family to perform Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” despite the fact that the younger members of the family have never seen a play and have no conception of acting.
September 15-October 27
An innovative new work, based on a harrowing true story, itold in Dana’s own words and reconstructed for the stage by her son, playwright Lucas Hnath.
September 16-October 6
The Color Purple
(Drury Lane Theatre)
The heartwrenching musical is based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker and earned fifteen Tony Award nominations, including the win for Best Revival of a Musical.
September 19-November 3
Mother of the Maid
As hardworking and pious Isabelle Arc’s daughter ascends from farm girl to holy martyr, we follow the unexpected perspective of her proud, fierce and frightened mom in this deeply moving Midwest premiere about the glories and challenges of raising an exceptional child.
September 20-October 20
King Hedley II
Directed by Ron OJ Parson, family ties are tested and crime and retribution collide in the ninth play of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, and Court’s eighth production in their ongoing commitment to producing the entire cycle.
September 21-October 13
(Walkabout Theater Company)
Inspired by true personal narratives of the performers, there is a living question for the ensemble in tracing something of where they each come from and asking what is needed for them to come together.
September 26-October 13
(Sideshow Theatre Company)
Billions of miles from home, a lone research base waits to receive another message from Earth. The crew attempts normal operations, but as the silence grows louder, the darkness outside the station creeps in.
September 26-October 27
In this newly imagined production, director Alejandro Tey and his team take families on an interactive journey on a search for friendship and belonging.
September 28-November 3
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
(Chicago Children’s Theatre)
Based on the beautifully crafted work of Eric Carle comes a bold new spectacle featuring seventy-five larger-than-life puppets that capture the magic of Carle’s world.
September 28-October 27
The Brothers Size
(Steppenwolf for Young Adults)
Returning to Steppenwolf for the first time since its celebrated Chicago premiere, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s fierce and honest look at the complex bonds of brotherhood weaves together poetry, music and Yoruba mythology to magnify the tug-of-war between freedom and the need to belong somewhere, to something, to someone.
The Silence of Harrow House
(Rough House Theater)
Through puppetry, environmental and sonic design, this immersive theatrical experience brings audiences face-to-face with cosmic horrors, nightmarish to behold and yet uncannily familiar.
October 3-November 10
Book of Peace
A part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, this performance will include highlights from the company’s last five years of peace-focused work including theater, dance and spoken word.
A Man of Good Hope
(Chicago Shakespeare Theater & Isango Ensemble)
This magnificent music-driven production—based on the book by Jonny Steinberg—tells the true coming-of-age story of Asad Abdullahi, a young Somali refugee who fled his country’s civil war, only to find himself in a new, violent reality in South Africa.
Twice, Thrice, Frice
(Silk Road Rising)
In this world-premiere comedy, three Muslim women confront adultery and polygamy while friendship, fidelity and faith are called into question when one of their husbands marries a second wife.
October 13-November 10
Director’s Haven 5
Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays and AJ Schwartz will headline the next chapter of Haven’s initiative to showcase rising directors as they share their artistic point-of-view with the Chicago community.
(Porchlight Music Theatre)
This Tony Award-winning masterpiece of obsession, romance and the golden age of Hollywood stars one of the most celebrated leading ladies of Chicago theater: Hollis Resnik, making her Porchlight Music Theatre Mainstage debut.
October 15-November 24
(Strawdog Theatre Company)
Hearts pounding, thoughts racing and sleepless nights. Connie and Tristan are falling in love. Or are they? Stuck in a clinical trial for an antidepressant, it’s hard to know what is love and what is the drug.
October 19-November 23
Sugar in Our Wounds
(First Floor Theater)
Part of playwright Donja R. Love’s trilogy of black love at pivotal moments in history, helmed by Mikael Burke, director of last season’s acclaimed production of “Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies.”
October 19-November 23
(A Red Orchid Theatre)
A world-premiere horror play about the gravity of the past, and the cruel inevitability of its pull.
October 19-December 1
(Underscore Theatre Company)
Nearly murdered by her best friend when she was a child, Vanessa is now an investigative journalist in a bind. She decides to do what anyone would do: exploit her personal story by disguising herself and interviewing her childhood best friend and attempted murderer.
October 22-November 24
Accidental Death of a Black Motorist
A high-energy, high-style, hard-hitting satire skewering the culture of police violence and the complicity of the Code of Silence.
October 25-November 23
Latin History for Morons
(Broadway In Chicago)
The most totally unique show of the season reveals America’s unsung heroes, throughout past and present, all unforgettably told by Tony- and Emmy Award-winner John Leguizamo.
October 29-November 3
The Suffrage Plays
Celebrate the upcoming hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment with an evening of three one-act comedies focused on the importance of voting rights for women.
Dead Man Walking
Based on real-life events, Jake Heggie’s music and Terrence McNally’s libretto explore the nature of friendship and forgiveness in the most profound ways in what is widely acknowledged as one of the most riveting operas of the twenty-first century.
Laura and the Sea
(Rivendell Theatre Ensemble)
A world-premiere comedy about depression, or: a treatise on travel agents who don’t travel.
November 4-December 8
Katori Hall’s spellbinding, music-filled tale about the danger of our desires makes its return to Chicago in a production helmed by Wardell Julius Clark with music direction from Ricky Harris.
November 5-December 15
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
(Lookingglass Theatre Company)
Mary Zimmerman’s gorgeous spectacle of music and movement returns for a winter-time curtain call.
November 6-January 26
(About Face Theatre)
A solo performance from writer-performer Scott Bradley about a genderqueer vagabond leaving smalltown Iowa on a three-decade odyssey, reinventing himself through new identities across multiple cities.
November 7-December 7
Earth to Kenzie
When she and her mother have to move into a family shelter, Kenzie finds refuge in the world of video games alongside her avatar, Edwin. Through their imaginary space adventures, Kenzie dares to go farther than ever before.
November 9 & 10
Rutherford and Son
(TimeLine Theatre Company)
Playing on the conventions of the early twentieth-century with wit and creative edge, this rarely produced drama asks us to question if our “place” in life should be anything but what we ourselves determine it to be.
November 13-January 12
(Emerald City Theatre)
In this sweet adaptation of Don Freeman’s classic book, a small bear’s quest for a missing button leads to the friendship of a lifetime.
November 15-January 5
(Broken Nose Theatre & The New Colony)
In this co-produced world premiere, a couple must face their kinks, quirks and societal conditioning, as they’re quickly reminded that gender politics follow them everywhere, including the bedroom.
November 18-December 14
Always… Patsy Cline
Christina Hall and Firebrand Artistic Director Harmony France will alternate roles in Ted Swindley’s moving musical exploration of the friendship between country legend Patsy Cline and Louise Seger.
November 19-December 15
The First Deep Breath
(Victory Gardens Theater)
A world premiere by Lee Edward Colston II finds each member of the Jones clan desperately fighting to stay afloat and disregarding the caution that sometimes a family that stays together drowns together.
November 22-December 22
(Steppenwolf Theatre Company)
Featuring a multigenerational cast of women playing the pre-teen dance troupe on their way to Nationals in Tampa Bay, this Chicago premiere from Clare Barron is fiercely funny, theatrically inventive and full of heart.
December 12-January 26
(The Ruffians & Porchlight Music Theatre)
A Chicago holiday tradition for many since its debut in 2011, each performance is a vaudevillian musical delight with a story that excavates the poetic and poignant remPains of a piece of our city’s rich history.
(Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre)
Based on Studs Terkel’s bestselling book of interviews with American workers, this freshly updated musical paints a vivid portrait of the men and women that the world so often takes for granted.
December 6-January 26
The Other Cinderella
(Black Ensemble Theater)
The music is divine, the dancing is wild and the story is uplifting, positive and infectious in Jackie Taylor’s musical classic that audiences have returned to see time and time again.
December 22-January 26
(Broadway In Chicago)
Direct from Broadway, this hilarious hit musical comes from the award-winning creative team of Tina Fey (book), Jeff Richmond (music) and Casey Nicholaw (lyrics).
December 25-January 26