The Top 29 Theatre Events in Chicago This September

Here are the best comedies, dramas, and musicals on stage during the month.

Photo: Courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre
 

At Steppenwolf, Joan Allen returns for her first performance in more than 20 years—The Wheel opens September 12.

Comedies

BEDROOM FARCE
Through 9/1 Eclipse continues its all–Alan Ayckbourn season with this mounting of the British playwright’s 1975 sex-fueled comedy featuring four couples, three bedrooms, and one long Saturday night of dysfunction. $28. $22 students, seniors. Eclipse Theatre at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport. eclipsetheatre.com.

MR. MARMALADE
Through 9/1 The title character in Noah Haidle’s 90-minute yarn is a drug-addicted, middle-aged, abusive horror. What to do when one’s precocious tot decides to marry such an unhealthy fantasy figure? The Dream Sequence Theater tackles this unlikely comedy about the emotional disturbances of little kids. $10–$15. Dream Sequence Theater at the Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee, thedentheatre.com.

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP
Through 10/12 Charles Ludlam’s two-hander both spoofs and celebrates high camp and gothic horror. It also requires a pair of actors who can morph at warp speed into a parade of over-the-top eccentrics, including an aristocratic Egyptologist with a dark secret, a maid who suffers no fools, and a young bride who finds herself in the midst of a mystery. Previews through 9/1, $15. Regular run $25. $22 seniors, $15 students, $10 children 10 and younger. Piccolo Theatre, 600 Main, Evanston. piccolotheatre.com.

MYTHICAL PROPORTIONS Critic’s Pick
Through 9/22 SNL alum Nora Dunn writes and stars in this one-woman show about stories both fictitious (an 87-year-old Hollywood doyenne who discovers a 1950s star) and autobiographical (tales from her Chicago childhood). Given Dunn’s history as a character chameleon, expect a fascinating narrative, whether it’s grounded in myth, mirth, or both. $24–$32. Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont. theaterwit.org.
 

Dramas

BROADSWORD Critic’s Pick
9/26–11/24 From the Sons of Anarchy scribe Marco Ramirez comes a gritty, hard-rocking drama homing in on a failed New Jersey heavy-metal band that reunites in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of one of its musicians. Previews through 9/29, $21. Regular run $32. The Gift Theatre, 4802 N Milwaukee. thegifttheatre.org.

THE CROWNLESS KING
Through 10/20 The House Theatre unleashes the next installment of the trilogy that began with the King Arthur–influenced adventure epic The Iron Stag King. Also featuring Tracy Letts as an exiled black dragon. Choreography by Tommy Rapley and music by Kevin O’Donnell. $15–$40. House Theatre of Chicago at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division. thehousetheatre.com.

FIRST CLASS
9/16–10/23 Set on a bench in New York City gang territory, playwright Cándido Tirado’s tale of hope and violence depicts brothers at odds with how to live their lives. $10–$20. 2620 W Division. urbantheaterchicago.org.

4,000 MILES
9/13–10/20 The Belleville scribe Amy Herzog’s own cross-country bicycle trip provided the seeds for this story about a grieving 21-year-old hippie whose nationwide cycle odyssey ends at his 91-year-old grandmother’s apartment in the wee hours of the morning. $25–$75. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. northlight.org.

INVASION
Through 9/1 Anna Bahow directs this piece, plotted with politics and terrorism: a whirling exploration of immigration, language, racism, and identity. $35. Silk Road Rising at the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W Washington. silkroadrising.org.

THE KILLER ANGELS
9/6–10/27 The bloody battle of Gettysburg unspools with vision and violence in Karen Tarjan’s adaptation of Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. Previews through 9/15, $20. Regular run $40. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N Glenwood. lifelinetheatre.com.

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT
Through 9/8 Stephen Adly Guirgis wrote this provocative take on history’s most infamous traitor. Among those testifying in the surreal onstage courtroom: witnesses both expected (Mary Magdalene, Satan) and surprising (Freud, Mother Teresa). As judicial procedurals go, this one’s out of this world. $25–$50. Judas Redux at Stage 773, 1225 W Belmont. judasredux.com, stage773.com.

THE MOUNTAINTOP
9/5–10/6 A flushing toilet is the first thing attendees hear in Katori Hall’s exploration of the night before Martin Luther King Jr. died—a sound that sets the stage for a depiction of the civil rights icon as a flawed, down-to-earth man rather than a lofty, inaccessible hero. Which isn’t to say King is diminished in Hall’s drama, set in Memphis’s Lorraine Motel on the eve of King’s assassination. Ron OJ Parson (A Raisin in the Sun) directs. $35–$65. Court Theatre, 5535 S Ellis. courttheatre.org.

THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON
9/3–11/10 Writers’ Theatre teams up with New York’s award-winning PigPen Theatre Co. for a piece that combines folk music, shadow puppetry, and live action to spin the story of an elderly man charged with collecting liquid light and filling up the moon with it while crossing the oceans in search of his missing wife. Want a preview? Pick up PigPen’s album Bremen. $35–$70. 325 Tudor Ct, Glencoe. writerstheatre.org.

PULLMAN PORTER BLUES Critic’s Pick
9/14–10/20 The heroic history of Pullman porters—the African American men who loaded baggage, took tickets, and otherwise served the passengers on the titular train line—takes center stage in Cheryl West’s multigenerational journey from Chicago to New Orleans. $24–$81. Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN Critic’s Pick
Through 11/17 The director Ron OJ Parson (The Mountaintop) moonlights at the consistently excellent TimeLine to helm a staging of Lorraine Hansberry’s hard-hitting classic, featuring the gifted actress Mildred Marie Langford (In Darfur). $22–$48. TimeLine Theatre, 615 W Wellington. timelinetheatre.com.

TERMINUS
9/12–10/6 Interlocking monologues open up a weird world of singing serial killers, avenging angels, and lovesick demons in Mark O’Rowe’s drama. $12–$27. Interrobang Theatre Project at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport. interrobangtheatreproject.org.

THIS IS WAR
Through 9/28 The increasingly impressive thespians of Signal Ensemble mount Hannah Moscovitch’s troubling tale of Canadian forces under threat in Afghanistan. $10–$20. Signal Ensemble, 1802 W Berenice, signalensemble.com.

TO MASTER THE ART
9/10–10/6 The ace director William Brown revisits his 2010 hit (written with Doug Frew) about the life of the culinary icon Julia Child and her beloved husband, Paul. $25–$75. Broadway Playhouse, 175 E Chestnut, broadwayinchicago.com.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
9/17–11/17 The Raven Theatre cofounder JoAnn Montemurro directs Horton Foote’s wrenching family drama of an elderly woman fleeing the cramped Houston apartment of her henpecked son and his domineering wife to reconnect with the peaceful home of her youth. Previews through 9/22, $22. Regular run $36. $31 seniors, $15 students. Raven Theatre, 6157 N Clark. raventheatre.com.

THE WHEEL Critic’s Pick
9/12–10/10 Joan Allen returns to Steppenwolf for her first performance in more than 20 years, joining ensemble members Robert Brueler, Tim Hopper, Ora Jones, and Yasen Peyankov in a 19th-century-set Spanish epic that probes the heart of human cruelty—and goodness. $20–$82. Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org.
 

Musicals

THE BOOK OF MORMON
Through 10/6 Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s highly irreverent Tony-sweeping musical skewers Mormon missionaries. $42–$117. Bank of America Theatre, 18 W Monroe. broadwayinchicago.com.

THE COLOR PURPLE
Through 10/27 Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, this musical by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray traces the decades-long story of Celie, an abused, lonely, dirt-poor woman who transforms into a confident entrepreneur with the help of an unshakable group of strong black women. $22–$59. Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N Southport. mercurytheaterchicago.com.

DOUBLE TROUBLE Critic’s Pick
Through 10/6 Talk about unreasonable deadlines. Brothers Tommy and Bobby (played by real-life brothers Adrian and Alexander Aguilar) have mere hours to pen a song for a 1940s Hollywood blockbuster in this spoof of 1940s-era Hollywood. The Aguilars play 10 roles in Porchlight’s “tour de farce,” including a deaf, narcoleptic audio engineer, a wackadoodle intern with terrible teeth, and a sexpot starlet. Previews through 9/2, $30. $19.50 students. Regular run $39. $30 seniors, $19.50 students. Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W Belmont. porchlightmusictheatre.org.

EVITA
9/18–10/6 Musical theatre’s most compelling fascist is back in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-winning musical about the ambitious Eva Duarte Perón. $34–$92. Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com.

GODSPELL
9/12–10/20 The composer Stephen Schwartz’s musical takes pages from vaudeville (“All for the Best”), vamps (“Turn Back, O Man”), pop rock (“Day by Day”), and more with his Grammy-winning take on the Gospels. Stacey Flaster directs. Previews through 9/14, $38–$42. Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, Ind. theatreatthecenter.com.

IT’S ALL RIGHT TO HAVE A GOOD TIME (THE STORY OF CURTIS MAYFIELD)
Through 10/20 Jackie Taylor and Daryl Brooks steer Wendell Etherly’s revue of the Chicago native, funk pioneer, and social justice activist Curtis Mayfield, whose music—including now-and-forever hits “Gypsy Woman,” “I’m So Proud,” and “Superfly”—took him from Cabrini-Green to the Grammy Awards and beyond. Previews through 9/21. $49.50–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N Clark, blackensembletheater.org.

NEXT TO NORMAL Critic’s Pick
Through 10/6 Shock treatments and bipolar disorder seem to be unlikely subjects for a wildly entertaining musical. But Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) and Tom Kitt (music) make it work, with profoundly empathetic results. Not for nothing did the story of a family in the throes of mental illness win the Pulitzer Prize (as well as two Tonys.) When it comes to stripping the stigma from mental illness, N2N isn’t just a terrific show—it’s an essential one. $35–$49. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury, Oakbrook Terrace. drurylaneoakbrook.com.

NINE TO FIVE
Through 10/13 How to cope with a lying, sexist swine of a boss back in the era of Rolodexes and shoulder pads? If colloquies on gender parity and the noxiousness of the male gaze don’t work, try stripping him to his scanties and trussing him up in an apparatus that would make a dominatrix weep for joy. Since this is a musical comedy, it’s the latter approach that the women take. And for that scene alone, the musical featuring Dolly Parton’s hit title song is worth checking out. $45–$55. Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, 10 Marriott, Lincolnshire.
marriotttheatre.com.

SHREK THE MUSICAL
Through 9/1 Rachel Rockwell directs a kid-friendly 75-minute musical version of the DreamWorks animated film. $18–$25. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E Grand. chicagoshakes.com.

 

More events:
Theatre: Comedies, Dramas, Musicals | Music: Classical, New Music, Opera | Music: Jazz
Best of the Rest | Music: Rock, Pop, Hip Hop | Dance | Music: Classic Rock, Blues, Soul
Music: Folk, Country, World | Art Fairs and Galleries | Museums

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