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There Are 13 Killer Musicals in Chicago Theatres This August

Cabaret, Next To Normal, and a new show about Curtis Mayfield open soon. Plus: Flashdance and The Book of Mormon!

Photo: Courtesy of Broadway in Chicago

Flashdance is in the midst of a two-week run at the Cadillac Theatre in Chicago.

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.

CABARET
8/10–25 John Kander and Fred Ebb’s thrilling, haunting musical about 1930s Berlin and its horrifying slide into Nazism brings the Weimar era to vivid life. Your hosts for the evening: a creepy-charismatic emcee with voracious sexual appetites, a tragically free-willed showgirl, and a wide-eyed bisexual American writer trying to make sense of it all. Backed by a 28-piece orchestra and an all-girl onstage band, this is a production worthy of the title song’s demand that you “come to the cabaret.” $32–$192. Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston. light-opera-works.org.

THE COLOR PURPLE
8/14–10/27 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.

FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL
Through 8/18 Put another dime in the jukebox, baby, and break out the leg warmers and sexy ripped sweatshirts! It’s time for a trip to the ’80s with the story (based on the 1983 movie) of a welder by day/maniac on the dance floor by night. Just try not to hum along to an impossibly catchy/cheesy score that includes the title song, “Gloria,” “Manhunt,” and “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” $18–$85. Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com.

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Through 8/11 Never mind that the composer and lyricist Stephen Trask mixes up his mythology, conflating Osiris, Zeus, and Jupiter in one (utterly breathtaking) song. Hedwig’s score is one of the best. So wig out to this affecting story of a transgender rock star. $20–$32. Haven Theatre Company at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont. haventheatrechicago.org.

I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE
Through 8/11 Joe DiPietro’s hetero ode to dating, marriage, babies, and funerals (in that order) isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but the tunes are innocuously catchy. Director-choreographer Matt Raftery helms a cast that includes musical theatre veterans Kelly Ann Clark, Alex Goodrich, and Bernie Yvon. $40–$55. Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, 10 Marriott, Lincolnshire. marriotttheatre.com.

IN MEMORY OF HOWLIN WOLF
Through 8/11 When Rick Stone first took the stage as the blues legend, it caused a sensation. This month, he returns to his famed role. $49–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N Clark. blackensembletheater.org.

IT’S ALL RIGHT TO HAVE A GOOD TIME (THE STORY OF CURTIS MAYFIELD)
8/24–10/20 Jackie Taylor and Daryl Brooks direct 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 9/7. $49.50–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N Clark, blackensembletheater.org.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS
8/1–25 Having made a mark on Broadway as a producer of 2012’s acclaimed production of Godspell, Scot Kokandy turns to Jason Robert Brown’s chronologically innovative two-person romance. Told by “Shiksa Goddess” Cathy (who begins the story at the sad end of a five-year romance) and the novelist Jamie (who starts the tale on the couple’s first date), the show depicts the couple together in only one scene. But whether sung as a solo or duet, the story is an emotionally rich exploration of two people falling in and out of love. $32. Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont, kokandyproductions.com.

NEXT TO NORMAL Critic’s Pick
8/15–10/6 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
8/14–10/13 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.

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Through 8/18 The travails of six overachieving students are fodder for laughs and life lessons in this one-act musical conceived by Rebecca Feldman, William Finn (music and lyrics), and
Rachel Sheinkin (book). $38–$42. Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, Ind. theatreatthecenter.reachlocal.com.

 

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