Fall Culture Guide

Ten Must-See Plays

Hamlet, Jitney, The Book of Mormon, and more

Black ’N Blue/Broken Men at the Goodman Theatre

1. Hamlet, Writers’ Theatre
Watching Scott Parkinson perform Shakespeare is akin to having the Bard himself whisper in your ear. Parkinson hasn’t appeared on a Chicago stage since he decamped for New York in 2003, which makes the prospect of catching him here—as Hamlet, no less—utterly tantalizing. A great actor in an extraordinary play? It doesn’t get any better. 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe, writerstheatre.org. Through Nov. 11

2. Jitney, Court Theatre
The Chicago director Ron OJ Parson (Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) has an unmistakable gift for mining every last intricate nuance out of August Wilson plays. Under Parson’s guidance, Wilson’s gritty 1970s-era tale of gypsy cabbies should be an emotionally complex ride. 5535 S. Ellis Ave., courttheatre.org. Through Oct. 14

3. Sunday in the Park with George, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
A decade ago, in the tiny upstairs theatre at Chicago Shakes, Gary Griffin staged a spellbinding pocket version of Stephen Sondheim’s impressionistic love story. Now Griffin—one of the country’s foremost Sondheim interpreters—has the spacious main stage as his canvas. 800 E. Grand Ave., chicagoshakes.com. Sept. 26 to Nov. 4

4. Making Noise Quietly, Steep Theatre
The Edgewater troupe is on a hot streak, setting the standard for non-Equity theatres with a well-oiled ensemble. The company should continue its ascent with Robert Holman’s tri-part examination of love and war, which had London abuzz earlier this year. 1115 W. Berwyn Ave., steeptheatre.com. Oct. 4 to Nov. 10

5. Sweet Bird of Youth, Goodman Theatre
It’s thrilling to ponder what much-lauded director David Cromer could do with a steamy Tennessee Williams script and the resources of the Goodman behind him. Already, the casting of Oscar nominee Diane Lane as a fading star sounds divine. 170 N. Dearborn St., goodmantheatre.org. Through Oct. 25

6. The Book of Mormon, Broadway in Chicago at the Bank of America Theatre
Although Chicago casting hadn’t been announced at presstime, the creative team that shepherded the Broadway show to the Tony Awards—helmed by directors Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw—remains intact (see “Mormons React to ‘The Book of Mormon’ ”). 18 W. Monroe St., bookofmormonbroadway.com. Opens Dec. 11

7. The Opponent, A Red Orchid Theatre
Founder Guy Van Swearingen will embody the flinty owner of a boxing gym whose world is upended by a pugilist upstart. Sound Million Dollar Baby–esque? The fact that the off-kilter ex-Chicago playwright Brett Neveu penned the script should make for a wholly original knockout. 1531 N. Wells St., aredorchidtheatre.org. Oct. 18 to Dec. 2

8. Mikado, Hypocrites at Chopin Theatre
Gilbert and Sullivan, meet the absurdly comic director Sean Graney and the brilliant percussionist and composer Kevin O’Donnell. You can trust that they won’t tamper (much) with the bones of your score, but they’ll make it delightfully weird. 1543 W. Division St., the-hypocrites.com. Nov. 20 to Jan. 13

9. Broken Glass, Redtwist Theatre
The scrappy storefront company typically delivers incendiary intensity on its teeny stage—which bodes well for this rarely produced Arthur Miller play. Also a draw: leading lady Jacqueline Grandt, the breakout star of Redtwist’s Bug. 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., redtwist.org. Oct. 6 to Nov. 11

10. Black ’N Blue Boys/Broken Men, Goodman Theatre
A fearlessly original coproduction with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, starring writer and performer (and Pulitzer finalist) Dael Orlandersmith and directed by Chicago newcomer Chay Yew. Through Oct. 28

 

Photograph: Kevin Berne

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