Showgoers, rejoice. Chicago Theatre Week begins this evening. Through February 19, tickets to more than 100 local shows come at the deep discount of $15 to $30 a head. Free drinks and bonus performances come with various performances, and enterprising hotels are even offering discounted rates, if you want to make a staycation of it.
Extensive details live at chicagotheatreweek.com. The week's best of the best, below.
Brandon Jacob-Jenkins’ drama has the most shocking first-act finale of any show in Chicago—and probably the country. The plot follows millennial magazine writers, but Gloria focuses mainly on the ways people craft identity (often at a cost to those around them). February 9–19. $30 (promo code THWEEK). Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org
The Wolf at the End of the Block
The Twittersphere's been buzzing for months about Ike Holter’s (Sender, Hit the Wall) new drama, and the Chicago-set noir lives up to the hype. A killer cast, which includes Bear Bellinger, Gabe Ruiz, and Sandra Marquez, delivers a chilling crime thriller that unspools in bars and back alleys that are purely Chicago. February 9–19. $15 (promo code THWEEK). Teatro Vista at Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln. teatrovista.org
A Wonder in My Soul
The South Side of Chicago takes center stage on playwright Marcus Gardley's latest, which tracks the lives of salon owners in a gentrifying neighborhood. Director Chay Yew helms the history-steeped world premiere, blending dialogue, dance, and music to convey a microcosm of the city at large. February 9–19. $15 (promo code THWEEK). Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln. victorygardens.org
Blues for an Alabama Sky
Playwright Pearl Cleage and director Ron OJ Parson yield a production of heart and heat. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the story captures the verve, vivacity, and artistic drive of a fabled era in black art, the spirits of Josephine Baker and Langston Hughes looming large over the production. February 12–18. $30 (promo code THWEEK). Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis. courttheatre.org
Straight White Men
Young Jean Lee skewers global power structures dominated by the titular demographic with a galvanizing blend of dark comedy and gut-punching drama. By the time Lee’s explosive 90-minute show is over, a white widower and his single sons are dealing with an erosion of privilege that shakes their worlds. February 9–11. $30 (promo code THWEEK). Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org
Love’s Labor’s Lost
Under the draconian edict of King Ferdinand, all that could be construed as fun—including good food and sex—is forbidden. So it goes in Shakespeare’s comedy, where secret transgressions abound. Take heed: Love's Labor's Lost is technically one of Shakespeare's comedies, but its ending is far from a happy one. February 9–11. $30 (promo code THWEEK). Chicago Shakespeare, 800 E. Grand. chicagoshakes.com
It takes a spell for the storylines in Robert O’Hara’s dramedy to come together, but when they do, it’s worth the confusion. In ten quasi-connected scenes, Bootycandy spins a nuanced portrait of a gay African-American man, from childhood to adulthood. Each vignette is a diamond in its own right, piercing the heart and walloping the funny bone with equal force. February 9–19. $15–30 (promo code THWEEK). Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park. windyciytplayhouse.com
Based on the movie starring Whitney Houston, this glitzy musical is packed with the tunes that made the late vocalist a star. The dance numbers are equally dazzling, and lead actor Deborah Cox bring to mind the diva herself. February 9–11. $30 (promo code THWEEK). Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. broadwayainchicago.com
Looming dread permeates Jen Haley’s futuristic chiller, set in a world where the virtual has evolved into a netherworld barely a pixel away from reality. Eerier yet: It does all that in just 85 minutes. February 9–19. $15 (promo code THWEEK). A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells. arot.com
Sixty-odd years ago, coming out as gay could get you imprisoned—or institutionalized. The men of the Mattachine Society weren’t having it. Risking everything from arrest to ostracization, they formed the country’s first gay rights group. A powerful ensemble directed by Andrew Volkoff recalls a heroic era. February 9–19. $30 (promo code THWEEK). About Face Theatre at Theatre Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. aboutfacetheatre.com
Chicago Dramatists panel discussion
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at writing plays, this workshop is for you. Chicago Dramatists artistic director Meghan Beals leads a panel of playwrights in a discussion about taking a story from the page to the stage. February 11. Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. chicagodramatists.com
Tour the Belmont Theater District
This tour of the area that's home to Stage 773, Theater Wit, the Athenaeum, Annoyance, and TimeLine starts with complimentary cocktails at the Annoyance Theatre and Bar (851 W. Belmont) and progresses from there, ending with a late-night happy hour at Schubas from 9 to 10 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. February 13.
Quest Theatre’s The Fantasticks
The musical fable about a boy, a girl, and a narrator who opens their eyes to the cruelty of the world features classics like “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.” Reservations are required. February 18–19. 1609 W. Gregory. questensemble.org