‘Julius Caesar’ playbill

If you’re a political scandal junkie: Julius Caesar

In the hands of director Jonathan Munby (Old Globe, Royal Shakespeare Company), the second scene of this play’s second act, with its dire warning from Caesar’s wife, blood drizzling over Rome, and ghosts shrieking in the street, brings to life one of the most breathtakingly ominous passages that Shakespeare ever wrote. Expect the rest of this production—thick with conniving assassins, vicious politics, and evil augurs—to be just as rich. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., chicagoshakes.com


‘The Aliens’ playbill

If you’re feeling existential: The Aliens

From Annie Baker (who penned the Obie-winning Circle Mirror Transformation) comes this deceptively understated drama about slackers. It evokes both the universality of Samuel Beckett (“One way or another, we’re all just waiting for Godot”) and the turmoil of Chekhov (strangled by an inability to move, a depressive trio looks for escape). A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., aredorchidtheatre.org


‘Disconnect’ playbill

If you’ve been hit by the recession: Disconnect

Playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar has moved the emotionally eviscerating competitiveness of Glengarry Glen Ross to a call center in India where bill collectors aggressively target U.S. credit card delinquents. From a windowless warren of cubicles emerges a blackly humorous mutation of the American dream. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., victorygardens.org


‘Sweet Charity’ playbill

If you’re somehow still a romantic: Sweet Charity

The sensual choreography. The groovy score. The irrepressible titular call girl and her sunny refusal to let romantic disaster define her life. This 1960s-set story by Cy Coleman (score) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics) of the down-on-her-luck but optimistic Charity Valentine is irresistible for so many reasons—not the least of which is the prospect of William Brown directing another musical (after last season’s sublime A Little Night Music). Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe, writerstheatre.org


‘Bud, Not Buddy’ playbill

If you have kids in tow: Bud, Not Buddy

Can’t land a babysitter but still want a night at the theatre? Check out Christopher Paul Curtis’s jazz-infused coming-of-age saga. A young African American orphan sets out to find his father and winds up making a family among a community of musicians. Congo Square Theatre founder Derrick Sanders directs the Newbery-winning story. Chicago Children’s Theatre at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., chicagochildrenstheatre.org


‘The Magnificents’ playbill

If you crave amazement: The Magnificents

Those who saw Dennis Watkins replicate Houdini’s infamous water torture cell escape in last year’s captivating Death and Harry Houdini already know House Theatre’s resident magician can amaze. Here he mines magic and playwriting for his autobiographical story of learning the secrets of the trade at the feet of his grandfather. House Theatre of Chicago at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., thehousetheatre.com

GO Chicago Theatre Week runs February 12 to 17 at various locations. Discounted tickets are $15 to $30 while they last. For info, chicagotheatreweek.com.