Theatre In Chicago spring shows

No matter how we try to turn back the clock to 2019, no daylight saving plan can redeem whole two years' worth of lost time. As theaters are discovering during what we hope is the final Great Re-Opening, "normal" is a commodity that can be preserved, but not restored. Companies awaking from their protracted hibernation are slow to recognize the changes occurring in the outside world, sometimes leading to ill-conceived choices of material meant to coax audiences forth from their bunkers. Mask or no mask, we have had plenty of time to cozy up with PBS and shun the prospect of putting on our galoshes.

The Equinox finally behind us, though, a few theaters are looking to the sky in anticipation of sunshine's return:


Relentless, Timeline Theatre Company at Goodman, running through May 8. Tyla Abercrumbie's career-making drama featuring educated, well-to-do, urban Black citizens in 1919 was declared Netflix-worthy by Chris Jones, and now 2022's inaugural premiere is playing in more accessible quarters downtown. Details:

Intimate Apparel, Northlight Theatre, April 22-May 15. She sews dresses, he sells fabric, they live in New York City, but it's 1909, she is Black, he is Jewish and so marriage is forbidden—an obstacle exploited by even those professing to love them. Details:

Middle Passage, Lifeline Theatre, April 24-June 5. We emerged wiser after traveling up the Mississippi with Huckleberry Finn and the fugitive slave Jim, so imagine what thrilling lessons await us in Charles Johnson's seagoing saga of a free Black man crossing the Atlantic on a Yankee ship carrying human cargo from Africa. Details:


It's Just Like Coming to Church, Black Ensemble Theatre, running through April 24. You'll find no Old Rugged Crosses, Poor Wayfaring Strangers or Lonesome Valleys in Jackie Taylor's house of worship, only exhortations to respect yourself so that you can love others. Details:

Last Night In Karaoke Town, Factory Theater, running through April 30. If you once clapped your hands to save Tinkerbell, you'll sing your tonsils out with the don't-stop-believers fighting to keep Cleveland's most beloved bar from surrendering to gentrification. Details:

SIX, Broadway in Chicago at the CIBC Shubert, running through July 3. The title is in ALL CAPS and the venues booking this girl-power musical keep getting bigger and bigger—so is three months really long enough for the world's most famous ex-wives to have their rock-and-roll say? Details:

Spring Awakening, Porchlight Music Theatre at the Ruth Page, April 28-May 29. Angry teens warn us in foot-stamping, amped-to-eleven, uncensored language of the danger arising from adults withholding sex education from their children—and this was written in 1916! Details:


In Every Generation, Victory Gardens Theatre at the Biograph, running through May 1. Ali Viterbe's award-winning chronicle of the Levi-Katz clan bears witness to the evolution from opposition to reconciliation of Italian and Jewish cultures over decades of family dinners. Details:

The Tragedy of King Christophe, House Theatre of Chicago at the Chopin, May 1-May 29. He overthrew the wicked masters and liberated the oppressed slaves, but when the newly-fledged island nation of Haiti looked to him for leadership in peacetime, he failed—and who sings of flawed heroes better than the House? Details:

The Chinese Lady, Timeline Theatre Company at Theater Wit, May 13-June 18. She was hired and paid to simply be herself, albeit for the entertainment of curious foreigners, but Lloyd Suh's play asks whether her employment was educational, or exploitive. Details:

Last Hermanos, A Red Orchid Theatre, April 21-June 12. The publicity informs us that in Texas, being Latinx is "a life sentence" for the brothers living there, and author Exal Iraheta promises to tell us what that means. Details:

At the Vanishing Point, Gift Theatre at Filament Theater, May 1-May 22. Louisville's Butchertown district was destroyed in the 1937 flood, but Naomi Iizuki memorializes the people displaced by the disaster in a collection of monologues. Details:


Molly Sweeney, Irish Theatre of Chicago (fka Seanachai) downstairs at the Chopin, running through May 8. A loving husband and an ambitious doctor strive mightily to restore blind Molly's vision, oblivious to the folly of fixing what's not broken. Details:

Emma's Child, City Lit, April 24-May 29. Maternal instinct isn't always restricted to birth moms, but can be appropriated even in the absence of blood-and-hormone bonds, and this revival of Kristine Thatcher's 1997 play shows us why. Details:

Rasheeda Speaking, Shattered Globe at TheaWit, April 22-June 4. Joel Drake Johnson's examination in 2014 of the adage about the eye of the beholder piqued our curiosity in 2014 when applied to racism in the workplace—but is it any different today? Details:

On the Greenbelt, Strawdog Theatre at Links Hall (fka the Viaduct), April 22-May 28. A serio-comic play that jumps between the past and the present, On The Greenbelt is an exploration of family, love, memory and the question of "How do we process loss and grief?" Details:

The Luckiest, Raven Theatre, May 5-June 19. Lissette and Peter are best friends living their best lives. But when an out of nowhere diagnosis shatters Lissette's world, Peter is left trying to pick up the pieces. Details:

The Year of Magical Thinking, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Theater Wit, April 27-June 7. In 2005, Joan Didion processed her grief over the loss of family members by writing a book about the experience, and does so again in this solo-show adaptation. Details:

All's Well That Ends Well, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, April 22-May 29. Not even Shakespeare himself could make his ends justify his means, but Shana Cooper, whose direction salvaged Ibsen's Lady From the Sea at Court Theatre, thinks we can suspend enough belief nowadays. Details:


Sean Masterson's Message Inside a Bottle, Chicago Magic Lounge, running Wednesdays through June 29. A firsthand-witness memoir once recounted how gilded-age magicians Alexander Herrmann and Harry Kellar contended for championship honors, but two centuries later, Masterson wants to get the real story—with some help from the titular vessel. Details:

Lookingglass Alice, Lookingglass Theatre at the Water Works, April 30-July 31. Our young explorer's adventures on a filled-with-wonder Victorian summer afternoon begins earlier than usual this year, but you won't hear any complaints. Details:

Seagull, Steppenwolf Theatre, May 8-June 12. This Chekhov classic features a reunion of Steppenwolf's distinguished alumni, Yasen Payankov at the helm and the housewarming of the latest addition in the company's ever-expanding urban footprint. Details:

Easter Bunny Bingo, running through April 16. Games-mistress Mary Margaret O'Brien enlightens us regarding the connection between rabbits, resurrection and a pastime originating in Renaissance Italy. Details: