In the Windy City Times' Fall Theater Preview I noted a distinct absence of LGBT-themed fare, but I predicted that the tide would turn with time, and things were likely to heat up when the weather turned chilly. Well, sho'nuff they have! For the next three months, you won't be able to stroll 'round the block without bumping into some queer theater.
Titanic, Cock and Bull Theatre at the Athenaeum, through Jan. 28: I'll bet you didn't know that half the passengers on the world's most famous shipwreck were drag queens? Too bad they didn't all look like twinkie Leo DiCaprio. Yes, my dears, for hijinks on the high seas with a very cold shower at the end, you may rely on this outrageous early-career farce by the very gay Christopher Durang. Titanic has been done in Chicago before, but not for quite a few years.
Don't Act Like a Girl, Annoyance Theatre, through Feb. 12 (Sundays only): Wes Perry is back at the Annoyance with a new one-man show about how difficult it is to be perceived as "different," especially when you're an adolescent boy at summer fat camp who loves musical theater. We are told the show touches not only on queer teenage angst but also queer teenage drag queens. Perry is accompanied by a band.
Dark Play or Stories for Boys, Collaboration at the Flat Iron Building, through Feb. 26: The intelligent and interesting playwright Carlos Murillo and director Anthony Moseley are straight, but they are taking on a very contemporary ambisexual phenomenon, that of Internet hook-ups and Internet deception. In Murillo's play, a boy pretends to be a girl on the Internet as a lure for another boy, with lurid and disastrous results (although not what you might predict). The play really isn't an LGBT story, but is about truth and lies which, basically, are the warp and woof of the Internet.
Are you there, Judy? It's me, Cancer, GayCo Productions at Donny's Skybox, Feb. 3-24 (Fridays only): In one of the few concessions this season to a strictly female perspective, GayCo offers its first-ever one-person show in Judy Fabjance's journey through breast cancer, billed as an evening of "comedy, cries and choreography" with music. Fabjance is both writer and performer.
Hit the Wall, The Inconvenience at Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, Feb. 3-April 8: This world premiere by Ike Holter is one-third of the 2012 Steppenwolf Garage Rep and will play in rotation with two other plays. In Hit the Wall, Holter takes a revisionist look at the summer of 1969, the death of gay icon Judy Garland and its interconnection with the Stonewall Riots. Using a live rock band, the play focuses on 10 so-called LGBT activists who may or may not have been in the Greenwich Village streets on that hot, sultry night.
The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, Redtwist Theatre, March 4-April 7: Veteran director Greg Kolack stages the Chicago premiere of this 2008 work in which Moises Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project revisited Laramie, Wyo., and almost all of the people interviewed for the original stage play, a legendary docudrama about the Matthew Shepard murder and its immediate aftermath. Ten years later, who has changed (and how) and who has not? What has changed (if anything) in Laramie and nationally with regard to LGBT individuals and issues?
Tea and Sympathy, The Artistic Home at Stage 773, March 18-April 22: Robert Anderson's huge hit of 1953 (and 1956 film) was about an adolescent boy perceived to be gay ("sister boy" he is called by his schoolmates). Sixty years ago, it was as close to being out as a play could be. Elia Kazan directed it on Broadway and Vincente Minelli on film, with Deborah Kerr and the unrelated John Kerr (a beautiful boy then) in the leads on stage and film. How will it play in today's much more open era? If anyone can make it work well, it should be director John Mossman, co-founder of The Artistic Home.
Jersey Boys, Bank of American Theatre, April 5-June 12: This lively jukebox musical about Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons isn't an LGBT show, but the group's manager and producing guru was gay and out at a time when it wasn't always cool to be, and the show doesn't hide it. It's a fine piece of entertainment with or without the gay angle.
Hairspray, Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace, April 19-June 17: OK, there's nothing really LGBT about this one, either, unless you count its entire ethos: from a story and movie by John Waters, with a drag lead female and telling a tale of the ultimate outsidera fat adolescent girlwho wins the day (and the pretty boy).
And there you have the winter and early spring LGBT Theater line-up. There is, of course, always more. About Face Theatre will stage its XYZ Festival of New Work, with a play by Tonya Saracho as the featured attraction (winter dates and location TBA). Also, the Cadillac Palace Theatre will host the tour of the latest Broadway revival of South Pacific (Feb. 5-26), certain to feature a number of well-sculpted and semi-naked male bodies (a tradition of the show since its first production in 1949). Of course, that and $4.35 will get you a mocha grande at Starbucks ... or a date with me, if that's your idea of a good time. It would be better if you spent a little more money and went to see a show.