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FALL THEATER PREVIEW Checking out this season's musicals
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

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Chicago musical theater lovers have lots to rejoice about the 2019 fall season. There are musicals making Chicago debuts, plus many revivals of classic and contemporary fare. All musicals play in Chicago unless otherwise noted.


—The Band's Visit, Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St.: An Egyptian military band gets stranded by mistake in a remote Israeli desert town in this 10-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of the 2007 Israeli film. Former Chicago director David Cromer won his first Tony Award for staging this wistful, slow-burning musical about human connection amid so many differences. ( now to Sept. 15; )

—Something Rotten! Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire: Two playwrights seek out the help of psychic Nostradamus in order to outdo their rival, William Shakespeare. Jeff Award-winner Scott Weinstein stages the first homegrown Chicago-area production of this 2015 Elizabethan Broadway musical comedy. ( now to Oct. 20; )

—Midsummer ( A Play with Songs ), Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.: An executive seeking revenge sex and a thief on the prowl come together for a series of misadventures in Edinburgh. This British show by playwright David Greig and songwriter Gordon McIntyre arrives in Chicago after an acclaimed run in the Scottish capital. ( Sept. 4-Oct. 6; )

—Songs in the Key of Stevie, Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St.: Rueben Echoles is set to write and direct a new biographical musical centered on the amazing songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder. ( Oct. 5-Nov. 17; )

—Lindiwe, Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.: Ensemble member Eric Simonson teams up with the musical ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo for a song-filled drama that travels from Chicago's Kingston Mines to South Africa. ( Nov. 7-Jan. 5; )

—The Simon & Garfunkel Story, Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St.: This multimedia-filled 2015 London musical revue follows the sometimes contentious friendship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. ( Nov. 19-Dec. 1; )


—All That He Was, Pride Films and Plays, 4147 N. Broadway: Composer Cindy O'Connor and playwright/lyricist Larry Cousineau have updated their 1993 musical set at a funeral of a young man who died from AIDS-related complications. ( now to Sept. 9; )

—Into the Woods, Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe: Director Gary Griffin brings extra intimacy to the classic Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical mashup of timeless fairytales by staging the production in the round. ( now to Sept. 22; )

—Monty Python's Spamalot, Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave.: Eric Idle and John Du Prez's musical adaptation of the classic 1975 film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail is back home in Chicago, the city that hosted its pre-Broadway tryout back in 2004. ( now to Nov. 3; )

—Newsies The Musical, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora: Harvey Fierstein's stage adaptation of the 1992 Disney film musical became a surprise Broadway hit back in 2012. Director Jim Corti stages this historically inspired 1899 tale of New York newsboys who went on strike to defy publishing magnate Joseph Pulitzer. ( Sept. 4-Oct. 20; )

—The Color Purple, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace: Lili-Anne Brown directs this revival of the hit 2005 Broadway musical. It's inspired by Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Celie, an African-American woman in the early 1900s who finds romantic and familial love despite so much early abuse in life. ( Sept. 13-Nov. 3; )

—Hello Again, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 721 Howard St., Evanston: Michael John LaChiusa relocated Arthur Schnitzler's controversial 1897 sexual drama La Ronde to 20th century America for his 1993 off-Broadway musical adaptation. ( Sept. 13-Nov. 3; )

—Anything Goes, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights: Cole Porter's quintessential 1930s musical is set aboard an ocean liner and features hit song standards like "You're the Top," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and more. ( Sept. 19-Nov. 2; )

—Big Fish, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.: Songwriter Andrew Lippa and playwright John August drew inspiration from Daniel Wallace's novel and the 2004 Tim Burton film for their musical tryout. This production allows local audiences to see what changed since the musical's 2013 Chicago tryout and a too-short Broadway run. ( Sept. 29-Nov. 17; )

—A Man of No Importance, Pride Films and Plays at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway: A closeted bus conductor in 1960s Dublin stirs up controversy when he tries to stage a community theater production of Oscar Wilde's Salome. This 2002 off-Broadway musical by playwright Terrence McNally and songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is inspired by the 1994 film. ( Oct. 10-Nov. 10; )

—Sunset Boulevard, Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St.: Jeff Award-winning actress Hollis Resnik stars as Norma Desmond in composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award-winning adaptation of the classic 1950 Billy Wilder film. It's all about a faded silent screen star and the desperate screenwriter who falls into her clutches. ( Oct. 11-Nov. 24; )

—Oliver! Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire: Lionel Bart's beloved 1960 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist makes a return. ( Oct. 30-Dec. 29; )

—Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora: The smash hit 1994 Broadway musical inspired by Disney's acclaimed 1991 animated feature returns to the Chicago area for another regional run. ( Nov. 13-Jan. 19; )

—Mary Poppins, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace: British producer Cameron Mackintosh teamed up with Disney for this 2004 stage musical adaptation of the beloved 1964 film about a magical nanny. ( Nov. 15-Jan. 19; )

—Always... Patsy Cline, Firebrand Theatre at Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.: Artistic director Harmony France and actress Christina Hall alternate in roles of country legend Patsy Cline and the suburban housewife Louise Seger in this biographical 1997 off-Broadway musical. ( Nov. 16-Dec. 15; )

—Annie, Citadel Theatre, 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest: The smash-hit 1977 Broadway musical about Little Orphan Annie returns for an appropriately timed holiday run. ( Nov. 20-Dec. 22; )

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