Now that Gay Pride Month is upon us, it's a great time to take stock of how far the LGBT community has come (or hasn't) since the Stonewall Riots erupted in June of 1969 and kicked off the modern-day rights movement for LGBT equality. One way to reflect is to catch up with a variety of shows dealing with aspects of LGBT life and history. Some shows do it song, some are personal memoirs, while others reflect the time and place they were originally written. All shows in Chicago unless otherwise noted.
New to town
These world premieres and Chicago-area premieres give you a chance to see how current playwrights are depicting LGBT issues, be it from an up-to-date or historical perspective.
Swallow Your Pride, GayCo at Stage 773, June 1-July 7. Chicago's best-known LGBT sketch comedy troupe celebrates its sweet-16 anniversary with a brand new Pride Month revue featuring rowdy Dykes on Bikes, nervous politicians out for the gay vote and the poor sign spelling of anti-gay protesters. 773-327-5252 or www.gayco.com
Steamwerkz The Musical, Annoyance Theatre, June 1-Aug. 3. A sung story about a young gay man who comes to Chicago and befriends an odd assortment of characters who frequent the city's notorious bathhouse. 773-561-4665 or www.theannoyance.com
Immediate Family, Paul Boskind, Ruth Hendel and Stephen Hendel by special arrangement with the Goodman Theatre and in association with About Face Theatre at Goodman Theatre's Owen Bruner Theatre, June 2-July 8. Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad directs this new American play by Paul Oakley Stovall about a Hyde Park family who divulge secrets when they assemble for the first time in five years. 312-423-6612 or www.goodmantheatre.org
Exit, Pursued by Bear, Theatre Seven of Chicago at Greenhouse Theater Center, June 7-July 15. A sassy gay friend is featured in the Chicago premiere of Lauren Gunderson's dark comedy about a fed-up wife who restrains and punishes her abusive husband before she plans on leaving him. 773-404-7336 or www.theatreseven.org
Mahal, Silk Road Rising at The Historic Chicago Temple's Pierce Hall, June 8-10. A Filipino family dealing with the loss of the strong matriarch also must deal with assimilation, homophobia and more issues in this staged reading of Danny Bernardo's new play. 312-857-1234 or www.silkroadrising.org
My First Time, Broken Nose Theatre at Greenhouse Theater Center, June 8-July 28. The hit off-Broadway show by Ken Davenport and folks just like you is all about people's hetero- and homosexual stories reflecting on the first they had sex. 773-404-7336 or www.greenhousetheater.org
Seconds from Suicide, Pandemonium Theatre Group at Greenhouse Theater Center, June 18-20. Cheryl Thomas' drama delves into 48-hours of the life of a teenager bullied for his sexuality. 773-404-7336 or www.greenhousetheater.org
The Gacy Play, Sideshow Theatre Company at Theater Wit, June 23-July 29. Playwright Calamity West explores the reality and the mythology of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. in a world premiere drama that aims to offer a meditation on masculinity and violence. 773-975-8150 or www.sideshowtheatre.org
Out of the past
Revivals of established classics give modern-day audiences a chance to reflect on where the LGBT community and its artists were thinking and depicting in the past.
The Glass Menagerie, Next Up repertory at Steppenwolf Theatre Garage, June 5-24. Tennessee Williams' classic 1940s drama is a semi-autobiographical portrait of his broken home and his regretful memories of his overbearing mother and fragile younger sister. 312-335-1888 or www.steppenwolf.org .
The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, Glitterati Productions and Pride Films and Plays at Luna Central, June 20-30. Chad Ryan stars in this 20th anniversary production of playwright/performer David Drake's one man off-Broadway show about gay life in New York in the early 1990s. 800-838-3006 or www.pridefilmsandplays.com
Richmond Jim, Pride Films and Plays at National Pastime Theater and part of its Naked July Festival, June 29-Aug. 8. A young man newly arrived in New York finds himself in a relationship with an older man in this slice-of-life drama and early gay play by Cal Yeomans. 773-327-7077 or 800-838-3006 or www.pridefilmsandplays.com
Butley, Hubris Productions at Greenhouse Theater Center, July 5-Aug. 11. Simon Gray's famed 1970s dark comedy is all about a pompous English university professor facing the breakup of both his long-time marriage and affair with a former male student. 773-404-7336 or www.hubrisproductions.com
A Steady Rain, Chicago Commercial Collective at Chicago Dramatists, July 7-Sept. 2. The original cast and crew to Keith Huff's 2007 Chicago and Broadway hit play returns with its dramatic focus on two cops who inadvertently return a victim to a Jeffrey Dahmer-like killer. www.asteadyrainchicago.com
The Vortex, Dead Writers Theatre Collective at Greenhouse Theater Center, July 12-Aug. 26. Before he became known for his sophisticated and upper-crust comedies, playwright/actor Noel Coward caused a theatrical scandal with his 1920s drama involving a mother and son caught up with destructive sex and drugs. 773-404-7336 or www.deadwriters.net
Several shows with LGBT themes or characters that played earlier this season are back, though not always in their original setting, particularly with productions remounted at the open-air Theater on the Lake.
Exploited Again! Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli & Ethel Gumm, Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, June 1-2. Jeff Dean and musical director Beckie Menzie offer up their own script and song-driven approach to exploring the mother-daughter relationships of famed gay icon Judy Garland, her daughter Liza Minnelli and her showbiz stage mother, Ethel Gumm. 773-278-1830 or www.davenportspianobar.com
Don't Act Like a Girl, Annoyance Theatre, June 3-24. Wes Perry's acclaimed comic cabaret about his life growing up gay and addled by prescription drugs in Southern California is back for a special run of Sunday Pride Month performances. 773-561-4665 or www.theannoyance.com
Or, Caffeine Theatre at Theater on the Lake, June 20-24. The English Restoration playwright Aphra Behn is the focus of Liz Duffy Adams' three-actor farce where a playwright and former spy struggles to finish writing her new play amid amorous advances from both men and women. 312-742-7994 or www.chicagoparkdistrict.com
30 Queer Plays in 60 Straight Minutes, The Neo-Futurists, June 21-23. The Neo-Futurists' annual Pride Weekend Benefit is back with short plays touching upon LGBT topics performed to help benefit UCAN's LGBTQ Host Home Program.773-275-5255 or www.neofuturists.org
Opus, Redtwist Theatre at Theater on the Lake, July 4-8. A world-class string quartet is torn apart by a vicious queen with a business bent in Michael Hollinger's acclaimed drama. 312-742-7994 or www.chicagoparkdistrict.com
Hit the Wall, The Inconvenience at Theater on the Lake, July 25-29. Ike Holter's wildly acclaimed environmental theater piece complete with a live rock band focuses on the 1969 Stonewall Riots and a tale of 10 unlikely revolutionaries. 312-742-7994 or www.chicagoparkdistrict.com
Time is running out to catch these spring shows:
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, Court Theatre, now through June 3. Time is running out to catch Tony Kushner's epic 1990s plays set during the Reagan Administration touch upon homosexuality, AIDS, Mormonism, McCarthyism and so much more. Kushner himself gave his blessing to artistic director Charles Newell to stage his epic plays. 773-753-4472 or www.courttheatre.org
Her Naked Skin, Shattered Globe Theatre at Stage 773, now through June 3. Class and sexual boundaries are crossed in 1913 London when suffragettes protesting for women's rights get locked up in the notorious Holloway Prison. 773-327-5252 or shatteredglobe.org
[title of show], Northlight Theatre, Skokie, now through June 9. Gay friends Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell are the duo behind this meta musical about two friends writing a musical and the compromises and finagling they do in order to get it Broadway. 847-673-6300 or www.northlight.org
Rent, About Face Theatre and American Theater Company, now through June 17. Jonathan Larson's 1996 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about New York artists finding love and loss in the age of AIDS (inspired by the 1896 Puccini opera La Boheme) returns in a newly conceived production directed by David Cromer. 773-409-4125 or www.atcweb.org
Sexy Baby: A Docu-musical, Hell in a Handbag Productions at Mary's Attic, now through June 23. The bizarre world of child beauty pageants gets skewered in this world premiere camp and drag-filled musical by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty. 800-838-3006 or www.handbagproductions.org
Bodies, MPAACT at Greenhouse Theater Center, now to June 24. Chuck Smith directs Carla Stillwell's drama about a Baptist Church reverend and his wife who try to meddle in family affairs, particularly with a relative whom they suspect of being gay. 773-404-7336 or www.mpaact.org