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SPRING THEATER PREVIEW Classics, revivals offer breath of fresh air
by Mary Shen Barnidge

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It might not all be jam and sunshine yet, but after the ominous rumblings of 2016, anything not heralding apocalypse is enough to lift the spirit. Classic plays serve to remind us of hard times that we survived, so restore your morale at some of these:

Born Yesterday, Remy Bumppo Theatre at the Greenhouse, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. A corrupt business mogul is undone when his floozy mistress chooses brain—her own, that is—over brawn in Garson Kanin's classic comedy. ( March 27-April 30; )

The Woman in Black, WildClaw Theatre Company at the Den, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. This neogothic thriller, based on Susan Hill's 1983 novel, is the next-longest-running play in London history ( March 21-April 23; )

Harvey, Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. The gibes at psychoanalysis may be dated, but the charms of a tall-white-and-furry companion are ageless. ( May 11-June 11; )

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland Ave. Bertolt Brecht's analogy of criminal-class roaring-twenties Chicago and Weimar Republic Berlin is directed by European Clown instructor Victor Quezada-Perez. ( March 16-April 22; ).

The Night Season, Strawdog Theatre at the Factory, 1623 W. Howard St. The Irish seaside village of Sligo is invaded by a film crew for a biopic about William Butler Yeats, disrupting the lives of the townies. ( May 11-June 24; )

Seminar, Spartan Theatre Company at the Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave. Theresa Rebeck takes a look at Lit Biz power-games, New York City-style. ( May 12-June 9; )

Circle Mirror Transformation, Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. A community center acting class decides to try some improvisational exercises—what could go wrong? ( April 14-May 28; )


The Most Happy Fella, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at the No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. A May-December match in the Napa Valley vineyards engenders deception ( think Cyrano de Bergerac ), but somehow it all ends happily. ( through May 7; )

The Wiz, Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. The yellow brick road may still lead out of Kansas, but the music is rooted in African-American pop. ( through April 16; )

Marry Me A Little, Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Only a few composers can boast a juke box musical assembled entirely from their own songs, and Stephen Sondheim is one of them. ( April 14-May 21; )

Ragtime, Griffin Theatre Company at The Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. E.L. Doctorow's microcosmic historical novel is a natural for this romantic musical adaptation by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. ( May 27-July 16; )

Parade, Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown document another dark chapter—this one centering on a Jewish lynching—in our nation's history. ( May 24-June 9; )

Rent, Broadway in Chicago at the Ford Oriental, 24 W. Randolph St. It's the 20th anniversary of the cult musical that made squalor, drugs and dying young as romantic as a Puccini opera. ( May 16-21; )

Chicago, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oak Brook. Murder and corruption in Chicago during the roaring twenties makes for cozy entertainment in 2017. ( March 30-June 11; )

Jesus Christ Superstar, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora. Andrew Lloyd Webber's irreverent rock-infused account of the gospels premiered in 1970 and spawned its own evangelical movement. ( April 19-May 28; )

Little Miss Sunshine, Chicago Theatre Workshop at the Edge, 5154 N. Broadway, The title says it all, and it's by James Lapine and William Finn. ( May 11-June 4; )


The Kid Thing, Nothing Without A Company at Berger Park, 6205 N. Sheridan Rd. Two lesbian couples and an eager sperm donor contemplate imminent parenthood in Sarah Gubbin's symposial play. ( through April 15; )

Picnic, American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. Author William Inge was a closeted gay writing of small towns populated by small minds, and ATC's gender-neutral casting ensures that we never lose sight of it. ( March 17-April 23; )

Not About Nightingales, Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. This early Tennessee Williams drama recounting the heroism of prisoners striking against a sadistic warden ( is there any other kind? ) includes all the elements we expect from the genre. ( April 19-June 17; )

March 21 marks the spring equinox, when the days get ever longer and everything gets brighter—or so we've been told, and only in our own hemisphere, when the ozone layer permits—but multiculturalism doesn't preclude seizing our own day. Why not seize it at a play?

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