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SPRING THEATER SPECIAL New plays for the (early) spring season
by Mary Shen Barnidge

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Maybe you've liked the author's other plays, maybe the subject piques your interest or maybe somebody gave you the ticket and you figured, why not risk an evening on an unknown play? Whatever your reason, this is your chance to be among the first to see these premieres.

—Midnight Cowboy, Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Not a stage version of the movie, but Chris Hainsworth's original adaptation of the novel by James Leo Herlihey recounting the tale of two lonely drifters. Runs through April 10;

—Raggedy And, Pride Films and Plays at Rivendell Theatre, 5773 N. Ridge Ave. It's customary for poets to read at presidential inauguration ceremonies, but the lesbian bard chosen to do the honors for our first woman prez ( hey, it could happen ) finds her family dynamics altered by the sudden scrutiny. Runs through April 10;

—Rolling, Jackalope Theatre Company at the Armory, 5917 N. Broadway. Bad enough being excoriated by the media, but Calamity West's erring journalist can't get no respect at home either. Runs through April 2;

—after all the terrible things i do, About Face Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. A. Rey Pamatmat's young writer may not be the only pilgrim discovering he can't go home again, but you can always expect new insights from the author of Edith Can Shoot at Things and Hit Them. Runs March 17-April 10;

—Matilda the Musical, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Rock star Tim Minchin provides the score for this hit adaptation of Roald Dahl's tale of a super-smart British girl who uses her wits and other powers to triumph over her boorish parents and a bullying headmistress. Runs March 22-April 10;

—The Last Big Mistake, Factory Theatre, 1623 W. Howard St. This gritty noiresque thrill-ride inaugurates Factory Theatre's brand-spanking new rehabbed home next door to the Red Line terminal. Runs March 25-April 30;

—Hazel: A Musical Maid in America, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. The 1960s TV sitcom that starred Shirley Booth as a saucy suburban maid now sings out in a world-premiere musical adaptation starring Klea Blackhurst. Runs March 31-May 20;

—The Few, Steep Theatre Company, 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. It's another homecoming for a prodigal son, but playwright Samuel Hunter is unlikely to make it a joyous reunion. Runs April 4-May 21;

—Mary Page Marlowe, Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. It takes seven women to play the Ohio accountant constituting the title character of Tracy Letts' latest saga of the Midwest. Runs April 9-May 29;

—The 180 Degree Rule, Babes With Blades Theatre Company at City Lit, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. No one suspected that Chicago playwright Margaret ( M.E.H. ) Lewis would not live to complete her Stoppardian mystery involving a film scholar's search in 1960 for a director lost to history in Weimar Germany, but Barbara Lhota and the Babes With Blades have mounted a time-spanning epic combining cinema and live action. Runs April 16-May 27;

—Sender, A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. It's hard enough to confront your childhood errors, but Ike Holter's lone protagonist is returning from the dead and that's a much longer journey. Runs April 18-May 29; .

—Bullets over Broadway, The PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. April 19-May 1; A first-time Broadway playwright has to deal with gangsters to get his show produced in this 2014 musical adaptation of Woody Allen's award-winning 1994 film comedy. It also features a hit parade of 1920s tunes.

—Dry Land, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5775 N. Ridge Ave. Whatever your fantasies of teenage girls in locker rooms, you'll need to brace yourself for Ruby Rae Spiegel's fearless ( and graphic ) depiction of adolescents in trouble. Runs April 30-May 28;

—Disenchanted!, Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Chestnut St. Fairy-tale princesses of all sorts come back to life to tell their side of the story in this not-for-kiddies 2014 off-Broadway musical making its Chicago debut. May 10-June 5;

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