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February 12, 2014

Backstage Pass:
Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014

BY
DANNY BERNARDO

Back for its second year, Chicago Theatre Week celebrates theatre in Chicago by offering discounted tickets for over 100 productions. With tickets for some productions starting as low as $15, Chicago Theatre Week is the perfect way to sample the theatre that our city is famous for. While some will take advantage of discounted tickets for productions at the city's bigger theatres (like Goodman's Luna Gale or Steppenwolf's Tribes) I think this week is a great opportunity to check out the storefront scene and see plays at theatre companies you may not be familliar with. You could quite possibly see a show everyday (twice on weekends) and to help you narrow down the choices, below are my picks for the week, chosen specifically for the diversity of the work:

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre Company)

A warm summer evening at The Golden Dragon, where the staff serves Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine to strangers who pass through its doors. Next door, a convenience store and its curious proprietor. Upstairs, a warehouse containing an unspeakable secret. As the evening progresses, the stories of the Dragon's patrons and staff slowly unravel and intertwine, with all the shock, intrigue and danger of the international city at their core. A dynamic ensemble of five actors embodies nearly twenty characters, and their intersecting desire for power exposes the raw nerve at the center of a newly globalized world.

Venue: Victory Gardens Theater (Richard Christensen Theatre) - 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. (Chicago, IL 60614). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Solstice (A Red Orchid Theatre)

In a war-torn world, in an unnamed city divided by a river - and religion, politics, and money - a devout candlemaker, his sick wife, and their son struggle to keep ahold of their faith and each other in a world torn apart by violence and inequality.

Venue: A Red Orchid Theatre - 1531 N Wells St (Chicago, IL 60610). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Our Country's Good (Shattered Globe Theatre)

Timberlake Wertenbaker's adaptation of The Playmaker, by Thomas Keneally, examines Australia's first penal colony and the redemptive power of art. As the inmates rehearse for the upcoming production, light is shed on the class system of the colony, relationships between the incarcerated and the officers tasked with policing them, and the effect of art on a prison population. Nominee of six Tony Awards and winner of two Laurence Olivier Awards and a New York Drama Critic's Circle Award, Our Country's Good was remounted in London this year to mark the 25th anniversary of its debut.

Venue: Theater Wit - 1229 West Belmont Avenue (Chicago, IL 60657). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Pitchfork Disney (Interrobang Theatre Project)

Ten years ago, something dreadful happened to Presley and Haley. Ever since, the grownup siblings have hid in their dead parents' flat keeping the big bad world at bay on a diet of chocolate, drugs, fractured memory and fantasy. But one night their feral isolation is threatened by the arrival of the sinister cockroach-munching Cosmo Disney and his mute mate Pitchfork Cavalier. A spine-chilling pitch black comedy for our anxiety-ridden era!

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre - 2936 N Southport Avenue (Chicago, IL 60657). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Edges (Circle Theatre)

In 2007, rising music theatre writers and 2013 Tony Award nominees Justin Pasek and Benj Paul (Broadway's A Christmas Story, Dogfight) penned a contemporary song cycle, the first of their auspicious collaboration. The fruit of their labor, Edges, follows four twenty-somethings journey to self discovery as they face love, loss, and everything in-between.

Venue: Chicago Actors Studio - 2040 N Elston Ave (Chicago, IL 60614). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Into the Woods (The Hypocrites)

The Hypocrites' take on the Sondheim classic. Director Geoff Button says "One of the things I consider a hallmark of The Hypocrites style has always been the heightened and playful sense of theatricality we bring to the designs of our shows, set in contrast to a profound sense of emotional realism and elevated dramatic stakes. I feel like Into the Woods is a perfect opportunity to interrogate and deconstruct that aesthetic. The sheer silliness of The Hypocrites work is a perfect fit for a fairy tale world, but I also think we can nail the simple, unvarnished truth within that world. The fact that there is no narrator to come in and tell our stories for us and that at the end of the day we are set adrift to try to make a life. We find people, we lose people, we find new people, and every time we make a connection we are faced with the potential for loss."

Venue: Mercury Theater - 3745 N Southport Ave (Chicago, IL 60613). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
The Reckoning of Kit and Little Boots (First Floor Theatre)

The famous Elizabethan playwright, Christopher "Kit" Marlowe has been stabbed. While dying, he is visited by an apparition, the ghost of insane Roman Emperor Caligula ("Little Boots"). Caligula proceeds to walk Marlowe backwards through their respective histories exploring the power of infamy, the struggles of writing and the universal human spirit in this witty and, ultimately, moving comedy. Gus Menary, of The Inconvenience and Jackalope Theatre, directs with his signature love of word play and dry comedy.

Venue: The Den Theatre - 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave (Chicago, IL 60622). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money (Chicago Children's Theatre)

Mr. Chickee's Funny Money brings music lovers of all ages together. This musical mystery follows the adventures of 10-year-old Steven, self-proclaimed spy and president of the "Flint Future Detectives Club." As Steven plots with his friends to save Flint from financial ruin, he discovers that family, friends, imagination and determination are the true keys to success and that sharing the spotlight with others can make one even richer. Adapted from Christopher Paul Curtis' novel by an all-star creative team, including new music from Motown legend Lamont Dozier.

Venue: The Ruth Page Center for Arts - 1016 North Dearborn Street (Chicago, IL 60610). For tickets and info, click here.

Best Bets for Chicago Theatre Week 2014
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This is just a sampling for what's sure to be a great season. Check back here often for interviews with some of the communties most innovative artists, behind-the-scenes looks at the artistic process, essays on the state of the theatre in America, and my picks for the best shows each month (keep an eye out for more info for Dessa Rose , the show I'm assistant directing for my theatre company Bailiwick Chicago .)



 
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