As the BA.2 variant of COVID-19 looms as a possible barrier to attending live shows (even though some of us now qualify for a second encore), shows are on the rise. We’ve got a dozen baker events to consider if you’re feeling ready to hang out in the next few months. We also suggest you check vax and mask requirements with the ticket office in advance; even though the city lifted its mask and vax mandates for indoor events more than a month ago, many productions still require one or both for participation.
OPERA (Deanna Isaacs)
Viennese prodigy Erich Korngold composed a popular ballet score in 1908, when he was 11, and a successful opera at 19. music from the Hollywood version by Max Reinhardt Dream of a summer night, launching a dual career and now changing the way film music would sound. In 1938, while working in Hollywood on the score of The Adventures of Robin Hood (winner of the Oscar for Best Music that year), Hitler annexed Austria and it became impossible for him, like many other Jewish artists, to return and survive there. Although he continued to compose, his classical career would never fully recover. He died in Los Angeles in 1957.
Until April 10, the University of Chicago, in partnership with Folks Operetta, is organizing a Korngold festival, “Korngold Rediscovered”, with several concerts and other public events, including the first American performance of his last opera, Die Catherine (Thu 4/7 and Sat 4/9, 7:30 p.m.); conferences (Wed 4/6, 7:30 p.m., Thu 4/7 and Fri 4/8, 9:30 a.m.); and a projection of The Adventures of Robin Hood (Fri 4/8, 7:00 p.m.). All events at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. Prices vary; see korngoldfestival.org for full program and tickets.
DANCE (Irene Hsiao)
Showcase of the choreographers of Mandala Arts
Discover new contemporary works that combine Bharatanatyam and Kathak with other forms of movement, texts and technologies, choreographed by Mandala South Asian Performing Arts Associate Artistic Director Ashwaty Chennat and Resident Artist Shalaka Kulkarni. Through works like Kulkarni’s Nyra’s Dreams, which uses dance, humor and interactive technology to tell the story of a postmodern Indian goddess in 2085, the company incubates and honors the continued evolution of South Asian and South Asian American dance. The showcase also features music by tabla player and Mandala teaching artist Krissy Bergmark. Sunday, 4/17, 3 p.m., Chicago Museum of History, 1601 N. Clark, mandalaarts.org, $25.
Chicago Inclusive Dance Festival
After a year online, the Chicago Inclusive Dance Festival returns in person to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Co-sponsored by 3Arts, ReinventAbility, MOMENTA, Kinetic Light, Bodies Of Work and Access Living, the two-day festival for people with and without disabilities offers workshops, performances, film screenings and more to get everyone moving. world and celebrate creativity, diversity and possibility in every dancing body. This year’s festival focuses on integrating access into the creative process, particularly through audio description. Saturday, April 23 through Sunday, April 24, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mayor’s Office for Persons with Disabilities, 2102 W. Ogden. Free, but registration required.
Links Room CoMISSION Festival of New Works
Over two weekends, Links Hall presents new work in progress by 2021-2022 CoMISSION residency and fellow artists Keisha Janae, Mario LaMothe, Helen Lee, Cat Mahari, Jaerin Son and Nejla Yatkin, including a special Juneteeth performance by Janae and Mahari. Personal and cultural stories permeate these contemporary works: considering the losses of the recent past, Lee says, “I try to make friends with my anxiety and my grief, I look for ways to heal and find meaning and joy, and I think of involuntary gifts.” Says Mahari about her multimodal performance Blk Ark: The Impossible Manifestation, “With every step we ask, ‘What will it take to break free?’ and “Can we see a new world from here?”
THEATER (Kerry Reid)
Kristine Thatcher’s drama about a Rogers Park couple whose plan to adopt a baby leads to rifts in their relationship was a huge hit for Victory Gardens under Terry McCabe in 1996, and went on to several other productions at across the country. The play was also the first-ever commissioned by the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival. McCabe now revisits the story at the City Lit Theater, where he is artistic director and Thatcher (who now lives in Michigan) is resident playwright. The cast of this revival includes Kat Evans as Jean Farrell, the future adoptive mother, and James Sparling as her husband Henry. 4/15-5/29, City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, $12-$34 at citylit.org.
Two brothers reunite and go on the run to escape an America “where being Latinx is a life sentence” in Exal Iraheta’s dystopian drama, directed for A Red Orchid Theater by Ismael Lara Jr. Sequestered in a state park of Texas, the competing desires of the brothers as revolution and normality take shape with the arrival of a “sympathetic deserter”. Iraheta, a Chicago-based Salvi-American playwright, secured an audio drama production of his play with A Red Orchid last year. Eddie Martinez, Roberto Jay and Chris Sheard star. 4/21-6/12, A Red Orchid Theater, 1531 N. Wells, aredorchidtheatre.org, $15-$40.
On the Greenbelt
Strawdog Theater continues its season of live shows – and its commitment to free tickets for all – with Karissa Murrell Myers’ serio-comedy family drama, directed by Jonathan Berry, about a young woman haunted by something she has seen in Idaho hospital the night his mother died. Myers, a Filipino Hapa writer, hails from Boise; Strawdog produced their digital coin How do we navigate in space? Last year. 4/22-5/28, Links Hall, 3111 N. Western, strawdog.org, free (reservations accepted); subtitles and audio descriptions available from 04/28, streaming online at 7 p.m. every Sunday from 05/01.
The secretaries: a parable
Up-and-coming Chicago-based playwright Omer Abbas Salem receives a world premiere of his play, originally developed as part of the Goodman Theater’s Future Labs series last year with the First Floor Theater. Four women in Berlin in 1944 vie for the post of personal secretary to the Führer as he heads for the bunker with Eva Braun. As the Third Reich crumbles, a series of secrets, lies, and rationalizations reveal just how far we’ll go when we confuse self-interest with civic duty. Laura Alcalá Baker conducts. 5/5-6/11, Den Theater, 1331 N. Milwaukee, firstfloortheater.com, $10-$35.
Two trains in motion
Director Ron OJ Parson returns to both the Court Theater and August Wilson with a revival of Wilson’s 1960s drama, in which a local restaurant at the center of life in Pittsburgh’s historic Black Hill neighborhood faces the threat of demolition as a result of “urban renewal”. and employees and regulars struggle with the fight for civil rights and justice. 5/13-6/12, Court Theater, 5535 S. Ellis, courttheatre.org, $28.50-$84.
After the explosion
Zoe Kazan’s sci-fi drama (which starred William Jackson Harper of The right place at its 2017 off-Broadway premiere at Lincoln Center) is getting its first local production courtesy of the Broken Nose Theater, under the direction of JD Caudill. Generations after a global catastrophe sent the remnants of humanity to live underground, a young couple struggle to have a child, despite the woman’s ongoing depression, which may prevent them from getting the job. government approval they need. The arrival of a robot, Arthur, irreparably changes their lives. 5/13-6/11, Den Theater, 1331 N. Milwaukee, Brokennosetheatre, pay what you can.
Erika Dickerson-Daspenza’s drama examines environmental racism through the story of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Two sisters – one a General Motors employee battling the specter of layoffs and the poison attacking her family, the other an activist in the battle for justice for those poisoned by lead pipes – discover that their own secrets could also upset their family and their town. Lili-Anne Brown conducts the regional premiere at Victory Gardens. 6/11-7/17, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, winnergardens.org, $33-$68.
COMEDY AND VARIETY
Chicago Circus and Performing Arts Festival
As Reader Contributor Kimzyn Campbell noted in her essay on the return of the circus (and Cirque du Soleil) for the spring arts preview last week, one of the bright spots for the estate locally is the inaugural presentation of the Chicago Circus and Performing Arts Festival, presented under the auspices of Yes Ma’am Circus. The festival features physical theater, family shows, comedy sketches, burlesque and more from ten different troupes. 4/21-4/24, Den Theater, 1331 N. Milwaukee; see cccpaf.org for complete schedule and prices.
wake up time
In his year-end overview of the Chicago comedy scene, Reader Contributor Wanjiku Kairu noted Hyde Park’s comedy theater mission The Revival “to cultivate diverse talent”. Saturdays in May wake up time features an array of improv performers creating on-location stages in the tradition of the Compass Players (the forerunners of Second City, many of whom were University of Chicago students when they began performing in a showcase of the 55th next to the present Revival place). Sat, 5/7-5/28, 7:30 p.m., The Revival, 1160 E. 55th, the-revival.com, $10-$15.