Two components of many a Chicago summer of live entertainment are absent this year — there's no
Here are 10 of what might well turn out of be the hottest shows of an essential Chicago summer — and after the kind of springs we get, aren't they all essential?
'The Glass Menagerie'
Most summers, the Drury Lane departs from its usual slate of musicals into the realm of murder mysteries and familiar farces. This year, it's presenting the 2008 Broadway hit "Boeing-Boeing," replete with a cast led by "SNL" veteran
Disney's theatrical arm developed
Charles Newell's experimental double bill of Moliere comedies — mostly featuring an African-American cast — had a rough start with "The Misanthrope." But this hugely creative director's ideas for "Tartuffe" sound much more intriguing and better rooted in truth. The notion here is that the family duped by this famous hypocrite is a prominent African-American household in either Hyde Park or Kenwood. Many masterful actors are in the cast and, if the show lives up to the promise of its clever premise, it should be a highlight of the summer. June 20 to July 14 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.; 773-753-4472 and courttheatre.org
'The Color Purple'
In the midst of its ambitious first year of producing its own musicals, the Mercury Theater on Chicago's North Side offers up an intimate, Equity-affiliated production of the 2005 Broadway musical, featuring music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, with a book by Marsha Norman. It's based, of course, on Alice Walker's beloved 1982 novel about the hardscrabble life of a young but resilient African-American woman in rural Georgia in the 1930s. August, Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave.; 773-325-1700 and mercurytheaterchicago.com
The centerpiece of the summer at the Biograph Theatre is the world premiere of this drama by Luis Alfaro, slated to be directed by Chay Yew, the artistic director of Victory Gardens. It's a reimagining of Euripides' tragic "Medea" (the one wherein a mother sacrifices her own children) set in the
There are many reasons to admire "Next to Normal," the very serious musical from Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, but the most important one is the way this show captures how family life in today's overscheduled world gets shoved into ever smaller and smaller boxes, with togetherness compromised by ubiquitous electronic devices. At the Drury Lane, this is challenging programming for an audience more used to lighter and classic musical fare. Aug. 15 to Oct. 6 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace; 630-530-0111 and drurylaneoakbrook.com
Founded in 1947, the Piccolo Teatro di Milano (or "The Little Theatre of the City of Milan") is one of the most important of the Italian theater companies. Its visit to Chicago with this play by the late Eduardo De Filippo is part of the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S. Chicago will be the first city to which the Piccolo Teatro brings this lesser-known 1948 work by a tragicomic writer known for his frank descriptions of life among the Neapolitan working classes. June 25-29 by Piccolo Teatro di Milano at
No writer has risen faster these last two or three years than Amy Herzog. "Belleville," which premiered at Yale Repertory in 2011, is a play set in Paris, a city synonymous with romantic love. But it's actually a drama about the unraveling of a 5-year-old marriage. Anne Kaufmann directs. June 27 to Aug. 25 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St.; 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org