ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
LEAGUE OF CHICAGO THEATRES
FALL 2023 HIGHLIGHTS
Here at ChiILMama.com and ChiILLiveShows.com we adore Chicago's live theatre scene. I've been catching shows in Chicago since I moved here in 1990 and I've been reviewing as an official theatre critic since 2008. Over the past 15 years I've seen incredible productions and world class talent on stage and behind the scenes. This September alone, I'm personally catching 25 shows! Chicago's theatre scene is second to none and residents and visitors alike are in for a treat this fall, with an incredible array of stellar openings. Chicago theatre is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theatres to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 6 which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation.
Offerings from the city’s more than 250 producing theatres include a wide variety of plays and musicals, as well as comedy, dance, festivals, and more. For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, ChicagoPlays.com. Additionally, many fall shows will be available at Hot Tix, Chicago’s local, discounted ticketing service. Hot Tix operates online at HotTix.org and in-person at Guest Services inside Block 37 Shops on State, 108 N State Street. The Block 37 location is open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.
League of Chicago Theatre Executive Director Marissa Lynn Jones comments, “Theatre is an important part of the cultural and vibrant fabric of Chicago, adding to the soul and character of our city. The Fall Theatre Guide is full of theatre, music, dance and comedy productions, giving people a reason to leave their homes and take in a show, whether it be downtown, in a neighborhood, or in a suburb. We hope to share the joy of experiencing live theatre to as many residents and visitors as possible this season.”
The following is a selection of notable work playing in Chicago this Fall, organized by location.
A selection of productions playing in theatres located in the Loop are:
Broadway In Chicago at the James M. Nederlander Theatre
Playing September 13 – December 3
Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, HAMILTON has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.
The Nacirema Society
Playing September 16 – October 15
Every year since Emancipation, The Nacirema Society of Montgomery, Alabama introduces six elegant African-American debutantes to a world of wealth, privilege and social responsibility. For these young ladies, bus boycotts and freedom marches are less interesting than making a perfect entrance or plotting the perfect blackmail.
The Lehman Trilogy
Broadway In Chicago at Broadway Playhouse
Playing September 19 – October 29
On a cold September morning in 1844, a young Jewish man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is soon joined by his two brothers, and an American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish—Lehman Brothers—spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, triggering the largest financial crisis in history.
The Flying Dutchman
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Playing September 23 – October 7
The Flying Dutchman is the story of a young woman's obsession. Senta dreams of the Dutchman, who's cursed to wander the earth. He comes ashore every seven years, searching for a woman who will be faithful to him until death. When she meets him, Senta's fate is sealed.
The Joffrey Ballet
Playing October 12-22
The critically acclaimed adaptation of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein, is a visceral, profoundly emotional tale of life, death, love, and identity. Set to Liebermann’s original sweeping score and immersed within the stunning stage design by world-renowned artist John Macfarlane, this must-see Chicago premiere is one of the most innovative works of ballet today.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Playing October 25 – November 26
Tyrone Phillips, a first generation Jamaican-American, reimagines Illyria in the Caribbean in an exuberant production that makes the play’s oft-quoted line, “If music be the food of love, play on,” ring truer than ever. Separated from her twin brother in a shipwreck and washed ashore in Illyria, the spirited Viola dresses as a man to work for charming Duke Orsino—and finds herself in the middle of a love triangle of hilarious mistaken identities.
Broadway In Chicago at Cadillac Palace Theatre
Playing October 31 – November 12
It’s Bobbie’s 35th birthday party, and all her friends keep asking, Why isn’t she married? Why can’t she find the right man and isn’t it time to settle down and start a family? As Bobbie searches for answers, she discovers why being single, being married, and being alive in the 21st-century could drive a person crazy.
Broadway In Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre
Playing November 7-19
It’s showtime! Based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film, this hilarious musical tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager whose whole life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and a demon with a thing for stripes.
Theatres are located in almost every neighborhood in Chicago. A selection of productions playing throughout Chicago are:
A Taste of Soul
Black Ensemble Theater
Playing August 26 – October 15
Experience how Soul music has evolved from its Gospel roots to the pop culture sensation of today. With songs from some of Soul’s greatest hit makers like Barry White, Lou Rawls, Al Green, Bobby Caldwell, Gladys Knight and duets from legends like Peaches & Herb, Ashford & Simpson – and the list goes on and on!
A Hit Dog will Holler
Playing August 29 – September 17
When racism and oppression manifest in a scary, physical form, a social media influencer and a boots-on-the-ground activist form a complex bond of friendship to help each other survive. What happens when there’s no more outside space for the growing monster that is American racism?
Playing September 1 – October 22
Join the famed Hoenikker family on the Caribbean Island of San Lorenzo for a satirical tale of how “pure” scientific research, banana republic politics, and an organized religion based on lies bring about the end of the world.
A Red Orchid Theatre
Playing September 7 – October 29
Who celebrates their 26th birthday in the alley? Puff, that's who. With the help of her best friend Jame and the unlikely company of Georgia, Puff rings in her new year with laughter, connection, a dose of danger, and Miller High Life.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Playing September 14 – November 18
Newark, NJ. Post-9/11. Two teenagers, brought to America as children, now face an unlikely foe: unexpected, unreciprocated love. Their friendship is no longer enough (for one of them) and their adopted country doesn’t love them back.
Blues for an Alabama Sky
Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Playing September 14 – October 15
It’s 1930 in Harlem and jazz singer Angel has just gotten fired from The Cotton Club. Supported by her closest friends, Angel hopes for her next big break as costume designer Guy imagines sewing dresses in Paris, and Delia works to bring family planning centers to the community. But all of their dreams are put in jeopardy when Angel meets Leland, a recent Alabama transplant. Will he be the true love Angel has been waiting for or will he forever alter the dynamic of their precious inner circle?
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
The Gift Theatre at Filament Theatre
Playing September 14 – October 15
Little Voice has a hidden talent: she can emulate every chanteuse from Judy Garland to Edith Piaf. She hides in her room, crooning and dreaming of love, while her disheveled mother mistakes a seedy agent’s interest as affection rather than enthusiasm for the gold mine buried in her daughter’s throat. This is an engaging fairy tale of despair, love and finally hope as LV finds a voice of her own.
American Psycho: The Musical
Kokandy Productions at Chopin Theatre
Playing September 14 – November 26
Based on the electrifying novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the musical tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a young and handsome Wall Street banker with impeccable taste and unquenchable desires. Patrick and his elite group of friends spend their days in chic restaurants, exclusive clubs and designer labels. But at night, Patrick takes part in a darker indulgence, and his mask of sanity is starting to slip…
Mesmerized: A Ben Franklin Science & History Mystery
Chicago Children’s Theatre
Playing September 23 – October 15
Through fabulous storytelling and fast-paced comedy, Ben Franklin and his want-to-be-inventor niece, Sarah, travel to France where they us the Scientific Method to test a mystical man’s magical cure-all in Mesmerized: A Ben Franklin Science & History Mystery.
Destinos: 6th Chicago International Latino Theater Festival
Chicago Latino Theater Alliance
Running September 28 – November 12
Chicago’s annual citywide festival showcasing Latino theater artists and companies from Chicago, the U.S. and Latin America, returns for Chicago’s Latino Heritage Month. The festival is produced by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA), and is presented annually to drive Chicago’s vibrant Latino theater scene to a more prominent level locally, nationally and internationally. The 2023 line-up includes 17 productions all new to Chicago, including four world premieres, two North American premieres, one U.S. premiere, and five Midwest premieres. For additional information and tickets visit destinosfest.org.
Raven Theatre Company
Playing October 5 – November 12
Moonlit streets, a restless mind and a large window have become Elaine’s nightly routine in her luxurious city townhouse. But insomnia is the least of her worries when a dead body appears in the window of an abandoned, squalid unit across the street. To make matters worse, the body disappears before her husband, best friend or maid have a chance to witness the atrocity.
MPAACT at Greenhouse Theater Center
Playing October 6 – November 19
There’s something strange about the trendy new restaurant in town. When Ann and Rachelle meet there for dinner, there’s already tension in the friendship they’ve built on their common experience navigating academia as black women: While Ann just got tenure at her tiny liberal arts college, Rachelle’s struggling to find her place at the less prestigious State University. So at first, it’s easy to overlook odd things like the single water glass they are offered, or the mysterious server who keeps assigning points to their conversational gambits. But as the hunger sets in, the two professors find themselves the unknowing stars of an absurdist dinner theater performance of black plight. Somebody’s got to take the first bite, after all. A sharp, surreal satire about who gets a place at the table.
Port of Entry
Albany Park Theater Project
Playing October 6 – December 16
Port of Entry invites you to step inside the real-life stories of immigrants and refugees from all parts of the world living side by side in a single apartment building in one of the country’s most diverse immigrant communities: Chicago’s Albany Park. Formed by APTP’s youth ensemble, Port of Entry will take you on a journey through time and across cultures.
Mercury Theater Chicago
Playing October 13 – December 31
Grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronk-en-steen”) inherits his family’s estate in Transylvania. With the help of a hunchbacked sidekick, Igor (pronounced “Eye-gore”), and a leggy lab assistant, Inga (pronounced normally), Frederick finds himself in the mad scientist shoes of his ancestors. “It’s alive!” he exclaims as he brings to life a creature to rival his grandfather’s. Eventually, of course, the monster escapes and hilarity continuously abounds.
That Must Be the Entrance to Heaven
Vision Latino Theatre Company at UrbanTheater Company
Playing October 14 – November 4
Vision Latino Theater Company presents That Must Be the Entrance to Heaven by Franky D. Gonzalez for CLATA’s “Destinos”, the 6th annual International Latino Theater Festival.
The Night of the Hunter
City Lit Theater Company
Playing October 20 – December 3
A world premiere stage adaptation of the noir novel The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb, adapted by Chicago adaptor Shawna Tucker. Inspired by the crimes of West Virginia serial killer Harry Powers, who was executed in Grubb’s home town in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children, The Night of the Hunter is about Henry “Preacher” Powell, who has LOVE tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand and HATE on those of his left, and preys on widows in Depression-era West Virginia.
POTUS: or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Playing October 26 – December 10
It’s just another (omg, wtf, lmfao) day at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. When a White House PR nightmare spins into a legit sh*tshow, seven brilliant and beleaguered women must risk life, liberty, and the pursuit of sanity to keep the commander-in-chief out of trouble. POTUS: or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive is a bawdy and irreverent look at sex, politics and the women in charge of the man in charge of the free world. Who knew that global crisis is always just a four-letter word away.
Productions playing in the suburbs of Chicago include:
Little Shop of Horrors
Playing August 30 – October 15
Join us on Skid Row as meek and mild Seymour Krelborn eeks out a living at the failing Mushnik’s Flower Shop. Until one day, he discovers a strange and unusual plant he names Audrey II – one that feeds on human blood. Seymour becomes caught up in a wild scheme of trying to acquire fresh blood for his carnivorous plant – all while attempting to save the love of his life from her evil dentist boyfriend.
Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash
Drury Lane Theatre
Playing August 30 – October 22
Ring of Fire showcases the story of Johnny Cash through his music. From country rock n’ roll to searing ballads of love and faith, Cash’s iconic songs highlight the incredible struggles and triumphs of his life. Performed by an incredible group of actor/musicians, Ring of Fire celebrates the music that has become a part of our collective experience.
Playing August 23 – October 15
Gypsy is the tale of the ultimate ambitious stage mother, fighting for her daughters’ success while secretly yearning for her own. Arthur Laurents’ landmark show explores the world of two-bit show business with brass, humor, heart, and sophistication. This lavish classic boasts a celebrated score by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim including: “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Some People,” and “Together Wherever We Go.”
Welcome to Matteson!
Congo Square Theatre Company
Playing September 6 – October 1
A dark comedy by Inda Craig-Galván, Welcome to Matteson! follows two Black couples over the course of a dinner party; one couple has lived in the Chicago suburb of Matteson for years, the other has just moved in after being forcibly relocated from the Cabrini-Green housing projects. A uniquely Chicago story, the play explores universal themes of gentrification, housing justice, and inter-class relationships.
Playing September 7 – October 8
Ernestine Ashworth spends her 17th birthday agonizing over her insignificance in the universe. Soon enough, it’s her 18th birthday. Even sooner, her 41st. Her 70th. Her 101st. Five generations, an infinity of dreams, and one cake baked over a century.
Citadel Theatre Company
Playing September 13 – October 15
After a local woman is murdered, the guests and staff at Monkswell Manor find themselves stranded during a snowstorm. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, and the seven strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. When a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate.
The American Dream
Subtext Studio at Madison Street Theater
Playing October 5-29
Guatemalan immigrant Corina has made her way across the border guided by Efren, a human smuggler, aka coyote. Efren imprisons her while awaiting the final payment from her husband. Lies and truth get tangled as each desperately battles for their own definitions of freedom.
Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon
Music Theater Works
Playing October 12 – November 12
You can only see it for a single day every hundred years. No, not the show, but the enchanted town in the misty highlands. You’ll get lost in Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon with our hero and heroine and the wonderful residents of this mythical place singing such standards as “Almost Like Being In Love,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” and “Heather on the Hill,” made famous by the classic MGM film and numerous productions, each more beloved than the last.
For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, www.chicagoplays.com. Available discounted tickets will be listed at HotTix.org.
Chicago theatres prioritize safely gathering. Patrons are encouraged to confirm current protocols at each theatre. Shows and protocols are subject to change.
About Chicago theatre
Chicago’s theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. Each year Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world. For more information, visit www.chicagoplays.com.
The League of Chicago Theatres’ Mission Statement
Theatre is essential to the life of a great city and to its citizens. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres, which leverages its collective strength to support, promote and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry. Through our work, we ensure that theatre continues to thrive in our city.