From a diva-licious world premiere musical to a sketch-comedy skewering of the election season, Chicago’s stages sizzle this summer.
Chicago’s theaters generally take it easy this time of year, saving their biggest and best new shows for fall. Not this summer. Powerhouses Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole will be tearing it up on the Goodman Theatre stage in War Paint, playing cosmetics queens Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. “Women of seismic ambition, barbed humor, and boundless ingenuity, they catapulted to the top of their field in an age where business was the exclusive province of men,” observes librettist Doug Wright, who is reunited with Grey Gardens star Ebersole for this hotly anticipated premiere. June 28-August 14 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., 312-443-3800
In an election year that’s got the whole world gawking, Second City isn’t about to let the run-up to November pass without supplying some comically incisive commentary of its own. And in a twist as unusual as the pre-convention maneuverings this spring, Second City has teamed up with Slate magazine to fashionUnelectable You, a combo of scripted and improvised numbers that will richly mine the shortcomings of our system and the doings of the men and women—including the public and pundits—who make the race for the White House a show like no other. Directed by Second City’s Matt Hovde, the unimpeachably irreverent production taps such in-house talents as writers Ed Furman and Marla Caceres, as well as Slate’s Chief Political Correspondent and CBS News analyst Jamelle Bouie. July 28-August 28 at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 312-662-4562
Just when it seems Cirque du Soleil couldn’t possibly come up with another spectacle, the world’s most famous purveyor of the weird and wondrous delivers yet again. Taking inspiration from James Cameron’s epic sci-fi film Avatar, the Canadian-based company explores an alternate universe in TORUK - The First Flight. Co-creators and directors Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, along with playwright Olivier Kemeid, transport audiences to Pandora, the distant moon exploited by fuel-hungry humans in the motion picture (but 300 years before man transgressed there). State-of-the-art projections conjure fantastic landscapes which the company’s peerless performers inhabit with head-scratching ease, moving commandingly through space as if spun from Hollywood’s best special effects lab. And for the first time in a Cirque production, there’s a narrator to guide spectators through the imagination-testing tale. “A Cirque du Soleil show normally has a lot of characters, but you don’t know the story of their lives, their emotions,” says Lemieux. “Having a storyteller gives the audience some clues to identify more with the characters. It’s a different show, different tools, but the same desire to invoke, provoke, evoke.” August 3-7 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., 312-455-4500