From Broadway shows to daring world premieres, Chicago’s theater season gets off to a rip-roaring start this fall.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.
With more than 250 theaters in town, it’s never hard to find a show in Chicago—especially come fall, when every company and presenter goes all out. Here’s a sampler to get you started.
1. Gem of the Ocean Racially riven Pittsburgh circa 1904 is the setting of this August Wilson classic, in which a murderer seeks solace at the home of sensitive soul Ester Tyler. Noted local Wilson interpreter Ron OJ Parson directs this gritty, fantastical chapter in Wilson’s grand epic of African-American life. September 10-October 11, Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., 773-753-4472
Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama (which debuted in Chicago in 2012 at American Theater Company) returns to town in a Goodman Theatre production. A study in assimilation and faith in Islam, the show is directed by Kimberly Senior, who has been with it since the beginning. September 12-October 18, 170 N. Dearborn St., 312-443-3800
3. East of Eden Frank Galati, whose stage take on The Grapes of Wrath earned two Tony Awards in 1990, is back to Steinbeck with this new adaptation for Steppenwolf. Cofounder and ensemble member Terry Kinney—whose 2000 adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest also earned a Tony—directs. September 17-November 15, 1650 N. Halsted St., 312-335-1650
4. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder Written by Broadway newcomers Robert L. Freedman (book and lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics), this delightfully devilish 2014 Best Musical romp follows one greedy guy as he steamrolls his way to an inheritance by bumping off all who stand in his way. Based on a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman, A Gentleman’s Guide allows audiences to root for someone doing wrong. “Horniman was part of Oscar Wilde’s circle, so there’s a certain tone and wit to his work, and commentary about society and issues of class,” says Freedman. “We rode on a cloud of inspiration from that and the story itself, which is so funny and so dark at the same time.” September 29-October 11, Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., 312-977-1700
5. Treasure Island
The Robert Louis Stevenson classic gets the dramatic treatment from ace adaptor/ director Mary Zimmerman. “Stevenson is a remarkably beautiful writer,” says Zimmerman. “The way the pirates speak is so unbelievably expressive and singular. And there are passages of narration that are very moving. Yet it is never sentimental.” Starts October 7, Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., 312-337-0665