Theater on the Lake 2013: Summer Calendar of Shows and Events

Theater on the Lake 2013: Summer Calendar of Shows and Events

Since 1952, Theater on the Lake has been providing Chicagoans and visitors one of those aha moments that is pure Chicago.  Guests can bask in the best that summer has to offer at this historic open-air venue on Chicago’s magnificent lakefront while watching top-notch theater from some of Chicago’s richest off-Loop theater companies.

The 2013 season from the Jeff-award winning Theater on the Lake steps off on June 12 with an opening night USO dance that pays tribute to the building’s historic roots.  The season continues every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. through August 11 with eight diverse productions plus special Theater Thursdays, “Lit Nights” and more.

Theater on the Lake programming highlights include:

Opening Night USO Dance, Wednesday, June 12 at 6 p.m.

During World War II, Theater on the Lake was used as a USO Center and regularly hosted USO dances.  The New Colony honors this history by welcoming big band Mike P’s and the Cool Breeze with jazz vocalist Abigail Riccards for a night of swing dancing.  The dance is followed by the production of The Bear Suit of Happiness at 7:30 p.m.  Admission is included with your ticket to The Bear Suit of Happiness.

Live Lit on the Lake, 
Thursdays and Fridays at 9:30 p.m.

After the main stage performance every Thursday and Friday, Chicago’s literary all-stars will read their stories, personal essays and commentaries.  Live Lit is curated and hosted by Ian Belknap, founder and host of WRITE CLUB, which features a rotating lineup of Chicago’s most audacious writers/performers.

Theater Thursdays, 
Thursdays at 6 p.m.

Theater on the Lake will be hosting Theater Thursdays every Thursday night with pre-show cocktails, appetizers, and a chance to meet the artists. 

 Admission is included in ticket price. 

Theater Thursdays is presented in partnership with The League of Chicago Theaters.

The 2013 Theater on the Lake season is as follows:

The New Colony
The Bear Suit of Happiness by Evan Linder, June 12 – 16, directed by Sean Kelly

In 1943, Woody, a young gay American, enlists in the army.  After being shipped to a remote Pacific Island, he is given an order: “Put up a show to entertain the men.  Keep it simple.  Needs music.  And they like drag.”  Woody becomes a one-man war as he fights to write a show worthy of his fellows’ last laughs.  Torn between fantasy and reality, his silly camp show grows to be a dream of an impossibly hospitable world.

Blackademics by Idris Goodwin, 
directed by Shepsu Aakhu and Marie Cisco, June 19 – 23

Two female African-American scholars break down ideas while breaking bread and celebrating black history month in their favorite bistro.  They become deeply engrossed in spirited discourse, weaving personal and political, academic and pop culture, and boasts and criticisms.  This metaphysical comedy dramatizes one of our longest running debates: what does it mean to be a Black in America?

Manual Cinema
Lula del Ray based on original text by Brendan Hill
, designed and directed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller, June 26 – June 30

This family friendly feature-length shadow play is performed with overhead projectors, shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, live music and almost entirely without dialogue.  When Lula, a lonely adolescent girl, discovers a soulful country music duo on the radio, she leaves home and enters a world of danger and deception to find them.  Lula del Ray is a mythic reinvention of a classic coming-of-age story.

Theater Oobleck
There Is a Happiness That Morning Is by Mickle Maher, ensemble directed, July 10 – 14

This comedy in rhymed verse unfolds via two lectures on the poetry of William Blake: one given by a middle-aged, barely published poet of scant scholarship, and the other by his lover, a reputable Ph.D.  Having just engaged in a highly inappropriate public display of affection, the two undergraduate lecturers must now either apologize for their behavior, or justify it if they want to keep their jobs.

Barrel of Monkeys
That’s Weird, Grandma by student authors; adapted by ensemble, ensemble directed, July 17 – 21

Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actors/educators who hold creative writing workshops with Chicago Public School students and perform these imaginative stories.  The result is smart, funny and family friendly. The production, hailed by as “part pep rally, part musical theater extravaganza – and one of the most real, uplifting and engaging theatrical experiences in town.”

The Den Theatre
The Quality of Life by Jane Anderson, directed by Lia Mortensen, July 24 – 28

Red and blue state worlds collide in this compassionate and humorous drama that confronts the human challenge of losing a loved one. After the death of their daughter, church-going conservatives visit left-wing cousins who continue to celebrate life despite hard times.  But sympathy turns to rage when religious and moral values about life and death are put to the ultimate test.

Jackalope Theatre
Long Way Go Down by Zayd Dohrn, directed by Kaiser Ahmed, July 31 – Aug. 4

An imaginary line at the edge of America fosters a dangerous story of trust between two truckers and two Mexican immigrants smuggled into Arizona.  In a business this dangerous, someone has to pay up.  Fast-paced and sharp-tongued, this play is a poignant reminder that life requires large sacrifices for large changes.

Chicago Physical Theater
The Chi-Town Clown Revue featuring Honeybuns, 
conceived by Dean Evans, Aug. 7 – 11

This special edition of Chi-Town Clown Revue’s visceral, hilarious, and unrepeatable theatrical event features Honeybuns, a gigantic creature billed as “The World’s Greatest Mime.”  To share space with Honeybuns is to experience a highly physical, interactive piece of performance art that has impressions of mime, improv, and electro shock treatment with physical comedians and circus clowns.


The Chicago Park District’s Theater on the Lake is located at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.


Performances run from June 12 through August 11 on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 6:30 p.m.


Single tickets are $18 and a season subscription to all eight plays is $110.  Weekend Flex Pass, which includes tickets for three different shows are $35, for Friday-Sunday performances only.  Tickets go on sale today (June 4) at the Theater on the Lake box office at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Michigan or at 312 742 7994.  The box office is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 3:30 to  7:30 p.m.

Getting There

Paid parking is available at the Lincoln Park Zoo located at Fullerton Avenue and Cannon Drive.  CTA bus routes 151 or 156 both serve the area; for schedules, contact the RTA/CTA at (312) 836-7000.  For patrons with special needs, please contact the box office at 312 742 7994 to arrange for valet parking services. For more information visit Chicago Park District, or call 312 742-PLAY.

About Theater on the Lake

Constructed in 1920, the Theater on the Lake building was originally a recuperation ward for babies suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases.  During World War II, the structure was used as a USO Center.  After the war, the Chicago Park District used the venue for then-popular barn dances.

In 1952, it was converted into the Theater on the Lake performance venue and showcased productions staged by the Park District’s many community theater organizations.  In 1996, the programming evolved into its current format, and the Chicago Park District began inviting professional theater companies to remount their best works.  

Last year, the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee honored Theater on the Lake for its commitment to fostering live theater performed by local performing arts companies.

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