Fall Theater preview 2017: Highlights of Chicago's unique theaters and upcoming shows

Fall Theater preview 2017: Highlights of Chicago's unique theaters and upcoming shows
Writers theatre in Glencoe is just one of the theaters offering special price tickets for Theatre Week. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Unless you are among Chicago’s hardcore theater-goers or the Chicago Theater community, it is hard to keep up with all of the outstanding productions cranked out by the city’s more than 250 producing theaters.

You probably know about Broadway In Chicago’s Andrew Lloyd Webber’s SCHOOL OF ROCK, Broadway sensation WICKED, the 2016 Tony Award®-winning Best Play THE HUMANS and LOVE NEVER DIES.

But you may have missed some hidden gems that don’t always get as much hype. Here is Show Me Chicago’s cheat sheet for some–not all–of the exciting productions heading to the stage for Fall 2017.

@ Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf Theatre Company was founded in 1974 by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry in the Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield. Now located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the award winning theatre company has a beautiful space containing three performance areas and an attractive and comfortable bar/concessions space featuring a large bar, tables and cushy sofas. 1650 N Halsted St., 312-335-1650 or online.


John Mahoney stars in The Rembrant at Steppenwolf

John Mahoney stars in The Rembrant at Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed by Hallie Gordon in the Upstairs Theatre. When a museum guard decides to touch a famous Rembrandt painting, a remarkable journey across the ages ensues. The play features ensemble members Francis Guinan as Henry/Rembrandt and John Mahoney as Simon/Homer.  Previews begin September 7, opening is September 17-November 5.


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts’ scathing new comedy The Minutes, exploring small-town American politics, premieres at Steppenwolf Theatre before heading to Broadway. Directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. Runs November 9 – December 31, 2017.

@ American Theatre Company

Set in a former warehouse, this 134-seat performance venue offers an intimate space for viewing  American-themed plays in the North Center neighborhood. 1909 W Byron St, (773) 409-4125.


Playwright Janine Nabers will receive two world premiere productions this fall with Welcome to Jesus at American Theater Company (Runs October 26 – December 3, 2017).

@ Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, located on Navy Pier, is designed after the original Globe Theater. The space offers a main stage, the COURTYARD theater and the just opened Yard. The theater is known for for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, language and empathy for the human condition. CST has received numerous national and international awards including the Regional Theater Tony Award, three Laurence Olivier Awards, and eighty total Joseph Jefferson Awards.


Chicago Shakespeare Theater launches their innovative new venue The Yard with the cirque nouveau superstar James Thierrée’s The Toad Knew. Intertwining dreams with childhood terrors, burlesque, and realism to explore the wild, wondrous love shared among sibling, a collective of dancers, high-wire artists, and musicians create an intoxicating world evocative of Salvador Dalí and Tim Burton. Runs September 19 – 23, 2017.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater launches their innovative new The Toad Knew. Photo by Richard Haughton

Cirque nouveau superstar James Thierrée’s The Toad Knew intertwines dreams with childhood terrors, burlesque, and realism to explore the wild, wondrous love shared among sibling, a collective of dancers, high-wire artists, and musicians create an intoxicating world evocative of Salvador Dalí and Tim Burton. Runs September 19 – 23, 2017.


Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages Shakespeare’s raucous comedy The Taming of the Shrew with a powerhouse, all-woman cast—setting up a witty and thought-provoking debate on politics, power, and love. Courtyard Theater, September 16–November 12, 2017.

@ Gift Theatre

This delightful 50-seat theater in the Jefferson Park neighborhood is easily accessible by public transportation or car. Boasting 1,200 square feet and 14 foot high ceilings, The Gift theatre is a Chicago treasure. Another cool thing about The Gift is you can buy a subscription for as low as $65 or $125 for two plus FREE parking at The Gale Street Inn (where you can also enjoy some of the best ribs in the city).


Four friends from college fight through 17 years of love affairs, shattered dreams and compromised lives. A Swell in the Ground at The Gift Theatre. (Runs October 13 – December 12, 2017).

@ Court Theatre

In the heart of Hyde Park at 5535 S Ellis, Court Theatre Court is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago. The Theatre endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts.

FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE fiveguysnamedmoe

Court Theatre launches their new season with Five Guys Named Moe, featuring hit songs by saxophonist and songwriter Louis Jordan, and directed by Ron OJ Parson. Runs September 7 – October 8, 2017.

@ Writers Theatre

An architectural masterpiece, by Studio Gang Architects, Writers Theatre’s design was inspired by the timber constructions that coincided with the early modern period of English drama and the birth of some of the greatest theatres in the world. The award-winning theatre is known for their inventive interpretations of classic work and a bold approach to contemporary works.


Writers Theatre premieres TREVOR the musical, based on the story that inspired the Academy Award-winning film, the charity and the national movement. This world premiere musical is directed by Marc Bruni, who helmed the Tony Award-winning production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. Runs through September 17, 2017.

@ Marriott Theatre

Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is known for its excellent theater-in-the-round productions–especially when it comes to musicals. The Theatre has the largest subscription base in the Chicago area.


Gary Griffin directs the insanely funny new musical based on the 1992 film comedy Honeymoon in Vegas at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Runs August 23 – October 15, 2017.

@ Black Ensemble Theater

Jackie Taylor, the force behind BE

Jackie Taylor, the force behind BE

Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center located at 4450 N. Clark Street, in the heart of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood has a mission to eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through theater arts.


Sammy: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.  – Black Ensemble Theater – Sunday, December 17 at 3 pm

@ Theatre Wit

Great renovated Theater features a 294-seat space in the Lakeview neighborhood. They are known for their lighthearted and entertaining productions that are intelligent and challenging, 1229 W Belmont Ave, (773) 975-8150.


The Chicago premiere of Bonnie and Clyde opens at Theater Wit in a new production by Kokandy Productions, capturing the real-life exploits of outlaws and ill-fated lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Runs now through October 15, 2017.

@ Goodman Theatre

Goodman Theatre is Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit theater. It has two performance spaces the Albert and the more intimate Owen. The theater has won international renown for the quality their classic and contemporary works, under the guidance of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer. Located at 170 N. Dearborn in the heart of Chicago’s Theatre district.


The Young Vic’s award-winning production of A View from the Bridge comes to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Visionary Belgian director Ivo van Hove injects a raw, pulsating energy into Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic—recipient of 2016 Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Director. Runs September 9 – October 15, 2017.


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s acclaimed play The Invisible Hand opens at Steep Theatre in Edgewater. Runs October 5 – November 11, 2017.

Route 66 Theatre presents Halley Feiffer’s dark comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City. Keira Fromm directs. At The Den Theatre, August 24 through September 23, 2017.

Playwright Wallace Shawn’s ultra-dark comedy Evening at the Talk House opens A Red Orchid Theatre’s 25th anniversary season. Directed by Shade Murray. Runs October 5 – November 19, 2017.

Remy Bumppo Theatre Company will explore complex relationships with truth, lies, and everything in between in its 21st season, “Truth Be Told.” From October 4 to November 12, 2017, Remy Bumppo celebrates the 75th anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s American classic, The Skin Of Our Teeth, with a brand new production at the Greenhouse Theater Center, (2257 N. Lincoln Ave). Wilder’s epic vaudevillian tragicomedy, will follow the Antrobus family as they narrowly survive one end-of-the-world disaster after another—and all by the skin of their teeth.

Northlight Theatre premieres Matthew Lopez’s heart-warming, music filled comedy The Legend of Georgia McBride. Runs September 14 – October 22, 2017.

 Rivendell Theatre premieres ALIAS GRACE–a world premiere adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel, Alias Grace looks at one of Canada’s most notorious murderers. Runs September 1 – October 14, 2017.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, ChicagoPlays.com.

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