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Chicago Theatre Hot Picks for April

Posted on April 5th, 2012 by

The “Why I Love Chicago Theatre” Edition

I have said this before, and I will say it again: the Chicago theatre scene has something for everyone. One man shows to ensemble-driven works, comedies or dramas, open run shows to one night only extravaganzas: you name it, Chicago theatre has got it!

This month’s hot picks include everything from hilarious political comedies to sexy cabarets. Whatever you want, Chicago Theatre has got it!

1. Absolute Hell at The Gift Theatre

Absolute Hell at The Gift Theatre“The Gift is an ensemble. There couldn’t be a more ensemble play if you tried.” This is a quote from Sheldon Patinkin’s Director’s Note in the program of The Gift Theatre’s newest production, Absolute Hell. Chicago actors are known for their raw, gritty and emotionally honest performances. Combine such performances with Chicago’s love for producing ensemble driven work (such as you’ll find at The Gift Theatre) and what you get is a slew of face-slapping, jaw-droppingly brave and gripping performances; all in one show! Absolute Hell written by Rodney Ackland takes place during the summer of 1945 in a private club called the La Vie en Rose in London’s West End, just after WW2 has ended in Europe. The La Vie en Rose is where bohemians, artists, socialites and even servicemen all go to escape reality and fill the void in their lives with sex and alcohol. The connections and relationships the characters build (and usually break) with one and other are fully engaging and entertaining. The audience peers into the rosy club observing the motley group of visitors with the fascination and heart break one would afford a car wreck on the side of the road; you can’t help but stare. Absolute Hell is an ideal example of Chicago’s stellar ensemble-driven theatre.

The Details:
– Runs through April 29. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Recommended for adults.
– Tickets available here or by calling or call 773-283-7071.
– $20-$30.
– Address: 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.

2. Freud’s Last Session at The Mercury Theatre

Freud's Last SessionImagine what would transpire if Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis sat down and had a conversation. Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. imagined the possibility of this scenario in his book The Question of God. This idea then inspired playwright Mark St. Germain to create his play starring the two illustrious men. The original production is now in its second successful year in New York, and its run at The Mercury Theatre marks its Midwest Premier. With the pressures of high critical acclaim in New York, the Chicago production directed by Tyler Merchant does not falter nor disappoint. The play is immensely interesting and engaging. Seeing the two brought back to life and engaged in conversation is an incredible treat to enjoy. The scenario is such: Its September 3rd, 1939. England’s entrance into the WW2 is imminent (in fact is happens on this very day). Freud invites Lewis to his home in London to have a chat. What proceeds is an intellectual boxing match where the two go to blows over their ideas of God, religion, war and sex. While the contrast between the two famous men is immensely interesting, what gives the play heart is when the two men hold their punches and find common ground. Freud’s Last Session is a must see for any theatre-loving intellectual.

The Details:
– Runs through June 1. Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
– Recommended for adults.
– For tickets visit their website or call 312-335-1650.
– $45-$55.
– Address: 3745 N. Southport Ave.

3. The Kiss Kiss Cabaret at the Greenhouse Theater Center

The Kiss Kiss CabaretInterested in spicing up your late night routine? Head on over to the Greenhouse Theatre Center to check out the Kiss Kiss Cabaret, Chicago’s only open run weekly burlesque and variety show. Prepare to be tantalized and entertained by the lovely Kiss Kiss Coquettes, the group of burlesque beauties who anchor the weekly show. The Coquettes are accompanied by various variety acts, including: the hilarious stand-up comedian Adam Burke, The Amazing Tomas (who might be the most magical man per square inch in all of Chicago) and “That Juggling Guy” Brad French. Your evening is hosted by one of two Flattery brothers; Max or Les. The show also features hysterical musical interludes and other shenanigans compliments of the Claptrap Family Orchestra. Along with the weekly performances by the afore mentioned Kiss Kiss regulars, the show is also supplemented by special guest performances. The Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a great way to begin (or end) a hot night on the town.

The Details:
– Open run. Fridays at 11 p.m.
– Recommended for adults.
– For tickets visit Greenhouse Theater’s website or call 773-404 7336.
– $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
– Address: 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

4. Chesapeake presented by Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center

ChesapeakeSouthern bred performance artist Kerr moves to the Big Apple to fulfill his artistic dreams and escape his narrow-minded hometown. He even manages to earn a coveted NEA grant for his art. But when Kerr’s budget-cutting, dog-loving hometown Congressman Therm Pooley decides to run for the Senate, he finds himself caught in a political battle. Congressman Pooley publicly uses Kerr’s performances as an example to his constituents, claiming that the NEA supports ‘obscene’ art and that public funding should not be used to support such art. Appalled by Pooley’s actions, Kerr sets out to exact revenge by kidnapping Pooley’s furry best friend. However, Fate won’t let either party off so easy. When the dog-napping goes awry, Kerr wakes up to find himself transformed into Man’s Best Friend; more specifically, Pooley’s best friend, and the mortal enemies are now forced to coexist. The charming Greg Matthew Anderson expertly brings Lee Blessing’s witty one-man show to life. Chesapeake directed by Shawn Douglass is a light hearted treat that cleverly pokes at some very serious questions regarding art, its value, and its importance to us personally and as a society.

The Details:
– Runs through April 29. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
– Recommended for adults.
– For tickets visit Greenhouse Theater’s website or call 773-404 7336.
– $20- $60.
– Address: 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Chicago Theatre BONUS:

Check out this limited engagement for an extra special night on the town!

Starball: A Dreamy Musical Astronomy Show Starball: A Dreamy Musical Astronomy Show presented by Ethereal Mutt Limited and the Adler Planetarium was “specifically designed for planetarium performance, Starball combines theater, improvisation, original music, cosmological inquiry, and an exploration of human consciousness into an entertaining performance that challenges audiences to deepen their understanding of the universe and its inhabitants, and reawaken their wonder for the sky.”

The Details:
– Thursday, April 19 at 7 and 9 p.m. in the Grainger Sky Theater
– The show is part of the museum’s monthly evening event, Adler After Dark, and is a monthly 21+ evening event. It is held on the third Thursday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m.
– $9-$17.
– Tickets include general admission, access to the Starball performances, unlimited space shows, telescope viewing in the Doane Observatory, light snacks and much more. Adler After Dark guests must be 21 years and older. A cash bar and full cafe menu is available.
– Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive

About the Author:

Krista Krauss - James HotelKrista Krauss is a Concierge at the James Hotel, a member of The Chicago Hotel Concierge Association, a native Chicagoan, and a local theatre artist. She received dual degrees in Communication and Theatre from Loyola University Chicago. Her mission is to create and support awareness of Chicago’s unique local theatres. E-mail Krista Krauss.

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