Madea Goes to Jail 

Atlanta playwright-performer Tyler Perry likes to impersonate a bigmouthed grandma who messes in people's business for their own good: his Madea--the star of four previous Perry plays and his first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman--is a vulgar evangelist for family values. This rowdy, music-packed, melodramatic crowd-pleaser, which elicits sing-alongs to dusties and affirmations of its homilies, includes shirtless beefcake, exhortations to women to fix hot meals for their husbands, and allusions to Calumet, Cicero, and Roger Ebert (who called Madea "a writing and casting disaster" in his review of the film). When a couple announce their wedding plans--and their decision not to have premarital sex (applause)--Madea sees it coming. "How'd I know? Because I wrote it," she boasts. Perry creates performance art out of a beloved archetype. Through 3/19: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2, 5:30, and 9 PM. Then 4/5-4/10: Tue-Thu 8 PM, no show Fri, Sat 4 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 and 7:30 PM. Arie Crown Theater, McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-791-6000 or 312-902-1500. $36.50-$58.50.

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