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Theater & Performance Events

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Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available any time on YouTube

Buy TicketsFree

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Hell in a Handbag offers up a free YouTube stream of their 2012 musical, a satire of child beauty queen pageants created by artistic director David Cerda and Scott Lamberty that former Reader critic Zac Thompson called "biting" and "hysterical." The show was chosen by the members of the company as one of their favorites and is presented free as a gift to the community during the COVID-19 shutdown, though donations to Hell in a Handbag are of course welcome.

The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral Recommended The Short List (Theater)

Available in streaming format through Patreon any time.

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The Neo-Futurists take their signature show, featuring 30 plays in 60 minutes, online during the COVID-19 crisis. The Neos offer five membership levels ranging from $3 ("Elbow Bump"), which comes with a link to a website where you can set your own timer for 60 minutes and watch all 30 plays, to $100 ("An Extended, Almost Uncomfortable Hug"), which brings a full array of perks including a customized play on a subject of your choosing. The menu includes older archival plays as well as new ones that are being created in quarantine by the ensemble.

Do You Believe in Madness? Canceled

Through May 31: Tue-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM
Second City 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$31-$58

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UPDATE Friday, March 13, 10:20 AM: this event has been canceled through March 26 or until further notice. Refunds for performances through March 26 available at point of purchase.


Ryan Bernier directs the latest mainstage revue for Second City as part of the company's 60th anniversary celebrations. The brand new ensemble includes Mary Catherine Curran, Sarah Dell’Amico, Andrew Knox, Asia Martin, Jordan Savusa, and Adam Schreck, with musical direction by Nick Gage. 312-337-3992

Masque of the Red Coronavirus Free 18+

Launches Tue 3/31 at 9 AM, then free on the company website anytime.

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Black Button Eyes Productions presents an interlocking series of videos performed by various artists that mash up Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror tale, "The Masque of the Red Death," in which a prince and his entourage try to cheat a pandemic by taking sanctuary in a pleasure palace, with contemporary articles about how the wealthy and the extremely wealthy are taking refuge in luxury during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a note on the website, company artistic director Ed Rutherford observes "way too many lines of The Prince are quoted verbatim from a public figure."

Otherworld Theatre

Available online anytime

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Dedicated to sci-fi and fantasy, Otherworld offers a menu of online options—some free, some available through donations—on YouTube and Patreon, from free weekly installments of Improvised Dungeons & Dragons (created with Out on a Whim) to Stupid Shakespeare's take on Pericles, PickleRickicles, which had to end its run early due to the COVID-19 shutdown. They're also offering a reading series via podcast and their monthly open mike, Theatre of Ted, as a Facebook Live event on Saturdays.

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Free

Available any time on YouTube

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Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble offers short videos from various works, including excerpts of What We Carried, which was originally scheduled for May. The collaboration with Jean Parisi focused on stories of those seeking asylum in the U.S. The videos also include excerpts from i bet you think this dance is about you, choreographed by Sara Maslanka.

2666 Free

Available any time through the Goodman Theatre website.

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The Goodman Theatre presents a streaming version of their epic 2016 adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's novel, adapted and directed by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley. The five-part, five-and-a-half-hour show captures the Chilean writer's story of crime in Santa Teresa, his fictional stand-in for Mexico's Ciudad Juárez, where hundreds of women have been murdered since the 1990s. As described by former Reader critic Zac Thompson, the intersecting worlds of the play include "four European academics, a literature professor and his teenage daughter, a New York reporter covering a boxing match, the police detectives investigating the murders, and an elderly German novelist—not to mention a cavalcade of secondary artists, thugs, do-gooders, lost souls, obsessives, and creeps."

The Hunchback Variations Free

Available via YouTube any time

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Mickle Maher, a cofounder of Chicago's highly influential Theater Oobleck, created two versions of his heartbreakingly hilarious story involving Beethoven and Quasimodo at an academic conference, discussing their fruitless collaborative attempt to capture an impossible sound cue in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard: "A distant sound, as if from the sky: the sound of a breaking string—dying away, sad." First done as a straight play in 2001, Maher and composer Mark Messing reconfigured it as a chamber opera in 2012. This streaming YouTube version is of a production of the nonmusical original at Houston's Catastrophic Theatre, which has produced several of Maher's plays over the years. On Wednesday, April 1 at 6 PM, Maher will participate in an online Q&A along with director and actor Greg Dean, actor Jeff Miller and more, moderated by University of Houston theater professor Dr. Rob Shimko.

Blue Man Group Recommended The Short List (Theater) Canceled

Open run: Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM, Sun 4 PM
Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$49-$104


UPDATE Sunday, March 15: this event has suspended performances for the time being. Refunds available at point of purchase.


The long-running show (22 years and counting in Chicago) featuring performers in blue latex paint, drumming, video, comedy, and other assorted mayhem continues. 800-258-3626

Intimate Apparel Canceled

3/12-4/19: Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2:30 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Tue 3/17 and 4/17, 7:30 PM; Sun 3/15 and 3/29, 7 PM; Wed 4/8, 7:30 PM only; Sat 3/14, 8 PM only; no performance Sun 4/12
Northlight Theatre North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie Skokie

Buy TicketsPreviews 3/12-3/19, $30-$61; regular run 3/20-4/19, $30-$89, $15 students all performances (pending availability)


UPDATE Friday, March 13: this event has been postponed until further notice. Contact the box office for information about exchanges or refunds.

Esther, a Black seamstress in 1905 Manhattan falls in love through an epistolary relationship with a Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal, but their marriage turns out differently than she hoped for. Lynn Nottage's 2003 drama, directed for Northlight by Tasia A. Jones, provides a portrait of the way Esther's life intersects with other women, including a wealthy socialite, her landlady, and a prostitute who also plays ragtime in a brothel. Mildred Marie Langford stars as Esther. There will be an open captioning performance on Sat 4/11, 2:30 PM. 847-673-6300

Do You Feel Anger? Recommended The Short List (Theater) Canceled

1/23-3/15: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM
A Red Orchid Theatre 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy TicketsPreviews 1/23-2/1, $15-$25; regular run 2/2-3/15, $30 Thu, $35 Fri and Sat matinee, $40 Sat eve and Sun matinee


UPDATE Friday, March 13: this event has been canceled. Refunds available at point of purchase.


Sofia has been hired as an "empathy coach" at a debt collection agency, and finds that creating emotional connections in an environment of complicity is more difficult than she imagined. Jess McLeod directs Mara Nelson-Greenberg's absurdist comedy. 312-943-8722

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) Canceled

3/6-4/5: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Mon 3/9, 8 PM (opening night) and Wed 3/25, 8 PM; no show Sun 3/8
Edge Theater Off-Broadway 1133 W. Catalpa, Chicago Edgewater

Buy TicketsPreviews 3/6-3/7, $10; regular run 3/9-4/5, $20, $15 seniors over 65 and students any age; all Thu performances $10 industry


UPDATE Tuesday, March 17: this production has been canceled. Check with box office for refunds.


Sarah Ruhl's 2009 play, set in 1880s New York, examines "female hysteria" through a doctor who has invented a machine purported to cure it, and his wife's fascination with what is going on in the examination room. Morgan Manasa directs for Idle Muse Theatre Company. 773-340-9438

The Cake

1/30-3/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; ASL performance Thu 2/20, 8 PM
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn Other Suburbs West

Buy Tickets$42


Bekah Brunstetter, a writer for the NBC series This is Us and the daughter of former Republican North Carolina state senator Peter Brunstetter, wrote this drama, set in Winston-Salem, in the aftermath of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, involving bakers who objected to making cakes for same-sex couples. First seen locally at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in 2018, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's production is directed by Steve Scott and stars Connie Canaday Howard as Della, the owner of a bakery whose personal beliefs are tested when her goddaughter asks her to make a cake for her wedding to another woman. 630-942-4000

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Canceled

3/20-6/28: Thu-Sat 8:30, Sun 3:30 and 7:30 PM
Mercury Theater Chicago 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$65


UPDATE Friday, March 13: this event has been postponed. Contact box office for information and exchanges.


Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott created this 2006 musical, based on Elliott's 1994 film about two drag queens and a transgender woman who set off on a trip to perform a show at a resort in the remote Australian town of Alice Springs. The score features pop hits such as "I've Never Been to Me" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." L. Walter Stearns directs for Mercury Theater Chicago, with music direction by Eugene Dizon and choreography by Breon Arzell. The cast includes longtime Chicago favorite Honey West as Bernadette. 773-325-1700

The Magic Parlour Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Through 7/1: Fri 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Sat 4:30, 7:30, and 9:30 PM
Palmer House Hilton 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago Loop


This magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling. House Theatre of Chicago member Dennis Watkins blends quick-witted improv and physical comedy with freewheeling patter as he performs classic illusions. Though his sleight of hand is impossibly subtle, it was the mind-reading tricks that seemed to have drawn several inquisitive skeptics back for another look on the night I attended. A curio-shop intimacy encourages audience participation, and Watkins, with his Eagle Scout looks, clearly takes a mischievous pleasure in the unexpected. Just let your cell phone go off during the show and see what kind of fun he has. Drinks (wine, beer, and soda) are included in the cost of admission. —Keith Griffith 312-726-7500

The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan Free

Sat 4/4, 7:30 PM, streaming via YouTube; available with commentary track anytime afterward

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House Theatre of Chicago offers a free streaming presentation of their 2002 production—the second show they produced—adapted by Phillip Klapperich from J.M. Barrie's original story and directed by Nathan Allen, about a boy who won't grow up and his adventures in Neverland. Designed as a watch party for Saturday, April 4, the company plans to offer live commentary along with the production during the initial presentation on YouTube, and that commentary will then be available along with the video for viewing anytime afterward as well.

Improvised Dungeons & Dragons Free

7 PM Sunday

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Otherworld Theatre and Out on a Whim will present new (but previously recorded) episodes every Sunday during the COVID-19 shutdown of this all-improvised show in which the classic role-playing game comes to life.

Magic Mondays Free

Mondays

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Magician and House Theatre of Chicago ensemble member Dennis Watkins, whose long-running The Magic Parlour is on hiatus during the shutdown, brings "up-close" magic into your home in two ways. For Magic Mondays (beginning April 6), Watkins will post a video to his show's Facebook and Instagram accounts, letting viewers learn a trick or two of the trade, as well as some background on the stories and history behind magic. On Thursday, April 2, 6 PM, you can join Watkins on Facebook for Magic Parlour Happy Hour, a free digital version of what is normally a VIP aftershow experience, involving sleight of hand, mind reading, and a virtual Q&A where you can learn more about his life in magic and his family's legacy in the art.

Out of Touch Free

Available streaming via website anytime

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Annoyance created this original sketch show, available free in a streaming format, via a team of 9 performers and crew living in quarantine together for 10 days at the theater. The March 28 performance is now available anytime through the theater's website.

. . . And I Am Not Afraid Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Prop Thtr website

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Prop Thtr presents a free streaming version of this production from fall of 2019, presented then under the title I Am Going to Die Alone and I Am Not Afraid. Devised by the ensemble and directed by Anna Gelman, with music by Alec Phan, the play uses the Holocaust and its legacy as a lens for exploring bravery and tenacity in the face of violence and oppression. Reader critic Dmitry Samarov wrote "In a time when so many societal forces are hell-bent on dividing us along tribal lines, this powerful piece of theater shows how sharing the tribulations of one people must give all people pause."

ComedySportz Free

Mondays-Saturdays

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ComedySportz offers an array of games-based improvisation shows during the COVID-19 shutdown. On Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Virtual ComedySportz features their classic format of two teams of improvisers, plus a ref. The audience can join with suggestions and vote for the winning team via Zoom. Every other Wednesday at 7 PM, beginning on April 8, the company performs Virtual Vino Veritas, pairing Susan Haarman and two storytellers, plus wine, to share some stories over Zoom. And for families with kids, ReCeSz runs noon-12:30 PM Mon-Fri, with ComedySportz training center instructors leading youngsters through games and a dance party to break up the daily routine. Through April 10 and then April 20-24, the company offers a virtual spring break "camp" for students 8-18, called "Camp Kah-Mah-Dee" and focused on improv games, scene and character work, and stand-up comedy. The camp fee is $100. All other content is free, but donations accepted.

Throwing Shade Podcast Free

Mondays-Sundays

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Eclectic Full Contact Theatre presents this hardboiled satire of 1930s crime drama, in which "The Shade" finds himself in need of assistance from "The Vamp." New episodes are unveiled every Wednesday.

The Happiest Place on Earth Recommended The Short List (Theater)

Available streaming anytime through website

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Sideshow Theatre Company offers a streaming version of writer-performer Philip Dawkins's 2016 Jeff Award-winning autobiographical solo show, directed by Jonathan L. Green, about his family's history with tragedy while living in the shadow of Disneyland. The show is available on a pay-what-you-wish basis through Sideshow's website during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Habit of Art and The Croft

Available streaming anytime through 6/2

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The Original Theatre Company, based in Bury St. Edmunds in the U.K., offers a double bill: Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art, which imagines a meeting between poet W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, and The Croft by Ali Milles, a thriller about two women on a romantic holiday in the Scottish Highlands who find themselves drawn into a tangled world of their own histories and that of the region.

Home/Land Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Vimeo

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Albany Park Theater Project offers a streaming version of their critically lauded 2012 production about undocumented immigrants, written and performed by the teen ensemble and directed by APTP producing artistic director David Feiner.

Feast Recommended Free

Available any time on Vimeo

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As a gift to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Albany Park Theatre Project offers a free streaming Vimeo version of this show, first created in 2010 and revived in 2015 at the Goodman about immigrant communities, food, and the politics surrounding those topics. Feast was created by the APTP youth ensemble and directed by artistic director David Feiner.

Freak Show Cabaret Free

Available anytime via YouTube and Facebook

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Experimental musician and performer Sophia Lucia, who studied performing arts at University of Illinois-Chicago, offers a livestreamed version of her one-woman alternative variety-cabaret show, recorded in quarantine from her home in Paris. It's available via YouTube and her Facebook page, and the music is also available through Bandcamp.

The Last Match Canceled

4/15-6/7: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2 and 6 PM; also Wed 4/8 and 4/29, 3 PM and Tue 4/21, 10:15 AM; Sat 3/21, 7:30 PM only; Sun 3/22, 4/12, and 5/3, 2 PM only; no show 7:30 PM Tue, 4/21
Writers Theatre 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe Other Suburbs North

Buy Tickets$35-$80, $20 student tickets in advance, student rush tickets free, pending availability


UPDATE Friday, March 13: this event has been postponed until at least April 15. Please check with box office for updates.


A young Russian rising star in the world of tennis and an American superstar face off at the U.S. Open in Anna Ziegler's play, directed for Writers by Keira Fromm. The action moves between their on-court competition and their private lives, which involve their equally-driven partners. The performance on Sat 4/4 at 3 PM is open captioned. 847-242-6000

Chicago Offstage! Live at Home Free

Sun 4/19, 6 PM; available through YouTube anytime after

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Season of Concern, Chicago's fund for members of the theater community facing illness, injury, or other circumstances that keep them from working, presents this livestreaming concert featuring prominent vets of the musical theater world in Chicago and beyond. The talent roster includes Tony winner Jessie Mueller, E. Faye Butler, Michael Mahler, Bethany Thomas, and Honey West, among many others. Ana Belaval of WGN-TV hosts and interviews the stars between performance segments. Christopher Pazdernik, the casting and company manager of Porchlight Music Theatre, serves as creative producer for this concert in quarantine. Free through the Season of Concern YouTube channel, but donations accepted.

My Body's Image, Delayed Free

Through 7/24: new videos released every Friday at 7 PM through the Theatre Y website.

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Theatre Y celebrates its 15th anniversary and its ongoing collaboration with Hungarian-Romanian playwright and poet András Visky through this anthology of videos created in quarantine by company members, inspired by Visky's work and integrating mirrors as part of the visual vernacular. Artistic director Melissa Lorraine, Visky, and members of the ensemble will also participate in virtual conversations about the work.