The Three Oaks Theater Festival brings off-Loop shows to Harbor County | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

The Three Oaks Theater Festival brings off-Loop shows to Harbor County 

Reprises of The Normal Heart and Exit Strategy are among the highlights at the second annual Michigan showcase.

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Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy

Ryan Bourque

Now in its second year, the Three Oaks Theater Festival brings works from Chicago's performing arts community to locales in Michigan's Harbor Country, with events from July 5 through the first weekend in August (all times are Eastern).

The fest opens with Blair Thomas & Company's A Piano With Three Tales, an hour-long piano recital and puppet show aimed at kids four to 12 (Sat 7/5, 11 AM and 2 PM, $15). The company also hosts a free puppet-making workshop for families the day before the show (Fri 7/4, 2 PM).

Chicago magician (and House Theatre member) Dennis Watkins blends comedy, illusions, and mind reading in The Magic Parlour (Sat 7/5, 5 and 8 PM, $25). Reader critic Keith Griffith calls the show "exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling."

The following weekend TimeLine Theatre presents a one-night-only staged reading of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart featuring the cast of TimeLine's 2013 revival (Sat 7/12, 7 PM, $50); tickets, which include wine, beer, and a postshow reception, benefit the festival.

Northlight Theatre's Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie follows the hardscrabble life of the famed folksinger (Fri 7/18, 8 PM; Sat 7/19, 4 and 8 PM, $30-$35). Performed by a cast of four playing 15 instruments, the musical is "entertaining enough" but tends to "soft-pedal Guthrie's political views," according to Reader contributor Jack Helbig.

Ike Holter's Exit Strategy tells the story of a Chicago public high school destined for closure and the group of teachers who are trying to save it (Sat 7/26, 8 PM; Sun 7/27, 1 PM, $30-$35). Reader senior theater critic Tony Adler takes the Chicago playwright to task for poor plotting but has praise for Jackalope Theatre's "crack seven-member ensemble."

Closing out the festival, Seanachai Theatre Company offers two showings of Eugene O'Neill's two-character play Hughie (Fri 8/1, 8 PM; Sat 8/2, 8 PM, $25), featuring Jeff Duhigg in what Reader critic Justin Hayford calls a "mesmerizing performance."


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