‘Bernhardt/Hamlet,’ ‘Color Purple’ and more theater previews, openings Sept 13-19


Looking to take in some live theater in the week ahead? Here are some suggestions to consider:

Pick of the Week:

“Bernhardt/Hamlet”: Legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt was 55 in 1899 and aging out of the dying courtesan roles she was known for when, looking for new heights to scale, she performed the lead in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” It was a decision met with criticism and controversy. Playwright Theresa Rebeck found inspiration in this chapter from the theater archives for this comedy first staged on Broadway in 2018. A strong, determined woman holding her own in the chauvinistic Paris theater world, Bernhardt has a modern-day resonance. “In many ways, Sarah Bernhardt was ahead of her time — certainly as a woman and an actor,” said the play’s director Donna Feore. “Bernhardt/Hamlet” poses tough questions, but at the same time is funny, witty and sexy. Terri McMahon stars as Bernhardt. Previews begin Sept. 14, opens Sept. 23; to Oct. 20. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, $25-$80; goodmantheatre.org

More previews, openings:

“Anything Goes”: A boy-meets-girl tale set on the high seas and featuring a great score by Cole Porter. Previews begin Sept. 19, opens Sept. 26; to Nov. 2. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights, $40; metropolisarts.com

Audra McDonald in Concert: The six-time Tony Award-winning actress is interviewed by Seth Rudetsky and performs tunes from her career; two performances at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, $85-$150; steppenwolf.org

Audra McDonald
Autumn DeWilde Photo

“Blue Stockings”: Jessica Swale’s play about four young women fighting for education and self-determination against the backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement; directed by Spenser Davis. Previews begin Sept. 13, opens Sept. 16; to Oct. 13. Promethean Theatre at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, $30; prometheantheatre.org

“The Storefront Project” is curated by Prop Thtr artistic director Olivia Lilley (left) and MCA associate curator of performance Tara Aisha Willis.

“The Storefront Project” is curated by Prop Thtr artistic director Olivia Lilley (left) and MCA associate curator of performance Tara Aisha Willis.
Matthew Gregory Hollis

“The Color Purple”: The musical based on Alice Walker’s book recounts the journey of Celie, an African-American woman in the American South of the early 1900s; directed by Lili-Anne Brown. Previews begin Sept. 13, opens Sept. 19; to Nov. 3. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, $55-$70; drurylanetheatre.com

“An Evening with Groucho”: Frank Ferrante in his acclaimed portrayal of comedian Groucho Marx; directed by Dreya Weber. Sept. 17. The Spiegeltent ZaZou, Cambira Hotel, 32 W. Randolph, $35.50; eveningwithgroucho.com

“Every Brilliant Thing”: Duncan MacMillan’s solo piece in which a woman takes the audience through her personal tale of life’s joys in the face of her mother’s depression; directed by Jessica Fisch. Previews begin Sept. 18, opens Sept. 26, to Dec. 8. Windy City Playhouse, 2229 S. Michigan, $55-$75; windycityplayhouse.com

“Hello Again”: Michael John LaChiusa’s musical (suggested by Arthur Schnitzler’s “La Ronde”) about a series of love affairs among 10 characters during 10 different decades of the 20th century; directed by Brenda Didier. Previews begin Sept. 13, opens Sept. 22; to Nov. 3. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 721 Howard, Evanston, $34-$59; theo-u.com

“Making Waves”: A staged reading of Danish playwrights Rhea Leman and Jens Kloft’s drama that draws parallels between the plight of immigrants from Scandinavia in the late 1800s and the influx of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. today. Sept. 13. Akavit Theatre at Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark, Free; chicagonordic.org

Dean Santiago as Junior Boy (from left), Sharon Pasia as Nani, Victoria Wang as Kahe, Jae Renfrow as Pops, and Scott Hanada as Papa (aka Uncle Makana) in “Pakalolo Sweet.”

Dean Santiago as Junior Boy (from left), Sharon Pasia as Nani, Victoria Wang as Kahe, Jae Renfrow as Pops, and Scott Hanada as Papa (aka Uncle Makana) in “Pakalolo Sweet.”
Rachel Blomstrom

“Pakalolo Sweet”: The second installment in Hannah Ii-Epstein’s drug trilogy explores the medical uses, benefits and cultural aspects of marijuana in pre-contact Hawaii; directed by Rachel Slavick. Preview Sept. 13, opens Sept. 14; to Oct. 5. Nothing Without a Company at Berger Park Cultural Center, 6205 N. Sheridan, $10-$20; nothingwithoutacompany.org

“Peter and the Starcatcher”: Rick Elice’s musical based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Peterson is a humorous take on Peter Pan; directed by Jeremy Aluma. Preview Sept. 18, opens Sept. 19; to Oct. 20. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest, $40, $45; citadeltheatre.org

The Storefront Project: A collaboration that celebrates Chicago’s tradition of storefront and underground theater with area directors creating new work (to be staged at Prop Thtr and the nonpublic spaces at the Museum of Contemporary Art) that shows what is possible with shifting settings and circumstances. Opens Sept. 14; to Sept. 22. Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston and MCA, 220 E. Chicago, $15; mcachicago.org

“Visions”: Yin He Dance Company, which presents traditional and contemporary Chinese dance, in a performance featuring works inspired by visual art. Sept. 13-15. Links Hall, 3111 N. Western, $10-$15; linkshall.org

“The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon”: Rebeca Aleman’s drama about a human rights journalist who recently emerged from a coma and must recover her memory in order to achieve justice; directed by Iraida Tapias. Opens Sept. 19; to Oct. 13. Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theatre Festival and Water People Theater at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted, $15-$25; steppenwolf.org

“Organic Sofrito or Other Recipes for Disaster”: Venessa M. Diaz in her solo show, a dark comedy about a holistic chef who believes in the healing power of traditional Latino dishes; directed by J. Anthony Roman. Opens Sept. 26, to Oct. 27. Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theatre Festival at Urban Theater, 2620 W. Division, $15-$25; clata.org

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.

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