Things to do in Chicago for theater and dance fansMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson August 19, 2021 at 2:41 pm

Welcome to our highlights of events and entertainment on stage at Chicago’s theaters. From local productions to Broadway hits, our guide has the latest on shows in the city. Bookmark this page and check back for updates and ticket information.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the Parks

Yin He Dance is part of “Dream: A Community Reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”Yin He Dance

WHAT: Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrates the 10th anniversary of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks with “Dream: A Community Reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The new staging was created in collaboration with Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Cage Sebastian Pierre, GQ and Joriah Kwame with artists and organizations from Englewood, Austin, Hermosa, Little Village, West Pullman and Chinatown including Me’Lo the Generation Hero, DJ Jeremy Heights, Move Me Soul, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Yin He Dance and Fulton Street Collective.

WHEN: From Aug. 24-Sept. 4 at various city parks.

TICKETS: Admission is free. For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies as well as park locations, visit

Theatre Y

WHAT: Theatre Y’s ambitious new adventure “You Are Here: The Emerald Camino Project” is a return of its urban pilgrimages, this time through Daniel Burnham’s Emerald Necklace — the boulevard system that links the public parks on Chicago’s West and South sides. The immersive 12-part walking experience was created with artists, community leaders and organizations across a dozen communities. “This is a joyful post-pandemic experience that connects Chicago’s diverse communities through the intersection of conversation and art,” says Theatre Y’s artistic director, Melissa Lorraine. If you are walking through the neighborhood in which you live, admission is free; all other participants are Theatre Y Members or encouraged to become members (for as little as $5/month).

WHEN: Aug. 21-Sept. 26 For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies as well as dates and times for each walk, visit

Music Theater Works

Alexis Armstrong (top) and Heather Banks rehearse “Mamma Mia!”Music Theater Works

WHAT: Music Theater Works begins its new season with the popular musical “Mamma Mia!,” Catherine Johnson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s musical featuring the music of ABBA. Heather Banks stars as Shopine Sheridan, a young woman about to be married who is intent on discovering who her father is so he can walk her down the aisle. Justin Brill directs.

WHEN: From Aug. 19-29 at Music Theater Works at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie.

TICKETS: $20.50-$108. For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit


WHAT: Collaboraction’s new program The Light is dedicated to recruiting and mentoring young artists-activists over the course of a year. The first group — actor-singer-dancer Nate Buescher, actor Marcus Jackson, singer-storyteller Ella Rae, dancer Ava Lynn Trpeski and Phallon and Kyra Pierce, who have a bill on the Illinois House floor aimed at ensuring K-12 curriculums include books written by diverse authors — will showcase new works at three Chicago parks.

WHEN: At 6 p.m. Aug. 19 (Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento), 5 p.m. Aug. 20 (LaFollette Park, 1333 N. Laramie) and 5 p.m. Aug. 21 (Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd).

TICKETS: Admission is free. For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Pride Arts

WHAT: PrideArts presents Jye Bryant’s “The Things I Never Could Tell Steven,” a four-character musical in which the four most important people in one man’s life struggle to communicate meaningfully with him and really know him. The cast features Carl Herzog, Kyra Leigh, Elissa Newcorn and Nate Hall under the direction of Jay Espano.

WHEN: From Aug. 19-Sept. 19

WHERE: The Broadway, Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway.

TICKETS: $30. For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre

Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre in “Goshen.”Ken Carl

WHAT: Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre presents a preview of the new work “Goshen,” a celebratory collaboration of gospel music, dramatic narrative and dance-theater rooted in African American traditions. The concept and music are by Grammy-winning gospel artist Donald Lawrence and the piece features Deeply Rooted dancers, gospel singer Le’Andria Johnson, singers from The Tri-City Singers and Zeke Locke & the NuXperience.

WHEN: At 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25

WHERE: Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph.

TICKETS: Admission is free. Visit

Michael Wordly makes his Paramount Theatre debut as Lola in “Kinky Boots.”Thomas J. King

What: Live performances return for a new season at the Paramount Theatre with Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s high-kicking “Kinky Boots.” This first regional production of the Broadway musical, directed by Trent Stork, stars Devin DeSantis as Charlie, the shoemaker attempting to save his failing shoe factory, and Michael Wordly as Lola, the fierce drag queen who shows him the way.

When: Aug. 18-Oct. 17

Where: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora

Tickets: $36-$74

For updated information regarding the theater’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Blue Man Group Caroline Talbot Photography

What: Those crazy characters in blue return for more goofy fun when Blue Man Group reopens on Aug. 18. The show, which encourages audiences to reconnect with their inner child, is a combination of art, music, comedy and technology.

When: Aug. 18 – ongoing

Where: Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted.

Tickets: $49-$89

For updated information regarding the theater’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

‘Higher and Higher: A Rock ‘n’ Soul Party

Chester Gregory Amy Boyle Photography

What: The Marriott Theatre concert series presents “Higher and Higher: A Rock ‘n’ Soul Party” featuring musical theater artist Chester Gregory performing the hits of greats like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown and more. The star of “Motown: The Musical,” “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls,” Gregory first won acclaim locally for his outstanding portrayal of Jackie Wilson in The Jackie Wilson Story at Black Ensemble Theater.

When: Performances are at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 and 3 p.m. Aug. 15

Where: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire

Tickets: $55. For updated information regarding the theater’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies


‘Why Dogs Don’t Talk’

“Why Dogs Don’t Talk” will stream beginning July 27 at First Folio Theatre. D. Rice Photo

When: July 27-Aug. 8

Where: Online

What: First Folio Theatre presents an online production of David Rice’s adaptation of a short story by Dean Monti. Filmed in an Evanston apartment, the comedy ponders the question: Is man a dog’s best friend? The cast includes Landree Fleming as Hubert the dog and August Forman as the bewildered dog owner Mel. Tickets: a sliding scale of pay-what-you-can.

More information:

‘And Away We Stared’

When: 8 p.m. July 22-24

Where: Online

What: For its latest performance, Trap Door Theatre, the company dedicated to staging challenging yet obscure works, has devised a piece using text from the works of Chuck Mee, Gertrude Stein and Matei Visniec. In the absence of humans, the stage has gained the ability to put on mechanized performances to please only itself. In a series of theatrical dares, the actors of Trap Door attempt to retake the stage, confronting notions of live performance, automation and the cycles we perpetuate. Devised and directed by Skye Fort and Mike Steele. Tickets: $10, $15.

More information:

The Annoyance Theatre

Susan Messing Provided

What: Live comedy shows have returned to The Annoyance. On the lineup is Annoyance artistic director Mick Napier’s new solo sketch revue, “System of a Clown” (8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through September, $10, $20), plus returning favorites including “Green Show Live,” “Trigger Happy,” “Hitch*Cocktails,” “Cigarette Sandwich” and more.

More information:

‘The Tempest’

Bernell Lassai (left) as Ariel and Kevin Theis as Prospero in “The Tempest.”Maia Rosenfeld

When: July 15-Aug. 21

Where: Austin Gardens, 167 Forest, Oak Park

What: Oak Park Festival Theatre returns to outdoor performances at Austin Gardens with what is thought to be one of Shakespeare’s final masterpieces, a story of shipwreck, romance and magic. Artistic director Barbara Zahora directs, and the cast includes Kevin Theis as Prospero, Bernell Lassai as Ariel, Matt Gall as Caliban and Deanalis Resto as Miranda.

Tickets: $35. Visit

‘Cooking With Bubbie’

Jan Slavin (left) and Carla GordonMadKap Productions

When: To Aug. 22

Where: Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln, Skokie

What: MadKap Productions and Orchard Street Productions present Jay Kholos’ new musical set at a fictional TV cooking show where everyone’s favorite Jewish grandmother entertains with an old-fashioned variety revue with dancers, music and comedy. Chicago comedian Jan Slavin and Gold Coast Cabaret Award-winner Carla Gordon alternate in the role of the Bubbie.

Tickets: $45. Visit

Teatro ZinZanni

The artistry and the excitement of Teatro ZinZanni returns to Chicago starting July 8. Pictured: Lea Hinz.Michael Doucet

What: The immersive, whirlwind theater experience that is Teatro ZinZanni has reopened featuring a new show with a cast of comedians, aerialists, acrobats, singers, dancers and a gourmet meal, it brings comedy, music and cirque back after a long pandemic hiatus. Included among the performers are powerhouse vocalists Storm Marrero and Cunio, aerial acts Lea Hinz and Duo 19, veteran comedians Frank Ferrante and Joe DePaul and acrobatic dancers Mickael and Vita.

When: Ongoing

Where: Spiegeltent ZaZou on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph

Tickets: $119-$189; limited show only tickets $69. Visit

The Artistic Home Theatre

What: The Artistic Home presents “Summer on the Patio,” a seasonlong event which invites theatergoers to share in the creative workshop process via free staged readings and open rehearsals of three contemporary plays: Maria Irene Fornes’ “Mud” (To Aug. 27), Martyna Majok’s “Ironbound” (To Aug. 28) and Craig Wright’s “The Pavilion” (To Aug. 22).

Where: It all takes place at the company’s new space at 3054 N. Milwaukee with rehearsals in July and staged readings in August.

Admission: free


Steppenwolf Theatre

Donnetta Lavinia Grays in “Where We Stand”Joan Marcus/WP Theater

What: The final entry in the Steppenwolf NOW virtual season is “Where We Stand,” a storytelling tour-de-force about community and accountability written and performed by Donnetta Lavinia Grays. Through poetic verse and music, the drama challenges our ability to forgive and our ideas of mercy and who might deserve it. The filmed play captures a performance originally presented at Baltimore Center Stage co-produced with WP Theater.

When/tickets: A $75 ticket includes all six of the productions in the NOW series available online through Aug. 31


Summer Nights with Northlight

What: Summer Nights with Northlight is a cabaret series held at Evanston restaurants to benefit Northlight Theatre. The performers are Alexis J. Roston and Kelvin Roston Jr. (June 10, Good to Go Jamaican, 711 W. Howard), Linda Solotaire (July 27, Sketchbook Brewing Company, 4901 Main, Skokie) and Heidi Kettenring (Aug. 24, Peckish Pig, 623 W. Howard).

When: Performances times are 6 p.m.

Tickets: $60 includes light dinner and select drinks. Visit

Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collective

What: Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collective presents “Emerge,” a cabaret series featuring music, drag performance, comedy and spoken word.

When: every second Friday of the month

Where: Porkchop, 1132 W. Grand

Tickets: $20. Visit

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