Things to do in Chicago for theater and dance fansMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson July 23, 2021 at 1:53 am

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.

‘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

What: Live comedy shows have returned to The Annoyance, including a one-night performance of “Messing With a Friend” (9:30 p.m. July 22, $10) featuring improv great Susan Messing performing with another favorite, Rachael Mason. Also 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:

Rhythm World

Jumaane Taylor photo by Kristie Kahns
Jumaane Taylor
Photo by Kristie Kahns

What: The comprehensive festival of tap returns under the direction of Jumaane Taylor. This year’s 30th anniversary event offers three weeks of classes and performances. An array of performers will take to the stage at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth (July 27, Aug. 3, 10; $30, $60), Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand (July 28, free), DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place (Aug. 7, $30) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago (Aug. 14, $30).

More information:

‘Sea Change’

“Whale Song” in the “Sea Change” series
Christopher Andrew

When: July 15-25

Where: BRNDHAUS PL-ZEN, 1727 W. 21st.

What: Cabinet of Curiosity presents an outdoor series of puppet shows that explore the power of the sea and the feminine divine. The wild and strange pieces are mostly written by emerging female playwrights and lyricists: “Whale Song” by Lindsey Noel Whiting, “A Mermaid’s Tail (If There’s a God)” by Bethany Thomas and Liz Chidester, “More” by Kasey Foster and “The Lookout” by Seth Bockley.

Tickets: $25. Visit

‘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 Gordon
MadKap 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


Summer in the Parks

What: Brightside Theatre and the Naperville Park District present “Summer in the Parks: The Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein.” The free hourlong revue features tunes from the iconic composers’ musicals including “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma,” “The Sound of Music” and more.

When: Performances are at 7 p.m. June 30, July 21 and Aug. 11

Where: Wagner Family Pavilion in the 95th Street Community Plaza, 3109 Cedar Glade Dr., Naperville.


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


Writers Theatre

Kamal Angelo Bodden in “Ride Share”
Michael Halberstam

What: In Reginald Edmund’s “Ride Share,” a co-production of Black Lives, Black Words and Writers Theatre, everything in Marcus’ (Kamal Angelo Bolden) life is going smoothly until he’s laid off from his job. To make ends meet, he becomes a ride share driver. Edmund says the drama, directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, “takes us on a journey into the depths of the Black male experience in America.”

When: Streams June 23-July 25

Tickets: $40-$100


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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