An American in Paris July 25-Aug. 13 at Ford Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 800-745-3000) Inspired by the Academy-Award winning film, “An American in Paris” is the romantic story about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl, and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Directed and choreographed by 2015 Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon, the show features the music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and a book by Craig Lucas. The play won four 2015 Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Drama League Award for Best Musical, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, and two Theatre World Awards.
The Bridges of Madison County June 21-Aug. 13 at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire (10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200) This two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical features soulful music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (“The Last Five Years,” “Parade,” “Songs for a New World”) and a book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman (“The Secret Garden,” “The Color Purple”). “The Bridges of Madison County” is a sweeping romance about the roads we travel, the doors we open, and the bridges we dare to cross. Details: www.marriotttheatre.org
Cirque De Soleil — Luzia July 21-Sept. 3 at United Center (1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, 312-455-4500) Freely inspired by Mexico, “Luzia” is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions, a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people. Featuring a cast of forty-four performers from diverse artistic backgrounds, “Luzia” surprises with acrobatic performances breaking down the barriers, such as incorporating water into contemporary circus disciplines. Details:
Great Expectations thru July 2 from Remy Bumppo and Silk Road Rising at Chicago Temple (7 Washington St., Chicago, 312-857-1234 ext. 201) Dickens’ beloved tale of aspiration, intrigue, and romance is transplanted to a colonized India by award-winning British Bengali playwright Tanika Gupta. When Indian orphan Pip receives a mysterious inheritance, he must choose between his humble rural life and the city life of an English “gentleman.” In a vibrant clash of cultures, classes, and conscience, Gupta’s brilliant adaptation expands Dickens’ enduring question: Is it worth losing who you are for who you might become? Details:
Hamilton thru Sept. 17 at The PrivateBank Theatre (formerly Bank of America Theatre; 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, 312-977-1700) A new musical about the scrappy young immigrant who forever changed America: Alexander Hamilton. From bastard orphan to Washington’s right-hand man, rebel to war hero, “Hamilton” is an exploration of a political mastermind. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Eliza Hamilton, and lifelong Hamilton friend and foe Aaron Burr all attend this revolutionary tale of America’s fiery past told through the sounds of the ever-changing nation we’ve become. Details:
Hir June 29-Aug. 20 at Steppenwolf Theatre (1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335-1650) The classic dysfunctional family drama has just crashed through into a wholly original place. Meet Paige, a wife and mother liberated from an oppressive and abusive marriage; Max, her newly out transgender son; and Isaac, Max’s PTSD-addled older brother, who discovers a brand new war zone when he comes home from Afghanistan. The show’s crusade to shake up the patriarchy is disarmingly funny, absurd, and surprising as it looks at an American family forced to build a new world out of the pieces of the old. Details: www.steppenwolf.org
King Ubu June 8-July 14 at The Greenhouse Theater Center (12257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-404-7336) When it premiered in 1896, Alfred Jarry’s parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth was a blast of rude nihilism onto the French theatre scene, sticking its tongue out at politics, war, and theatre orthodoxy. It went on to influence great writers and artists, such as Apollinaire, Artaud, and Breton, and led to Surrealism, Dada, the Situationists, and even punk rock. Featuring low-brow humor and ludicrous language, “King Ubu” points out society’s failures and injustices and warns about civilization’s susceptibility to subversion and collapse through the gluttonous and brutal character of Papa Ubu, who murders the royal family of an immaterial Poland in order to ascend to the throne. Details: www.greenhousetheater.com
The King and I June 14-July 9 at Ford Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 800-745-3000) One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, “The King And I” boasts a score which features such beloved classics as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance,” and “Something Wonderful.” Set in eighteen-sixties Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.
Macbeth June 15-July 22 at Oak Park Festival Theatre (157 Forest Ave., Oak Park, 708-445-4440) Shakespeare in the park. Blankets spread out. Wine and cheese picnics under the stars. Kick off the season at the Oak Park Festival Theatre in Austin Gardens with this classic. “Macbeth” still shocks like no other tale on the page, stage, or screen. Set in a gloomy world of ghosts and witches, the tragedy’s cycle of corruption is thrown into motion when the popular King Duncan of Scotland is murdered by his trusted friend and general, Macbeth. Driven by a supernatural prophesy and his wife’s deadly ambition, Macbeth goes on to claim his destiny. But just as he grasps the crown, it starts to slip through his guilty fingers. Details: www.oakparkfestival.com.
Moby Dick June 7-Sept. 3 at Lookingglass Theatre (821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-337-0665) Madness rages like the angry sea when man pits himself against leviathan in Melville’s epic and poetic tale furiously re-imagined on the Lookingglass stage by director David Catlin (Lookingglass Alice). Set sail with Captain Ahab and the intrepid crew of the Pequod in this harrowing and intoxicating exploration of fate vs. free will. Details: www.lookingglasstheatre.org
Parade thru July 2 at Writers Theatre (325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000) This stirring, Tony Award-winning musical explores the endurance of love and hope against seemingly insurmountable odds, telling the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jewish man falsely accused of murder in 1913 Atlanta. Filled with soaring music, “Parade” is a love story, a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of innocence and naïveté coming face-to-face with ignorance and prejudice. Details:
Peter and the Starcatcher July 13-Aug. 20 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre (111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121) The five-time Tony-winning show, which The New York Times called “the most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades,” is the swashbuckling prequel to “Peter Pan.” Inventive stagecraft and an imaginative story come together to reveal the origins of “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” in this madcap music-filled adventure. The play is an action-packed journey through Neverland that brings pirates, mermaids, orphans, and secret agents of the Queen together on the high seas. Based on the bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and written by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), this production weaves an enchanting coming-of-age tale that’s bound to appeal to your entire crew. Details: www.metropolisarts.com
Ragtime thru July 16 from Griffin Theatre Company at The Den Theatre (1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 773-398-7028) Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, “Ragtime” is set at the dawn of a new century where the lives of three distinct American families from different backgrounds intersect in their search for the American dream. Part history lesson and part family saga, this stirring musical asks us to think about racism, immigration, social justice, wage inequality, and the role of women in society in a changing America. Details:
Shakespeare in Love thru June 11 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (800 East Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-595-5600) The Oscar-winning romantic comedy about Shakespeare and his Chamberlain’s Men returns to its rightful home—the stage. Imagine a young playwright on the make struggling to write his new tragic love story, “Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate’s Daughter.” The title just doesn’t have the right ring—and young Will Shakespeare knows it. He’s got writer’s block and must do something quickly. Will needs a muse, and he finds one in Viola, a vivacious beauty who will do anything—even disguise herself as a man—to audition for the stage where no women are permitted to perform. Once revealed, the torrid affair begins inspiring the completion of the most romantic tragedy ever penned. Details: www.chicagoshakes.com
Tony ’N Tina’s Wedding thru Sept. 2 at Chicago Theatre Works (1113 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago) Presented by the original New York producers, in conjunction with Chicago Theatre Works, comes the return of one of Chicago’s longest-running, smash hit shows, and everyone’s invited. You and the other audience members are treated like family at this interactive improvisational comedy. The fun starts with the happy couple’s wedding ceremony inside a real church (Resurrection Church), followed by the all-inclusive reception just one block away at Vinnie Black’s Coliseum, featuring a full Italian dinner, wedding cake, Champagne toast, dancing to great music, and lots of love and laughs. As part of the audience, you’re considered a wedding guest and are allowed to mix, mingle, and interact with all of the participants. You never know what drama you might get swept up in with this crazy Italian family. The improvisational nature of the show lets you go multiple times and see different stories play out each time. Details:
Madagascar — A Musical Adventure July 13-Aug. 22 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago,312-595-5600) A wild and wacky adventure awaits Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, and those pesky, plotting Penguins when they stage a jailbreak from New York’s Central Park Zoo. After busting out of their home and landing on the far away island of Madagascar, these furry friends encounter the madcap antics of the outrageous King Julian and his fellow island inhabitants in a musical celebration of friendship. The nonstop escapades and rollicking pop score will have audiences of all ages wanting to “Move It, Move It!” with their favorite characters. Share the wonder and delight of live theater with the young people in your life this summer with this child-friendly seventy-minute adaptation. Details: www.chicagoshakes.com
Mother Goose’s Garden thru Aug. 27 at Emerald City’s Little Theatre (2933 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, 773-935-6100) Take a gander at Mother Goose’s magical community garden. Join Jack and Jill as they search for Mother Goose and help out a gaggle of your favorite characters along the way. Sing along to live music with Little Boy Blue, Miss Muffett, and others as you experience the fun in teamwork through hand-puppetry and interactive play. For ages 0-5. Details: www.emeraldcitytheatre.com