As the Chicago summer starts to wind down (boo!), things are heating up in Chicago's storefront scene. (What's Chicago storefront theatre? Check out this blog post.) Out of the barrage of shows playing in the next few months, here are just a few highlights (click on the web address for ticket information; dates are subject to change):

Chicago Fringe Festival
September 1-11
chicagofringe.org
If you're looking for a real taste of Chicago's storefront scene, check out the Chicago Fringe Festival, which invites emerging and established performing artists from Chicago, the U.S. and beyond to showcase their work around the Pilson neighborhood. I attended the inaugural festival last year and saw a handful of shows. The experience was a bit hit or miss -- but always immensely interesting (I can't wait for this year's fringe). And with show running times capped off at 60 minutes, it's a great way to sample some emerging talent. Simply buy an admission button for $5 for access to the festival, and tickets to each show are $10. Get discounts if you buy a ticket package.

Corazón de Manzana
Presented by Mortar Theatre Company at DCA Theater
Now - September 5
dcatheater.org
Mortar Theatre has only been around two seasons, but they've certainly made a name for themselves in this short time. And the up-and-coming company is launching their third season with Corazón de Manzana, a bold new play written by ensemble member Dana Lynn Formby, at the DCA Theater -- a highly coveted venue located in the heart of Chicago's loop. Last year I had the opportunity to attend a reading of this very promising play, which comments on the femicide crisis in Juarez, Mexico. Not easy stuff, but worth the attention. I'm very much looking forward to this one.

A Walk in the Woods
TimeLine Theatre Company at Theater Wit
Now - November 20
timelinetheater.com
Who knew a play about nuclear arms negotiation could be so damned entertaining? I caught this show this past week (read my review here) and here's the deal: If you're looking for excellent actors performing a thought-provoking Pulitzer Prize-nominated script, do yourself a favor and check this production out.

Putting it Together
Porchlight Music Theatre at Theater Wit
September 2 - October 16
porchlighttheatre.com
Looking for a savvy musical comedy with a score by a musical theatre icon? Check out Porchlight's Putting it Together -- a revue of some of our favorite Stephen Sondheim tunes integrated into a plot concerning five guests who attend an elegant, and ultimately life changing, cocktail party. The folks at Porchlight know their way around a musical, particularly when it's penned by Sondheim, so I'm greatly anticipating what they have in store.

And this is just a *smidge* of all the great storefront shows playing in Chicago in the coming weeks. Check out theatreinchicago.com for a much more comprehensive listing.