In The Heights

Fall in Chicago is the best. The autumn cooldown means shorter days filled with colorful leaves dancing in the breeze, long nights lit with big harvest moons and plenty of amazing theater to enjoy. The opening of the theater season is a particularly unique time. Many theater companies painstakingly select shows for the fall that they hope will set the bar for the rest of the year. Read on to see what shows you should check out now.

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TimeLine Theatre Company presents "Bakersfield Mist" at Stage 773

Runs through October 15.

Maude is an unemployed trailer park resident leading a seemingly uneventful life. But a world of possibilities opens before her when she discovers a possible lost Jackson Pollock painting at a local thrift store. She invites world-class art expert, Lionel Percy, to assess the painting, hoping to determine if it is indeed a real Pollack and thus worth millions.

But the meeting between the two sparks more than just an assessment of the painting. The conversation quickly turns into a clash of classes, provoking a deep discussion of authenticity and value, in both art and people.

"Bakersfield Mist" is a quick-witted, engaging play skillfully directed by Kevin Christopher Fox and brought to life by the dearly loved Chicago actors Janet Ulrich Brooks and Mike Nussbaum. The Chicago premiere of "Bakersfield Mist" by Stephen Sachs is the perfect opener to celebrate TimeLine's 20th anniversary season.

Bakersfield Mist

"Bakersfield Mist": Janet Ulrich Brooks as Maude Gutman (left) and Mike Nussbaum as Lionel Percy. Photo by Lara Goetsch.

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets
 are $28-$51.
Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Stage 773
1225 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

 

Porchlight Music Theatre presents "In The Heights" at Stage 773

Runs through December 3.

Midwestern audiences have been highly anticipating the arrival of "Hamilton," but that isn't the only notable musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda that's taking the stage in Chicago this fall. Porchlight Music Theatre recently opened their season with Miranda's other Tony-Award winning play: "In The Heights."

The show takes place in New York City's Washington Heights, a predominately Latino-American neighborhood where many immigrants are struggling to make ends meet while they strive for a better life in America. We meet Usnavi, a young, charming bodega owner who is in love with the beautiful Vanessa, a hair stylist and the child of an alcoholic mother. We also meet Nina, the neighborhood's pride and joy, a golden child whose intelligence and drive won her a scholarship to Stanford University. When Nina returns home from school she falls in love with Benny, who works for her father and is one of the few non-Latinos in the neighborhood. She reveals that she was overwhelmed in California and dropped out of college.

Even though their problems are many, and most people are far from what they consider to be home, the neighborhood residents come together to form a new kind of family.

Porchlight's version of "In The Heights," directed by Brenda Didier with musical direction by Diana Lawrence, is full of energy and life while simultaneously being very intimate and personal. One might say: come for "Hamilton," stay for "In The Heights." 

Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $43-$51.
Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Stage 773
1225 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

 

The House Theatre of Chicago presents "A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch" at the Chopin Theatre

Runs through October 23.

The House Theatre of Chicago opens its 15th season with the world premiere of Kara Davidson's "A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch." Shade Murray directs this fantastical puppet-driven piece inspired by the famous Punch and Judy street puppets.

The play is set on the streets of 18th century London. Charlotte, an orphaned child, is forced to beg and steal to feed herself. When she encounters an Italian puppeteer performing with his Punch and Judy puppets, her quick wit turns what could have been a sticky situation into a job opportunity. Pietro, the peculiar loner puppeteer, trepidatiously decides to take her under his wing in exchange for her help with his puppet show. Charlotte rises to the occasion, dons a boys' outfit and gets to work, proving her value to Pietro.

What begins as a business relationship slowly evolves into a personal bond between the two, both of them filling each others' void. But when Charlotte's imagination starts to run away with itself, blurring reality with the fictional puppet world, she crosses the line and jeopardizes both her bond with Pietro, and their lives.

A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch

"A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch": Sarah Cartwright as Charlotte, Joey Steakley as Joey the Clown, with hand puppet by Jesse Mooney-Bullock. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.. Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15-35.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Chopin Theatre
1543 W Division St.
Chicago, IL 60642

 

The Hypocrites present "You On The Moors Now" at the Den Theatre

Runs through October 30.

What do Jane Austin's "Pride and Prejudice," Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre," Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" and Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" all have in common? They feature 19th century women who reject their suitors. But what would happen if these feminist heroines decided to ditch the men for good?

This new scenario is explored in the Chicago premiere of Jaclyn Backhaus's "You On The Moors Now" presented by the Hypocrites. This delightful show re-imagines the famous heroines and rewrites their futures. We meet all four women, Elizabeth, Jane, Jo and Cathy just after they have rejected marriage proposals from Darcy, Rochester, Laurie  and Heathcliff. But instead of continuing down their independent journeys (most of them eventually marrying at some point) they decide to band together, ditch the dudes for good and escape to mythical Moors. But the men won't let go so easily, they decide to unite as well. Determined to win the hearts of "their" women, the men go hunting for the women's camp, ultimately ending in a literal battle of the sexes.

The Hypocrites 20th anniversary season opener, winningly directed by Devon de Mayo, is a fun, thought-provoking literary mash-up that is not to be missed.

The Hypocrites present You On The Moors Now at the Den Theatre

The Hypocrites's Chicago premiere of "You On The Moors Now." Left to right: Brittney Love Smith, Tien Doman, Deanna Myers and Emjoy Gavino. Photo by Evan Hanover. 

Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $36.
Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Den Theatre
1329 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642

 

Header photo: Missy Aguilar as Daniela and the cast of "In The Heights" perform "Carnaval Del Barrio." Photo by Gretchen Kelley.