Selecting the five most anticipated stage shows in 2013 proved a tall order. Given that there are literally thousands of shows opening in the coming year, I was forced to make some tough decisions. I also reached out to my savvy theatre friends to suss out what's on their 2013 wishlists to compile these nominees. Also, The Book of Mormon. Because, yes, obviously. However, unless you have a newborn to sell to get Mormon tickets, let's focus on the attainable.
Nominee: Sunset Boulevard
Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook
January 24 - April 7, 2013
Sunset Boulevard is one of my biggest guilty pleasure musicals. Honestly, it's not great art, but it's fabulous in so many amazing ways, including the camp factor and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's unapologetically melodramatic score. It's also rarely produced because it requires an investment in production values plus a star that can deliver the dramatic and vocal goods as tragically faded silent film siren Norma Desmond. Drury Lane has turned in some fabulous productions over the past few seasons, and with local actress Christine Sherrill in the lead, we can bet a star-making performance is in store.
Nominee: The Whale
Victory Gardens Theatre
April 5 - May 5, 2013
A tragedy about a morbidly obese man who attempts to make amends with his daughter prior to his death? Yes, I know it's a hard sell, but from all I've read and heard, this is a play that hits you deep and hard and leaves you thinking. And isn't that what good theatre's about?
Nominee: Other Desert Cities
January 12- February 17, 2013
This is the play everyone was talking about last season on Broadway. An intense family drama that covers some treacherous ground around politics, privacy and personal gain, The New York Times dubbed Other Desert Cities as "the best new play on Broadway." In addition, the cast features Chicago favorite and Tony winner Deanna Dunagan as the brittle and deeply conservative family matriarch, who heads into a tailspin when she learns her daughter is set to publish a tell-all memoir about their family, with a few select chapters revealing some deeply guarded family secrets.
Nominee: Sweet Charity
January 22 - March 31, 2013
Writer's Theare is known for two things: intimate classic dramas and the occasional chamber musical. And they do both things extremely well. So when they announced that they're planning to do the sassy, swinging '60s musical Sweet Charity, I raised an eyebrow. However, great things happen when deeply respected theatre companies go outside their comfort zone. But Sweet Charity is primarily a dance show, and if there's anyone who could take Bob Fosse's unique style and covert it to Writers' space, it's up-and-coming director/ choreographer Jessica Redish, who's proven herself a resourceful and innovative artist in her own right.
Nominee: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
January 30 - March 17, 2013
This 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist made waves in New York, and Lookingglass, which is known for fantastical stagings, takes Rajiv Joseph's groundbreaking dark comedy on in 2013. The New York Times called Bengal Tiger "a savagely funny and visionary new work of American Theatre." I suspect great things from this production.
And The Choosie Goes To...
Goodman Theatre's Other Desert Cities! A great cast, a highly anticipated Chicago premiere of a breakout American drama produced by The Goodman? This is the choosiest show for 2013, people.
#TheChoosieAwards is an ongoing series that previews the best of Chicago in 2013. To follow the awards, subscribe to Chicago Like a Local. It's easy (just enter your e-mail address in the "Subscribe" widget on this page) and, as an added bonus, we'll deliver daily stories to your inbox free of charge. Cool, huh?