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2019 Chicago Theatre Preview: 10 Top Picks

Bring your group to see some of the hottest plays coming to Chicago this year. 

The Chicago theatre scene is sizzling in 2019, so you’ll want to plan ahead and get your group tickets now. It’s the perfect time to visit, with 2019 deemed the Year of Chicago Theatre, a citywide celebration that includes performances and special events at hundreds of cultural venues, theaters, parks and neighborhood locations throughout Chicago. And don’t miss the annual Chicago Theatre Week from Feb. 7 – 17, a 10-day extravaganza offering discounted tickets to more than 120 shows across the city.

Here are 10 of the most highly anticipated plays to put on your Chicago itinerary, ranging from revivals of iconic productions to the latest Broadway hits.

Dear Evan Hansen

Feb. 12 – March 10, Nederlander Theatre (formerly Oriental Theatre)

Dear Evan Hansen ©Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. This deeply personal and contemporary musical about life and the way we live it is a winner of six 2017 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Music Theater Album.

Anastasia

March 26 – April 7, Nederlander Theatre (formerly Oriental Theatre)

Anastasia ©Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

This dazzling show transports theater-goers from the twilight of the Russian Empire to 1920s Paris as a brave young woman named Anya sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.

Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical

April 2 – 14, Broadway Playhouse

Based on the French novel Les Liasions Dangereuses and the cult film Cruel Intentions, this musical delves into the manipulative world of two diabolically charming step-siblings who set out to destroy the life of their incoming headmaster’s daughter. Seduced by revenge and fueled by passion, they soon find themselves entangled in a web of secrets, temptation and the cruelest game of all: love. The play features throwback hits by artists that include Christina Aguilera, *NSYNC and Britney Spears.

Hamlet

April 17 – June 9, Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Four-time Tony Award nominee and Law and Order: SVU alum Raúl Esparza takes on the iconic title role in this highly anticipated production. Reeling from grief, the Prince of Denmark attempts to navigate his father’s death, betrayal and relationships torn asunder. Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, internationally renowned for her dynamic interpretations of Shakespeare, directs this masterpiece that weighs the cost of betrayal, passion and revenge. 

West Side Story

May 3 – June 2, Lyric Opera House

The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents this timeless tale that transplants Romeo and Juliet to the gritty back streets of New York City, where two wide-eyed teenagers (Tony and Maria) from opposing gangs fall in love and suffer the consequences of an unforgiving turf war. West Side Story smolders with the music of Leonard Bernstein, the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and the choreography of Jerome Robbins.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

May 8 – August 4, Lookingglass Theatre Company

In celebration of the 200-year anniversary of its publication, Lookingglass imaginatively presents this gothic tale of love, horror, and the power to both create and destroy life. An eerie evening of ghost stories crackles to life as Mary Shelley recounts the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his unholy experiment. Located within the Historic Water Tower Water Works on The Magnificent Mile, Lookingglass is known to push the boundaries of theater, incorporating dance and circus arts into its performances. 

Ms. Blakk for President

May 23 – July 14, Steppenwolf Theatre

Inspired by the true story of America’s first black drag queen presidential candidate, the play follows Ms. Joan Jett Blakk as she runs for president of the United States in 1992 at the height of the AIDS crisis, backed by the newly formed Queer Nation Chicago. Part-campaign rally and part-nightclub performance, this rousing production takes theater-goers into the heart and mind of one of Chicago’s most radical and influential citizens.

Cats

July 16 – Aug. 4, Nederlander Theatre (formerly Oriental Theatre)

Cats ©Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

This record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber is now on tour across North America. Rediscover the Tony Award-winning play about a tribe of cats who gather for their annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat gets to be reborn. The production is known for its original costume design and amazing musical score, featuring beloved songs such as the show-stopping Memory.

Come From Away

July 30 – Aug. 18, Cadillac Palace Theatre

Come From Away ©Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

This feel-good musical tells the true story of 7,000 stranded airplane passengers grounded by 9/11 who were all welcomed in by a small Newfoundland town. Although cultures initially clash, uneasiness soon turns into trust, gratitude, newly formed friendships and a night of soaring music. The production has won awards for Best Musical across the country.

The Band’s Visit

Sept. 10 – 22, Cadillac Palace Theatre

The Band's Visit ©Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

After a mix-up at the border, an Egyptian police band is sent to a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals. Under the spell of the desert sky, their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways. This joyous Tony Award-winning musical celebrates the deeply human ways music and laughter can connect us all.

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