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Chicago theater shows to see this summer

Mark your calendar for these 24 summer highlights on Chicago theaters' stages

Ana VillafaƱe and Josh Segarra of On Your Feet!; Zeke Sulkes and Lindsey Gavel in All Our Tragic; Andrew Goetten and Ethan Warren in Love and Human Remains; the cast of Pippin

Theater in Chicago can slow down a bit in the summer, amid all the music fests, street fairs, ballgames and beach time—and after a winter that seems unwilling to let go (is it warm yet?!), outdoor time—and outdoor drinking—are very necessary. But with more than 200 producing companies in and around the city, there are still plenty of good reasons to spend a few hours in a dark theater—or to see a show under the stars. Here you'll find our guide to 24 promising plays, musicals and theater festivals to keep your eye on this summer.

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24 summer theater picks

Moby Dick

Critics' pick

Lookingglass's David Catlin adapts and directs Herman Melville's epic whale tale. The production is staged in association with the Actor's Gymnasium, so expect some fancy physicality.

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Lookingglass Theatre Until Friday August 28 2015

Body & Blood

Marti Lyons directs a new play by Gift Theatre co-founder William Nedved (Northwest Highway), about a man who inadvertently disrupts the lives of those around him by finding a purpose for his own.

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The Gift Theatre Thursday July 30 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015

All Our Tragic

Critics' pick

The Hypocrites' full-day, five-star distillation of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies was far and away one of the most unique experiences in Chicago theater last year. It returns for a summer encore run.

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The Den Theatre Saturday August 1 2015 - Sunday August 16 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Critics' pick

Christopher Durang's Tony Award–winning comic riff on Chekhov gets an overdue Chicago premiere. Steve Scott directs a stellar cast, including Janet Ulrich Brooks, Mary Beth Fisher, Ross Lehman, E. Faye Butler, Jordan Brown and Rebecca Buller.

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Goodman Theatre Thursday July 30 2015 - Sunday August 2 2015


This Broadway-aimed musical draws from the same source material as the 1988 film starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. The new adaptation has a book by Iris Rainer Dart, the author of the novel on which the film was based, and Thom Thomas, with music by David Austin and lyrics by Dart. It was previously staged in 2014 at Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre, in a production directed by Signature's artistic director, Eric Schaeffer, who also helms the Drury Lane production.

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Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace Until Sunday August 16 2015

Grand Concourse

A volatile young volunteer (Brittany Uomoleale) threatens to upend the careful routine of a nun (Mariann Mayberry) who manages a Bronx soup kitchen in Heidi Schreck's 2014 play. Yasen Peyankov directs the Chicago premiere, which also features Francis Guinan, Tim Hopper and Victor Almanzar.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Until Sunday August 30 2015

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Northlight Theatre staged this charming meta-musical about four friends creating a musical in 2012, but the Brown Paper Box Co. has the first production in the city proper and on a storefront scale. Neala Barron, Matt Frye, Yando Lopez and Anna Schutz star.

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Rivendell Theatre Thursday July 30 2015 - Sunday August 16 2015

Loving Repeating

Critics' pick

First produced by Chicago's About Face Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006, Frank Galati and Stephen Flaherty's musical adaptation of the works of Gertrude Stein gets a revival via Kokandy Productions. Allison Hendrix directs.

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Theater Wit Thursday July 30 2015 - Sunday August 30 2015

Shakespeare's Greatest Hits

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's fourth annual parks tour is a theatrical mash-up of scenes from the Bard's best-known plays and current popular music, as conceived by Barbara Gaines and directed by Dominic Missimi.

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Steelworkers Park Until Sunday August 16 2015 Free

Stupid Fucking Bird

Critics' pick

Sideshow Theatre Company's hit 2014 production of Aaron Posner's Chekhov riff was one of our favorites of the year. Now it returns for a commercially-backed run, moving downstairs from the Richard Christiansen Theater to Victory Gardens's main stage, with director Jonathan L. Green and the complete original cast intact.

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Until Sunday August 30 2015
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