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

On Your Feet!

Critics' pick

Is the rhythm, indeed, gonna get us? We'll find out when Chicago gets the first look at this new Broadway-bound musical "based on the life and music of" pop star Gloria Estefan and her producer husband, Emilio Estefan. Featuring hits drawn from Estefan's pop catalog and a book by Alexander Dinelaris, On Your Feet! is directed by Jerry Mitchell with choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

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Oriental Theatre Until Sunday July 5 2015

Soon I Will Be Invincible

Lifeline Theatre premieres a musical adaptation of the 2007 superhero novel by Austin Grossman that earned comparisons to Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon. Christopher M. Walsh adapts the book, with music and lyrics by Christopher Kriz; Paul S. Holmquist directs.

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Lifeline Theatre Thursday July 2 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

Love and Human Remains

Brad Fraser's play sets a group of Chicagoans on the hunt for love or lust, while a serial killer is on a hunt of his own across the city. Ernie Nolan directs for Cor Theatre.

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Rivendell Theatre Thursday July 2 2015 - Saturday July 11 2015

Abraham Lincoln Was a F*gg*t

Critics' pick

A gay teen sets out to prove that the 16th president shared his orientation in this time-jumping comedy by Bixby Elliot (Girl You Know It's True). About Face Theatre artistic director Andrew Volkoff helms the Chicago premiere, with a cast that includes Matt Farabee, Dana Black, Jessie Fisher, Lane Flores, Nathan Hosner and Derrick Trumbly.

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Greenhouse Theater Center Thursday July 2 2015 - Sunday July 5 2015

The Birds

Irish playwright Conor McPherson's 2009 work is inspired by the same Daphne DuMaurier story of winged attackers as Alfred Hitchcock's film, though like Hitchcock, McPherson uses DuMaurier as a jumping off point for a tale that departs from the original, with three strangers coming together to hide from the birds in an abandoned seaside house. Kevin Kingston directs the Chicago premiere for Griffin Theatre, featuring actors Jodi Kingsley, David Krajecki, Keith Neagle and Emily Nichelson.

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Theater Wit Thursday July 2 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015

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 2 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015

The Who and the What

Ron OJ Parson returns to Victory Gardens for the first time in over a decade, to direct the Midwest premiere of a new play by Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) focusing on the strain between tradition and progress in an Atlanta Pakistani-American family when daughter Zarina writes a novel about women and Islam.

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Until Sunday July 12 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 July 4 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

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 Until Sunday July 26 2015
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