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9 Chicago theater shows to see in December
Theater

9 Chicago theater shows to see in December

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a bounty of Christmas-themed productions at Chicago’s top theaters. Hell in a Handbag and the Den Theatre are both mounting holiday-themed musical movie parodies of Showgirls and Die Hard, respectively. Meanwhile, Otherworld Theatre is offering a new seasonal sci-fi fantasy, The Winter Wolf. If you’re all Scrooged out, there’s Steppenwolf’s Juarez-set La Ruta and Theo Ubique’s cabaret revival of The Full Monty. No matter where you're at on the holiday-spirit meter, there's something to see this month in Chicago. Take a look at the nine shows that caught our attention in December.

Cheap Chicago theater tickets and seven ways to get them
Theater

Cheap Chicago theater tickets and seven ways to get them

See Chicago theater on the cheap with our expert tips and tricks

Your guide to musical theater in Chicago
Theater

Your guide to musical theater in Chicago

From tours to local tuners, see what's playing now and in coming weeks

The Chicago Magic Lounge provides a new home for old tricks
Things to do

The Chicago Magic Lounge provides a new home for old tricks

The new theater in Andersonville hopes to be a hub for the city’s revitalized sleight-of-hand scene.

Broadway in Chicago’s complete 2018 slate
Theater

Broadway in Chicago’s complete 2018 slate

Check out the full schedule of touring shows coming to BIC’s downtown theaters

Best sellers

Hamilton

Hamilton

Let’s not mince words, since we’ve already spilled so many of them: Hamilton, writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of Alexander Hamilton as refracted through a hip-hop, pop and R&B lens, is a sprawling, stunning, singular achievement. By filtering the story of the American Experiment’s beginning into modern, meticulously rhymed vernacular and populating the stage with performers of color to play the likes of Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison, Miranda and his regular collaborators (director Thomas Kail, music supervisor Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler) make the founding fathers feel fresh and, miraculously, human. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Hamilton Chicago Weeks out from the country’s naming its 45th president, Hamilton’s new Chicago company arrives to remind us our democracy has always been messy, political, personal, and worth fighting for. Kail and Blankenbuehler fill designer David Korins’s spare set—which suggests that, like the country, it’s still under construction—with movement as thrilling and dense as Miranda’s lyrics. (The few moments of stillness are also used to great counter effect.) The nearly all-new Chicago cast (ensemble member Emmy Raver-Lampman is the sole transfer) easily lives up to the originals while finding their own new moments and shades. Miguel Cervantes is a rather more grounded Hamilton than the more frenetic Miranda, who originated the role, but Cervantes conveys the man’s vital, fatal

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Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Acrobats, illusionists, jugglers and stilt-walkers make up this kinetic holiday show

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

The Dickens classic returns once more to the Goodman Theatre.

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The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

This classic will have you humming “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” for days.

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Latest theater reviews

Familiar

Familiar

Steppenwolf’s ravenous ensembles are famous for chowing down on any script with a hint of meat on its bones. Danai Gurira’s 2015 comedy Familiar, which chronicles one crazy-ass day in the life of a Zimbabwean-American family, provides the actors with a feast. The Chinyaramwira family has gathered in Minnesota for the wedding of eldest daughter Tendikay (Lanise Antoine Shelley) to a very sweet, very Christian, very Minnesotan white boy named Chris (Erik Hellman). Tendikay’s artist sister, Nyasha (Celeste M. Cooper), has just returned from a personal sojourn to Zimbabwe—which everyone refers to as “Zim”—but she’s not the only one who made the trip: So has their imperious Zimbabwean auntie, Anne (played with an air of rough-and-tumble royalty by the superb Cheryl Lynn Bruce). Tendikay has invited Anne to honor the family’s roots by performing a traditional Roora ceremony—much to the enraged dismay of her mother, Marvelous (Ora Jones). (Jacqueline Williams is a treat as Marvelous and Anne’s other sister, the wine-swilling, MLM-pushing Margaret.) The play is a contest among competing notions of kinship: blood, matrimony, national identity. Marvelous, who emigrated from Zimbabwe to America with her husband Donald (Cedric Young) decades ago, is dismissive of Anne’s old-world mindset, while Anne resents Marvelous and Donald’s assimilationism, and her Roora ceremony involves far more actual bargaining than Chris, Tendikay or Chris’s wonderful lug of a brother, Brad (Luigi Sottile),

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Todd Rosenthal’s set for The Steadfast Tin Soldier resembles an extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. Delicately placed inside the Lookingglass space, it’s a person-sized toy theatre, framed by a festive miniature proscenium and sporting an advent calendar in place of a curtain. (There’s even a small orchestra pit.) It’s the kind of gorgeous creation that, in lesser hands, might come across as fussy: meticulousness for its own sake. In the masterful grasp of Mary Zimmerman, however, it’s a yuletide delight: a gift so beautiful, you’d almost hate to open it.Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a spectacle that draws heavily from the British tradition of Christmas pantomimes. There is practically no spoken dialogue; instead, the action is set to a score composed by Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert for piano (Leandro López Várady), violin (Greg Hirte), cello (Michal Palzewicz) and woodwinds (Constance Volk). As its story unfolds in a brisk 60 minutes, the show reveals a knack for inventive variations within its basic pattern: Execute charmingly whimsical contrivance, rinse, repeat.The titular soldier, played by Alex Stein, is a one-legged child’s toy that falls in love with another toy, a ballerina (Kasey Foster), only to be knocked out the window by a dastardly goblin (Anthony Irons) disguised as a jack-in-the-box. When our hero’s owner—portrayed by a surprisingly not-terrifying child puppet—is dragged off by his stern nursemaid (Christo

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Rightlynd

Rightlynd

A cycle of seven plays sounds like something epic in scope: a grand and sweeping project that might span generations or continents. But Ike Holter’s Chicago cycle does the opposite of that. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and Holter’s series tells the story of one (fictional) neighborhood in particular: Rightlynd, a big-hearted, hardscrabble stretch of blocks where locals don’t take too kindly to the notion of brunch. Rightlynd is also the name of Holter’s triumphant new play, in which he adds a bold, profane and electrifying chapter to his saga. Calling the play a love letter to Chicago feels a little old-fashioned; it’s more like a tenderly horny DM. Although Rightlynd is the fifth installment in Holter’s cycle—which so far also includes Exit Strategy, Sender, Prowess and The Wolf at the End of the Block—it’s chronologically the first, and it functions like a prequel to the others. The play is concerned with a kind of original sin: how a gal named Nina Esposito (Monica Orozco) ran for Alderman of her local ward as a champion for the people, won the seat, and then sold everyone up the river.  Of course, Nina’s sins aren’t anywhere close to original: She’s only the latest in a long line of corrupt Chicago politicians who have kowtowed to developers and gentrifiers. The fact that Nina could have been different ends up making no difference at all. Holter comes from the storefront scene, and director Lisa Portes wisely brings a feisty DIY simplicity to this production. Co

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5 out of 5 stars
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Plainclothes

Plainclothes

Energetic, funny and packed with emotion, the play features millennial characters who self-consciously wrestle with institutional racism in ways that feel genuine.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

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Goodman Theatre

Goodman Theatre

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater

The Den Theatre

The Den Theatre

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Greenhouse Theater Center

Greenhouse Theater Center

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Theater Wit

Theater Wit

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