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Theater

The best theater in Chicago, including reviews of plays and musicals

8 Chicago theater shows to see in July
Theater

8 Chicago theater shows to see in July

Check out this month's slate of show-stopping new theater productions in Chicago

‘Hamilton’ will leave Chicago early next year
News

‘Hamilton’ will leave Chicago early next year

Don't throw away your shot to see Hamilton in Chicago before the award-winning musical packs its bags and leaves.

Steppenwolf’s latest tells the story of the first black drag-queen presidential candidate
News

Steppenwolf’s latest tells the story of the first black drag-queen presidential candidate

Blakk’s slogan: “Lick Bush in ’92!”

The 11 best Chicago theaters in the Loop
Theater

The 11 best Chicago theaters in the Loop

Browse the best downtown theaters and reserve a ticket to see a show today.

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

Latest theater reviews

Pomona

Pomona

Alistair McDowall’s Pomona wears its influences on its sleeve—film noir, Dungeons & Dragons, the horror oeuvre of H.P. Lovecraft—yet it still feels bracingly original. At the center of this stunning play sits the island of Pomona, a blasted strip that floats in Manchester like a black hole at the heart of a cold, unfeeling cosmos. McDowall takes a simple premise—a young woman, Ollie (Amber Sallis), searching for her sister in Manchester’s criminal underbelly—and turns it into a rabbit hole leading down to the gates of Hell. In the play’s bleak estimation, there is no guiding hand of fate; if there is a God, he’s playing 20-sided dice with the universe. But unlike many dark-minded works, Pomona is also a wildly good time: a surreal puzzle box that is equal parts dream logic and classic gumshoe mystery. Confirming Steep Theatre Company’s reputation as Chicago’s go-to spot for contemporary British theater, director Robin Witt hones Pomona’s plotting to a razor-sharp point, much as the play itself whittles the existential dread of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos down to human proportions. (The demonic elder god himself is represented by a rubber mask whose wearer lurks in the voluminous shadows of Brandon Wardell’s lighting design.) McDowall’s labyrinthine plot moves backwards and forwards through time, intertwining Ollie’s search with the stories of two hired goons (Nate Faust and Brandon Rivera), a sex worker (Ashlyn Lozano), a crime boss (Jamila Tyler), a mysterious D&D enthusiast

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
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Ghost Quartet

Ghost Quartet

Stories about stories usually go one of two ways: empty but pleasurable or just plain pretentious. Composer Dave Malloy’s rollicking song cycle Ghost Quartet tends towards the former, but it so immensely pleasurable that most of the emptiness is forgiven. If Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 was a glittering Tsarist palace, Ghost Quartet is an inviting but ramshackle fisherman’s hut: cramped and a little uncomfortable but still a great place to hear a well-spun yarn.  Ghost Quartet features four performers—TJ Anderson, Alex Ellsworth, Rachel Guth and Amanda Raquel Martinez—singing songs and swapping tales of murder, love and the awfully thin lines between the two. Their stories are drawn from a mix of originals and public-domain classics like One Thousand and One Nights and The Fall of the House of Usher; the ghost of Thelonius Monk makes an appearance, as do several popular brands of whiskey. As the show progresses, songs and stories and characters blur together and themes of reincarnation and the afterlife come to the fore. The bonds among the storytellers seem to traverse the laws of time and space.  In characteristic fashion, Malloy’s restless musical stylings evoke barroom shanties, classical concertos and electro-pop singles in equal measure. And under the guidance of director Ed Rutherford and musical director Nick Sula, the cast of this Chicago premiere production brings Malloy’s score to dazzling life, buoyed by Jeremy Hollis’s eclectic, bric-a-bra

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Buy
True West

True West

Steppenwolf takes another run at the show that put it on the map.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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The Music Man

The Music Man

Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man has a reputation as for sweetness, but there’s more than a little sour mixed in. River City, Iowa—the small turn-of-the-century town that gets taken in by the musical’s antihero, Professor Harold Hill—is a crabbed little burg inhabited by cranks and fools, and much of Wilson’s top-notch score is written in the surprising rhythms of pattering salesmen and gossiping hens. In Mary Zimmerman’s revival for the Goodman Theatre, it’s these notes that come through most strongly, leaving a pleasantly astringent aftertaste.  As is usually the case with Zimmernan, the show is visually stunning: Designer Dan Ostling’s set presents River City as a Whistler landscape in clapboard, with lofty prosceniums framing an endless horizon. (Grant Wood’s American Gothic gets an explicit shout-out.) But the show’s characters can get lost within the sheer amount of space that Zimmerman’s staging conjures— none more so that Geoff Packard’s oddly retiring Hill. Even as the man brazenly swindles an entire town into starting a boy’s band—with instruments, sheet music and uniforms that he himself will supply—Packard’s voice hardly rises above a murmur. It’s a performance full of shy glances and shrugging shoulders, and this curious lack of con-man swagger spills over into his persistent wooing the town’s skeptical librarian, Marian Paroo (Monica West).  The rest of Zimmernan’s cast, however, seems to be having a ball. Ron E. Rains and Heidi Kettenring are fabulously over t

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Buy
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Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Goodman Theatre

Goodman Theatre

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
Theater

Victory Gardens Biograph Theater

The Den Theatre

The Den Theatre

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Greenhouse Theater Center

Greenhouse Theater Center

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Theater Wit

Theater Wit

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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