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8 Chicago theater shows to see in August

A Broadway-aimed new musical, a hippie lovefest revival and a professional wrestling comedy are all reasons to get out of the sun and into a theater this month

Photograph: Joe Mazza

With so much going on outside—Lollapalooza, Market Days, the Air and Water Show—August tends to be the slowest month of the year for theater in Chicago. But it’s no longer the actors’ holiday it once was; more and more productions in recent years have avoided the crush of September openings by scooting up a few weeks. This August brings with it a high-profile musical tryout with eyes on Broadway, notable Chicago premieres and more for when you’re ready to escape into the A/C.

August theater picks



Based on the Oscar-winning short film of the same name (which also inspired the teen suicide prevention nonprofit The Trevor Project), this new musical premieres at Writers Theatre with eyes on Broadway and commercial producers attached. It follows an imaginative teenage boy and Diana Ross superfan in the early ’80s as he comes to terms with being gay. The writers are Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis; Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) directs.

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Writers Theatre , Suburbs Until Sunday September 17 2017


Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre hosts Strawdog Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Robert O’Hara’s 2015 comedy about an intervention at a family picnic (from the author of Bootycandy, this makes perfect sense). The hinge here is that scenes alternate between two families, one white and the other black but all with the same names—and that’s not even the big twist. Damon Kiely directs.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company , Lincoln Park Until Saturday September 30 2017


As the Greenhouse Theater Center moves from a primarily rental facility into producing its own shows, it kicks off its first subscription season with a revival of Sophie Treadwell's 1928 expressionist drama about a woman driven to murder.

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Greenhouse Theater Center , Lincoln Park Until Sunday September 24 2017


Grab your favorite dirty hippie and let the sun shine in—the Mercury revives “the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” 50 years after its debut at New York’s Public Theater kicked off the Age of Aquarius. Brenda Didier directs.

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Mercury Theater , Wrigleyville Until Sunday September 24 2017

Shockheaded Peter

This cult-favorite 1998 musical, created by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott with music by the Tiger Lillies, is a gleefully grotesque “nasty picture book” about naughty children getting grisly comeuppances. A touring production played Chicago in 2001, but Black Button Eyes Productions’ new version is the first locally-born staging.

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Athenaeum Theatre , Lake View Until Saturday September 16 2017

The Audience

British scribe Peter Morgan has made Queen Elizabeth II into a cottage industry. He was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Queen, then wrote The Audience, about Elizabeth’s relationships with her prime ministers—and then turned the play into his Emmy-magnet Netflix series The Crown. TimeLine stalwart Janet Ulrich Brooks plays Her Royal Majesty in Nick Bowling’s Chicago premiere.

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TimeLine Theatre Company , Lake View Until Sunday November 12 2017

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Kristoffer Diaz’s boisterous satire of race and pro wrestling, which premiered at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater in 2009 and became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, returns to the ring in a storefront-sized staging via Red Theater Chicago. Jeremy Aluma directs.

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Strawdog Theatre , North Center Sunday August 20 2017 - Saturday September 16 2017