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8 Chicago theater shows to see in July

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

Photograph: Alan Alabastro
By Alex Huntsberger |
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If you’re in the mood for something a little esoteric, July is a great month to revisit your favorite Chicago theater. Kokandy Productions remixes a renaissance romance with tunes from The Go-Go’s in Head Over Heels, while Black Button Eyes Productions stages composer Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet, mashing up half of the Western canon. Steep Theatre’s Pomona and Haven Theatre’s Kiss are a pair of wildly entertaining mindbenders: One’s a dark, fantasy-tinged thriller, the other a darkly meta soap opera. Weirdest of all might be Love, Chaos & Dinner, a funky cabaret inside a mirror tent inside a theater that, until two years ago, was hidden inside the Cambria Hotel. Meanwhile, Mary Zimmerman’s take on The Music Man and a revival of Steppenwolf’s True West should both be pretty normal—and stupendous. Take a closer look at the eight Chicago theater shows to see in July.

July theater picks

Photograph: Collin Quinn Rice
Theater

Head Over Heels

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How would one spice up Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century pastoral romance The Arcadia for modern audiences? A book from Avenue Q author Jeff Whitty doesn’t hurt, and neither does tossing in songs from The Go-Go’s. Fresh off its run on Broadway, this Chicago premiere promises gender-bending romance spiked with lots of laughs.

Photograph: Juli Del Prete
Theater

True West

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In 1982, Gary Sinise’s production of Sam Shepard’s True West—starring young unknowns Jeff Perry and John Malkovich—put Steppenwolf on the map. Now the Lincoln Park theater is reviving the show with actors Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood taking over the roles of Hollywood screenwriter Austin and his vagrant, thieving brother, Lee.

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Steep Theatre Company
Photo: Grace Wiley
Theater

Pomona

icon-location-pin Steep Theatre, Edgewater
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In this surreal thriller from Alistair McDowall, a woman searches for her missing sister across a dark, eldritch urbanscape. Things start weird and then get much weirder. Director Robin Witt helmed McDowall’s Brilliant Adventures at Steep Theatre back in 2015, and this followup is likely to be the surprise D&D-inspired hit of the summer.

Photograph: Alan Alabastro
Theater

Love, Chaos & Dinner

icon-location-pin Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop/Theatre District, Loop
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In 2017, the staff at the Cambria Hotel were shocked to discover a long forgotten theater hidden behind their walls. Two years later, the newly renovated space is being christened by Love, Chaos & Dinner, a circus/comedy/cabaret confection from Seattle-based troupe Teatro ZinZanni. The show is performed inside a Belgian mirror tent and features a menu from Debbie Sharpe of The Goddess and Grocer.

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