Uncle Vanya At Goodman Theatre

“Uncle Vanya” (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre.)

As the new year begins, the highlights on local stages include the Marriott debut of a mega-popular musical, yet another new version of “Uncle Vanya” and world premieres of dramas at Northlight and Chicago Shakespeare.

“Faceless”

Jan. 26 to March 5

This venerable Skokie theater company is putting its spotlight on a young local playwright, Northwestern grad Selina Fillinger, with this world premiere about a teenage girl on trial for terrorism. BJ Jones directs the drama by Fillinger, who won the Judith Barlow Prize, a national award from the History Matters/Back to the Future coalition. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300

“The Book of Joseph”

Jan. 29 to March 5

After his parents died, Richard Hollander found a briefcase filled with Swastika-stamped letters. That’s how he learned the story of how his father escaped from Poland during World War II and fought to save the rest of his family, still in Europe, from annihilation. Chicago Shakespeare’s artistic director, Barbara Gaines, directs Karen Hartman’s world premiere based on this true story. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-595-5600

“Mamma Mia!”

Feb. 8 to April 2

This blockbuster was one of the earliest jukebox musicals when it first hit London in 1999, and it’s still one of the most popular — thanks to all of those sweet, super-catchy tunes by ABBA. Rachel Rockwell, who had a major critical hit with “Ride the Cyclone” at Chicago Shakespeare in 2015, is directing and choreographing this production. You’ll probably be singing “Thank You for the Music” by the end. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200

“Urinetown”

Feb. 10–26

Urinetown at Northwestern

Image courtesy of Northwestern.

In spite of that yucky title and a bizarre concept — a toilet crisis in a dystopian metropolis — this quirky musical won over critics and audiences. It even won the Tony Award. It should be a terrific vehicle for Northwestern’s talented theater students, who’ll be directed by Jeff Award-winner Scott Weinstein. Northwestern University (Ethel M. Barber Theater), 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, 847-491-7282

“Uncle Vanya”

Feb. 11 to March 12

Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker, whose play “The Flick” cast a hypnotic spell last year at Steppenwolf, offers this new version of Anton Chekhov’s classic Russian drama, giving it a contemporary American flavor. (Sound familiar? Aaron Posner’s “Life Sucks” at Lookingglass was also a “Vanya” update, but Baker’s take should be quite different.) The script is in very capable hands, guided by Goodman’s artistic director, Robert Falls of Evanston. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, 312-443-3800

Other shows worth checking out:

“Gloria”
Jan. 14 to Feb. 19
Goodman Theatre, 312-443-3800

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Jan. 19–29
Various venues

“Straight White Men”
Feb. 2 to March 19
Steppenwolf Theatre, 312-335-1650

“Love’s Labor’s Lost”
Feb. 7 to March 26
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 312-595-5600

“A Wonder in My Soul”
Feb. 10 to March 12
Victory Gardens Theatre, 773-871-3000

“The Scene”
Feb. 22 to April 2
Writers Theatre, 847-242-6000

 

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