Let It Show: Plays in Chicago for the Holiday Season

The cast of A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre (Photo by Liz Lauren.)

’Tis the season to be jolly, spread holiday cheer — and, of course, join loved ones for theater classics like “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But while the perennial favorites are indeed returning to local stages, the wise men and women of Chicago’s theatrical community have other gifts in store, too. So, let it show, let it show, let it show!

Newsies

Through Dec. 31

Plays in Chicago: Newsies

Photo by Liz Lauren.

The original 1992 movie may have been a box-office flop, but it wasn’t long before it — and the stage productions that followed — had amassed a cult following. The musical’s heroes are the ultimate underdogs: kids scraping out a living by hawking newspapers on New York City’s streets in 1899. This Tony Award-winning Broadway version from 2011 is now making its regional premiere at the Marriott, and fans hope it’ll merit an exclamation of “Extra! Extra!” Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200

The Importance of Being Earnest

Nov. 8 to Dec. 23

Plays in Chicago: The Importance of Being Earnest

Shannon Cochran, Jennifer Latimore and Rebecca Hurd (Photo by Saverio Truglia.)

The longtime artistic director of Writers Theatre, Michael Halberstam has a well-earned reputation for taking old pieces of literature and infusing them with a fresh perspective. This satire of social manners in the Victorian era, written in 1894 by Irish author Oscar Wilde, is a classic filled with clever humor and keen observations of human behavior. With Halberstam at the helm, Wilde’s wit is in highly capable hands. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000

The Minutes

Nov. 9 to Dec. 31

When a new script by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts makes its world premiere at his artistic home, Steppenwolf, it’s a big deal — and this play, billed as “a scathing comedy about small-town politics and real-world power,” is exactly that. Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro, who directed Letts’ blockbuster “August: Osage County,” is collaborating with him again on this one — so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s scheduled to transfer to Broadway next spring. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335-1650

The Book of Will

Nov. 9 to Dec. 17

Following in the footsteps of shows like “Shakespeare in Love,” this play imagines a story connected with the English language’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Lauren Gunderson’s script (directed at Northlight by Jessica Thebus) shows two actors from Shakespeare’s theatrical company working on publishing his plays after his death, determined to keep the Bard’s brilliant words alive for future generations. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300

Peter Pan

Dec. 23 to Jan. 1

J.M. Barrie’s famous 1904 play — about the Darling children’s adventures in Neverland with a flying boy who never grows up and his tiny, sparkling sidekick, Tinkerbell — became even more famous after it became a 1953 Disney cartoon and this 1954 Broadway musical, spawning many television broadcasts. This production will revive the show much as it sounded onstage in the 1950s, with music by Morris “Moose” Charlap and Jule Styne. In short, it’s a perfect holiday treat for the whole family. Music Theater Works, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston, 847-920-5360

Other shows worth checking out:

 

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Robert-Loerzel

Robert Loerzel is a freelance journalist who lives in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. His work has also appeared in Playbill and on WBEZ, and he is the author of the book “Alchemy of Bones: Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.”