"Arcadia" at Writers Theatre

In the world of local theater, the most anticipated opening in March and April isn’t a play — it’s a new venue. Writers Theatre opened the doors of its new Jeanne Gang-designed building in Glencoe in February. The beautiful structure features two performance spaces and promises to be an accommodating home for this consistently outstanding company. The first production inside its walls is a must-see — but, of course, it isn’t the only local show worth seeing.

Arcadia

March 16 – April 17

Michael Halberstam, stalwart artistic director of Writers Theatre, has shown an affinity for Tom Stoppard’s plays in the past. So it seems fitting that Halberstam is christening his company’s new space with this 1993 Stoppard masterpiece. Critics have called “Arcadia” the greatest play of our time. Dancing back and forth between the early 1800s and the 1990s, it’s a complex comic-tragedy exploring science, history and changing notions of what utopia is — along with plenty of poetry, romance and wit. Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000

Butler

March 11 – April 17

"Butler"

Tim Monsion (left) and Greg Vinkler (Photo courtesy of Peninsula Players.)

 

Richard Strand’s play tells the story of three slaves who escape during the Civil War, seeking sanctuary from a Union general. In spite of the war, law requires that these slaves must be returned to their owners. Does this sound like a comedy? Probably not, but a 2014 production in New York won praise for its lively, smart sense of humor. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673- 6300

Mary Page Marlowe

March 31 – May 29

Anytime Tracy Letts writes a new play, it’s a major event. He won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award in 2008 for “August: Osage County,” and he’s had only a couple of plays since then. The title character of his latest script is an accountant from Ohio who has led what seems to be an ordinary life. Seven actresses (Carrie Coon, Lindsay Crouse, Laura T. Fisher, Caroline Heffernan, Annie Munch and Rebecca Spence) will portray Mary Page Marlowe over the span of her lifetime. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335-1650

Evita

April 1 – June 5

Northwestern theater professor Amanda Dehnert directs Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s popular musical, which follows Eva Peron’s rise from poverty to first lady of Argentina. Does the show glamorize a government described by many people as a dictatorship? Or does it reveal its complexity? Critics have debated these questions, but there’s less argument about the musical score — it’s regarded as one of Lloyd Weber’s best. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200

Dead Man Walking

April 16 – May 15

The origins of this play go back to 1993, when Sister Helen Prejean, a spiritual adviser to death row inmates, wrote a best-selling book about her experiences. Actor Tim Robbins directed a film version in 1995, and the true story even became an opera in 2000. Now, Mikalina Rabinsky is directing Robbins’ stage version. Piven Theatre, 927 Noyes St., Evanston, 847-866-6597


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