From true crime musicals to Mexican wrestling to Jim Henson-designed puppets, Chicago-area theaters’ fall season includes many fascinating projects. There’s also the Pearl Cleage Festival at the Goodman Theatre, a new Brett Neveu play at A Red Orchid Theatre, and the Chicago premiere of Noah Haidle’s “Birthday Candles” at the Northlight Theatre. There are many more series on the list, but here are our 10 traditional games to whet your appetite for the exciting fall return of one of the best reasons to live in and around Chicago.
“Company”: It is the first national tour of a Broadway revival of George Furth and Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical, famous for its Sondheim-sanctioned gender reassignment starring Bobby, now Bobbie, revived by director Marianne Elliott in both London and New York. . The story of a mysteriously unmarried New Yorker and an almost sacred spectacle for Sondheim obsessors (including your critic), “Company” features some of Sondheim’s most outstanding compositions; Including “Being Alive”, “The Ladies Who Lunch” and “Barcelona”. – and this new tour will feature a different cast from the Broadway crew, offering a completely new perspective on the experience. 31 October – 12 November Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 E. Randolph St.; tickets are $27-156.50 from 800-775-2000 and www.broadwayinchicago.com
“Hamilton”: When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical closed here in January 2020, it left as the most successful show in Chicago history. There was “Hamilton” Raised more than $400 million It hit the CIBC Theater box office and left town with unmatched financial success, audience participation, and critical acclaim. The Thomas Kail-directed original production of this iconic show (to use a well-deserved adjective) returns this fall, after a long, months-long run, and perhaps for the last time, with a touring production that’s completely comparable to the original Chicago entry. In particular, “Hamilton” now performs in a different venue, the Nederlander Theatre, a larger venue with higher-priced orchestra seats. “Hamilton” continues to be a huge hit on Broadway and will likely sell out all the seats here. But if you were priced out last time, you’ll likely find a more affordable ticket this time around, and you’ll be surrounded by people coming back for more. September 13 – December 30 (may extend) Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.; Tickets starting at $42.50 at 800-775-2000, and www.broadwayinchicago.com
“Jenůfa”: Leoš Janáček’s 1904 production “Jenůfa”, a painful hum at the small town’s secrecy and false moralism, is an opera infused with the rhythms and culture of Moravia, a historic region in the east of the Czech Republic. The story is certainly serious—the plot includes an act of murdering a child—but the work has also been widely lauded as an investigation of both guilt and forgiveness. Lise Davidsen and Nina Stemme will star in the production of Lyric. Director Claus Guth premiered “Jenůfa” at the Royal Opera House in London in 2021; his radical, intense production was said to be filled with existential hatred and fear. Czech conductor Jakob Hrůša is at the helm of the musical. And the opera is sung in the original Czech. November 12-26, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; Tickets starting at $40 at 312-827-5600 and lyricopera.org
“Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug Tape Christmas”: Music and lyrics by Academy Award nominee Paul Williams (“Rainbow Connection”) and featuring a book by Timothy Allen McDonald and Christopher Gattelli (who also directed and choreographed) new family charm For Thanksgiving is the live theatrical adaptation of the 1977 TV special known as “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” featuring a cast of famous Jim Henson puppets. The work by Broadway designers in collaboration with the Jim Henson Company was previously screened at New York’s New Victory Theater in December 2021. The puppets in the show come from the famous Henson Creature Shop. From November 14 to December 31, Studebaker Theatre, 410 S. Michigan Ave.; Tickets for $43-$127 will be available soon at 312-753-3210 and fineartsbuilding.com/studebaker
“The Battle of Teotl”: Part of the Destinos theater festival this year, which featured 17 productions including four world premieres, two North American premieres, one US premiere and five Midwest premieres, “Lucha Teotl” is a theatrical look at the world of Lucha Libre professional wrestling, the use of masks, and the ultimate free entertainment of Mexican origin, known for its stylized moves. This show aims to recreate the Lucha Libre experience. It originated in Dallas and is the work of co-creators Jeff Colangelo and Christopher Llewyn Ramirez and Prism Movement Theatre. Goodman and the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance promise audiences “a high-octane, immersive 90-minute thrill ride.” September 29 through October 29 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; tickets are $35 at 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org
“The Lehman Trilogy”: This gripping financial docudrama from London tells the story of the rise and fall of the notorious merchant bank and financial services company that fell apart and caused complete chaos during the 2008 financial crisis. The script is by Italian writer Stefano Massini and adapted by Ben Power. This show is a Fabulous on Broadway and Broadway in Chicago, instead of offering a tour, opened its smaller Playhouse theater in Water Tower Place to the Chicago TimeLine Theater, which will present the Chicago premiere of this scorching, three-act experience. Mitchell Fain, Anish Jethmalani and Joey Slotnick Chicago stars; Nick Bowling and Vanessa Stalling are co-directors. Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut St., September 19 through October 29; tickets are $30-90 from 800-775-2000 and broadwayinchicago.com
“POTUS”: “Behind Every Big Fool There Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive,” is the subtitle of Selina Fillinger’s ridiculous Broadway comedy that I enjoyed in New York in the spring of 2022. The presidential jester at the center of this scuffle is never specifically mentioned in Fillinger’s White House comedy, but there is a prominent candidate whose trophy has been prominently revealed lately. Dated? If you think we have a chance to relive all this, no. Fillinger has a background in Chicago theatre; The Northwestern graduate’s first professional play was staged at the Northlight Theatre. For this Chicago premiere, Steppenwolf enlisted a number of good Persians, including such great talents as Karen Aldridge and Caroline Neff. And here’s a chance for Steppenwolf’s new co-artistic director, Audrey Francis, to showcase her directing skills. October 26 – December 3, Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.; tickets cost from 312-335-1650 $20-114 and steppenwolf.org
“Run Bambi Run”: One of the most interesting projects of the fall includes a trip to Milwaukee, but some people interested in new rock musicals are already looking at train schedules. A book by Eric Simonson, music and lyrics by Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, and “Run Bambi Run” directed by Mark Clements, Lawrencia, a former Milwaukee police officer and Playboy Club waitress, the seductive woman convicted of a crime It tells the story of Bembenek. The murder of her husband in 1981 despite protesting the innocence of his ex-wife. When the woman, dubbed “Bambi” by the media, somehow escaped from Taycheedah Penitentiary in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, she became a famous figure and the origin story of the famous slogan that formed the title of the musical. Bembenek died in 2011 but had never written a book about his experiences before. September 13 – October 22, 2023, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, 108 E. Wells St., Milwaukee; tickets are $20-90 from 414-224-9490 and milwaukeerep.com
“The Rise and Fall of the Small Voice”: Gift Theatre, now a traveling company, will begin operation a little further south of Milwaukee Avenue this fall. This classic little Chicago troupe put on a great 1992 musical play that launched the career of film director Sam Mendes, but is best known in Chicago for its seminal 1993 Steppenwolf Theater Company production, which was later transferred to Broadway. Playwright Jim Cartwright’s poignant and certainly forward-thinking tale is about a young Yorkshire girl who can imitate cabaret stars but must learn to lead them to discover her own vocal identity; Devon de Mayo and Peter G. Andersen are co-directing, with Emjoy Gavino in the lead role. From September 14 to October 15, Filament Theatre, 4040 N. Milwaukee Ave.; tickets are $20-45 from 773-283-7071 and gifttheatre.org
“Twelfth night”: The new artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the widely acclaimed British director Edward Hall, whose work will be seen early next year, but the Navy Pier theater is showing the work of director Tyrone Phillips this fall. Known for her work at both the Definition Theater and Writers Theatre, Chicago’s rising talent will be at the helm of a new production of one of Shakespeare’s hottest and most romantic plays, the comedy of intrigue and disguise. Phillips organizes the entertainment in the Caribbean; Viola will drift into a tropical version of Illyria. at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier from October 25 to November 26; tickets are $38-92 from 312-595-5600 and www.chicagoshakes.com
Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.