Over the past few weeks, theaters have begun broadcasting announcements in preparation for reopening. Another city welcomes audiences already Happy to be here on the main stage and Outside the house In another city, etc. Good man intends to open its doors Jocelyn Biohis Schoolgirls; or African average girls play, directed by Lili-Anne Brown, July 30. (The show was previewed in March 2020, when the COVID shutdown hit, and the recorded performance of this truncated drive was available as a streaming program for some time last year.) Teatro Zinzanni open a new one circus dinner theater luxury July 8 for those ready for both indoor and outdoor entertainment under the Big Top. (The company appears in the twilight, decorated with a mirror and chandeliers set up at the downtown Cambria Hotel.)
But if you’re still a little hesitant to sit near nearby guests – or prefer to take your entertainment with a dose of vitamin D (or starlight) and fresh air, there are several good outdoor options for theater and dance performances in the coming weeks. Some of these require advance bookings, even if the events are free because social distance is in place. (Bring the mask, even if you’re completely vaxed.) We recommend that you seek out companies in advance for information on seating arrangements, food and beverage imports from outside, and accessibility for people with disabilities. With a little planning, there’s no reason you can’t break away from the screens and enjoy live performances with other theater and dance fans. (Oh hey – not to mention, it’s not a bad idea to bring your own little portable fan to stay cool.)
Night in the parks and SummerDance
The Chicago Park District program offers free city-specific performances with a wide variety of artists to get you on your feet (or at least dance in your seat). The line-up includes “Stepping at Seward,” a community dance event with a DJ every Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Seward Park, and “Dance in the Parks” programs created by local professionals and youth artists. SummerDance, which brings live music and dance (including teaching) to parks around the city, will return this year as well. Night Out in the Parks, through 10/11, chicagoparkdistrict.com; Summer dance, 8 / 18-9 / 15, ChicagoSummerDance.org.
The Chicago Children’s Theater continues to offer podcast walks that take families through different neighborhoods. The stories created by the artist groups describe history, culture and the natural environment in places such as Horner Park, South Shore and Little Village. Each episode is less than an hour long and includes an interactive map and other enrichment features. Through 12/31 chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
The corrugated wall is moving
June is Chicago’s dance month, but this pop-up series of free performances and courses at Navy Pier, co-produced See Chicago Dance, runs throughout the summer, every Saturday at 3 p.m. Some of the participating companies include the Afro Latin jazz group Desueño dance (7/24) and a hip-hop party Cultural shock Chicago (8/14). 9/4 via Navy Pier, seechicagodance.com.
This 1980 Pulitzer Prize-winning work by Lanford Wilson, the first in the celebrated “Talley Trilogy,” is actually out. A boathouse in Lebanon, Missouri in the 1940s is the backdrop for this unlikely romance with Sally Tally, the daughter of a “spinster” of a conservative Protestant family, and Matt Friedman, a Jewish accountant and immigrant who attracts Sally. Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater offers a suitable outdoor production, director Then Ingram. Church of St. David the Bishop, Glenview, 6 / 17-7 / 18, oillamptheater.org.
Legends from the 50s and 60s: Top hits
Musical theater works (known for many years as Light Opera Works) announced last summer that they had moved from their long-standing home at the Northwest Cahn Auditorium to the Skokie North Shore Performance Center. This movement begins with this tear (a rarity in itself for a company that usually produces classical musicals with a full orchestra) arranged in the “back” parking area of the center and includes pleasing hits from the audience such as Aretha Franklin, Buddy. Holly, Doris Day, The Supremes and more. Kyle Dougan and Martin L. Woods codirect. North Shore Performing Arts Center, Skokie, 6 / 18-6 / 27, musictheaterworks.com.
The Oak Park Festival Theater has performed at Shakespeare and selected other classics outdoors since 1975, with the exception of the obvious last summer. It seems somehow appropriate for them to return to Bard’s late romance of magic, redemption, and love. The story also touches on colonial and prejudices – aspects of the director Barbara Zahora suggests that he focus on his staging. Austin Gardens, Oak Park, 7 / 15-8 / 21, oakparkfestival.com.
The Curiosity Cabinet leverages the talents of playwrights, composers, lyricists, puppet theaters, and others for this anthology of short pieces that celebrates “the power of the sea and the feminine divine.” The offer includes Lindsey Noel Whitingis Whale song (“a short musical about killing a whale”); Mermaid’s tail (if there is a god), written by Bethany Thomas (music and lyrics) Liz Chidester), the mermaid “struggles for existence in a world imagined by humans”; More by Kasey Foster, where the eating crazy shark gets advice from the ball; and Seth Bockleyis Lookout, which is placed in a crow’s nest on board. BRNDHAUS PL-ZEN, 7 / 15-7 / 25, cocechicago.com.
Broadway in your backyard
The Porchlight Musical Theater will present a tour featuring Great White Road favorites featuring longtime porchlight veterinarians Nik Kmiecik, Michelle Lauto, Lorenzo Rush Jr. and Bethany Thomas. All performances except at the North Shore Center are free. Washington Square Park, 7/18; Welles Park, 8/3; North Shore Performing Arts Center (parking lot), 8/7; Sidney Epstein Youth Center, 8/28, porchlightmusictheatre.org.
Spring was enough
The Chicago Repertory Ballet will present an interpretation by artistic director Wade Schaaf of the classic Ballets Russes composed by Igor Stravinsky, along with other works, in a ticket-selling outdoor performance at Montrose Harbor Cricket Hill. The company warns that some of the materials may not be suitable for younger people. Port of Montrose, 7/23-7/25 chicagorepertoryballet.com.
Opportunities Theater group was established last year after a shutdown and debuted in outdoor production Noah’s wayis Savupudos at Northcenter Town Square. They have returned late this summer after waking up Jonathan LarsonRock musical update from Puccini La Boheme, set during the second pandemic, when AIDS (and general hatred) threatened the stability of a group of artist friends in the Lower East Side. Northcenter Town Square, 8 / 5-8 / 21, email@example.com. v