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13 World Premieres to Look Forward to This Season

August 8, 2016 by Martin Martinez
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Chicago produces more world premieres every year than any other US city. And they call us the Second City…

This year, Chicago theaters will stage a record number of world premieres.

Here is a sampling of some of the exciting premieres to look forward to this season.

Bobbie Clearly by Alex Lubischer

Bobby Clearly by Alex Lubischer

Steep Theatre Company, begins September 29.

Nobody from the town of Milton, Nebraska ever gave much thought to Bobbie before the tragedy in the cornfield. Two years later, it’s hard for them to think of much else. In the darkly comic Bobbie Clearly, a community opens up about life in the aftermath and making sense of senseless violence.

The Bottle Tree by Beth Kander


Stage Left Theatre, begins October 15.

The Bottle Tree explores American gun culture through the story of a small-town girl with a dark family legacy. Allison Mason is being interviewed for a documentary about school shootings, which brings her back to her long-buried high school years in Mississippi, where she was the struggling, smart-mouthed sister of a school shooter. In therapy, in school, at home, teenage Alley struggled with forgiveness and moving forward. Answers prove no easier an adult—just as gun culture continues to evade solution. As Alley immerses in her past, will she finally find an opportunity for hope and healing in the future?

The Magic Play by Andrew Hinderaker


Goodman Theatre, begins October 21.

World-class magic and a deeply human story of loss and love come together to create one astonishing theatrical experience. A good magician is always in control of his show. The rest of his life can be as fragile as a house of cards. When a rising young magician takes the stage just hours after his lover has left him, his performance begins to unravel. As the past invades the present, and the charismatic entertainer gives way to a heartbroken man, the magician strives to find one aspect of his life that feels like magic and not a trick. Critically acclaimed magician, illusion designer and actor Brett Schneider stars in this mind-blowing and altogether astounding spectacle that combines a live magic show with the poignant punch of Chicago theater.


Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margo Melcom


Northlight Theatre, begins November 10.

In this charmingly imagined sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the ever-dependable Mary Bennet is growing tired of her role as a dutiful middle sister in the face of her siblings’ romantic escapades. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence, an intellectual match, and possibly even love.

Roz and Ray by Karen Hartman


Victory Gardens Theater, begins November 11.

In 1976, Ray, a newly single parent of twin hemophiliac boys, has only one goal: keep his sons alive. His days are filled by endless trips to the hospital, rigorous testing, and frequent blood transfusions. This all changes when Ray meets Roz, an optimistic and caring doctor with a miracle treatment. Roz appears to be Ray’s savior until the miracle turns into a nightmare. Roz and Ray tells the profound story of love, trust, sacrifice, and forgiveness between two friends. Artistic Director Chay Yew (The House That Will Not Stand, Death and the Maiden) pairs with playwright Karen Hartman to unearth a tragic and little-known event in medical history.

Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes by Andra Velis Simon


The Hypocrites, begins November 12.

Adapted from Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s 1904 opera Cendrillon, and many of her other compositions, Andra Velis Simon’s musical-play is an elegantly irreverent exploration of the classic fairy tale. Here, Cinderella’s version of happily-ever-after does not include acceptance by the Prince. In the actor-as-orchestra style of The Hypocrites’ Gilbert & Sullivan opera work, Artistic Director Sean Graney directs this fun holiday-time show, perfect for the whole family.

Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds and adapted by Althos Low

Diamond Dogs 3

The House Theatre of Chicago, begins January 13.

A world premiere adaptation of award-winning British author Alastair Reynolds’ ferocious sci-fi horror story. A classic deadly-maze set in Reynolds’s “Revelation Space Universe,” Diamond Dogs follows a future team of humans and trans-humans as they investigate a mysterious, alien tower. These mercenaries battle the sentient tower, who’s bent on brutally punishing all intruders. Blood will spill.

Faceless by Selina Fillinger


Northlight Theatre, begins January 26.

Eighteen-year-old Susie Glenn is on trial for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Reeling from her mother’s recent death, Susie may be a scared teen searching for answers… or a threat to national security. With a female Muslim lawyer as the face of the prosecution, perspectives shift from one moment to the next in this riveting and timely new drama.

The Wolf at the End of the Block by Ike Holter


Teatro Vista, begins January 28.

Chicago. Fall. One night, a boarded up bar on the dark side of the block becomes a terrifying crime scene. In the following 48 hours, the neighborhood digs deep into escalating mystery, working against time to separate fact from fiction. But as the clock ticks down, the clues spiral into a razor sharp jigsaw, and what began as a simple mystery quickly twists into a personal, pointed and political thriller.

The Book of Joseph (also) by Karen Hartman

The Book of Joseph (also) by Karen Hartman

Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Every family has its secrets. Richard Hollander’s remained in an unopened suitcase for fifteen years after the death of his parents. Inside, he found a collection of Swastika-stamped letters written during World War II by a family he never knew—his late father Joseph’s mother, three sisters, their husbands and children. Unable to convince the family to leave Poland, Joseph escaped to the United States where he fought to save his family from annihilation at the hands of the Nazis, and to avoid deportation and death himself.  Richard collected his family’s letters in his book, Every Day Lasts A Year, the inspiration for this frequently chilling, often humorous, and always deeply moving drama, staged by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. We come to know three generations—their hopes, fears, and fates revealed—in a compelling journey of the human family and the primal need to understand those who came before.

The Snare by Samantha Beach


Jackalope Theatre, begins February 22.

Ruth is your average eighth-grader, keeping busy with basketball, preparing for her school’s Civil War Day, and trying to be more like her babysitter. One night, in the quiet of her bedroom, Ruth hears the voice of the devil, telling her to take action. Unprepared, Ruth’s pastor mom and family struggle to walk a path between pragmatism and faith. In this world premiere play about good vs. evil, and growing up, the question is: who will you believe?

Sycamore by Sarah Sander


Raven Theatre, begins March 8.

Celia and Henry are teenaged siblings living in a Midwestern suburb who both become romantically interested in the same boy – their new next-door neighbor, John. This isn’t the first time Celia and Henry have been romantic rivals. Will trouble strike again as the two vie for John’s affections?  Meanwhile, Celia and Henry’s parents, David and Louise, face stress in their marriage due to David’s reduction in hours as a college professor and need to take on a job as a short-order cook in an all-night diner.

T. by Dan Aibel

american theater company

American Theater Company, begins May 19.

“Ice Follies,” read the cover of Time Magazine on January 24, 1994 after ice skating medalist favorite Nancy Kerrigan was struck in the leg with a police baton by Shane Stant. In his darkly funny and unrelenting play, Dan Aibel explores the lengths one will go to for fame. Margot Bordelon returns to Chicago to direct this world premiere play named for Tonya Harding, the first woman ever to complete a triple axel jump in competition. Nancy Kerrigan never saw her coming.