Fall Theater Preview: Drag Queens, House Music, Basketball, and Presidents

“Five Presidents” / Photo by Michael Brosilow/Courtesy of American Blues Theater

Topics of sinister equestrian clubs, drag queens, and Chicago house music take the spotlight at some of the city’s best theater productions this fall.

At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen /Photo courtesy of Picture This Post

The Storefront Project (MCA)
Experience experimental, devised, storefront Chicago theater in the hands of our local masters. A partnership between Prop Thtr and the Museum of Contemporary Art, this limited engagement is all about context. Devised pieces are presented at the MCA and Prop Thtr on alternating weekends.
Details: September 21 and 22 at Prop Thtr/Museum of Contemporary Art

At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen
I reviewed this show for Rescripted; it is the end-of-summer celebration of all femmes that you didn’t know you needed. Far from a somber affair, this play, written by and starring Terry Guest, is dripping with sumptuous language, deftly executed choreography, and chemistry between Guest and his costar, Paul Michael Thomson. Don’t miss it.
Details: Through September 22 at The Story Theatre


Horse Girls
This play scares me to death, and I am so excited about it. The Lady Jean Ladies is South Florida’s most exclusive horse club, and it is led by a 12-year-old girl. Something sinister threatens the stables and stability of this club, and its members go into crisis mode. Are you not frightened?
Details: Through September 22 at Greenhouse Theater Center

Pakalolo Sweet / Photo courtesy of Nothing Without a Company

Follow one post-college woman as she navigates her early 20s and life under the thumb of student debt. Will this play make you cringe, cry, and want to revisit your younger self’s decisions? Probably. I’m in!
Details: Through September 25 at Playground Theater

Bring the Beat Back: A Queer, Black, Sci-Fi, Staged Concert Experience
I had the pleasure of seeing this play on opening night. Playwright Derek McPhatter and his creative team have created a black, queer, Afro-futurist musical experience that will make you laugh, cry, and get down! Look beyond the moments when the actors are “on book” (prompted by scripts in hand). This show is a work in progress 10 years in the making with the kind of heart and vision that Chicago theater needs.
Details: Through September 29 at Otherworld Theatre 

Sons and Lovers
English majors, this one’s for you! Sons and Lovers gives us a glimpse into the shadows of writer and poet D.H. Lawrence’s life. Find out how he used creativity to overcome that which could have silenced him, especially if you are a fellow creator.
Details: Through September 29 at Greenhouse Theatre

Revolution Chicago
Mickey Oliver was born on the South Side of Chicago and is one of the Hot Mix 5 from WBMX, the house music station in Chicago. Trace the history of Chicago house music’s emergence into a global phenomenon through the eyes of one of its progenitors.
Details: Through September 29 at Stage 773

His Shadow
Get your tickets now for the latest production from Loy Webb, a lawyer and critic-turned-playwright with impeccable style and talent to match. His Shadow is the story of one college freshman trying to make a name for himself on the football field; this will turn out to be harder than expected after he’s injured. I had the honor of listening to a table reading of this play, and I cannot wait to see how Wardell Julius Clark brings it to life on the 16th Street Theater stage.
Details: Through October 12 at 16th Street Theater

Pakalolo Sweet
Hannah Li-Epstein and Nothing Without a Company return with one of Li-Epstein’s drug plays set on the North Shore of Oahu—Pakalolo Sweet is the prequel to Not One Batu. Like that play, this one is interactive and intended to be experienced rather than consumed. For the first hour, audience members are encouraged to hang out with Uncle Makana from Not One Batu and learn about the family and their relationship to marijuana. Everything we learn will come to a head, and the payoff will reflect the quality of attention we brought to that first hour.
Details: Through October 5 at Nothing Without a Company

The Recommendation / Photo by Michael Brosilow/Courtesy of Windy City Playhouse

Dana H.
Based on a true story, Dana H. is about a psych ward chaplain who was abducted by an ex-convict. This show terrifies me, because how many of us have been duped and taken for a nonconsensual ride while in service to our highest calling? I’ll be seeing this ASAP and taking notes, because this show reminds us that no one—no one—is immune to being irreparably duped.
Details: Through October 6 at Goodman Theatre

The Recommendation
This play is a psychological thriller that invites you to get up close and personal. Two friends who swore lifelong friendship are tested when one gets into legal trouble. Will the other actually help out when called upon? It remains to be seen.
Details: Through September 22 at Windy City Playhouse

Am I Man Enough?
Storyteller and former professor Ada Cheng is at it again with another round of her storytelling series. She and her band of renegade storytellers will be at the Center on Halsted. Join them and bring those tissues.
Details: October 17 at the Center on Halsted

The Great Leap /Photo courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre

Five Presidents
I almost want to see this just to remember that there was a time not so long ago when the United States had presidents that were presidential. Conservative and ruthless, yes, but they had some expertise on geopolitical issues. They took care to craft an image of warmth for their constituents. They knew how to wear a suit. Heck, they knew how to speak. In this show, American Blues Theater brings to life a moment when five former presidents were all in the same room at the same time prior to Richard Nixon’s memorial service. I’m dying to be a fly on that wall, and I know that writer Rick Cleveland (House of Cards, The West Wing) won’t let me down.
Details: Through October 19 at American Blues Theater

The Great Leap
Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band, Samsara) is back, and this time her brilliant mind is tackling basketball, inspired by her father: “Growing up, my father dominated the basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown, and in the 1980s, his legendary game won him a spot on a friendship team headed to a newly open China to play a series of exhibition games against the best teams in the People’s Republic. That nugget of his history formed the inspiration for my play The Great Leap nearly 40 years later.” Got your tickets yet?
Details: Through October 20 at Steppenwolf Theatre

NT Live: Fleabag 
I am obsessed with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her TV show, Fleabag, and by obsessed I mean: devastated and in love. This must-see show was inspired by a one-woman play written and performed by Waller-Bridge, and it is being screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center for a limited time only. See the show that started it all!
Details: Through October 27 at Gene Siskel Film Center