The Chicago theatre community will ring in 2019 with major events, getting the Year of Chicago Theatre off to an exciting start.
“The upcoming year is starting with a bang, but also typical for the Chicago theater scene. Celebrating The Year of Chicago Theatre in 2019, we call attention to the year-round, unparalleled Chicago Theatre scene—and we welcome every Chicagoan to take pride in our theatres and to join us for a production,” comments League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp. “It’s the perfect time to for Chicagoans and visitors to attend a favorite or explore a new company. We also celebrate some of the great events—The Chicago International Puppet Festival, Fillet of Solo Festival, and not-to-be-missed productions.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel designated 2019 as the ‘Year of Chicago Theatre,’ a citywide, year-long focus on theatre that is the first of its kind in the U.S. The initiative will include theatre performances – including improv, dance, opera, puppetry and more – and special events for the public at hundreds of cultural venues, theaters, parks and neighborhood locations throughout the city.. January will be especially vibrant this year with a rich variety of plays, dance, festivals and musicals for theatre goers to enjoy. February will continue the festivities kicking off the 6th annual Chicago Theatre Week, and in March, in addition to theatre, world class dance will be seen in Chicago.
Some highlights in January, February and March include:
The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is returning bigger and better than ever, ready to wow audiences, January 17-27, 2019. The festival will present more than 80 performances of 24 shows from 11 countries over 11 days at 19 different Chicago-area venues. Chicago residents and visitors alike can look forward to an even larger, more diverse international pageant of top puppets and puppet artists convening here to celebrate the full array of contemporary puppetry and to help make Chicago, for eleven days in January, the puppetry capital of the world.
Lifeline Theatre will present the 22nd Annual Fillet of Solo Festival, January 18-February 2, 2019. Celebrating the breadth of Chicago’s enduring storytelling and live lit scene, Lifeline brings together a dozen storytelling collectives and numerous solo performers for a three-week, multi-venue selection of powerful personal stories. Performances will be held at both Lifeline Theatre and the Heartland Event Space, located in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, in the Glenwood Avenue Arts District.
Windy City Playhouse’s smash hit Southern Gothic, the recipient of six Jeff Award nominations, will be moving to a new satellite performance space in the South Loop's Motor Row for an open-ended run with shows beginning January 2, 2019. Southern Gothic will run simultaneously with the Playhouse's production of the comedic classic Noises Off at the theater's Irving Park location.
Celebrated soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen Marie Richardson, famed Detroit pianist Alvin Waddles, and over 100 Chicago musicians and singers put a blues, jazz, gospel, and rock twist on Handel’s classic oratorio with Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah, at the Auditorium Theatre on January 19 and 20, 2019
City Lit Theater Company presents the World Premiere adaptation of Fuente Ovejuna, January 4 – February 17, 2019. City Lit’s new adaptation premieres in the 400th anniversary year of the play’s first publication in Spanish.
Court Theatre presents Ntozake Shange’s cherished work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, directed by original Broadway cast member Seret Scott, March-April 14, 2019. In For Colored Girl, a sisterhood of eight women tell their stories through dramatic prose poetry, music, and movement. Told in vivid language, their experiences resound with fearless beauty and unity, despite exposing the unending challenges and oppressions that women of color face every day.
Hell in a Handbag celebrates its 17th anniversary with a remount of the smash musical that started it all--POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical, a loving unauthorized parody of the 1972 disaster film, The Poseidon Adventure. Runs March 19 – April 28.
Chicago is also a destination for international work, including:
Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago – now celebrating its 45th Anniversary – presents the return of Urban Bush Women, performing a refreshed version of a company classic Hair & Other Stories. Crafted from personal narratives from our communities, kitchens and living rooms, social media and YouTube, the work debates the center of perceived American “values” and celebrates the persevering narrative of the African Diaspora. Runs February 28-March 2, 2019.
Hubbard Street Dance and Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company come together for an exciting collaboration for Hubbard Street’s Spring Series, March 2-3, 2019. In addition to a work performed by both companies, the two-night engagement features choreography by Malpaso Artistic Director, Osnel Delgado and three-time Princess Grace award winner, Robyn Mineko Williams.
Downton Abbey star Brendan Coyle stars in the U.S. premiere of Connor McPherson’s thriller St. Nicholas. The Donmar Warehouse revival, directed by Simon Evans, runs January 9-27, 2019, in the Goodman Theatre’s intimate Owen Theatre.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater continues its World Stage programming, including the third production of the Big in Belgium series, Us/Them, January 22-February 3. The theater will present The National Theatre of Great Britain’s award-winning thriller An Inspector Calls, directed by Stephen Daldry January 18-March 1, 2019.
Also coming in the new year, Chicago Theatre Week (#CTW19), an annual celebration of the rich tradition of theatre-going in Chicago during which visitors and residents can access value-priced tickets, returns February 7-17, 2019. Tickets to over 100 theatre productions will go on sale Tuesday, January 8 at 10am.
About Chicago theatre
Chicago theatre is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theatres to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. Last year alone Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.
The League of Chicago Theatres’ Mission Statement
Theatre is essential to the life of a great city and to its citizens. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres, which leverages its collective strength to support, promote and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry. Through our work, we ensure that theatre continues to thrive in our city.
For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, ChicagoPlays.com. Half-price tickets to the current week’s performances as well as future performances are available at HotTix.org and at the two Hot Tix half-price ticket locations: across from the Chicago Cultural Center at Expo72 (72 E. Randolph) and Block Thirty Seven (108 N. State).
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