Season Announcement Season is upon us once again

And so is Chicago Theatre Week

It’s in the single digits outside as I write this Thursday night, but I can nonetheless say we’re at the beginning of my favorite season: Season Announcement Season, when we start to see the 2020–2021 theater season taking shape.

We’ve only seen a trickle so far, including full season slates from Court Theatre (Kelvin Roston Jr. in Othello! Vanessa Stalling directing Caryl Churchill!), Paramount Theatre (the clear highlight there being the Midwest premiere of the Groundhog Day musical) and Raven Theatre (an interesting lineup that kicks off with a revival of Inherit the Wind, as if to remind us ahead of the November election that science matters).

The Goodman has yet to release its full season, but did announce one piece of its puzzle: the January 2021 world premiere of Good Night, Oscar, a new play by Doug Wright about the midcentury personality Oscar Levant (ask your grandparents). The title role will be played by Sean Hayes, the Will & Grace star who grew up in suburban Glen Ellyn and began his career in Chicago theater before heading out west in the mid-’90s.

Sidebar: I’ve always thought it would be fascinating to write a behind-the-scenes feature on how a season gets put together, particularly at a big institution like the Goodman or Steppenwolf with so many moving parts. But I wonder if any such company would be willing to really reveal how the sausage gets made. Would you be interested in reading such a piece?

Chicago Theatre Week is on

The eighth annual Chicago Theatre Week is officially underway, and at a kickoff reception Tuesday evening, League of Chicago Theatres executive director Deb Clapp said that more advance tickets had been sold this year than in any year prior. It certainly feels like there are more shows to sell than ever before; at the same event on Tuesday, I half-jokingly wondered aloud if theaters are rearranging their seasons to make sure they have a show up in mid-February, because I can’t keep up with all the openings since late January. Do you partake in Chicago Theatre Week as a way to sample companies you might not have attended before? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Speaking of Chicago Theatre Week, my TimeHop reminded me this week of this piece that I wrote five years ago at Time Out as part of a CTW package: What live theater offers that nothing else can. I think it holds up.

Reviews and other views

I’ve got a ton of links for you today. First up, I was super pleased to be able to interview Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts together for Chicago magazine. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Amira Danan and Gage Wallace in A Doll’s House at Raven Theatre. Photograph: Michael Brosilow

I’ve been busy reviewing for the Sun-Times, where you can read my thoughts on:

  • Raven Theatre’s revival of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House;

  • Lisa Loomer’s not-quite-docudrama Roe at the Goodman;

  • Brett Neveu and Jason Narducy’s enjoyable punk-rock coming-of-age tale Verböten;

  • the disappointing (and already departed) touring production of Once on This Island;

  • and the frustratingly elliptical Duncan Sheik–Kyle Jarrow musical Whisper House.

Carrie Coon and Namir Smallwood in Bug at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Photograph: Michael Brosilow

Those of you with paid subscriptions to Storefront Rebellion have seen my reviews of:

  • David Cromer’s stunning new production of Letts’s Bug, starring Coon;

  • an immersive rendering of the landmark gay play The Boys in the Band at Windy City Playhouse;

  • and short takes on Shattered Globe Theatre’s Sheepdog, Broken Nose Theatre’s Labyrinth, and About Face Theatre’s The Gulf.


Questions or feedback for me? Reply to this email, or if you’re reading this on the web, hit me at kris@krisvire.com or find me on Twitter @krisvire. You can also leave public comments on the web version of the newsletter; click the headline above or the links at the bottom of this post.