Not-so-spooky theater picks for your Halloween weekend

October 27, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

Though most of this weekend's theatrical fun and games are covered in the Dueling Critics' Halloween picks, at least one remains. Searching for Peabody's Tomb is First Folio Theatre's improvement on the traditional Halloween haunted house, taking the stout of heart through its Mayslake Mansion home to look for the spirit (and any earthly manifestations) of its founding coal profiteer George Peabody. Any excuse to be in that beautiful house, set on that beautiful lot out in the countryside, especially on a night when the moon's a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. Today through Halloween Monday only, with performance/tours on the half-hour beginning at 7 p.m., at the Forest Preserve in Oakbrook; all tickets only $10.  Call 630-986-8067 for reservations; some performances are sold out. For ages 12 and up.

And for those of you who want to skip right to the next holiday, Irving Berlin's White Christmas has just opened at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. There's no particular hurry, though: this smartly-produced stage adaptation of the beloved holiday film runs through New Year's Day. Tickets $40-$48.

Laura Molzahn

Viewers have been known to fall asleep at performances. Sometimes twice. (Eric Futran, I’m talking to you.) Despite that, or because of it, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is not to be missed. Choreographer Lin Hwai-min aims for a meditative effect, but at the same time the dancing is so expert, so exhilarating, that you walk out feeling twice as alive as when you went in. Water Stains on the Wallmight not sound scintillating, but believe me, God is in the details of this hour-long piece. Friday and Saturday at the Harris.

What performance isn’t improvised? But when choreographers leave the door wide open to improv, the results can be more dramatic than in the best-laid plans. I have high hopes for Rachel Damon’s Factor Ricochet, which she developed with her dancers over many months, exploring the many personas within each one. The resulting work—made up of choreography and “improvography”—opens tonight, Thursday, at Bucktown’s Holstein Park and runs through November 4.

Also tonight: Lucky Plush Productions opens The Better Half at the MCA. Choreographer Julia Rhoads collaborated with 500 Clown members Adrian and Leslie Danzig to create this seriocomic movement-theater riff on the 1944 noir Gaslight, with glimmerings of The Bourne Identityand Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage. Two weekends, through November 6.

Jonathan Abarbanel

As Kelly said before, this is Halloween Weekend, of course, and the truly wise will seek out the recommendations of Chicago Public Media’s Dueling Critics with regard to Halloween-themed shows, posted last Friday on this site. As for the truly unwise . . . .

Teatro Vista, celebrating its 22nd season, starts things rolling with Momma’s Boyz, the first of two plays by Candido Tirado the Latino-American troupe will produce this season. The troupe produces plays in English (or mostly English) exploring the urban landscape, and Momma’s Boyz is a tough-as-nails tale of three friends in The Projects who sell drugs. Twist is, it moves backwards in time to give the three a second chance with the help of hindsight that reality rarely offers. It’s running at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, through Dec. 4.

My other choice just might fit the Halloween mold, although that’s not the specific intention of Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, which opens the 30th season of the Next Theatre Company in Evanston. This Midwest premiere concerns an under-pressure, 21st century urban couple who retrogress by giving up iPhones and multi-tasking to join a community of 1950’s re-enactors, and live in a world of cigarettes, black and white TV, Eisenhower and Tupperware parties. But will it bring them happiness? Rod Serling, where are you? The estimable Damon Kiely is the director. Maple and Vine continues at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, through Dec. 4.