The Don't-Miss List: Shows to see with your Valentine

February 9, 2012

Kelly Kleiman

It's hard to imagine a comedy based on the Drew Peterson case, but playwright Jon Steinhagen is on a roll: this will be the third of his plays to go up in the past six months. (He's also a superb actor, having given the definitive performance of Big Daddy in Raven Theatre's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof a year ago. Life, and the distribution of talent, is unfair.) Steinhagen returns to Raven wearing his playwright's hat for the world premiere of Dating Walter Dante, opening Sunday Feb. 12th at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for opening night, $30 for the rest of the run, with student and senior discounts available. Raven is on Clark just south of Devon, which is North Andersonville, West Edgewater or Southeast Rogers Park, depending on your mood. 

But if you don't want to mark Valentine's Day with a comedy about wife-slaughter, consider going out Monday night instead, when E. Faye Butler appears at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park to sing "My Funny Valentine." This is part of the park's Cabaret With A View series, in which audience members get to sit on the enclosed pavilion stage for a single-night concert by one of Chicago's great performers. One would be hard-pressed to find a better performer than Butler, who played the title roles in Caroline or Change at Court and Ella [Fitzgerald] at Northlight and is currently on the Northlight stage in its musical Black Pearl. Tickets to the Millennium Park concert are $25 (if you want to sit at a table and have a couple of drinks) or $15 (if you're happy to perch in the choir loft). Hear it with someone you love. 

Laura Molzahn

Reader critic Justin Hayford has a little-known sideline: cabaret singer of obscure “hits.” That’s a far cry from the performance art he once did, including a piece that involved nudity, cascading flour, and speculation on how to write a dance review. For Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” Sunday at Davenport’s, Hayford will sing songs from Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, accompanying himself on piano and providing his usual amusing, informative patter between tunes. The evening benefits the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, where he works.

Can’t dance, but want to feel as if you and your sweetie have been wowing the crowd on the dance floor? Live vicariously at Chicago Dance Crash’s “Duets for My Valentine” Saturday at the Athenaeum: 90 minutes of stars like CDC itself, hip-hoppy Culture Shock, traditional Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Chicago Tap Theatre, and James Morrow. An alternative: River North at the Harris Friday through Sunday in “Love Is…” They’ve got the smooth moves down.

The Dance Center presents Margaret Jenkins’s media-rich Light Moves, described in the San Francisco Chronicle as a “meditative, kaleidoscopic mix of human and digital” thanks to Naomie Kremer’s abstracted animations of her own paintings. A panel discussion, “Woman-Made Performance,” precedes the Saturday show.

Jonathan Abarbanel

A young stud blows into a steamy southern town and meets a passionate older woman married to a dying, dried up prune of a man. There’s a nymphomaniac in it, too, for comic relief. This only could be the scenario for one of Tennessee Williams’s most lurid dramas, Orpheus Descending. As the title’s classical reference suggests, the young man (Valentine) is a musician, or at least a wannabe, and the southern town is his descent into Hell. Williams reworked this 1957 play from his failed 1940 play, Battle of Angels, and rewrote it again for the movies as The Fugitive Kind. This rare staging comes from Shattered Globe Theatre Company (or Shattered Globe 2.0 as they call themselves now) with the skillful Julieanne Ehre as director. Orpheus Descending is playing at Stage 773 through March 11.

There’s no question that various horrors make their way to local theater stages in the course of any given year, but Chicago has only one theater troupe specifically dedicated to horror as a dramatic genre, and that’s Wildclaw Theatre, now offering the world premiere of Kill Me by company member Scott T. Barsotti. It’s about a woman who wakes from a coma convinced she now is immortal . . . and she doesn’t want to be. Eternal life in the here-and-now ain’t her cup o’ tea. Wildclaw promises a lyrical horror story and a multi-dimensional tale in Kill Me, playing at the Athenaeum Theatre Studio One through March 18.