Don’t-Miss List June 7-June 13: A weekend in Wisconsin or one in Hyde Park?

June 7, 2012

Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

Dueling Critics, Friday June 8 between 9 and 10 a.m. on Eight Forty-Eight; FREE!

Of course you'll want to listen in as Jonathan and I review Nutcracker author ETA Hoffman's The Sandman at Oracle Productions and discuss the Tony Awards with a special guest. Tune in for the fireworks or listen here on the site. --KK

Immediate Family, previews Thursday June 7 at 7:30 p.m. and opens Friday June 8 at 8 p.m.; the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn in Chicago. Note: no performance on Saturday June 9. Tickets $20-$58; through August 5.

Paul Oakley Stovall’s new play, directed by Phylicia Rashad, should strike close to home: It is, after all, set in Hyde Park. This family comedy, produced in association with About Face Theatre, addresses the themes for which Stovall is known, including race and gender identity. Phillip James Brannon, whose performances at Steppenwolf (The March), the Goodman (Last Days of Emmett Till), Court Theatre (Titus Andronicus) and Congo Square (Elmina’s Kitchen) have never been less than thrilling, returns from his new home in New York to star. Rashad, best-known for her stint on The Cosby Show but also as the first African-American woman to win a Tony for best actress in a play (Raisin in the Sun), makes her Chicago directorial debut. --KK

Heroes, Saturday June 9 at 3 p.m., American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis. Tickets $52-$58 at AmericanPlayers.org. In rotating rep with David Hare’s Skylight, Shakespeare’s Will and In Acting Shakespeare, through mid-September.

Unless you’re boycotting Wisconsin because of the election results, this might be a good weekend to head up to Spring Green, where American Players Theatre begins previews of Tom Stoppard’s Heroes. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Remy Bumppo presented the piece a few years ago; and that same director, the much-missed James Bohnen, takes the reins here. It’s supposed to be hot this weekend, but the Touchstone Theatre is air-conditioned. (Twelfth Night, playing that evening at the Up-the-Hill amphitheater, is sold out, but never fear: It runs through October 5.) --KK

The Circus Princess and The Cousin from Nowhere, Chicago Folks Operetta at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division; $30-$40 (plus booking fee); through July 1.

Emmerich Kalman (1882-1953) was one of the last great Viennese composers of operetta, a contemporary of Franz Lehar, until the Nazis shut him down owing to his Jewish heritage (Hitler liked his music and offered to make Kalman an "honorary Aryan," an honor the composer declined). A handful of Kalman's lush and rich operettas—combining the best of waltz and gypsy musical traditions—still are performed, but not this rarity, although it was produced in New York in 1927. Now The Circus Princess being re-discovered, freshly translated and re-invigorated by the five year old Chicago Folks Operetta, which is the little company that could. Doing a lot with a little, the Folks Operetta folks bring lively musicianship and a rich-sounding orchestra (small though it is) to their stagings, making up with ingenuity what they lack in budget for the visual elements. The Circus Princess runs in repertory with another rarity, The Cousin from Nowhere, with music by Eduard Kunneke, a not-as-well-known direct contemporary of Kalman's. Both operettas have typical frothy, improbable romantic plots, although the Kalman would appear to have more theatrical possibilities with its circus setting. --JA

Exit, Pursued by a Bear, Theatre Seven of Chicago at the Greenhouse, 2257 N. Lincoln; 773-404-7336; $20-$22; through July 15.

Hey, ladies: ya' ever meet a guy ya' just want to kick in the you-know-whats? A guy you really want to hurt? And then you want to have a drink and laugh about it? Have I got a play for YOU! Exit, Pursued by a Bear takes its name from one of the two most famous stage directions ever written, from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale (the other most famous is from Ibsen's A Doll House). Written by Lauren Gunderson, this play is billed as "a revenge comedy" in which the wife of an abusive no-goodnik gets back at him big time, both physically and emotionally, with the help of a stripper and a gay best friend. (Hey, y'ever notice that gay best friends never get laid, they just get laughs?) This Chicago Premiere is courtesy of Theatre Seven of Chicago, winner just weeks ago of the 2012 Emerging Theatre Award from the League of Chicago Theatres and Broadway in Chicago. This troupe is about to leap into a much higher profile. --JA