Don't-Miss List: 1 anti-war ballet, 2 comedies, 4 nights of ElectionFest and a partridge in a Strange Tree

October 18, 2012

Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

ElectionFest 2012 at Pine Box Theater at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 1-773-975-8150; $13; Oct. 22, 23 and 29, 30 ONLY

You can't see it until Monday night Oct. 22 but you'd better plan now 'cause there only are four performances. Pine Box Theater, an itinerant troupe that — uh — came back from the dead last year after several years' absence, has cornered the market on notable local authors and directors. Under the collective title ElectionFest 2012, Pine Box is offering a dozen ten-minute plays in two bills of six plays each. The list of authors is a who's who of top local dramatists, among them Laura Eason (Lookingglass), Sarah Gubbins (just won a Jeff Award), Nambi E. Kelley, Paul Oakley Stovall and Andrew Hinderaker (new play currently at the Gift Theatre). And the directors are every bit as good, among them Julieanne Ehre, Lisa Portes, Vincent Teninty and Joanie Schultz. The plays all speak to the issues dividing us this political season, with individual titles such as Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner?, A Letter to Mama-in-Chief Obama, The One Percent and A Moderate Threat. –JA

Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play, Strange Tree Group at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W.
Berenice; 1-773-598-8240; $25-$45 (VIP tix); runs through Nov. 11


I've always been partial to The Strange Tree Group, which seems to channel Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe and classic fairy tales and parallels the meta-theatric staging techniques of Redmoon and Building Stage. Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play is written by the troupe's founding artistic director, Emily Schwartz, and first was done in 2006 when Strange Tree Group was new. Now this perfect-for-Halloween ghost story has been revamped and re-imagined as it tells the tale of a haunted young man trapped between past and present while unraveling family secrets. Hint: think murder. –JA

We’re All In This Room Together, Second City e.t.c., 1616 North Wells Street, 312-337-3992, $23-$28, open run

It’s not often you get to see a Jeff Award-winning show: By the time the Jeff Committee hands out the Equity awards in October, most of its honorees have long since closed. An exception is this revue by the nearly-as-established-as-the-mainstage second company at Second City. (Query: Does that make e.t.c. the Fourth Company in some Platonic semi-improvisational universe?) Earlier this week the show won Best Production–Revue as well Best Director–Revue for Ryan Bernier, so this weekend’s performances should be particularly sharp and vibrant. Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m., plus 11 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday. –KK

Blackademics, MPAACT at the Greenhouse, 2257 North Lincoln Avenue, 773-404-7336, $15-$23, now in previews; opens Monday the 22nd

For a different brand of humor, check out Idris Goodwin’s new play about a pair of African-American college professors whose friendly dinner turns into a catfight of epic proportions, with a little help from their smilingly hostile waitress. What sounds like a cross between Jane Smiley’s Moo and Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women opens Sunday, under the joint direction of Marie Cisco and MPAACT Executive Director Shepsu Aakhu. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 3 through November 25. –KK

Human Landscapes, The Joffrey Ballet at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress Parkway, 800-982-2787, $31-$152, Friday the 19th through Sunday the 28th

The Joffrey’s autumn home stand features the celebrated antiwar ballet The Green Table. German choreographer Kurt Jooss created the Expressionist piece after the First World War but it has only gained resonance in the century since. The program also includes a Jiri Kylian work returning to the Joffrey repertory after nearly 30 years on hiatus, as well as James Kudelka’s frankly named Pretty BALLET. Friday through Sunday this weekend, Thursday through Sunday next weekend, 7:30 evening performances and 2 p.m. matinees.  –KK