The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later
At Red Twist Theatre in Edgewater through April 7; tickets $25-$30, with staged readings of the original Laramie Project every Saturday afternoon for $15.
The first thing to know about The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later is that it’s not really about gay-bashing or the Matthew Shepherd murder at all. It’s about how lies and dishonesty take over from the facts– and about who decides what things are really about. When the authors of The Laramie Project returned to the town 10 years later, they discover pervasive denial and distortion: The hate crime is described as a robbery gone wrong, Shepherd himself as a child molester. The Shepherd murder may seem like old hat to you; but in a political setting where the Big Lie seems an established mode of operation, a play about how lies take hold is stunningly current. -KK
Falling: A Wake
At Rivendell Theatre through April 14; tickets $28.50, students and seniors $20.
Likewise, Rivendell’s gorgeous Falling: A Wake isn’t really about the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, though it’s inspired by that event. Rather, it’s about how difficult it is to mourn and to know when Ecclesiastes might say it’s once again time to laugh. As the husband and wife facing the loss of their son, Jane Baxter Miller and Mark Ulrich illustrate beautifully how love can be battered by grief, yet sometimes survive it. The setting is a beautifully rendered night of a thousand stars. While New Building Syndrome generally means that a company’s first shows in a new theater are too much about the space and not enough about the play, Rivendell is an exception to all rules. This inaugural show flows as if the company had been at home on this stage for years. -KK
The Rest Unknown: how to live and how to die
Opens Friday at 8 p.m. and plays through month’s end at 5344 West Lawrence; tickets $10.
But for something completely different, try The Rest Unknown: how to live and how to die, an “interactive tour of art and performance” across three empty storefronts in Jefferson Park. Devised by the Genesis Ensemble, each tour accommodates only a dozen people; good thing there are three on Saturdays (1, 3 and 5 p.m.) to supplement the one on Friday. -KK
At Paramount Arts Center in Aurora through April 1; tickets $34.90 - $46.90.
“Give me hair like Jesus wore it. Hallelujah! I adore it. Hallelujah, Mary loved her son. Why don’t my mother love me? Hair!”
There have been many, many revivals of the “American Tribal Love Rock Musical” since its 1967 debut, and a lot of them have been down-right shabby. This one, which is part of the inaugural season of the Paramount Arts Center in Aurora, stands a very good chance of being far better than any on recent view, mostly owing to the production team of director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell and musical director Doug Peck, both of them top talents. Hair was, of course, the first rock musical on Broadway, the first Broadway musical with a nude scene, the first Broadway musical to incorporate both “What a piece of work is man” and “motherf***er” into its lyrics all while celebrating sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll while opposing Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. -Jonathan Abarbanel
Tea and Sympathy
At Stage 773 through April 22; tickets $20-$28.
“When you speak of this in future years, and you will, be kind.” The famous closing words of Robert Anderson’s 1953 Tea and Sympathy have become as iconic as “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” uttered just a few years earlier. Anderson’s play, about a prep school boy perceived by his classmates and even his father as being gay, was a break-through drama of its time, both for its attitude about homosexuality and for the carefully considered adultery of an unhappily-married head master’s wife, who sleeps with the boy to show him he’s not gay. The 1956 film version watered down the play, but you can depend on The Artistic Home to do it with fervor and truth. Question is, can even The Artistic Home make a go of a play which is considerably dated by today’s standards of frankness? You have until April 22 to find out. -JA