Theater events: Kids' stories inspire Barrel of Monkeys' 'That's Weird, Grandma'

  • Barrel of Monkeys company members Kayla Pulley, left, and Stephen Wilkes perform "Day of the Dark" in its latest incarnation of its series "That's Weird, Grandma: Star-Studded Stories."

    Barrel of Monkeys company members Kayla Pulley, left, and Stephen Wilkes perform "Day of the Dark" in its latest incarnation of its series "That's Weird, Grandma: Star-Studded Stories." Courtesy of Evan Hanover


• After his wife leaves their home in the French countryside to visit her mother in Paris, Bernard plans a cozy getaway with his mistress Suzanne and enlists help from his pal Robert. Mistaken identities and misunderstandings upend Bernard's plans in the farcical "Don't Dress for Dinner," adapted from Marc Camoletti's "Pyjama Pour Six." Oil Lamp Theater's revival under Keith Gerth continues through March 3 at 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. (847) 834-0738 or

• 16th Street Theater's Midwest premiere of "Small Jokes About Monsters," Steven Strafford's family dramedy, is about three brothers who uncover family secrets after they open a letter from their recently deceased father. Performances continue through Feb. 16 at 6420 16th St., Berwyn. (708) 795-6704 or

• Performances continue for Ten, The Gift Theatre's annual showcase of 10-minute plays by ensemble members and guest artists. Playwrights contributing to the 2019 festival include Philip Dawkins, Tracy Letts, Gift artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton, Nicole Zimmerer, Charlene James, Danny Bernardo, E. Napoletano and Rammel Chan. Performances run through Sunday, Jan. 20, at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 283-7071 or

• Performances begin Friday, Jan. 18, for Adventure Stage Chicago's "The Stranger and the Shadow," in a co-production with Rough House Theater for the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. Written in collaboration with Chicago youngsters, the play unfolds in a dystopian future and asks the question: Who is the outsider? It runs through Feb. 16 at 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago. (773) 342-4141 or

• Momentary, a new Chicago theater company devoted to live performances that "record, reveal and react to human progress over time," presents its inaugural play "The Death of Gaia Divine" about the world's last love story that unfolds just as the drag-queen god brings the curtain down on earth. Performances run Friday, Jan. 18, through Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. (773) 404-7336 or

• Red Theater hosts workshops for two new plays at The Frontier Theater, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave., Chicago. "The Isle of Sugar," an immersive game/play hybrid by Alejandro Tey, plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, and Sunday, Jan. 20. Wendy-Marie Martin's play about a trapped woman, "Those Whose Eyes Saw Death," plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 19. See

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• Previews begin Saturday, Jan. 19, for Goodman Theatre's premiere of "How to Catch Creation," Christina Anderson's play about couples "whose lives intersect in the pursuit of creative passion and legacy." The show, directed by Niegel Smith, opens Jan. 28 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or

• Curious Theatre Branch, which produces the Rhinoceros Theater Festival with Prop Thtr, stages Caryl Churchill's "The Skriker" as part of the 30th anniversary of the storied Chicago fringe festival. Set in modern-day London, the play is about two teenage mothers manipulated by an ancient fairy. Rhinofest co-founder Beau O'Reilly directs the production, which runs from Saturday, Jan. 19, through Feb. 24 at 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. (773) 492-1287 or

• Pride Films and Plays presents a reading of Sharece M. Sellem's "Daisies on Harlem's Doorstep," the winner of PFP's 2018 LezPlay Contest. Set in New York City several months before the 1929 stock market crash, the play is about a young woman searching for her sister. The reading is at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at 4147 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago. (866) 811-4111 or

• Chicago elementary school children's stories about pop culture legends inspire Barrel of Monkeys latest version of "That's Weird, Grandma: Star-Studded Stories." It begins previews Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. The sketch show opens Jan. 27. (773) 506-7140 or


• Steppenwolf Theatre hosts a staged reading of Isaac Gomez's "The Way She Spoke," a companion piece to his production of "La Ruta," about the missing and murdered women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, currently running at Steppenwolf. Karen Rodriguez plays a woman who auditions for a new play about the missing women. The reading takes place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (312) 335-1650 or

• Otherworld Theatre Company members Mary-Kate Arnold and Gaby Martineau host "Womxn of the Apocalypse," a female-identifying, nerd-themed brunch from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. The group will discuss women's roles in films and TV shows like "Mad Max -- Fury Road," "The Hunger Games" and "The Walking Dead." (773) 857-2116 or

• Angela Alise plays a student transformed after she studies the Civil Rights Movement and learns to "put anger into action" in "The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights," by Yolanda Androzzo. Writers Theatre in Glencoe tours its production of this solo show to Chicago Public Schools, community centers and juvenile detention centers. That includes a performance at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, and performances at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. (847) 242-6000 or

• Story Jam, a storytelling show with music, celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. (847) 492-8860 or

Gytha Parmentier, left, and Roman Van Houtven star in the Bronks' company's tragedy "Us/Them," part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Big in Belgium series.
Gytha Parmentier, left, and Roman Van Houtven star in the Bronks' company's tragedy "Us/Them," part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Big in Belgium series. - Courtesy of Murdo McLeod

• Chicago Shakespeare Theater concludes Big in Belgium -- part of CST's WorldStage series -- with "Us/Them," a production from the Brussels-based Bronks' company known for producing works for young audiences. The play details how schoolchildren coped with being taken hostage by Chechen separatists during a three-day siege in 2004 in Beslan, Russia. Performances run Tuesday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Feb. 3, at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or

• Performances begin Tuesday, Jan. 22, for Chicago Children's Theatre production of "X-Marks the Spot," an inclusive sensory work by artistic director Jacqueline Russell that highlights the experience of people who are blind or have low vision. The production, for children 8 and older, runs through Feb. 24 at 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago. (312) 374-8835 or

Lance Bordelon in the National Tour of "Kinky Boots," which plays Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre from Tuesday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 27.
Lance Bordelon in the National Tour of "Kinky Boots," which plays Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre from Tuesday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 27. - Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

• "Kinky Boots," the Tony Award-winning musical by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, returns to Chicago where it premiered in 2012. Adapted from a British film, the musical plays the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, from Tuesday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 27. It's about a young man who inherits a failing shoe factory, which he rescues with help from a cabaret performer and drag queen. (800) 775-2000 or

• Six Chicago-area comedians who also happen to be moms bring their stand-up show "The Momedians of Momedy" to the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie. Colleen Brennan hosts Kat Herskovic, Denise Medina, Jan Slavin, Eunji Kim and Kellye Howard for the 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, performance. (847) 677-7761 or or

• The League of Chicago Theatre's Theatre Thursdays series continues Thursday, Jan. 24, at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, with a performance of Goodman Theatre's premiere "How to Catch Creation," Christina Anderson's drama about artists and intellectuals struggling with creativity and legacy. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails, appetizers and a conversation about the play followed by the performance. Tickets are $30 with the code THTH. (312) 443-3800 or

• Short Story Theatre returns Thursday, Jan. 24, with tales of a child's bravery, a beloved dog, baseball legend Ernie Banks and the influence of grandfathers. The storytelling begins at 7:30 p.m. at Miramar Bistro, 301 Waukegan Ave., Highwood. Tickets are $10. Preshow dinner reservations are available at (847) 433-1078 or

• Black Ensemble Theater and Northeastern Illinois University will partner for the Jackie Taylor Anti-Racism Drama Series and residency program, which includes the staging of three one-act plays examining different aspects of racism by members of BET's Black Playwrights Initiative. "National Anthem," about professional athletes' right to peacefully protest by Ervin Gardner, runs Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 17-19, at the NEIU Auditorium, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. "In the Shadow of Justice," L. Maceo Ferris' play about two black detectives facing corruption and murder in a South Side precinct, runs Feb. 7-9 at the Donn F. Bailey Legacy Hall at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd., Chicago. "The Plea," Reginald Williams' play about violence in Chicago communities, runs March 14-16 at the NEIU Stage Center Theatre, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. (773) 442-4636 or

• Trap Door Theatre has extended its production of "The Old Woman Broods," by Tadeusz Rozewicz in a translation by Chris Rzonca and Krystyna Illakowicz. The 1969 avant-garde satire chronicles a woman's struggle against unchecked power. It runs through Saturday, Jan. 26, at 1655 W. Cortland Ave., Chicago. (773) 384-0494 or

• Chicago Shakespeare Theater announced an extension of its production of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," featuring "Grey's Anatomy" actor T.R. Knight and directed by Joe Dowling. Performances run through Feb. 3 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or

• Steppenwolf Theatre recently announced that actress Carrie Coon ("Widows," "Gone Girl") has joined the ensemble. Coon, a Tony Award nominee for Steppenwolf's revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and an Emmy Award nominee for FX's "Fargo," last appeared on Steppenwolf's stage in "Mary Page Marlowe" by her husband, writer/actor Tracy Letts.

• Roosevelt University visiting assistant professor Barbara Zahora, who has worked with the Oak Park Festival Theatre since 2006 and has served as interim artistic director for the last year, was recently named permanent artistic director on the eve of the company's 45th season. It begins April 26 with Lauren Gunderson's "I & You," about the relationship between popular high school athlete Anthony and sickly, homebound Caroline. The co-production with Open Door Repertory takes place at 902 Ridgeland, Oak Park. That's followed by Timothy Findley's "Elizabeth Rex" (June 12-July 21 at Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave., Oak Park), which imagines a fictional meeting between Queen Elizabeth I and Ned Lowenscroft, an actor who plays women's roles as a member of William Shakespeare's troupe. Shakespeare's battle of the sexes "Much Ado About Nothing" (July 25-Aug. 31, at Austin Gardens) follows, and the season concludes with "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story" (Oct. 25-Nov. 17, at the Cheney Mansion, 220 N. Euclid Ave., Oak Park), adapted from Poe's stories and poems by First Folio Theatre executive director David Rice. Fest Flex Club subscriptions range from $40 for students to $110 for general admission. (708) 300-9396 or

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