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Curtain Call: ‘Mother of the Maid,’ ‘King Hedley II and other openings, previews Sept. 6-12

From comedy and drama to musicals and dance, Chicago’s stages are alive with vibrant productions.

Grace Smith (left) and  Kate Fry in “Mother of the Maid” at Northlight Theatre.
Grace Smith (left) and Kate Fry in “Mother of the Maid” at Northlight Theatre.
Greg Inda

Looking to take in some live theater in Chicago in the week ahead? Here are some highlights:

Pick of the week

“Mother of the Maid”: In her 2015 play “Mother of the Maid,” now making its Chicago debut under the direction of BJ Jones, playwright Jane Anderson offers her take on the saintly story of Joan of Arc (Grace Smith) as told through the eyes of the teenager’s pious mother Isabelle (Kate Fry), who like many mothers today faces the challenges of dealing with an extraordinary daughter. The play is personal for Anderson as she told Vanity Fair: “I had a Joan of Arc obsession when I was a young gay girl trying to come out to my mom. … Then when I became a mother, I realized how it must’ve been to raise a child like me. Now that I am older, I have a deeper understanding of what it is to raise an unusual child, and how painful and exciting it is.” (As a screenwriter, Anderson adapted two other stories of remarkable women: Elizabeth Strout’s “Olive Kitteridge” and Meg Wolitzer’s “The Wife.”) Previews begin Sept. 12, opens Sept. 20; to Oct. 20. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, $30-$89; northlight.org

More previews, openings

“Dana H.”: Lucas Hnath’s play is the true story of his mother who was held captive for five months by an ex-convict searching for redemption; directed by Les Waters. Previews begin Sept. 6, opens Sept. 16; to Oct. 6. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, $15-45; goodmantheatre.org

“Five Presidents”: Rick Cleveland’s drama about the one day when all five living U.S. Presidents were in the same room at the same time prior to the memorial service for Richard Nixon; directed by Marty Higginbotham. Previews begin Sept. 6, opens Sept. 12; to Oct. 19. American Blues Theater at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, $19-$39; americanbluestheater.com

“The Guys”: Anne Nelson’s play explores the difficult reality of the world shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Sept. 9-11. First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st and Illinois Rt. 83, Oak Brook, $35, all proceeds go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum; firstfolio.org

“I Will Fly Like a Bird”: J.A. Wainwright and John Plant’s one-act opera inspired by the true story of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who traveled to Canada to be reunited with his mother only to meet a tragic fate. Sept. 12-15. Thompson Street Opera Company at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $22, $32; athenaeumtheatre.org

TayLar and Kelvin Roston Jr. star in “King Hedley II” at Court Theatre, running through Oct. 13.
TayLar and Kelvin Roston Jr. star in “King Hedley II” at Court Theatre.
Joe Mazza Photography

“King Hedley II”: August Wilson’s drama about a man who pieces together his life in Pittsburgh after seven years in prison; directed by Ron OJ Parson. Previews begin Sept. 12; opens Sept. 21; to Oct. 13. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, $37.50-$74; courttheatre.org

“The King’s Speech”: David Seidler’s drama follows England’s King George VI as he works with an unconventional speech therapist to conquer his chronic stammer; directed by Michael Wilson. Previews begin Sept. 12, opens Sept. 20; to Oct. 27. Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, $49-$99; chicagoshakes.com

Curtis Bannister as Sid and Elizabeth Telford as Babe in “The Pajama Game” at Theatre at the Center.
Curtis Bannister as Sid and Elizabeth Telford as Babe in “The Pajama Game” at Theatre at the Center.
Guy Rhodes

“Oslo”: The Chicago premiere of J.T. Rogers’ Tony Award-winning play about the unlikely friendships, quiet heroics and sheer determination that pushed two foes to reach something neither thought possible — peace; directed by Nick Bowling. Previews begin Sept. 10, opens Sept. 18; to Oct. 20 TimeLine Theatre at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut; $30-$75; timelinetheatre.com

“The Pajama Game”: The Tony Award-winning musical comedy set at a pajama factory where workers demand a raise but neither side will budge until love changes the game. Previews begin Sept. 12, opens Sept. 15; to Oct. 13. Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, Indiana, $42-$46; theatreatthecenter.com

The cast of Walkabout Theater Company’s production of “The Raveling” features Nigel Brown (from left), Cooper Forsman, Katie Mazzini, Anirudh Nair, Amba-Suhasini Jhala,Dana Murphy, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple and Anastacia
The cast of Walkabout Theater Company’s production of “The Raveling” features Nigel Brown (from left), Cooper Forsman, Katie Mazzini, Anirudh Nair, Amba-Suhasini Jhala,Dana Murphy, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple and Anastacia Narrajos.
Matthew Gregory Hollis

“The Raveling”: Walkabout Theatre in a work that redefines the borders of home across generations. Sept. 10-21, free performances in various city parks. Preview Sept. 25, opens Sept. 26; to Oct. 13. Walkabout Theater at Victory Garden Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, $25; walkabouttheater.org

Second City Divas — In Concert: Leading ladies of musical theater in a benefit for Season of Concern. Among the nearly 40 performers are Heidi Kettenring, Tammy Mader, Susie McMonagle, Hollis Resnik and Peggy Roeder. Sept. 9. Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport, $50; seasonofconcern.org

“Tiny Beautiful Things”:

Nia Vardalos’ adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book about the time she took over an advice column in which she used empathy and her own experiences to help those seeking advice. Previews begin Sept. 6, opens Sept. 13; to Oct. 13. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln; $31-$65;

victorygardens.org

“Vanya on the Plains”: Jason Hedrick’s play is part Chekhovian comedy and part absurdist futurism as a content moderator copes with the technological divide that separates him from his family; directed by Kayla Adams. Previews begin Sept. 11, opens Sept. 14; to Oct. 27. The Artistic Home Theatre, 1376 W. Grand, $28, $32; theartistichome.org

“Whose Body?”: Frances Limoncelli’s adaptation of the Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novel follows Lord Peter Wimsey as he investigates a labyrinthine murder that leads him to a teaching hospital; directed by Jess Hutchinson. Previews begin Sept. 6, opens Sept. 16; to Oct. 27. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, $45; lifelinetheatre.com

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.