Curtain Call— Rhinoceros Festival, Fillet of Solo Fest and more theater openings, previews Jan. 9-15, 2020

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

SHARE Curtain Call— Rhinoceros Festival, Fillet of Solo Fest and more theater openings, previews Jan. 9-15, 2020
Mikaela Sullivan and Leo Spiegel are among the cast of Black Button Eyes Productions’ “Whisper House.” 

Mikaela Sullivan and Leo Spiegel are among the cast of Black Button Eyes Productions’ “Whisper House.”

Cole Simon

Looking to take in some live theater in the week ahead?

Here are some highlights to consider.

Pick of the week

“Whisper House”: The latest from Black Button Eyes Productions, the company dedicated to works in which the magical and surreal invade reality, is this musical featuring music and lyrics by singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”) and a book and additional lyrics by Kyle Jarrow. After his father goes missing during World War II, Christopher (Leo Spiegel) is sent to live with his foreboding Aunt Lily (Kate Nawrocki) in her remote lighthouse haunted by ghosts (Mikaela Sullivan and Kevin Webb). Sheik has said that since “Spring Awakening” he has learned more and more about creating musical theater. With this play, Sheik told Playbill he is trying “to be progressive in terms of musical theater…I’m taking the traditional roles of the form and trying to bend them a little to make them more my voice.” Directed by Ed Rutherford. Previews begin Jan. 10, opens Jan. 12; to Feb. 15. Black Button Eyes Productions at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $30; athenaeumtheatre.org

More previews, openings:

“Bunny’s Book Club”: Aly Renee Amidei’s adaptation of Annie Silvestro’s children’s book about a bunny who starts a book club with her furry friends; directed by Anthony Kayer. Preview Jan. 11, opens Jan. 12; to Feb. 16. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, $15, $20; lifelinetheatre.com

“Dream Logic” and “The Fool and the World”: First up are selections from a collection of magical short stories that offer ordinary situations explored in unexpected ways; the second work brings to life the characters and situations depicted in the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot. Jan. 9-11. Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted, $20, $25; steppenwolf.org

“Encounter Series — Being and Becoming”: The annual series curated around diversity, equity and inclusion features works of theater, visual art, music, video, dance and performance. Previews begin Jan. 14, opens Jan. 18; to Jan. 25. Collaboraction at Kennedy-King College Theater, 740 W. 63rd, $18-$35; collaboraction.org

Fillet of Solo Festival: Featuring Jamie Black’s “It’s My Penis and I’ll Cry If I Want To,” Shelby Marie Edwards’ “Lost Home, Win Home,” Kristina Lebedeva’s “It’s Easy to be a Hero: Disability in Exile,” Arlene Malinowski’s “A Little Bit Not Normal,” Janki Mody’s “Hear Me, See Me,” Anne Purky’s “The Fixer (Notes from a Helicopter Mom on Steroids),” Victoria Reeves’ “Brassy + Intrepid,” R.C. Riley’s “Take It Easy on the Left Hand, Please” and Shannon Wright’s “Love, Shannon XO.” Opens Jan. 10; to Jan. 26. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood and The Teal Room, 6956 N. Glenwood, $10 per show, $60 festival pass; lifelinetheatre.com

“The Gulf”: Audrey Cefaly’s drama, set in the Alabama delta, about a couple who question where their life together will go next; directed by Megan Carney. Previews begin Jan. 9, opens Jan. 17; to Feb. 15. About Face Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, $32; aboutfacetheatre.com

Rhinoceros Theater Festival: The 31st annual festival features 48 shows including new plays, dance, devised works, variety, music, performance and fresh takes on classic texts. Opens Jan. 11; to Feb. 23. Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, $15 or pay-what-you-can; rhinofest.com

“Stop Kiss”: Diana Son’s drama tells the story of two women who are assaulted on the street after their first kiss; directed by Kanome Jones. Preview Jan. 15, opens Jan. 16; to Feb. 9. Pride Films and Plays, The Buena, 4147 N. Broadway, $30, $40; pridefilmsandplays.com

“The Tasters”: Meghan Brown’s chilling drama examines the nuances of political resistance, self-interest and individual actions that creates hope in the face of oppression; directed by Devon de Mayo. Previews begin Jan. 10, opens Jan. 20; to Feb. 16. Rivendell Theatre, 5779 Ridge, $38; rivendelltheatre.org

Tracie Taylor (from left), Saniyah As-Salaam and Laura Resinger star in “Thirst” at Strawdog Theatre.

Tracie Taylor (from left), Saniyah As-Salaam and Laura Resinger star in “Thirst” at Strawdog Theatre.

Jon Cole Media

“Thirst”: C.A. Johnson’s drama explores the politics of race and redefines community in a fierce post-apocalyptic world; directed by Andrea J. Dymond. Previews begin Jan. 9, opens Jan. 13; to Feb. 15. Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice, $35; strawdog.org

“Voice of Good Hope”: Kristine Thatcher’s drama is a portrait of Barbara Jordan, the first African American congresswoman to be elected from the Deep South; directed by Terry McCabe. Previews begin Jan. 10; opens Jan. 19; to Feb. 23. City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, $32; citylit.org

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.

The Latest
The mayor’s announcement that the citywide weekend curfew on minors would be set at 10 p.m. comes a day after she imposed a ban on unaccompanied minors in Millennium Park after 6 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays.
New album ‘Second Nature’ follows ‘lucky’ gigs with The War on Drugs, Roger Waters, Harry Styles and more.
“I’m just amazed that of all of the things that happened in my career,” Ryan said, “I’m still known for that.”
Kalil Tate, K’Vion Thunderbird, Logan Lester and Marquise Lightfoot have college coaches flocking to Kenwood.
The U.S. is averaging about 300 COVID-19 deaths per day, compared with a peak of about 3,400 a day in January 2021.