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Curtain Call: ‘Her Honor Jane Byrne’ and more previews, openings Feb. 20-26

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

Director J. Nicole Brooks with Willie “Mudlife Roc” Round (as Kid), rehearses as scene from “Her Honor Jane Byrne” at Lookingglass Theatre.
Director J. Nicole Brooks with Willie “Mudlife Roc” Round (as Kid), rehearses as scene from “Her Honor Jane Byrne” at Lookingglass Theatre.
Louise Lamson

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

We’ve got some highlights to consider:

Pick of the Week

“Her Honor Jane Byrne”: In 1981, Mayor Jane Byrne pulled probably the biggest stunt of her career when she moved from her Gold Coast condo and into the Cabrini-Green Housing Project after a wave of shootings and homicides in and near the notorious North Side complex. Was it a PR stunt or a way to bring the city together? In her new play, J. Nicole Brooks goes back in Chicago history to examine this three-week period: “I’m curious about patronage, councils, aldermen and committeemen. Who gets elected and how? Who gets to lead us, and will they actually listen to us?... Here we are decades later, asking the same questions. I hope our audiences walk away with a bit of the past, so they may know how to shape our future.” Directed by Brooks. Previews begin Feb. 26, opens March 7; to April 12. Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan, $45-$85; lookingglasstheatre.org

More previews, openings

“The Book of Moron”: Robert Dubac’s newest work is a satirical attack on idiocracy that pulls him into a bizarre metaphysical universe of goofy critical thought in search of the bigger picture. Opens Feb. 25; to March 1. Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, $69; broadwayinchicago.com

“Charley’s Aunt”: Brandon Thomas’ comedy about two men, Jack and Charley, who come up with a unique plan for a replacement for Charley’s aunt who was to be the chaperone when their lady friends come to visit; directed by Jack Dugan Carpenter. Opens Feb. 21; to March 15. Saint Sebastian Players at St. Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey, $25; saintsebastianplayers.org

“Dex & Abby”: Allan Baker’s comedy about what happens when two men fall in love but their pets — dogs Dex and Abby — don’t get along; directed by Daniel Washelesky. Previews begin Feb. 20, opens Feb. 24; to March 29. Pride Arts Center, The Broadway, 4139 N. Broadway, $30, $40; pridefilmandplays.com

“Hedda Gabler: A Play with Music”: In Jacqueline Stone’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic, past and present collide, modern music and classical text intersect, in a reinvention of the drama; directed by Stone. Previews begin Feb. 25, opens Feb. 27; to March 29. TUTA Theatre at Strawdog Theatre, $25-$40; tutatheatre.org

Karen Rodriguez (Julia) and Harrison Weger (Connor) in rehearsal for Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ world premiere of “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” based on the novel by Erika L. Sánchez, adapted by Isaac Gómez and directed by Sandra Marquez at Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre.
Karen Rodriguez (Julia) and Harrison Weger (Connor) in rehearsal for Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ world premiere of “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” based on the novel by Erika L. Sánchez, adapted by Isaac Gómez and directed by Sandra Marquez at Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre.
Lowell Thomas

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”: Isaac Gomez’s adaptation of Erika L. Sanchez’s novel about a Chicago high school student navigating her dreams of becoming a writer while also dealing with her sister’s death. Previews begin Feb. 26, opens Feb. 29; to March 21. Steppenwolf for Young Audiences at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, $15-$30; steppenwolf.org

“An Iliad”: Timothy Edward Kane reprises his role of The Poet in Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s adaptation that brings the epic poem to life in a new way; directed by Charles Newell. The staging combines promenade-style elements throughout the Oriental Institute as well as a seated area. Previews begin Feb. 26, opens Feb. 29; to March 22. Court Theatre at the Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th, sold out; courttheatre.org

“The Layover”: Leslye Headland’s play about two strangers who discover things about themselves and each other that upends their lives; directed by Drew Shirley. Opens Feb. 20; to March 22. The Comrades at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, $15-$20; the-comrades.com

“Legends”: A show that pays homage to those whose contributions to society have made the world a better place; written and directed by Jackie Taylor. Previews begin Feb. 22, opens March 5; to April 12. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, $55, $65; blackensemble.org

Dwight Neal is among the cast of “Legends” at Black Ensemble Theater.
Dwight Neal is among the cast of “Legends” at Black Ensemble Theater.
Michael Courier

New Faces Sing Broadway: A performance of songs from the current Broadway season including “Hadestown,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Jagged Little Pill,” “TINA — The Tina Turner Musical” and more. Feb. 24. Porchlight Music Theatre at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston, $37. Feb. 25. The Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario, $60; porchlightmusictheatre.org

“Pinkalicious the Musical”: Based on Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann’s children’s book abut a young girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes and ends up in the doctor’s office with pinkititis; directed by Jeri Hart. Opens Feb. 22; to March 1. Highland Park Players for Young Audiences, Sherwood Elementary School, 1900 Stratford, Highland Park, $15; highlandparkplayers.com

“Reality Theatre”: Julia Lederer’s fast-moving collection of vignettes that explore our anxieties about change, the acceleration of technology and maintaining human relationships; directed by Emily Lotspeich. Opens Feb. 23; to March 9. Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, $15; trapdoortheatre.com

“The Second City’s Temple of Geekdom — An Improvised Adventure”: The audience guides the cast on an improv adventure into their favorite fandoms; directed by Anthony LeBlanc. Performances begin Feb. 24; to May 25. UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North, $18-$28; secondcity.com

“The Sty of the Blind Pig”: A reading of Phillip Hayes Dean’s drama about a mother and daughter living on Chicago’s South Side whose relationship is questioned when a mysterious stranger comes calling; directed by Mignon McPherson Stewart. Feb. 24. Court Theatre at Monumental Baptist Church, 729 E. Oakwood, Free; courttheatre.org

Same Planet Performance Project: Joanna Read’s “Bad Bunny” is physical mediation on the meaning of consent; Ivy Baldwin’s “Ammonite” focuses on concerns about the destruction of the natural world. Feb. 21-22. Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, $10-$30; dance.colum.edu

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.