Fall Theater Preview: The Storefront Next Door
The “Chicago theater season” is as anachronistic as our Columbia House Record Club membership. August was simply a lull before the crush of Fall openings coming to major institutions and their well-funded houses, who'll receive sufficient ink and column inches in the daily and weekly papers. We’re turning an eye to those less heralded venues doubling as rental space, educational resource, and meeting locale. None of these theaters are named after deep-pocketed donors, but that shouldn’t diminish their interesting work.
66 E Randolph Street
Through Gallery 37’s Storefront Theater, DCA brings smaller, off-Loop companies (and their reasonably priced tickets) to a prime Loop location. The Storefront’s season is already underway with War, a pub comedy by Roddy Doyle (he of The Commitments and A Star Named Henry fame) presented by Seanachi Theatre Company. That Anglophilic feeling resumes over the holidays with Lord Butterscotch and the Curse of the Darkwater Phantom, a world premiere penned by three acclaimed locals, Lisa Dillman, Rebecca Gilman and Brett Neveu.
eta Creative Arts
7558 S South Chicago Avenue
Artistic Director Abena Joan Brown first introduced us to eta at a downtown event where she presented the organization’s impressive community engagement and slate of productions and implored us to “get your ass down to the south side.” Looks like we’ll be bringing our skinny rear to either or both of eta’s most intriguing shows, each with a familiar sounding premise. The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae reads a little like that Woody Allen film where the actor leaps out of the movie screen. Only this time, two TV caricatures are pulled out of the screen and onto the witness stand. Playwright Karani Marcia Leslie, who has written for Cosby and is the only black female editor at CBS, has a uniquely qualified perspective on this issue. This Far By Faith, a gospel musical “about a minister, his job and his R & B artist son” sounds like a more sincere Trapped in the Closet.
3408 N Sheffield Ave
Lakeviewers, you’ve probably passed this unassuming rail front storefront a thousand times without realizing it houses a company tackling issues larger than Zambrano’s latest contract, including war, abusive relationships, and government surveillance. Two multimedia shows commandeer the modest space next year: Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, a Grey Zelda production, and the U.S. premiere of Tim Carlson’s Omniscience, produced by Stage Left.*
4210 N Lincoln Ave
Corn Productions doesn’t produce the best or most sophisticated work in town. In fact, we are eager to forget their long-running late night show and try not to discuss it in polite company. But production quality aside, Corn-sters (Cornheads?) always seem to be having fun on that oddly configured stage… even when we’re not. Their 16th season includes two intriguing, and rather adult, world premieres: The Horror (October 5 – November 3), a meta-examination of what makes us scream and The Lesser Assassins (April 18 – May 17), a musical comedy riff on a Sondheim classic. Also renting the space is Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, currently presenting the Sedaris sibs’ The Book of Liz through September 30 and bringing back Snubfest, a haven for rejected comics, in January.
*I added the bold to the article. Storefront theatre rocks and it's encouraging to see such a nice write up about the interesting discoveries a theatregoer can find at some of the smaller, eclectic locales. I'm happy that we were included with Stage Left, a theatre that we've loved renting from. They produce great, thought-provoking theatre and they've been super cool cats to work with.