Performing arts return in Illinois

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Photo courtesy of jupiterquartet.com

The Jupiter Strings Quartet poses for a photo. The group will perform in the fall at the Krannert Center for the Performing arts.

By Jeff Nelson, staff writer

As the pandemic diminishes, theaters with patrons in seats are slowly being invited to return to live performances with audiences. The good news starts right on the University of Illinois campus at Urbana’s Krannert Center. Krannert will have a fall season beginning with the Ellnora Guitar Festival (Sept. 17-18) and Pygmalion (Sept. 23-25). A fall concert of our superlative string quartet in residence, the Jupiter Quartet will include pianist Gloria Chien.

The  Champaign-Urbana Symphony and the Sinfonia da Camera will return to the stage of the Foellinger Great Hall and full schedules from the University of Illinois’ theater and opera programs have been promised.

The Krannert Center has already opened the Intermezzo Cafe Monday through Thursday with extended hours promised as the concert season picks up with the school year. One item missing from Krannert’s lobby is the Promenade Gift Shop. Its space will be used for another purpose – it is closed as a gift shop. Check krannertcenter.com for final schedules and ticketing information.

After a series of experiments with virtual pay-per-view performances, the Chicago theater scene has committed to a fall of live performances with patrons filling those long-vacant theater seats.

Broadway in Chicago will be back. Many of these shows have very short runs, but some highlights of the fall season may lure you back to Chicago. Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” will run for three weeks starting Oct. 26 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. The James Nederlander Theatre, in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, will host a pre-Broadway run of “Paradise Square” from Nov. 2 to Dec. 5, and Disney’s “Frozen” will have its initial Chicago run at the Cadillac Palace from Nov. 19 to Dec. 5. For further information go to BroadwayinChicago.com.

The off-Loop theaters will be back this fall and the Metropolis Arts Performing Center in downtown Arlington Heights will return with a four-play season of live performances on Sept. 16 with the 60s musical, “Shout.”  Details can be found at metropolisarts.com.  The Court Theatre at 5535 South Ellis on the campus of the University of Chicago has planned a three-play season beginning with Shakespeare’s “Othello” opening on Oct. 7. The Court will also offer a stream-on-demand digital version of their “Othello” to run simultaneously through the closing on Nov. 21. Check out courttheatre.org for further information on the season.

The world-famous Steppenwolf Theatre at 1650 N. Halsted St. on Chicago’s near north side will feature a series of streaming options until Nov. 11, when live performances with audiences resume with Tracy Letts’ “Bug.” “Bug” will run until Dec. 12, and then a series of live productions will bring the Steppenwolf’s ensemble back to live audiences in more ways than the traditional. Each play in this comeback season is written by a Steppenwolf ensemble member. Attendees will no doubt note the expanded facilities that include a new performance space by world-class architect Gordon Gill. For more information go to Steppenwolf.org.

The Northlight Theatre at 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, near Old Orchard shopping center, is out of the starting gate early in the autumn with live audiences able to take in two fall productions. Opening Sept. 23 and running until Oct. 31 is Joanna Murray-Smith’s “Songs for Nobody’s.” This tribute to the great vocalists of the past promises to produce some great nostalgia.  Another play with music follows with the world premiere of “Mr. Dickens’ Hat.” Michael Hollinger’s play new musical play will run from Nov. 26 to Jan. 2.  For more information go to northlight.org.

University of Illinois graduate Robert Falls has for just over two decades overseen a golden age at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His expansive vision has relocated the theater to 170 N. Dearborn St. in the heart of Chicago’s Loop and expanded the programming of this theater to world-class status. It should come as no surprise that the Goodman will resume live performances early and often.

“School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play” had to close in previews due do to the pandemic. It is fitting that Jocelyn Bloh’s play signals the return on July 30 to live performances with live audiences. After its closing on Aug. 29, Jose Cruz Gonzalez’s “American Mariachi” will run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 24. Finishing the fall comeback, the Goodman for the 44th year will bring back their special adaptation of Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol” from Nov. 20 to Dec. 31. This is only half of the Goodman season for 2021-2022 – get the full story and COVID-19 strictures from their website.

Theatergoers, it has been a long dry spell, but the stages of Illinois’ world-class theaters will welcome patrons back in seats soon and the future of that promise is just around the corner.