That's Entertainment: 8 Must-See Shows of 2013

There are nights when nothing sounds better than a lot of takeout sushi with a side of HBO. But, before you pick up your remote and dial in for rainbow rolls, we've got a suggestion. With a fresh year upon us, why not check out something new? Chicago's dance troupes, theater companies, and opera houses have quite a few hot new productions on tap. And though TV viewing's getting pretty glorious these days (Downton and Homeland and Portlandia — oh my!), there's nothing quite like live entertainment.
Whether you're a Rodin enthusiast or a sucker for modern dance, we've got something here to interest and inspire you — or at least get you talking. From the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's Rodin to Broadway in Chicago's frothy I Love Lucy Live On Stage, here's the scoop on some of the year's most highly anticipated theatrical productions. Better get to Ticketmaster, stat.
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The Joffrey Ballet’s American Legends
What: Last time we checked in with our hometown ballet co., its dancers were doing the waltz of the sugarplum fairy. The company’s winter engagement, American Legends, is a little bit different — and features a lot more Frank Sinatra. The mixed repertory program comprises four playful ballets.
One depicts the storybook tale of a man falling in love with a sea nymph. Another selection has dancers costumed in Oscar de la Renta (we know, right?) and is set to tunes from Old Blue Eyes himself.
When: February 13 through 24
Where: The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway (at Wabash Ave.); 312-922-2110.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $31 to $152
Broadway in Chicago’s Jekyll and Hyde
What: We’re musical theater fanatics. But even for our breed — the type you don’t challenge to a Les Mis sing-off — there’re only so many times we can sit through Jersey Boys and Wicked. That’s why we’re psyched that an all-new version of Jekyll & Hyde is coming to town. Starring American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis and R&B star Deborah Cox, the pre-Broadway production tells the classic tale of good and evil but with better costumes and way more arpeggios.
When: March 12 through 24
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph Street (at LaSalle Street); 312-384-1502.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $33 to $95
Miguel and the Powerful People’s And Lose the Name of Action at the Museum of Contemporary Art
What: Visiting the MCA — for us, at least — is always like taking a giant bite of a new kind of food. The work isn’t instantly recognizable; it takes a while to digest; but, it’s ultimately pretty hearty brain food. The museum’s performance series is similar, with abstract shows that aren’t easy to “get” but are truly satisfying for the intellectual theatergoer. (That’s you, smarty-pants!)
The upcoming And Lose the Name of Action was designed by Miguel Guiterrez, a Brooklyn-based dance artist whose work is inspired by ghosts, California sunlight, electro-acoustic music, and — why not? — highways. The trippy work uses film, dialog, and dance to explore weighty topics, like life, death, and desire, and it’s staged in a truly cool way: the audience, which is kept to a small 125 members, is seated on stage.
When: January 31 and February 2 through 4
Where: MCA, 220 East Chicago Avenue (at Pearson Street); 312-280-2660.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $28; $22 for MCA members; and $10 for students
Broadway in Chicago’s The Book of Mormon
What: Scoring a ticket to this musical is the Broadway-in-Chicago equivalent of sitting down to dinner at Next. In fact, we’re going to keep this description short so you can skip right to the ticket info and nab your seats! From the creators of South Park, this Tony-sweeping show tells the hilarious story of two Mormon missionaries in Uganda. Also, John Stewart’s nuts about it (true story).
When: Now playing through September 8
Where: Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe Street (at State Street); 312-977-1717.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $45 to $200
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Photos: Courtesy of Christopher Duggan, Chris Benion, Chris Cameron, and Joan Marcus
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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Auditorium Theatre
What: Never seen the Alvin Ailey dancers do their thing? Let us be the first to tell you, then: These people have moves that put Jagger to shame. For the company’s upcoming Chicago engagement, dancers will be tearing up the stage with steps that combine ballet, modern, jazz, and African dance techniques. Bopping along in your chair is welcomed...but not required.
When: March 8 through 17
Where: The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway (at Wabash Ave.); 312-922-2110.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $32 to $92
Broadway in Chicago’s Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan!
What: For all you nannies, aunties, big sisters, and mamas — and for those of you who heart Tinkerbell, too — this is your play. Starring the former gymnast (and still quite dexterous) Cathy Rigby, Peter Pan comes to Chicago later this month. The Tony-nominated production has the flying, badass Indian princesses and sassy fairies you’ve come to expect from the classic tale. And we think it’d be fun to take a wee one who’s never seen a grown-woman-dressed-as-a-boy fly. Welcome to Broadway, junior.
When: January 30 to February 10
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph Street (at LaSalle Street); 312-384-1502.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $18 to $85
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg’s Rodin at the Auditorium Theatre
What: No airfare-to-Russia fund? No problem! The turreted city’s most prized dancers are coming here in May to dance out the life story of Rodin. The dramatic, lush performance presents scenes from the tortured life of the French sculptor. We can’t wait to see what the tumultuous story — or those well-muscled sculptures — look like en point.
When: May 17 to 19
Where: The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway (at Wabash Ave.); 312-922-2110.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $30 to $90
Broadway in Chicago’s I Love Lucy Live On Stage
What: Confession: We never watched I Love Lucy. (Shamefully, our retro-rerun days centered on the story of a man named Brady.) So, we weren’t sure how much we’d dig this fun, lighthearted show, in which the audience is made to feel like they’re in the Desilu Playhouse Soundstage while episodes of the classic show are “filmed” on stage. Needless to say, we loved it. Lucy and all. It’s hyper-colored, adorable, nostalgic entertainment — and, you get to bring your drinks to your seats.
When: Now playing through March 3
Where: Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 East Chestnut Street (at Mies Van Der Rohe Way); 312-977-1700.
Wallet Damage: Tickets $35 to $85
Photos: Courtesy of Andrew Eccles, Margie Korshak Inc., NikolayKrusser, and Justin Barbin
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