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ACT II: A second look at area stages

'The Burnt Part Boys' GriffTheatre features Max Zupp(front from left) Charlie Fox Mike Tepeli Morgan Maher.

"The Burnt Part Boys" at Griffin Theatre features Max Zuppa (front, from left), Charlie Fox, Mike Tepeli and Morgan Maher.

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:01AM

Here are three shows — a play born, bred and set in Chicago, a drama about an Iraq War veteran who has just returned home to California, and an intimate musical that unspools in early 1960s West Virginia. None of them has anything to do with the holidays, yet each offers plenty of reason to celebrate.

† “Superior Donuts” (a Mary-Arrchie Theatre production, through Dec. 31 at the Royal George Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted): In Tracy Letts’ play, which is receiving its best prodution to date, the place is Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, where a Starbucks-threatened donut shop is owned by Arthur Przybyszewski (Richard Cotovsky, custom-made for the role), a depressed and divorced aging hippie. Enter a brainy, enterprising young black college droput, Franco Wicks (the altogether luminous Preston Tate Jr.), and both comedy and tragedy ensues. Call (312) 988-9000 or visit

† “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter” (at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes, Evanston, through Dec. 23): Julie Marie Myatt’s wise, searing, often mordantly funny play, superbly realized in director Jessica Thebus’ production, deals in quite an original way with the subject of a U.S. Marine’s rough adjustment to “home” after service in Iraq. Jenny (played by Lily Mojekwu) takes temporary refuge with a commune of eccentric non-veterans whose lives also have gone awry for reasons neither they nor we can fully fathom. Among them are Lou (the bristlingly comic Jenny Avery),and Buddy (spot-on Lawrence Grimm), a self-styled preacher. Call (847) 475-1875, ext. 2 or visit

† “The Burnt Part Boys” (a Griffin Theatre production at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, through Dec 22): Driven by a lovely mountain music score by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen, this family show, with a book by Mariana Elder, is set in a West Virginia mining town in 1962, where 10 years earlier an accident took the lives of many men, some of them the fathers of young children. Now, as the mining company plans to reopen the place, one boy, just 4 when his dad was killed, sets out to thwart those plans. Director Jonathan Berry and his cast use minimal means most effectively to tell the story. Call (773) 975-8150 or visit

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