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10 for the summer: Hot times (on stage) in the city

The cast “Big Lake Big City” Lookingglass Theatre. 
| Sean Williams Photo

The cast of “Big Lake Big City” at Lookingglass Theatre. | Sean Williams Photo

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Updated: June 6, 2013 6:39AM

There are no “off months” in Chicago theater. So even if the sun shines well past curtain time on summer nights, there are many dark, air-conditioned refuges to be found in every corner of the city (and suburbs). Here, arranged by starting date, are 10 possibilities:

“BUDDY — THE BUDDY HOLLY SHOW (June 18-30 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph): As they say, “before The Beatles, The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones ever played a note, rock ’n’ roll was forever changed by Buddy Holly, a 19-year-old kid from Texas.” This charming musical chronicles his meteoric rise to fame with 20 hit songs, including “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” and “Oh, Boy!” (

“BIG LAKE BIG CITY” (June 19-Aug. 11 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N. Michigan): This world premiere by Keith Huff (of “A Steady Rain” fame), directed by David Schwimmer, finds the playwright dealing with the members of his preferred subculture — Chicago police officers. Here, Detective Bass can’t catch a break: His boss is a hard-ass, his partner’s a knucklehead, his wife’s a cheat, and now he has to chase down a perp with a screwdriver in his head. And there are many more shady characters at play in this comic-noir maze of double-crosses and double-identities that lampoons the Windy City. (

“CYMBELINE” (June 19-July 21 at First Folio at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83, Oak Brook): What would summer be without Shakespeare under the stars? First Folio is upping the ante with its world premiere take on “Cymbeline,” now subtitled “A Folk Tale With Music.” Shakespeare’s story has been moved to Appalachia during the Civil War, and includes 10 original songs with bluegrass melodies. Adapted by David Rice, with music and lyrics by Rice and Michael Keefe, the show will be directed by Michael Goldberg. (

“THE JUNGLE BOOK” (June 21-July 28 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn): Mary Zimmerman is a marvelous storyteller, and in this new “story with music” (NOT a traditional musical), based on the Rudyard Kipling classic about an Indian child raised by wolves, she is taking something from the classic Disney animated film, something from Kipling, something from authentic Indian music and dance, and putting her own unique stamp on it all. Usman Ally, André DeShields, Larry Yando and Anjali Bhimani are part of a large cast. And there will be a live orchestra. (Visit

“BELLEVILLE” (June 27-Aug. 25 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted): Amy Herzog, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has penned a drama about newly married American expats who live a hip existence in Paris’ multi-ethnic neighborhood of Belleville. But their relationship begins to crack in this psychological thriller that asks: Does anyone really know who they’re with? (

“MOJADA” (July 12-Aug. 11 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln): Last year’s Victory Gardens’ production of Luis Alfaro’s “Oedipus El Rey,” which put the Greek tragedy inn an L.A. ghetto, was a stunner. Now, director Chay Yew is staging the world premiere of Alfaro’s take on Euripides’ Medea story. Set in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, it is a meditation on our current immigration woes, with Medea an “illegal” and gifted “healer.” (

“SHREK, THE MUSICAL” (July 13-Sept. 1 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand): This Broadway musical by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori, condensed to 75 minutes for family entertainment attention spans — and directed and choreographed by the ever-ingenius Rachel Rockwell — tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim his once-secluded home.(

“SLOWGIRL” (July 18-Aug. 25 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted): William Petersen (Dr. Gilbert “Gil” Grissom, veteran of the hit “CSI” TV series) is invariably box office magic. And his co-star, Rae Gray (the fetching University of Chicago student who has been making waves on Chicago stages for years now) will costar in this two-character play by Greg Pierce. It’s about a New England teenager who, following a terrible accident, runs off to the Costa Rican retreat owned by her uncle to wait out the aftermath. Randall Arney directs. (

“HOME/LAND” (July 18-28 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn): This downtown remount of a show about the many issues surrounding immigration in America is the creation of the altogether astonishing Albany Park Theater Project (APTP). Performed by APTP’s remarkable ensemble teenagers, it is a must-see for all ages. (

“FLASHDANCE” (Aug. 6–18 at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph): Yes, it’s the 30th anniversary (yikes!) of that 1983 film that became a pop culture phenomenon. Now, the stage version, already seen in the U.K., is on a “pre-Broadway” national tour. So dance, dance, dance (and sing along with the title song, plus “Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt” and “I Love Rock & Roll,” as well as 16 new songs), as it makes a Chicago stop. This is, of course, the story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day, and a bar dancer by night, who dreams of one day becoming a professional performer. Sergio Trujillo is the director-choreographer. (Visit

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