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Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Agamemnon, European Repertory Company. La Compagnie Philippe Genty, Athenaeum Theatre. Doo Wop Shoo Bop, Black Ensemble Theater at the Ivanhoe Theater. Forever Plaid, Royal George Theatre Center cabaret. Frankenstein, Redmoon Theater at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre. The Glass Menagerie, Raven Theatre. Having Our Say, Briar Street Theatre. Hellcab, Famous Door Theatre Company at the Ivanhoe Theater. Illustrious Bloodspill, Curious Theatre Branch at Live Bait Theater. Late Nite Catechism, Ivanhoe Theater. Like It Is, Cafe Voltaire. Mad Joy, TeenStreet at Free Street Theater. Mark Twain and the Laughing River, Northlight Theatre at the Theatre Building. One Tough Cookie, Apple Tree Theatre. The Play's the Thing, Court Theatre. Shannen Doherty Shoots a Porno: A Shockumentary, Torso Theatre. Show Boat, Auditorium Theatre. Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, Neo-Futurarium. Also: 20th Century Man: An Evening With Ray Davies, Apollo Theater Center (see listing under Performance).

MOPENINGSM

The Bride and the Beast, Bailiwick Repertory, 4/19. Heartbeats, Illinois Theatre Center, 4/19. The Heidi Chronicles, Saint Sebastian Players at Saint Bonaventure Church, 4/19. The Greatest Story Never Told, Free Associates at Ivanhoe Theater, 4/21. The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy, Stage Two Theatre, 4/21. Richard III, Ruth Page Theater, 4/21. Clue, The Musical, Organic Theater Company, 4/24. Night of the Mime, StreetSigns at Strawdog Theatre Company, 4/24. Buckets o' Beckett, Splinter Group at Mercury Theater, 4/25. Waiting on Sean Flynn, T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. Productions at Chicago Dramatists Workshop, 4/25. The Zoo Story and A Man of Experience, Hidden Stages at Malcolm X College, 4/25. Also: The Hick, the Spic, and the Chick, Strawdog Theatre Company, 4/20; The Vertigo Show, Cafe Voltaire, 4/20 (see listing under Performance).

MFINAL DAYSM

Wombat Man: Episode 54, The Cereal Murders, Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, closes 4/19. Abba-Rama, Factory Theater, 4/20. The Amen Corner, Hidden Stages at Kuumba Theater, 4/20. Arcadia, Goodman Theatre, 4/20. La Compagnie Philippe Genty, Athenaeum Theatre, 4/20. Independence, Pantheon Productions at Chopin Theatre, 4/20. Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From the Zoo, Trap Door Theatre, 4/20. Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Circus, Chicago Children's Theatre at North Shore Country Day School, 4/21. Crazy for You, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 4/21. Dealing With Dragons, Runamuck Productions at Trap Door Theatre, 4/21. Doorslam, Plasticene at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre, 4/21. One Tough Cookie, Apple Tree Theatre, 4/21. Riders to the Sea and The Shadowy Waters, Transient Theatre, 4/21. Blithering Heights, Ivanhoe Theater, 4/24.

By Albert Williams

Performing arts listings are compiled from information available Monday; since performance schedules are subject to change on short notice, readers are advised to call ahead to confirm information. In addition to the base prices given here, many venues offer special discounts for students, children, senior citizens, the disabled, and armed forces personnel, as well as group rates, preshow rush discounts, subscription and membership rates, dinner-show packages, benefit performances, promotional specials, free actors nights, and reduced-price previews; on the other hand, some charge additional fees for telephone or box-office service. Details should be confirmed when you order tickets. The League of Chicago Theatres operates Hot Tix booths that sell tickets to participating productions at a substantial discount plus a service charge; the catch is you have to stop by a booth to find out what shows are on sale that day (the booths also offer full-price tickets through Ticketmaster). Booths are located in Chicago at 108 N. State; Chicago Place, 700 N. Michigan (sixth floor); and Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark. Booths are also located at the following suburban locations. Evanston: city parking garage, 1616 Sherman. Schaumburg: Tower Records, 1209 E. Golf Rd. Bloomingdale: Tower Records, 383 W. Army Trail Rd. For hours of operation and other information, call 977-1755.

Abba-Rama!

The Swedish meatballs of 70s pop are, um, honored with this musical revue created by Amy Seeley and Sean Abley. Reader critic Adam Langer calls the show a "poorly sung, sloppily choreographed, thrown-together musical revue [that is] a great deal more entertaining than what can be found on the stages of some of the city's most accomplished and ambitious companies." Factory Theater, 1257 W. Loyola, 274-1345. Through April 20: Fridays-Saturdays, 9:30 PM. $7. Tickets are $10 for both Abba-Rama! and My Period (see separate listing) the same night.

The Adventures of Pinocchio

Classics on Stage! performs Michele L. Vacca and Alex Dilan's musical, based on Carlo Collodi's tale of a puppet who wants to become human. Pickwick Theatre, Touhy and Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge, 989-0598. Through June 7: Wednesdays-Fridays, 10:30 AM; Saturday, April 27 and May 4, noon. $5 with advance mail purchase; $6 at the door; "telephone reservations necessary."

Agamemnon

British director Steven Berkoff penned this ritualistic, updated, highly physical adaptation of Aeschylus' tragedy about the Trojan War hero murdered by his vengeful wife. Dale Goulding's taut, well-cast staging suggests both archaic ritual and absurdist anarchy by juxtaposing the poetic text with enigmatic, eloquent passages of mime, dance, and martial-arts movement. Agamemnon captures a sense of moral outrage as well as the sheer fascination of one of mythology's most enduring horror tales. European Repertory Company, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall, 615 W. Wellington (courtyard entrance), 248-0577. Open run: Saturdays, 8 PM. $15. The show runs in repertory with ERC's Electra (see separate listing).

Agnes of God

Manslaughter and mysticism are the themes of John Pielmeier's drama about a young nun accused of killing her baby. It's offered in a student production. Joliet Junior College, K building, Fine Arts Theatre, 1215 Houbolt, Joliet, 815-729-9020, ext. 2200. April 18 through 21: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 2:30 PM. $3.

Airsick

The Nimbus Theatre presents Seattle writer Peter Buchman's play about "five oddball characters . . . on a personal quest to ease their 'fear of flying.'" Reader critic Lawrence Bommer calls the play "lazy writing drunk on its own metaphors that arbitrarily leads quirky characters to a thuddingly gratuitous feel-good conclusion." National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, 248-0237. Through May 1: Mondays-Wednesdays, 8 PM. $8.

Aladdin

The Persian legend inspired this children's musical. Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, Route 21 (Milwaukee Ave.), Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200. Through May 18: selected Wednesdays-Fridays, 10 AM; selected Saturdays, 11 AM (call for weekly schedule). $6.

Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Circus

The Chicago Children's Theatre performs its version of Lewis Carroll's tale of a little girl's strange trip. North Shore Country Day School, Diller Street Theatre, 310 Green Bay, Winnetka, 262-9848. Through April 21: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 10:30 AM; Saturdays-Sundays, 2 PM. $10.

All in the Timing

Chicago-bred playwright David Ives penned this collection of short comedies, presented in a student production. "[Ives] is more mechanic than artist. His words ignite his jokes, which lubricate the motors of his plots. . . . Ives may believe the secret to comedy is 'all in the timing,' but without the dramatic imagination and acting to match his pure mechanical skill, his admittedly virtuosic plays wind up as little more than witty one-liners or concepts for Punch or New Yorker cartoons. When Ives bothers to develop characters and plots and the actors . . . are up to them, he's brilliant," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Moraine Valley Community College, Fine and Performing Arts Center, John and Angeline Oremus Theater, 10900 S. 88th, Palos Hills, 708-974-5500. April 25 through May 5: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $8.25 in advance; $10.25 at the door; dinner-show package available on Saturday, May 4.

All the Way Home

Tad Mosel's dramatization of James Agee's A Death in the Family is offered in a campus production. Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center, Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 1979 South Campus Dr., Evanston, 708-491-7282. April 19 through 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $12; $6 for children.

Am I Blue

Amy Elmore directs Beth Henley's comedy about a frat rat and a freaky chick who discover each other in 1968 New Orleans. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 409-5783. Through April 26: Thursdays-Fridays, 9 PM. $7.

The Amen Corner

James Baldwin's drama about an embattled female minister is presented by Kuumba Theater and Hidden Stages. The play "is as ripe and relevant as ever. And

. . . Doris Norris delivers a memorably searing portrayal. . . . But . . . many supporting performances are so small and subtle they essentially drown in this cavernous space," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Malcolm X College, Kuumba Theater, 1900 W. Van Buren, 752-1766. Through April 20: Fridays-Saturdays, 7 PM. $15.

The American Plan

Richard Greenberg's comedy-drama concerns a man's pursuit of a troubled young woman despite interference from the woman's mother and his sometime male lover. Jeff Ginsberg directs what Reader critic Adam Langer calls "a solid, entertaining evening of theater." National Jewish Theater, Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center, 5050 W. Church, Skokie, 847-329-9411. Through May 5: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 8:15 PM; Sundays, 2 and 7 PM; Wednesday, April 24, 2 and 7:30 PM. Regular shows $25-$28; $22 for the 2 PM show on Wednesday, April 24.

Annie

Stage Right Dinner Theatre presents Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, and Thomas Meehan's comic-strip-inspired musical. Giorgio's Banquets, 276 E. Irving Park, Wood Dale, 847-595-2044. Through May 5: Fridays-Saturdays, 8:30 PM; Sundays, 6:30 PM. Dinner precedes each performance by approximately 90 minutes. $38 (includes dinner).

Annie

The same, in a community theater production sponsored by the Warrenville Park District and featuring a cast of children and teenagers. Hubble Middle School auditorium, Roosevelt and Main, Wheaton, 708-393-9243. April 19 through 21: Friday-Saturday, 7 PM; Sunday, 1 PM. $10; $6 for children.

Arcadia

Tom Stoppard's entertaining but overrated comedy skips back and forth through time to tell the story of two modern scholars trying to unearth the mystery of an aristocratic English household in the early 19th century. Decorating the parallel narratives are witty, wordy digressions on subjects seemingly as far afield as physics, landscape gardening, and the erotic adventures of Lord Byron. But the characters' interactions are the core of the play--and the source of its weakness, for Stoppard's clever manipulations leave no room for lifelike unpredictability. The result is lightweight escapism dressed up as Something Important. Goodman Theatre, 200 S. Columbus, 443-3800. Through April 20: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 and 7:30 PM; Thursday, April 18, 2 and 7:30 PM; Saturday, April 20, 2 and 8 PM. $25-$38; day-of-show rush discounts and dinner-show packages available.

The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement & Hootenanny

This program of comic improvisation features veterans of Lois Kaz, Jazz Freddy, Second City, the Family, and other improv troupes; ImprovOlympic alumni who've been co-opted by TV are expected to drop in periodically as well. "Every time I think nothing new can be done with long-form improvisation, a show comes along to remind me just how inspired and entertaining pure improv can be," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 880-0199. Open run: Mondays, 8:30 PM. $7.

As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face

The Free Associates bait the Bard, improvising a Shakespearean spoof from audience suggestions. "Though no one would ever have confused the improvisation with the real thing, . . . there was more than enough inspiration and energy to keep things merry and light," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Saturdays, 8:15 PM. $10. The troupe also lampoons gothic romances in Blithering Heights, detective stories in Pick-A-Dick, Bible epics in The Greatest Story Never Told, hospital dramas in B.S., and Tennessee Williams in Cast on a Hot Tin Roof (see separate listings).

As You Like It

Shakespeare's pastoral romance is reset to the rock recording industry of the 1970s. Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-771-0700. Through April 30: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $10.

B.S.

Move over, E.R. and Chicago Hope: the Free Associates improvise an original parody of prime-time hospital soap operas, using audience suggestions for various medical procedures and personal crises. The resulting late-night romp is a very funny send-up that captures the fluidly stylish vacuity of the real thing. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Fridays, 10:30 PM. $10. The troupe also lampoons detective stories in Pick-A-Dick, gothic romances in Blithering Heights, Bible epics in The Greatest Story Never Told, Shakespeare in As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face, and Tennessee Williams in Cast on a Hot Tin Roof (see separate listings).

Bang Bang

"Bang Bang, with its discipline and considerable wit . . . consists of a core group of some of Chicago's finest actors," says Reader critic Tim Sheridan of this improv-comedy ensemble. "But the real star of the show is the nerve and spirit of exploration that every member of the group displays." No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 743-3355. Open run: Wednesdays, 10:45 PM. $2. The price includes admission to In One Ear (see separate listing under Performance) earlier the same evening.

Bar

The New Year Project presents Chad Beguelin's comedy about "ten twenty-

somethings in a . . . bar [who] struggle to form human connections." O'Bar & Cafe, 3343 N. Clark, 792-4096. Through May 11: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Barber of Seville

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais' 1772 comedy, about a wily barber who helps a pair of young lovers outwit a lecherous aristocrat, is performed in a new adaptation by Gilbert Pestureau and Anne Wakefield under Charles Newell's direction. The show runs in rotating repertory with another comedy about sexual jealousy, The Play's the Thing (see separate listing); the cast includes William Brown, Kate Fry, and Hollis Resnik. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, 753-4472. Through May 19: Wednesdays (May 1 and 15), 7:30 PM; Thursdays (April 25 and May 9), 7:30 PM; Fridays (April 26 and May 10), 8 PM; Saturdays (April 20 and May 4 and 18), 8 PM; Saturdays (April 27 and May 11), 3 PM; Sundays (April 21 and May 5 and 19), 2:30 PM; Sundays (April 28 and May 12), 7:30 PM. $23-$29. Tickets for both The Barber of Seville and The Play's the Thing on the same day are $48. Note: Court Theatre's "April in Paris" fund-raiser at the Hotel Nikko Chicago, 320 N. Dearborn, on Friday, April 19, features dinner, dancing, and a concert by Broadway and cabaret singer Karen Akers. Tickets are $225-$500; call 702-7164 for information.

Baring Tristan and Old Love Letters I Keep in My Underwear Drawer

The first of these two one-acts is Courtney Leigh Evans's one-act depicting a college woman's affair with an older married woman. The second is Ed Hofmann and Tekki Lomnicki's piece about a man coming to terms with his homosexuality while exploring boyhood memories of his father. The program launches the gay- and lesbian-oriented Pride Series '96. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 883-1090. Through May 19: Saturdays, 5 PM; Sundays-Mondays, 8 PM. $10.

Beauty and the Beast

Cheri Coons and Tom Sivak's musical version of the fairy tale is directed by Ray Frewen. Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Roosevelt and Butterfield, Oakbrook Terrace, 708-530-0111. Through May 31: selected Mondays-Saturdays, 10:30 AM (call for weekly schedule). $5.

The Big Finish

You've heard of "new vaudeville"? Try postmodern music hall with singing comedians Will Clinger (he's the skinny guy from Wild Chicago) and Jim FitzGerald (he's the short one). The team offers new and old material in what they claim is their last hurrah. The Second City E.T.C., Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 642-8189. Through April 30: Tuesdays, 8 PM. $15.

The Bill and Dane Show

Bill Saveley and Dane Hanson perform a sketch-comedy revue whose script changes weekly. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through May 22: Wednesdays, 8:30 PM. $5.

Bite

Denise La Grassa plays multiple characters in this "poetic jam of streetwise satirical social geopolitical jive." Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division, 235-3232. Open run: Fridays, 7:30 PM. $4.

The Black Stranger

Gerard Healy's drama commemorates the Irish potato famine. It's presented by the Gaelic Park Players. Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th, Oak Forest, 708-687-9323. Through April 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $8.

Blithering Heights

The Free Associates engage in a bit of Bronte-bashing in this clever spoof of gothic romances, with audience suggestions providing the direction for an improvised one-act. Even when the jokes flag, the actors' accurate rendition of the genre's style and their on-target portrayals of the classic characters make for an entertaining evening. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Through April 24: Wednesdays, 8:15 PM. $8. The troupe also lampoons detective stories in Pick-A-Dick, Bible epics in The Greatest Story Never Told, hospital dramas in B.S., Shakespeare in As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face, and Tennessee Williams in Cast on a Hot Tin Roof (see separate listings).

Break It Down

HealthWorks Theatre performs "an HIV/AIDS play for the new millennium," written by Geryll Ann Robinson and intended "to captivate and educate high school students" about sexual diseases, drugs, abstinence, and "safer sex." Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State, 929-4260. Monday, April 22, 7:30 PM. $10 (includes preshow reception at 6 PM and postshow dessert and coffee reception at 8:15 PM).

Breaking the Stereotypes: An Evening of Fully-Clothed Gay & Lesbian Theatre

Theatre Q performs a two-act evening of scenes and monologues by such writers as Harvey Fierstein, Terrence McNally, and Paul Rudnick as well as local playwrights. Halsted St. Cafe, 3641 N. Halsted, 802-9167. April 19 through 27: Fridays-Saturdays, 7 PM. $6 in advance; $8 at the door.

The Bride and the Beast

The bride is a beast in this campy musical version of cult filmmaker Ed Wood's 1958 screenplay, about a woman who goes ape when she discovers she's a reincarnated gorilla. "Producer, writer, [and] director . . . Michael Flores . . . fills his play with lots of snide but not very funny asides about how awful [Wood's] original script is," said Reader critic Jack Helbig when he reviewed the production's original run last year. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 883-1090. Opens Friday, April 19, 11 PM. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 11 PM. $15. Note: An opening party takes place Sunday, April 21, at Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, starting at 10:30 PM with a showing of Ed Wood's film Glen or Glenda. For information, call 509-4958. Free.

Brigadoon

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical fantasy, about two New Yorkers who discover a hidden magic village in the highlands of Scotland, is directed by David Perkovich; Gordon Peirce Schmidt provides the choreography. Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 5620 S. Harlem, Summit, 708-496-3000. Previews April 24 through 28: Wednesday, 8:15 PM; Thursday, 2 and 8:15 PM; Friday, 8:15 PM; Saturday, 4:15 and 9:30 PM; Sunday, 2:15 and 7:30 PM. Also Wednesday, May 1, 2 PM. $34.50-$45.50 (includes dinner and show); show only, $21.50-$32.50. Opens Wednesday, May 1, 8 PM. Through July 21: Wednesdays, 2 and 8:15 PM; Thursdays-Fridays, 8:15 PM; Saturdays, 4:15 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 2:15 and 7:30 PM; Tuesday, May 21, 2 PM; Thursday, May 30, 2 and 8 PM; Saturday, May 25, 9:30 PM only; Wednesday, May 29, 2 PM only; Thursday, June 13, 2 PM only; Tuesday, July 2, 9, and 16, 8:15 PM; Wednesday, July 10 and 17, 8 PM only. No show Thursday, July 4. Lunch or dinner precedes each performance by approximately two hours. $25-$47.50 (includes dinner and tax); show only, $23.50-$34.50.

Buckets o' Beckett

The Splinter Group Theatre Company's annual festival of Samuel Beckett's work shifts into high gear this year, honoring what would have been the late Irish dramatist's 90th birthday with a retrospective of nearly everything he wrote for the stage. (Notably absent is his most famous play, Waiting for Godot.) The ambitious project utilizes artists from a variety of local theaters, including Steppenwolf, Goodman, Northlight, Apple Tree, Roadworks, and the Neo-Futurists, as well as Splinter Group's resident talent. The fest is organized into four different productions--one per week, each running just four days as shown in the schedule below (which is subject to change). ¥ The first week consists of the short, intense character study Krapp's Last Tape, performed by Steppenwolf's John Mahoney under the direction of Sheldon Patinkin; the absurdist pantomime Act Without Words #1, staged by Brian Russell; and Play, directed by Matt O'Brien. ¥ The second week offers "The Short Plays," three alternating programs of theatrical miniatures. Program A features Breath (directed by Frank Galati), Not I (directed by Kim Rubinstein), Act Without Words #2 (directed by Curt Columbus), Rough for Theatre #1 (directed by Steve Scott), and What Where (directed by Greg Allen); Program B features Come and Go (directed by Eileen Boevers), Footfalls (directed by Susan Booth), Rough for Theatre #2 (directed by Terry McCabe), and That Time (directed by Michael Maggio); and Program C features Ohio Impromptu (directed by Dexter Bullard), A Piece of Monologue (directed by Nicholas Rudall), Catastrophe (directed by Abby Epstein), and Rockaby (directed by Chuck Smith). ¥ The third week showcases Happy Days, a seriocomic tour de force about a woman trying to rise above her condition: she's buried in the earth up to her waist and sinking rapidly. Estelle Parsons stars under the direction of Richard Block. ¥ The fourth and final week is highlighted by the dark comedy Endgame, starring Robert Breuler as Hamm and Jonathan Harris as Clov under the direction of Marc Rosenbush. Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, 325-1700. Preview Tuesday, April 23, with an 8 PM performance of Krapp's Last Tape, Play, and Act Without Words #1 followed by a reception. $100; call 335-8020 for benefit tickets. Opens Thursday, April 25, 8 PM, with Krapp's Last Tape, Play, and Act Without Words #1. This program continues through April 28: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. "The Short Plays" runs May 2 through 5: Thursday, Program A (Breath, Not I, Act Without Words #2, Rough for Theatre #1, and What Where) at 8 PM; Friday, Program B (Come and Go, Footfalls, Rough for Theatre #2, and That Time) at 8 PM; Saturday, Program C (Ohio Impromptu, A Piece of Monologue, Catastrophe, and Rockaby) at 5 PM and a repeat of Thursday's Program A at 8:30 PM; Sunday, a repeat of Friday's Program B at 3 PM and a repeat of Saturday's Program C at 7 PM. Happy Days plays May 9 through 12: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. Endgame plays May 16 through 19: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. $22-$36 per program.

Butterflies Are Free

Leonard Gershe's comedy about a blind bachelor, his girlfriend, and his possessive mother is performed by D.R.A.M.M.A., the Mount Prospect Theatre Society. RecPlex, 420 W. Dempster, Mount Prospect, 847-640-1000. Through April 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, April 21 and 28, 2:30 PM. $7 in advance; $8 at the door.

Calendar Girls

This comedy show features two women improvising from audience suggestions, which are based on dates from a 1996 calendar. Kafein, 1621 Chicago, Evanston, 847-491-1621. Through April 25: Thursdays, 8 PM. $4 (includes refreshments).

Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack

Billy Bermingham wrote and directed this long-running comedy about life in a hellish, reactionary future. "What distinguishes [this] satire from mere sophomoric irreverence is the seriousness with which . . . Bermingham and his company present their apocalyptic vision, . . . coupled with a manic energy and agility [that] keeps our attention focused on the message even while holographic strippers are masturbating with office machines, homeless people are being murdered for their organs, privileged citizens are dining on Clorox and third-world babies, and bodily fluids of all descriptions are spurting in fountains all over the stage. Not for the faint of heart--or weak of stomach--Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack is a two-fisted farce that leaves no cultural taboo unviolated, no hypocritical demon unexorcised," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. Torso Theatre, 2827 N. Broadway, 549-3330. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $11. The same theater also presents Shannen Doherty Shoots a Porno: A Shockumentary (see separate listing).

Caps

Dan Nelson performs his own one-man comedy about "baseball and its effect on the lives of the players, owners, and fans" for the Needles Theatre Company. The play offers "plenty of sensitively wrought sentimentality," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 348-6633. Through May 4: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $10.

Captain Virtue and the Champions of Justice

Karen and Alyn Cardarelli's musical, presented by the Players Workshop's Children's Theatre, concerns a boy and his magic comic book. Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 929-6288. Through April 27: Saturdays, 2 PM. $8; $5 for children.

Cast on a Hot Tin Roof

The Free Associates perform improvised one-acts in the southern gothic style of Tennessee Williams, based on audience suggestions. "The cast . . . excel at counterfeiting Williams's purple prose, delightedly indulging in the soul-twisting agonies of their characters," says Reader critic Stephanie Shaw. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Fridays, 8:15 PM. $10. The troupe also lampoons Shakespeare in As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face, detective stories in Pick-A-Dick, Bible epics in The Greatest Story Never Told, hospital dramas in B.S., and gothic romances in Blithering Heights (see separate listings).

Chateau Fromage

Alumni of the Players Workshop of the Second City perform a sketch comedy revue. Players Workshop, 2636 N. Lincoln, 929-6288. Through April 20: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $7.

Chicago Dramatists Workshop Saturday Series

This near-weekly program features staged readings of works in progress. Scheduled for April 20: DePaul University Student Plays, short works by students of playwriting teacher Dean Corrin. Chicago Dramatists Workshop, 1105 W. Chicago, 633-0630. Open run: Saturdays, 2 PM. $3.

Chicago Gridiron Show

McDome and Domer is the title of this year's edition of the Chicago Headline Club's annual revue satirizing local politics and media. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 989-1006. April 25 and 26: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM (doors open 7:30 PM). $17-$25 (proceeds benefit "education in journalism").

Chicago Screenwriters Network Winter/Spring Staged Screenplay Reading Series

This ongoing showcase presents readings of new scripts by aspiring film writers. Scheduled for this week is Dark Games, Edward Allen Bernero's drama about a Chicago homicide detective who infiltrates a community of vampires. Sandy Morris directs. American Blues Theatre, 1909 W. Byron, 409-9407. Sunday, April 21, 2 PM. $5.

Chicago's Gangstertown

A dinner-theater revue evokes the Capone era. Chicago's Gangstertown, 9351 W. Irving Park, Schiller Park, 847-746-6863. Open run: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays-Sundays, 7 PM; additional matinee selected Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon (call for weekly schedule). $37.95-$47.95 (includes dinner, tax, and tip).

A Chorus Line

The Woodstock Musical Theatre Company presents Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, and Michael Bennett's musical about the lives of Broadway dancers. Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren, Woodstock, 815-338-5300. April 19 through May 12: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM; Sundays, 6 PM; no 2 PM show Saturday, April 20. $9-$14.

Cliff Hangers V

This program of selections from the upcoming Stratford Festival in Canada, directed by Richard Pettengill and Michael Halberstam, is offered as part of a party celebrating Shakespeare's birthday. The event benefits the Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival's young artists program, which sponsors local actors for professional training at the Canadian festival. Tavern Club, 333 N. Michigan, 664-2267. Monday, April 22, 5:30 PM. $50.

Clue, The Musical

The Parker Brothers board game inspired this musical whodunit by Peter DePietro, Tom Chiodo, Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, and Vinnie Martucci. Organic Theater Company, main stage, 3319 N. Clark, 327-5588. Previews through April 24: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday, 7 and 10 PM; Saturday, 5 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM; Wednesday, 2 PM. $18-$25; $11 for children. Opens Wednesday, April 24, 8 PM. Through June 9: Wednesdays, 2 and 8 PM; Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 7 and 10 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $24.50-$34.50; $15 for children.

Coed Prison Sluts

"The secret to Coed Prison Sluts . . . is that it's a carefully constructed satire masquerading as an artless mess. Faith Soloway's hilarious, well-written songs artfully mate sweet, sappy, very pop tunes . . . with taboo-breaking lyrics. . . . Likewise, the screwy plot . . . wittily marries the cliches of prison movies [with] those of old-fashioned musical comedies," says Reader critic Jack Helbig of this long-running show. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:31 PM. $10. The performances on April 19 and 20 mark the show's seventh anniversary by bringing together the original cast. $12 for anniversary shows (includes postshow party).

Coffee Will Make You Black

City Lit Theater Company presents scenes from its forthcoming adaptation of April Sinclair's book. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 659 W. Diversey; call 871-9004. Saturday, April 20, 3 PM. Free.

Come Blow Your Horn

Neil Simon's 1961 comedy, about a businessman with two rebellious sons, is performed by the Hale Theatre Company of the Chicago Park District. Marquette Park, 6734 S. Kedzie, 747-6168. April 19 and 21: Friday, 7:30 PM (preceded by dinner at 6:30 PM); Sunday, 2 PM (preceded by lunch at 1 PM). $10 (includes food).

Comedy One-Acts

Southwest Theatre and Arts Resources, Inc., presents a quartet of short plays: The Typists, by Murray Schisgal; The Still Alarm, by George S. Kaufman; Halves!, by Margaret P. Browne; and The Ugly Duckling, by A.A. Milne. Clearing United Methodist Church, 5717 W. 63rd Pl., 436-8113. April 20 and 21: Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. Then April 26 and 27: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $8.

ComedySportz

An evening's worth of short improv games, played for laughs by two four-comic teams. "Quick thinkers all, the players keep what could be some routine games quirky and fresh, while the format keeps the show moving at a highly charged, gratifying pace," says Reader critic Stephanie Shaw. TurnAround Theatre, 3209 N. Halsted, 549-8080. Open run: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 8 and 10:30 PM. $10.

La Compagnie Philippe Genty

"Philippe Genty's shows, which so deftly combine puppetry and dance, have always been filled with dreamlike imagery. But Genty's latest work, Voyageur immobile ("Motionless Voyager"), is not merely dreamlike--it is a dream, . . . thrown onto the stage in all its irrational mystery and power [as] Genty creates one astonishing spectacle after another," says Reader critic Jack Helbig of this Performing Arts Chicago presentation. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 722-5463 or 663-1628. Through April 20: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 3 and 8 PM. $26-$36.

Crazy for You

A hilarious, smart-alecky script by Ken Ludwig showcases a collection of great George and Ira Gershwin songs in this 1992 Broadway hit about a Manhattan playboy-banker who tries to produce a Ziegfeldian "Follies" in a Wild West mining town. William Pullinsi's staging features choreography by Marc Robin. Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 5620 S. Harlem, Summit, 708-496-3000. Through April 21: Wednesdays, 2 and 8:15 PM; Thursdays-Fridays, 8:15 PM; Saturdays, 4:15 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 2:15 and 7:30 PM. Lunch or dinner precedes each performance by approximately two hours. $25-$47.50 (includes dinner and tax); show only, $23.50-$34.50.

Cupid Loses His Eros

Brian Posen directs the Players to Be Named Later in a comedy show about romantic relationships. "The sketches are overwritten, the repeating bits are way too predictable, the jokes . . . are just plain lame. And . . . the cast . . . overact like mad," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Griffin Theatre Company, Calo Theatre, 5404 N. Clark, 769-2228. Through May 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 11 PM. $8.

Dancing at Lughnasa

Brian Friel's memory play, about an Irish family in the 1930s, is offered in a campus production. Wheaton College, Arena Theater, Jenks Hall, Howard and University, Wheaton, 708-752-5800. Through April 20: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM. $5.50-$6.

Dead on Nine

Wheaton Drama performs Jack Popplewell's mystery, set in an English fishing village. Playhouse 111, 111 N. Hale, Wheaton, 708-260-1820. Through April 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $8-$10.

Dealing With Dragons

Runamuck Productions stages its version of Patricia Wrede's children's story about a princess who runs away from home to live with dragons. Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, 384-0494. Through April 21: Fridays, 7 PM; Saturdays, 4 and 7 PM; Sundays, 2 and 5 PM. $10; $5 for children.

Detachments

The heroine of Colleen Dodson's new drama has plenty o' trouble: not only does she learn that her lover is unfaithful, but her retina detaches. Barbara Robertson stars in a world premiere. "Dodson is an adept wordsmith . . . but a cowardly playwright [whose] aim is to entertain at any price, regardless of the damage done by sitcom digressions. [This] solidly acted, skillfully directed, and swiftly paced production would be a delight if it weren't such a waste," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Center Theater Ensemble, 1346 W. Devon, 508-5422. Through May 12: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Sunday, April 21 and 28, 3 and 7 PM; no show Friday, April 19 or 26. $16-$18. The 3 and 7 PM shows on Sunday, April 21, are benefits for the Friends of Battered Women; benefit tickets are $20.

The Devil Came From Dublin

The Irish Heritage Community Theatre performs Paul Vincent Carroll's comedy, about Irish villagers who hoodwink a British bureaucrat. Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, 282-7035. April 18 through 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $5-$10.

Diary of a Skokie Girl

Comic monologuist Caryn Bark recalls growing up as a 60s suburbanite (plastic-covered furniture and all) in this one-woman show. "Bark transforms a stand-up comedy routine into an irreverent, hilarious, and deeply moving portrait of Jewish family life a generation ago," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place, Highland Park, 847-432-4335. Through April 21: Sundays, 7 PM. $21.50.

The Dining Room

A.R. Gurney's time-jumping comedy explores upper-middle-class WASP family life as revealed by their dinner-table conversation. Elgin Community College, Visual and Performing Arts Center, SecondSpace Theatre, 1700 Spartan Dr., Elgin, 847-622-0300. April 19 through May 4: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, April 28, 3 PM. $8.

Dirty People on Ice

This "evening of long-form pure improvisation . . . attempts to make full use of the Annoyance Theatre's huge performance space. . . . The audience is placed dead-center . . . and the actors perform everywhere else," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Through May 31: Fridays, 8:30 PM. $5.

Don Juan, or the Love of Geometry

Max Frisch's retelling of the Don Juan legend is presented by Tinfish Productions. Athenaeum Theatre, studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 902-1500. Through May 18: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $12. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Doo Wop Shoo Bop

Jackie Taylor and Jimmy Tillman concocted this revue of African-American music from the late 50s. This "heartfelt, roof-raising tribute celebrates not only black doo-wop . . . but the underreported progress in civil rights during the Eisenhower era and the comparative innocence of a time when singing groups, not gangs, competed for the big money, harmonizing so sweetly it hurt," said Reader critic Lawrence Bommer of this Black Ensemble Theater production when he reviewed its premiere last season. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 5 PM. $22-$24.

Doorslam

"This disorienting, overstimulating web of self-conscious, ritually repetitive physical theater makes the audience work for its metaphysical supper. Developed by director Dexter Bullard in collaboration with Plasticene, Doorslam creates a paranoid dream out of four actors, three doors, a chair, a rolled-up newspaper, a hat, projected images, and a coffee cup. . . . The audience is all but coerced into supplying a narrative to explain the increasingly bizarre and threatening relationships, a coercion that may not sit well with those who prefer to have sense made for them. Yet this obsessive, fluid 'storytelling' does create strong emotions, exploring issues of power, anonymity, and conformity with a driving purpose and deceptive simplicity," said Reader critic Carol Burbank when she reviewed this production's original run last year. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, 335-1650. Through April 21: Saturdays, 9:30 PM; Sundays, 7:30 PM. $10.

Ducks and Diamonds

A dreamer named Hope seeks a happy family in this children's show. Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre, 4051 E. Main (Route 64), Saint Charles, 708-584-6342. Through May 19: Sundays, 11 AM (doors open 10:30 AM). Show only, $7; $13 for show and postperformance children's brunch.

Electra

Jean Giraudoux's 1937 reworking of Euripides' tragedy focuses on an absolutist's quest to unearth and punish long-denied crimes--and the chaos that quest leads to. Director Dale Goulding keeps movement to a minimum, treating Giraudoux's often witty script in a darkly stylized, visually static expressionist style; but the lead actors produce some riveting moments in this rarely revived and very unusual work. European Repertory Company, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall, 615 W. Wellington (courtyard entrance), 248-0577. Open run: Fridays, 8 PM. $15. The show runs in repertory with ERC's Agamemnon (see separate listing).

Les enfants terribles

Designer John Musial directs a stage adaptation of Jean Cocteau's novel about a brother and sister's incestuous longings. "Musial has transformed the living room of his fifth-floor loft space into a stunning facsimile of a Paris dwelling. But when the actors . . . . open their mouths we're transported just as quickly back into Musial's living room," says Reader critic Adam Langer. No Room! Studio, 2255 S. Michigan (fifth floor), 808-1927. Through May 5: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $10.

An Evening of Durang and Ives

Students perform Christopher Durang's comedy The Actor's Nightmare and short pieces from David Ives's All in the Timing. University of Chicago, Reynolds Club, Francis X. Kinahan Theater, 5706 S. University (third floor), 702-3414. April 25 through 27: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM. $7.

Evil Little Thoughts

Mark D. Kaufman wrote this "murder comedy." Theatre Hut, 8412 N. Railroad, Ridgefield, 815-477-4881. Through April 20: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $7.

Fair Liberty's Call

Canadian playwright Sharon Pollock's historical drama concerns "the loyalist migration out of the former American colonies." Northeastern Illinois University, Stage Center, 5500 N. Saint Louis, 794-6652. April 18 through 27: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM. $8.

Fat Tuesday, The Mardi Gras Musical

Tim Pelton and Elizabeth Doyle penned this new show about a group of strangers gathered together by the Angel of Death at Mardi Gras. "A strange hybrid in which jubilation dissolves into an almost puritanical retribution, Fat Tuesday is The Masque of the Red Death played as Dixieland," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. New Tuners Theatre, Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 327-5252. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 8:15 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $20-$22.

Fatzer: Demise of the Egotist

The Prop Theatre stages Stefan BrŸn's new English version of Brecht's unfinished 1926 play about a World War I deserter. The production's "tortuous histrionics have nothing to do with Brecht and thoroughly obfuscate any ideas he might have hoped to express," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, 486-7767. Through April 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12-$15.

Faust Project

Michael Agnew scripted and directed this "alchemical adaptation" of Goethe's epic. Chicago Actors Ensemble, Preston Bradley Center for the Arts, 941 W. Lawrence, 275-4463. Opens Thursday, April 18, 7 PM. $12 (includes postshow reception in honor of Indian theater artist Habib Tanvir). Through May 18: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12; Sundays, "pay what you can."

Flanagan's Wake

Zeitgeist Theater's audience-interactive improv show, directed by Jack Bronis, takes place at an Irish wake. "The ensemble members are adept at drawing out the shy and capitalizing on the hammy in their audience, so that . . . the livelier [the audience members] are, the better the show will be," said Reader critic Stephanie Shaw when she reviewed the show in its original run at the Improv Institute. Royal George Theatre Center Gallery, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 7:30 and 10 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $15-$18. Note: The same company also performs Open Call (see separate listing).

A Flea in Her Ear

Georges Feydeau's bedroom farce is offered in a campus production. Lewis University, Oremus Fine Arts Center, Philip Lynch Theatre, Route 53, Romeoville, 838-0500, ext. 5500. April 19 through 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $8.

Flea Market

Three visitors to a flea market confront their personal demons, in this collection of interrelated monologues by Marc Smith. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 871-1212. Through April 30: Mondays-Tuesdays, 8 PM. $7.

The Foreigner

Larry Shue's comedy involves an Englishman who overhears a white-supremacist conspiracy. Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre, 4051 E. Main (Route 64), Saint Charles, 708-584-6342. Through May 19: Thursdays-Fridays, 8:15 PM; Saturdays, 5:15 and 9:45 PM; Sundays, 2:15 PM. Lunch or dinner precedes each performance by approximately an hour and 15 minutes. $38-$45 (includes dinner and tax); show only, $20-$25.

Forever Plaid

Boys keep singing: Stuart Ross and James Raitt's musical incorporates a plethora of 50s and 60s pop tunes into its slim story of a long-dead male quartet, the Four Plaids, who return from the grave as teen angels to give the ultimate comeback concert. The cast combine deft comic timing with superb musicianship, honoring the beauty of their close-harmony crooning while they spoof its Formica-shiny squareness. The result is a delightful blend of hilarious comedy and heavenly harmonizing, delivered with the right balance of campiness and quality. Highly recommended light entertainment. Royal George Theatre Center, cabaret theater, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000. Open run: Wednesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM; additional shows selected Tuesdays at 8 PM and selected Wednesdays at 2:15 PM (call for weekly schedule). $27.50-$35.

Frankenstein

Redmoon Theater uses masks and puppets in a wide range of sizes to retell Mary Shelley's story of a man and his monster. Jim Lasko directs the script he wrote with Bryn Magnus; Blair Thomas provides the visual design and Michael Zerang the music. "[This" stunningly designed, consistently inventive Frankenstein . . . is . . . a relatively quiet, somber, even grim production only occasionally interrupted by moments of whimsy. Yet even the most disturbing moments . . . are buoyed by our dumbstruck exhilaration at Redmoon's puppet wizardry," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, 335-1650. Through May 5: Wednesdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $14.50-$19.50.

Funny Money

This farce by England's Ray Cooney, seen here in its U.S. premiere, concerns an accountant who accidentally picks up a briefcase filled with cash. Candlelight's Forum Theatre, 5620 S. Harlem, Summit, 708-496-3000. Through May 26: Wednesdays, 8 PM; Thursdays, 2 and 8 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9 PM; Sundays, 2 and 7:30 PM. $20.75-$29.75; dinner-show packages available with the adjacent Bravo! restaurant.

Funny Papers

This musical celebrates the golden days of newspaper comic strips. Milk Pail, 14 N. 630 Route 25 (north of I-90), East Dundee, 847-742-4041. Through June 28: selected Mondays-Fridays, 1:15 PM (call for weekly schedule). Lunch precedes the show by approximately 90 minutes. $22 (includes lunch, tax, and tip.) Also April 19 through 21: Friday, 8:30 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. Dinner precedes the performance by 90 minutes. $29 (includes dinner, tax, and tip).

Geography of a Horse Dreamer

Sam Shepard's play concerns gangsters who kidnap a man who can predict horse-race outcomes. Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway, 549-1815. Through May 19: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12.

Gigi

This touring production is based on the 1958 movie musical, scored by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe and based on Colette's novel, about an apprentice courtesan coming of age in Belle Epoch Paris. Star Plaza Theatre, I-65 and U.S. 30, Merrillville, Indiana, 734-7266 or 559-1212. Wednesday, April 24, 2 PM. $26.

The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams's memory play concerns a would-be writer, his emotionally fragile sister, and their difficult mother. "Under the clear-eyed direction of Scott Shallenbarger, it's one of the most balanced views of the Wingfield family dynamic I've ever seen," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Raven Theatre, 6931 N. Clark, 338-2177. Through May 19: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15.

God's Favorite

The Shoestring Theatre performs Neil Simon's sitcom retelling of the biblical tale of Job. University of Chicago, International House, 1414 E. 59th, 947-8744. Through April 20: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $7.

Goin' East on Ashland

The title of this monologue by ruddy, rubber-faced Mike Houlihan is bartender's slang: someone "goin' east on Ashland" is off his nut. Houlihan's comic confession is a sometimes sacred, mostly profane, and often very funny reminiscence about growing up, but never quite fitting in, on Chicago's Irish Catholic "sout' side" in the 1960s. Under the direction of Chris Hart, Houlihan regales his audience with anecdotes and impersonations from a vividly remembered past. Sometimes aiming at the universal, Goin' East on Ashland is best at its most literally parochial--when it brims with detailed, sometimes raw references to the personalities and institutions of the parish that shaped Houlihan no matter how much he rebelled against it. Piper's Alley, 230 W. North, 573-0700. Through May 31: Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $25.

Goree Crossing

This music/theater piece by Paul Carter Harrison and Olu Dara explores African-American life in the World War I era. University of Illinois at Chicago, UIC Theater, 1040 W. Harrison, 996-2939. Through April 20: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 PM. $10.

The Greatest Story Never Told

The Free Associates are ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille, with their timely spoof of Hollywood Bible epics. This comedy troupe, whose specialty is improvising one-act parodies of literature and drama based on audience suggestions, invites viewers to offer their own commandments when it comes to plot, characters, etc. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Opens Sunday, April 21, 7 PM. Open run: Sundays, 7 PM. $8. The troupe also lampoons Tennessee Williams in Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, hospital dramas in B.S., detective stories in Pick-A-Dick, Shakespeare in As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face, and gothic romances in Blithering Heights (see separate listings).

Hansel & Gretel

The Chicago Kids Company's musical version of the fairy tale boasts "plenty of audience participation and sing-along songs." Wilbur Wright College, north campus, 4300 N. Narragansett, 472-3304. Through August 9: Mondays-Fridays, 10:30 AM; selected Saturdays, 10:30 AM (call for weekly schedule). $4.75-$5; "reservations are necessary."

Having Our Say

Centenarian sisters Sadie and Bessie Delany, who lived and witnessed 100 years of African-American history, are the focus of playwright-director Emily Mann's drama. "Mann's wonderful 1995 play . . . is a theatrical gem," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted, 348-4000. Through May 26: Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 4 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Wednesday, April 24 and May 1 through 22, noon and 8 PM; Sunday, May 12, 3 and 7 PM. additional shows selected Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 7 PM (call for weekly schedule). $32.50-$39.50.

Heartbeats

Amanda McBroom, best known for her song "The Rose," penned the script and score for this new musical about life, love, and marriage in the 90s. Illinois Theatre Center, 400 A Lakewood (Park Forest Public Library, lower level), Park Forest, 708-481-3510. Opens Friday, April 19, 8 PM. Through May 5: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2:30 and 7:30 PM. $12-$15.

The Heidi Chronicles

The Saint Sebastian Players perform Wendy Wasserstein's comedy about a feminist's development in the 60s and 70s. Saint Bonaventure Church, basement-level theater, 1625 W. Diversey (enter on Marshfield), 404-7922. Opens Friday, April 19, 8 PM. Through May 12: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $10; $3 for children.

Hellcab

"Will Kern's incredibly black comedy about a day in the life of a poor beleaguered cabdriver [is] biting and funny [as it] presents in a series of short, strikingly real blackouts the motley crew of druggies, drunks, and assholes who pass through the Hellcab on an average day," says Reader critic Jack Helbig of this long-running Famous Door Theatre Company production. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 10 PM; Sundays, 8 PM. $10-$13.

Hello Out There

William Saroyan's drama, about a gambler arrested for rape in a small Texas town, is directed by Matt Scharff for the Javelina Theatre Company. "Scharff's sturdy staging is as elemental as Saroyan's script, underlining the extremes of the playwright's not-so-subtle character contrasts," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 235-6110. Through May 1: Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 9 PM. $5.

Historical (Hys-ter'i-kel)

An evening of improvisational comedy inspired by the audience suggestion of a historical event. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Through May 30: Thursdays, 8:30 PM. $5.

The Homage That Follows

Mark Medoff's drama concerns a retired teacher, her substance-abusing TV-star daughter, and other people leading "obsessed lives." Brian Russell directs a midwest premiere. American Blues Theatre, 1909 W. Byron, 929-1031. Through May 25: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $15-$20. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Hot Monkey Pi

Director Mick Napier's new comedy uses 12 actors performing 43 characters involved in 11 different story lines. "Napier creates a hostile, absurd universe [in which] characters rarely speak or think linearly, and no one really listens to anyone else. [The] ensemble doubles and triples roles, filling the play with a bewildering array of characters [who] interact in dozens of short scenes. . . . Because Napier is a good director . . . he's able to shape these fragments into an intriguing evening that tugs at the imagination. . . . Unfortunately, [the show] never manages . . . to tell a story worth listening to," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Through June 1: Saturdays, 8:45 PM. $8.

I Hate Hamlet

Paul Rudnick's comedy concerns a TV star who receives advice on life, love, and Shakespeare from the ghost of John Barrymore. Christopher Ashley, who directed the off-Broadway and film versions of Rudnick's Jeffrey, stages the production. "I Hate Hamlet is a sweet nothing of a comedy, only a few centimeters deeper than Rudnick's screenplay for Addams Family Values," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000. Open run: Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM; additional matinees on selected Wednesdays, 2 PM (call for weekly schedule). $28.50-$39.50.

Illustrious Bloodspill

Bryn Magnus's "pantomime of action movie scenes" pays homage to the work of Sam Peckinpah, Jackie Chan, and other violencemongers. The band Family Problem provides musical accompaniment for this Curious Theatre Branch production. "[There's] no denying the energy and agility of the nine cast members, who maintain their aerobic pace with the casual grace of Olympic gymnasts," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 235-8021. Through May 5: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10, or "pay what you can."

The Imaginary Invalid

The Symposium Theatre Company performs Moliere's comedy about a hypochondriac. "You won't hear much of Moliere's repartee in . . . John Wood's plodding translation or in these actors' leaden Midwestern accents," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through April 27: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $12.50.

The Improv Orgy

Eight Degrees Below Normal hosts an audience-participation evening of improvisational comedy and games. Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley, 489-5471. Open run: Wednesdays, 10:30 PM. Free.

Improv the Night Away

"I guarantee this is improvisation like you won't see anywhere else"--Ted Sarantos, prop. "The improvs I saw . . . were fairly fresh stuff, refreshingly rooted in character rather than in . . . a snappy punch line"--Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Sarantos Studios, 2857 N. Halsted, 528-7114. Open run: Fridays, 8 PM. $8.

ImprovOlympic

This comedy theater features teams of players, trained by Del Close and Charna Halpern, creating improvised performances from audience suggestions. The core of the ImprovOlympic style is the Harold, Close's extended improv game, which eschews the usual sketch format in favor of more conceptual comic scenes. There's "real charm [in] watching young energetic improvisers joyfully putting Close's spin on" the standard form, says Reader critic Jack Helbig. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 880-0199. Open run: Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 and 10:30 PM; Sundays, 7 and 8:30 PM (new team night). $7. Improvisational "jam sessions" follow the regular Saturday shows at midnight. Free. Note: The theater also hosts The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement & Hootenanny; Think Loud and the Idiot Box; Night of the Mutant Harolds; and They're Girl Crazy (see separate listings).

The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy

Bryan Willis, Bruce Whitney, and Scot Whitney wrote this children's musical about a fisherman charged with "crimes against the sea." Stage Two Theatre, 410 Sheridan, Highwood, 847-432-7469. Through April 21: Saturdays, 10 AM and 1 and 7 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $5; $4 for children.

Independence

Lee Blessing's comedy-drama, about an emotionally disturbed woman and her three daughters, is presented by Pantheon Productions. "[The] actresses in Domenick Danza's in-the-round staging play the ranges of their roles with ease," says Reader critic Gabrielle S. Kaplan. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 539-1879. Through April 20: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $12.

Insomnia Theatre

This late-night entertainment features readings of one-acts, poetry presentations, music, etc. New performers are always welcome. Riverfront Playhouse, 11-13 South Water Street Mall, Aurora, 708-896-7144. Opens Saturday, April 20, midnight. Open run: Saturdays, midnight. $3 per person or $5 per couple; $1 off for each person arriving in pajamas.

Jake's Women

Neil Simon's semiautobiographical comedy concerns a playwright remembering his wives, daughter, sister, and shrink. South Suburban College, Kindig Performing Arts Center, 15800 S. State, South Holland, 708-210-5741. April 19 through 27: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $5.

Jane

This all-woman ensemble presents an evening of improvisation. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 244-8104. Through April 26: Fridays, 11 PM. $5.

Jelly Belly

Charles Smith's drama, which received its world premiere at Victory Gardens Theatre in 1989, is revived with A.C. Smith reprising the title role of a dangerous drug lord trying to reclaim his turf after being released from prison. "Smith created a fascinating character in Jelly Belly [but] seems at a loss as to what to do with him. So [he] plops him into the center of a bland domestic melodrama," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 871-3000. Through April 28: Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Wednesday, April 24, 10:30 AM and 8 PM; no show Tuesday, April 23. $23-$28. Note: The performance on Sunday, April 21, features audio description; the performances on Thursday-Friday, April 25 and 26, are captioned; and the 6 PM performance on Saturday, April 27, is signed.

Joined at the Head

Catherine Butterfield's drama, about two women facing the terminal illness one of them suffers, is directed by Kay Martinovich for the Frump Tucker Theatre Company. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through May 25: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM; Saturday, May 25, 5 and 8 PM. $10-$12.

The Jungle Book

Firstborn Productions presents its version of Rudyard Kipling's children's classic. Harvard Congregational Church theater, 1045 S. Kenilworth, Oak Park, 708-383-0067. Through May 5: Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $5.

Kidstage Goes 50's

Kidstage Productions performs a 1950s musical revue. Northbrook Park District Leisure Center, 3323 Walters, Northbrook, 847-559-8790. April 20 through 28: Saturdays-Sundays, 1 and 4 PM. $5.

The Killer and the Comic

A serial killer welcomes a potential victim--an aging Catskills comedian--into his secluded cabin, in this dark comedy by Rooster Mitchell. "Mitchell skillfully blends comedy and horror into a giddy, volatile mix," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 871-0442. Open run: Sundays, 7 PM. $10.

The Kramer

The Terrapin Theatre performs Mark Medoff's dark comedy. Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 989-1006. Through May 11: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10-$12. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill

Eartha Kitt plays Billie Holiday in this drama by Lanie Robertson, which depicts the jazz singer in her declining years and features such Holiday standards as "God Bless the Child" and "Strange Fruit." Jeffrey B. Moss directs. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 902-1500. Previews April 24 through 26: Wednesday, 2:30 and 8 PM; Thursday, 8 PM; Friday, 8 and 10:30 PM. $27.50. Opening performances Saturday, April 27, 6 and 9:30 PM. Through May 19: Wednesdays, 2:30 and 8 PM; Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 8 and 10:30 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $29.50-$32.50.

Ladyhouse Blues

Kevin O'Morrison's drama, set in 1919 Saint Louis, concerns a mother and her daughters awaiting the return of their men from the war. Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Theatre, 2010 Dewey, Evanston, 847-328-4540. Through April 28: Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $6 in advance; $8 at the door.

Late Nite Catechism

Patti Hannon stars as a nun instructing her Catholic-school class (that's you) on the dos and don'ts of dogma, in this long-running comedy by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan. "At once nostalgic and satirical, Late Nite Catechism . . . depends entirely on its lead actress for warmth and comic range. . . . Hannon . . . definitely has the maternal/teacherly edge that will win both our affection and respect," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $15-$18.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Sex and lies, but no videotape; waddaya want from 18th-century France? Christopher Hampton's stage version of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel about erotic power games is directed by Louis Contey. Shattered Globe Theatre, 2856 N. Halsted, 404-1237. Through May 11: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $15. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Life and Times of Forrest Chump

Kerman-Binkley Productions' parody of a certain popular movie, penned by D.H. Robinson, concerns a genius abused by an unjust society. "Mean and funny, it's an apt lampoon," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, 943-1444. Through April 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; actors night Monday, April 22, 8 PM. $7.50.

Like It Is

Johnathan F. McClain's "devastatingly accurate, wildly entertaining one-man show . . . takes us on a front-line walking tour of America's often-overlooked intraclass war, [creating] eight exquisitely detailed portraits of men in a world on the brink of collapse," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 248-1772. Through April 30: Mondays-Tuesdays, 7 PM. $5.

Like Our Parents Smoking Cornsilk

The Nomenil collective, which specializes in comedy with a gay perspective, presents a comedy by Courtney Evans and Allen Conkle. "Evans and Conkle create believable--if excessive--characters, developing a focused and intense idiocy that camps up [their] melodramatic stereotypes. . . . Nomenil's dark, uneven, and entertaining aesthetic uses camp in the same way Antonin Artaud used abusive confrontation in his theater of cruelty. . . . The story . . . is nonsensical, the characters are almost universally unappealing, and the dialogue and situations are smart-assed and disorienting. But the show's precise, high-energy farce and Saturday-morning-cartoon cheeriness coat the subversive, almost surreal bleakness with sugar, and the result is irresistible," says Reader critic Carol Burbank. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 281-7859. Through April 28: Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Sundays, 9 PM. $5.

Liquid

Three men perform an evening of improvisation and sketch comedy. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 409-9793. Through April 27: Saturdays, 9 PM. $5.

Little Red Ridinghood

The Albright Theatre's Kids Kompany enacts the famous story of a wayward girl and a wily wolf. Albright Theatre, Government Center Building, 100 Island, Batavia, 708-260-9662. Through April 20: Saturdays, 2 PM. $3.

Love's Labour's Lost

The August Ensemble Theatre previews its forthcoming production of Shakespeare's comedy. Super Crown Bookstore, 7201 Lake, River Forest, 708-452-7465. Saturday, April 20, 12:30 PM. Free. Then at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake, Oak Park, 708-452-7465. Saturday, April 27, 7 PM. Free.

Macbeth

Steve Pickering and Lia Mortensen star in Shakespeare's tragedy about a would-be leader's ruthless rise. "[Director] Kate Buckley and her cast have managed to make something compellingly modern out of the familiar story [in an] entertaining blood-and-guts production," says Reader critic Carol Burbank. Next Theatre Company, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston, 847-475-1875. Through April 27: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Saturday, April 27, 5:30 and 9 PM. $18-$22.

Macbeth

Shakespeare's drama is offered in a campus production. The Theatre School, DePaul University, Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo, 325-7900. Opens Thursday, April 18, 7:30 PM. Through April 28: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM; Sundays, 2 PM; additional student/senior matinee Thursday, April 25, 10 AM. Discussions follow the 10 AM and 7:30 PM shows on Thursday, April 25. $5-$10.

Mad Joy

The young actors of the TeenStreet theater company perform an ensemble-created movement/theater piece about a woman who lives in reverse. "Mad Joy is one of the riskiest, most innovative and sophisticated pieces of original theater I've seen. . . . [The performers] communicate the unrelenting pressure of inner-city existence [in a] minimalist style [in which] story and performance win out over spectacle," says Reader critic Gabrielle S. Kaplan. Free Street Theater, Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk (third floor), 772-7248. Through April 27: Fridays, 7 PM; Saturdays, 2 PM. $8; "more if you have it, less if you don't."

The Magic Act

This dark comedy by Laurence Klavan concerns a woman on trial for murdering the couple she was obsessed with. "Unfortunately, much of the script's supposed surreal satire never packs the promised punch. . . . Director Kay Martinovich's strong ensemble keeps the piece engaging and usually funny, however," says Reader critic Gabrielle S. Kaplan. Zebra Crossing Theatre, 4223 N. Lincoln, 248-6401. Through April 30: Sundays, 7 PM; Mondays-Tuesdays, 8 PM. $10.

Man of La Mancha

Don Quixote tilts at windmills, in Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion, and Mitch Leigh's musical version of Cervantes's novel. Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Roosevelt and Butterfield, Oakbrook Terrace, 708-530-0111. Through April 28: Wednesdays, 8 PM; Thursdays, 2 and 8 PM; Fridays, 8:30 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sundays, 2:30 and 7 PM. $22-$25; dinner-show packages available.

Mark Twain and the Laughing River

Veteran singer-songwriter Jim Post is a wonderful vocalist and tale teller--and nearly a dead ringer for Mark Twain. So Northlight Theatre's delightful family show is a natural: Post impersonates Twain in late middle age, integrating the writer's hilarious and poignant anecdotes about growing up in pre-Civil War Missouri with Post's own rousing country-gospel tunes. Post's charming persona enhances Twain's marvelously wry humor, especially when he interacts with the audience to make a point or lead a sing-along. Highly recommended. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 327-5252. Through May 19: Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 2 and 5:30 PM. $20.50-$30.50.

Missing Angel Juan

This play by Ann Boyd and Julia Neary is based on Francesca Lia Block's novel--the fourth book in her "Weetzie Bat" series--about a girl who follows her soulmate to New York. "Block sets up a workable dramatic premise . . . [but] delivers . . . nothing but a series of pointless, cloyingly kooky encounters," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. But set designer "Stephanie Nelson pulls off a minor miracle, . . . transforming a cramped, workmanlike stage into a magical operatic playground. . . . Directors Ann Boyd and Scott Cummins match Nelson's ingenuity in their sprightly staging," says Hayford. The Firehouse, 1625 N. Damen, 281-0022. Through April 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $10.

My Period

Playwright Jenny Kirkland and director Amy Seeley teamed up for this comedy about a seventh-grader's coming of age. "Although . . . Seeley pushes her cast to extremes of frenzied mugging . . . My Period doesn't go far enough into the sharp, cynical wit that powers good camp and clear parody," says Reader critic Carol Burbank. Factory Theater, 1257 W. Loyola, 274-1345. Through April 20: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. Then through June 15: Fridays-Saturdays, 9:30 PM. $7. Tickets are $10 for both My Period and Abba-Rama! (see separate listing) the same night.

Nagasaki Dust

This drama by Colin McKay concerns a Japanese-American man on trial for treason in the wake of World War II. Cecilie D. Keenan directs a world premiere, which employs live drum music and butoh dancing. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 883-1090. Through May 12: Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM; additional matinee Saturday, May 4 and 11, 2:30 PM. $12-$18.

The Napoleonade

Trevor Anthony and Thomas McCarthy penned this "burlesque of conquest" exploring Napoleon Bonaparte's quest for glory. Eclipse Theatre Company, 2074 N. Leavitt, 862-7415. Previews April 25 through 28: Thursday-Sunday, 8 PM. $8. Opens Monday, April 29, 7 PM. Through June 8: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Monday, May 20, 8 PM (actors night benefit for Season of Concern). $10.

Never the Same Rhyme Twice

Rooster Mitchell's comedy concerns a corps of card-playing con women. The play is an "entertaining but somewhat unsatisfying one-act [that] fails to lead anywhere the least bit unexpected. . . . Under the direction of Rich Cotovsky, Mitchell's repartee crackles, [but] the revelations and conflicts feel contrived, implausible," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 871-0442. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 11 pm. $6.

New York Times

The Stone Circle Theatre Ensemble presents a reading of a new historical drama by Gregory Loselle, about the rumored affair between the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher with Christian Herald editor Elizabeth Tilton. A discussion follows the performance. Borders Books & Music, 830 N. Michigan, 573-0564. Saturday, April 20, 8 PM. Free.

The New Yorkers

Musical-comedy greats Cole Porter and Herbert Fields penned this 1930 revue, revived here under the direction of Dyanne Earley and Anthony Stimac. Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, Route 21 (Milwaukee Ave.), Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200. Through June 9: Wednesdays, 2 and 8 PM; Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sundays, 2:30 and 7 PM. $33; dinner-show packages available; regular ticket price includes a free steak or fish dinner most Thursdays. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Night of the Mime

The StreetSigns theater performs George Brant's new comedy, "the tale of a young farmgirls' coming of age through her trusty pet mime." Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway, 296-1875. Preview Wednesday, April 24, 8 PM. $5. Opens Thursday, April 25, 8 PM. Through May 17: Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 10:30 PM. $10.

Night of the Mutant Harolds

Del Close directs new long-form improvisation. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 880-0199. Open run: Fridays, 10:30 PM. $7.

No Height Requirement

Members of the Second City Theatre's national touring company perform a family-oriented revue of sketches, songs, and improv games. The Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 337-3992. Open run: Sundays, 3 PM. $5; brunch-show packages available.

No Shame Theatre

Short scenes, monologues, songs, and poetry are welcome at this open forum. Sheffield's Beer and Wine Garden, 3258 N. Sheffield, 409-4143. Open run: Mondays, 9:30 PM (participants should arrive at 9 PM). $3; $2 for participants.

Noises Off

Michael Frayn's farce concerns the on- and offstage misadventures of a bungling theater troupe. It's presented by the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. College of DuPage Arts Center, Theatre 2, 22nd and Park, Glen Ellyn, 708-942-4000. Through May 12: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $15.

Noises Off

The same, in a community production by the Village Theatre. Cutting Hall, 150 E. Wood, Palatine, 847-358-2506. April 19 through May 4: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, April 21, 2:30 PM. $10.

Off-Off-Campus

The student improv group performs its new sketch comedy revue, Six Chinese Nationalists in Search of an Author. University of Chicago, University Church, second-floor theater, 5655 S. University, 702-3414. April 19 through May 24: Fridays, 9 PM. $4.

One Fish, Two Fish, Dead Fish, Blue Fish

The Gaia Theater uses comedy, music, masks, and audience participation to teach kids about the ecological decline of the Chicago River. The performance is part of "It's Wild in Chicago," the Field Museum's Earth Month programming. Field Museum of Natural History, Stanley Field Hall, Roosevelt at Lake Shore, 922-9410. April 25 through 28: Thursday-Friday, 11 AM; Saturday-Sunday, 1 PM. Free with museum admission ($5).

One Tough Cookie

Karen Mason, the onetime Chicago cabaret singer who's gone on to a career in Broadway musicals, has ripened into a performer of captivating warmth and honesty to go along with her big, beautiful, expressive, and superbly controlled voice. In this quasi-autobiographical musical composed for her by her longtime accompanist Brian Lasser before he died of AIDS, Mason conveys the poignant, amusing reality in the potentially mundane story of a Manhattanite who returns to her suburban Chicago home to help her widowed mother sort through a lifetime of mementos and memories. The lightweight but truthful material makes a fine showcase for Mason's state-of-the-art dramatic singing. Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place, Highland Park, 847-432-4335. Through April 21: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $25-$28.

Open Call

Kiss today goodbye: This improvised, audience-interactive comedy by the Zeitgeist Theater takes place at an audition for a new all-American musical. "Executed with good humor and refreshingly little bitchiness, [this] clever idea doesn't sink or swim on the basis of audience participation alone: there's enough structured comedy to keep the laughs rolling," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Royal George Theatre Center Gallery, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000. Open run: Fridays, 10 PM. $18. Note: The same company also performs Flanagan's Wake (see separate listing).

Opera in Focus

In the tradition of Chicago's beloved, now-defunct Kungsholm restaurant-theater, this company (directed by William Fosser) features selections from operatic literature as performed by vivid rod puppets whose movement is synchronized to classic recordings. Rolling Meadows Park District, Park Central, 3000 Central, Rolling Meadows, 847-818-3220. Open run: Wednesdays, 1:30 PM; Saturdays, 1:30 and 8 PM. $8; reservations required.

Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From the Zoo

Dario Fo and Franca Rame's comedy looks at contemporary women's sexual situation. "Tackling this volatile assemblage of eroticism, indignation, and dyspepsia is no easy trick. . . . Under Daniel Taube's direction, the cast unearths the real tragedies in these outrageous portraits. The performances are a bit labored at times but more often playful, straightforward, and subtly textured," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, 384-0494. Through April 20: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 9 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $8; two for one on Wednesdays.

Panties

Equity Library Theatre Chicago performs Carl Sternheim's 1910 comedy, adapted and updated from the German by Jay Giejess. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 743-0266. Opens Thursday, April 18, 7 PM. Through April 28: Thursdays-Fridays, 7 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 7 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $10.

The Pearl

John Steinbeck's story, about a Mexican fisherman whose discovery of a valuable pearl brings disaster, is offered for a children's audience. Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place, Highland Park, 847-432-4335. Sunday, April 21, 12:30 PM. $6.

Peter Pan

AlphaBet Soup Productions offers its musical adaptation of James M. Barrie's fairy tale. Candlelight's Forum Theatre, 5620 S. Harlem, Summit, 708-496-3000. Through August 10: selected Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:15 AM; selected Saturdays, 10 AM and noon (call for weekly schedule). $5.50-$6.

Les Petites Follies

Marionettes impersonate Josephine Baker, Fred and Adele Astaire, Sophie Tucker, and other legendary entertainers in this puppet show for grown-ups. Puppet Parlor, 1922 W. Montrose, 774-2919. Open run: Fridays, 8 PM. $10; reservations required.

Pick-A-Dick

The Free Associates invite you to select a detective in their improvised comedy whodunit. Audience members get to choose the evening's hero or heroine (options include Miss Marple, Philip Marlowe, Nick and Nora Charles, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew) and suggest clues and other plot elements in this lightweight literary spoof. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $10. The troupe also lampoons Tennessee Williams in Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, Bible epics in The Greatest Story Never Told, hospital dramas in B.S., Shakespeare in As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face, and gothic romances in Blithering Heights (see separate listings).

A Piece of My Heart

Keith Walker's book about women in the American military during the Vietnam war is adapted for the stage by Shirley Lauro. "Although director Greg Kolack sometimes pushes his actors into melodramatic excess, they do generate a passionate if uneven intensity that makes their interwoven stories moving and memorable," said Reader critic Carol Burbank when she reviewed the production's original run at Circle Theatre. Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 883-1090. Through May 5: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$18; $5 off for Vietnam veterans.

Pinocchio

Marionettes perform Collodi's tale of a puppet who wants to become human. Puppet Parlor, 1922 W. Montrose, 774-2919. Open run: Saturdays-Sundays, 2 PM. $5; "reservations required."

A Pirate's Lullaby

A history professor's research into the lives of two 18th-century female buccaneers inspires her to take on the U.S. government, in this comedy by Jessica Litwak. Goodman Theatre Studio, 200 S. Columbus, 443-3800. Through April 28: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM; Tuesday, April 23, 7:30 PM; Sunday, April 21, 2 and 7:30 PM. $18-$25; day-of-show rush discounts and dinner-show packages available. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Play's the Thing

Ferenc Molnar's 1926 play, performed in P.G. Wodehouse's hilarious English adaptation, concerns a trio of theatrical collaborators whose work is interrupted by jealousy. The show, staged by Hungarian director Laszlo Marton, features a fine cast including John Reeger, William Brown, Hollis Resnik, and Bradley Mott. It's witty, unpretentious, cleverly constructed, hugely satisfying light comedy. The production runs in rotating repertory with The Barber of Seville (see separate listing). Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, 753-4472. Through May 19: Wednesdays (April 24 and May 8), 7:30 PM; Thursdays (April 18 and May 2 and 16), 7:30 PM; Fridays (April 19 and May 3 and 17), 8 PM; Saturdays (April 27 and May 11), 8 PM; Saturdays (May 4 and 18), 3 PM; Sundays (April 21 and May 5 and 19), 7:30 PM; Sundays (April 28 and May 12), 2:30 PM. $23-$29. Tickets for both The Play's the Thing and The Barber of Seville on the same day are $48. Note: A "Banner Night" on Friday, May 3, includes dinner at Palette's, discussion on the production, and transportation to and from the show. $60; call the theater for details. Also: The Court Theatre's "April in Paris" fund-raiser at the Hotel Nikko Chicago, 320 N. Dearborn, on Friday, April 19, features dinner, dancing, and a concert by Broadway and cabaret singer Karen Akers. Tickets are $225-$500; call 702-7164 for information.

Playwrights-in-Progress XV

The Garrick Players present staged readings of scenes and one-acts by student playwrights. Lake Forest College, Allan Carr Theatre, Sheridan and Maplewood, Lake Forest, 847-735-5210. April 18 through 20: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM. $5.

Quilters

Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek's musical drama about pioneer women in 19th-century America uses the art of quilting as a metaphor for the lives of the Scotch-Irish settlers who crossed the prairie. Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton, Western Springs, 708-246-3380. April 18 through May 5: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:15 PM; Sunday, April 21 and 28, 2:30 and 7:30 PM; Sunday, May 5, 2:30 PM; no show Thursday, May 2. $12-$15.

Richard III

Hot on the heels of Ian McKellen's movie version comes Barbara Gaines's staging of Shakespeare's thriller about a malevolent monarch's rise and fall. Brendan Corbalis stars in this Shakespeare Repertory production. Ruth Page Theater, 1016 N. Dearborn, 642-2273. Previews through April 19: Thursday-Friday, 7:30 PM. $17. Opens Sunday, April 21, 6 PM. Through May 26: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 4 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; additional matinee Wednesday, May 8, 15, and 22, 1 PM; no show Tuesday, April 23. $24-$32.

Riders to the Sea and The Shadowy Waters

Two classic one-acts, by playwrights J.M. Synge and W.B. Yeats respectively, are offered as part of an "Irish Theatre Festival Celebration." Riders to the Sea, Synge's lyrical tragedy about a fisherman's wife whose sons are killed by the sea, "is so steeped in the language and lore of the islands that even when these Irish peasants are played by actors of limited range with imperfect dialect, as they are in [this] flawed version, . . . enough survives to make the experience satisfying," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. But Yeats's play, about a pirate on a quest for a beautiful queen, is a "stiff, pompous, leaden one-act [filled with] gassy speeches, bad poetry, and fumbled attempts at Wagnerian myth making," says Helbig. Transient Theatre, 1222 W. Wilson, 334-6811. Through April 21: Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $10.

Romantic Comedy

The Borealis Theatre Company presents Bernard Slade's play about a man and a woman whose writing partnership spans 14 years. Aurora University, Perry Theatre, 347 S. Gladstone, Aurora, 708-844-4928. Through April 28: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $12.50.

Romeo and Juliet

The Shakespeare Project performs selections from Shakespeare's tragedy. Chicago Cultural Center, Grand Army of the Republic Annex, 78 E. Washington, 252-8544. Sunday, April 21, 1 to 3 PM. Free.

Rumors

Neil Simon's farce concerns a dinner party disrupted by potential political scandal. Touchstone Theatre, 2851 N. Halsted, 404-4700. Through May 19: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $18-$25.

Save the Last Dance for Me

Radio personality Bonnie DeShong stars in Eugene Vernardo's drama about interracial marriage. The show is presented by Kuumba Theater and Hidden Stages. Malcolm X College, Kuumba Theater, 1900 W. Van Buren, 752-1766. Through April 29: Mondays, 7 PM. $8.

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Theatre BAM's stage adaptation of the animated educational TV series "is one of those rare shows that work both as an evening of amusing, mildly campy nostalgia . . . and as a compelling piece of children's theater," said Reader critic Jack Helbig when he reviewed the show's original run at the Body Politic a couple of years ago. Victory Gardens Theater (second floor), 2257 N. Lincoln, 871-3000. Through June 9: Wednesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 7:30 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM; no show Sunday, April 21, or Friday, May 17. $15-$18.

The Screw Puppies

Metraform presents an evening of experiments in long-form improvisation. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Open run: late Saturdays, 12:30 AM. $5. Tickets are $3 if you've just seen Coed Prison Sluts (see separate listing).

Sea of Fire

Actor Kevin McCoy, musician Robert Mazurek, and visual artist Stephan Mazurek collaborated on this multimedia show about "one man's journey of self-discovery." "McCoy . . . is a likable guy, and it's hard not to feel sympathy for someone who feels compelled to tell an audience

. . . just how lonely his life has been. But such onstage confessions soon overstay their welcome, even when they're broken up by interesting [visual] effects," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 761-4477. Through May 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $12.

Second City

A new, untitled revue directed by Mick Napier is currently in previews at Chicago's venerable improv comedy theater, with an opening to be announced. The Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 337-3992. The Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 337-3992. Open run: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8:30 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 and 11 PM; Sundays, 8 PM. $10.50-$15.50. Also: a national touring company performs The Best of Second City in an open run. Mondays, 8:30 PM. $5.50. Special improvisational sessions follow the regular shows. Mondays-Thursdays, 10:30 PM; late Saturdays, 1 AM; Sundays, 10 PM. Free. The theater also hosts a family show, No Height Requirement (see separate listing).

Second City E.T.C.

Farewell My CompuServe, the 16th revue on Second City's second stage, is directed by Pete Zahradnick. The show "offers more fluid transitions, . . . more running jokes, and fewer hit-and-run blackout scenes" than its predecessors, and "the playing here is superior to the writing," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. The Second City E.T.C., Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 642-8189. Open run: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8:30 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 and 11 PM; Sundays, 8 PM. $10.50-$15.50. Special improvisational sessions follow the regular shows: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 10:30 PM; late Saturdays, 1 AM; Sundays, 10 PM. Free. The theater also hosts The Big Finish (see separate listing).

The Second Coming of Joan of Arc

The French freedom fighter returns to clear up her image, in Green Highway Theater's production of Carolyn Gage's one-woman play. "Two hours of spewing bile is a daunting assignment, . . . but Carol Roscoe gives the role of Joan her all, never allowing her character's trembling fury and shrill defiance to abate even for an instant," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. Urbus Orbis, 1934 W. North, 935-0371. Through April 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $10.

Shakers

John Godber and Jane Thornton wrote this portrait of the lives of cocktail waitresses. It's presented by the New Mercury Theatre Company. D'Agostino's, 1967 N. Halsted, 561-9215. Previews April 20 through 27: Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 11 PM. $15. Opens Wednesday, May 1, 7:30 PM. Through June 8: Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 11 PM. $15; dinner-show packages available.

Shakespeare Birthday Celebration

Actors from the Players Workshop of the Second City celebrate the Bard with scenes from his plays and Renaissance music. Lincoln Park, Belden and Lincoln Park West (Shakespeare statue), 929-6288. Saturday, April 20, 2 PM. Free.

Shakespeare's Fools

Scenes from As You Like It, King Lear, and Twelfth Night are performed in honor of Shakespeare's birthday. The performance, directed by Steve Scott, is offered as part of the annual McElroy Memorial Shakespeare Celebration, which pays tribute to the memory of Loyola University professor Bernard McElroy. Loyola University Chicago, Kathleen Mullady Memorial Theatre, Centennial Forum, 6525 N. Sheridan, 508-2240. Tuesday, April 23, 7:30 PM. Free (a reception follows the performance).

Shannen Doherty Shoots a Porno: A Shockumentary

In writer-director Billy Bermingham's comedy, inspired by the exploits of TV's favorite bad girl, "underneath the obligatory piss, vomit, blood, and ejaculate . . . is a brilliant, hilarious examination of cult figures, fame, and overkill," says Reader critic Stephanie Shaw. Torso Theatre, 2827 N. Broadway, 549-3330. Through May 11: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $7-$12. Note: Free beer is served at the shows on Friday-Saturday, April 26 and 27, in celebration of the production's second anniversary. The same theater also presents Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack (see separate listing).

She Stoops to Conquer

Oliver Goldsmith's comedy is offered in a campus production. College of Lake County, Building 5 theater, 19351 W. Washington, Grayslake, 847-223-6601, ext. 2300. April 19 through 27: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $7.

Shear Madness

Capitalizing on people's prurient interest in murder trials that are none of their business, this long-running audience-participation "comedy whodunit" allows the audience to serve as judge and jury in the case of a concert pianist knocked off in a beauty parlor, where the prime suspects include a a pair of unisex hair stylists and their clients. The play is adapted from Paul Pšrtner's German script and directed by Bruce Jordan for Cranberry Productions. "While the play is beneath any adjective even in my extensive vocabulary of aesthetic slurs . . . Shear Madness generates a crass but genuine party atmosphere," said Reader critic Bury St. Edmund when he reviewed the show many moons ago. Mayfair Theatre, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan, 786-9120. Open run: Mondays and Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 9 PM; Saturdays, 6:30 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7:30 PM. $23-$28; dinner-show packages are available.

Sheila

The comedy group offers a program of "raw improv comedy" that features a free pitcher of beer for the best audience suggestion of the evening; Reader critic Jack Helbig says that "the performers work together with such joy that even the weakest improvisations are fun." Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, 1172 E. 55th, 643-5516. Open run: Wednesdays, 9 PM. Free.

Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists

The comedy group Sheila invites the audience to determine the direction of its improvised plays by choosing from among 30 plot twists hanging on the wall. Reader critic Jack Helbig praises "the intelligent, confident way [the] performers play with their long-form improvisations, taking the sort of risks that would trip up less experienced troupes." Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through April 27: Saturdays, 11 PM. $7.

Show Boat

Harold Prince's spectacular staging brings new vividness to the classic musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Edna Ferber's novel about three generations of theater folk in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. John McMartin, Dorothy Loudon, Marilyn McCoo, Mark Jacoby, Gay Willis, and Michel Bell headline this national company of Prince's Broadway hit. Prince's cinematic, colorful production highlights the inventiveness of the show's brilliant first act and greatly compensates for the drawbacks of the overlong, contrived second half. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 902-1500. Open run: Tuesdays, 7:30 PM; Wednesdays, 2 and 7:30 PM; Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$70.

Sleeping Beauty

Marc Robin adapted this children's theater version of the tireless fairy tale. Drury Lane Dinner Theatre, 2500 W. 95th, Evergreen Park, 708-422-0404. Through May 10: selected Mondays-Fridays, 10:30 AM; Sundays, noon (call for weekly schedule). $5.50 on weekdays; weekends $7.50, $6.50 for children.

Smoke on the Mountain

The Stage Door Theatre Company, which calls itself "Chicagoland's only professional Christian theatre company," presents Connie Ray, Alan Bailey, Mike Carver, and Mark Hardwick's charming musical about an Appalachian gospel-singing family in the Depression. New Trier West Center, 7 S. Happ, Northfield, 708-537-3300. Through May 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $15.50; $10.50 for children.

Someone You Can Trust

This educational musical is designed to help grade school kids understand the choices facing them regarding gangs, drugs, and handguns. Written by Meade Palidofsky and Claudia Howard Queen and presented by the Music/Theatre Workshop, the show is aimed at school groups, but the general public is welcome. DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, 561-7100. Through April 27: Saturdays, 11 AM; Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 AM; Thursdays, 10 AM and 3:30 PM. $5-$7.

Sophisticated Ladies

This revue, based on the songs of Duke Ellington, features E. Faye Butler, Felicia Fields, and Gordon McClure under Marc Robin's direction. Drury Lane Dinner Theatre, 2500 W. 95th, Evergreen Park, 708-422-0404. Through May 26: Wednesdays, 2 and 8 PM; Thursdays, noon; Fridays, 8:30 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3:30 PM. $17-$25; dinner-show packages available.

The Stink of Destiny

The WNEP Theater Foundation's non-verbal theater piece employs contact improvisation, pantomime, and stage combat to explore the theme "destiny in our lives." "These interwoven movement-theater and mimed stories about murder, elderly dating, and child abuse represent the company's first experiment with dramatic non-verbal performance, and their earnest self-initiation falls prey to the easy traps of the genre. Although the stories are an interesting mix of melodrama and clowning, the characters are either bland stereotypes . . . or muddy sketches," says Reader critic Carol Burbank. Zebra Crossing Theatre, 4223 N. Lincoln, 549-4845. Through April 27: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10.

Stir-Friday Night

This Asian-American comedy troupe presents a new revue, The Return of the Yellow Menace! TurnAround Theatre, 3209 N. Halsted, 973-0893. Through May 31: Fridays, 10:30 PM. $8.

Story Hour

Actors from Kaleidoscope Children's Theatre entertain kids aged two to six. Barbara's Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway, 477-0411. Open run: Saturdays, 10:30 to 11:15 AM. Free.

The Story of Ferdinand

James Sie and Douglas Wood penned this kids' musical, based on Munro Leaf's tale of a flower-loving bull. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 761-4477. Through June 30: Saturdays-Sundays, 1 PM. $6 with advance reservations; "pay what you can" at the door on the day of the show.

Story Time Extravaganza

Puppet plays and stories are presented by staff of the Thomas Hughes Children's Library. Harold Washington Library Center, Thomas Hughes Children's Library program room, 400 S. State, 747-4200 or TDD 747-4219. Through May 31: Wednesdays, 10:15 AM (geared to children aged three to five); Fridays, 10:15 AM (for children aged six to eight); Monday, April 22 and May 6, 13, and 20, 10:15 AM (for children aged three to five). No performances Wednesday, May 8 and 15. Free.

Summer and Smoke

Tennessee Williams's drama, about a repressed woman in love with a dissipated doctor, is offered in a student production under Jennifer Markowitz's direction. Columbia College Theater/Music Center, New Studio Theater, 72 E. 11th (basement), 663-1600, ext. 6126. Previews through April 20: Thursday, 2 PM; Friday-Saturday, 7:30 PM. $2. Opens Sunday, April 21, 7 PM. Through April 28: Tuesday, 4 PM; Wednesday, 2 PM; Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $2.

Tales of the Lost Formicans

Alien nation: a group of interstellar explorers tries to make sense of the strange culture it's observing--ours. StreetSigns theater presents Constance Congdon's satire. Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway, 296-1875. Through May 19: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Temple

Charlotte Gibson's play concerns a group of black women discussing their lives and ambitions in a hair-braiding salon. Chuck Smith directs. ETA Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago, 752-3955. Through May 5: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $15. Note: The company's annual Spring Board Benefit on Sunday, April 28, from 4 to 8 PM features guest artist Sasha Daltonn, a buffet, door prizes, and a "celebrity talent show" (scheduled participants include John Davis, Harry Porterfield, James Montgomery, and Deborah Crable). Benefit tickets are $50. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Thataway Jack

An easterner learns just how wild the Wild West can get, in this farce by John Rustan and Frank Semerano. Riverfront Playhouse, 11-13 South Water Street Mall, Aurora, 708-896-7144. Opens Friday, April 19, 8 PM. Through May 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10; $6 for children.

They're Girl Crazy

This musical comedy from Beach Ball Productions, featuring songs by Michael Thomas, parodies beach-blanket movies of the 1960s. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 880-0199. Open run: Wednesdays, 8 PM. $8.

Think Loud and the Idiot Box

The first half of this evening of long-form improv "examines the functional forms and colorful habits of conversation and argument," advises a press release; the second half features a fully improvised TV sitcom based on the outcome of the first half. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 880-0199. Open run: Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $7.

The Thirst (A One-Woman Play for Jew and Clarinet)

Donna Blue Lachman's solo show seeks to offer "an intimate portrait of herself and her ancestors." Susan Nussbaum directs. Blue Rider Theatre, 1822 S. Halsted, 733-4668. Open run: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $15; Thursdays, $12 "or pay what you can."

This Island's Mine

British playwright Philip Osment's gay coming-of-age story is presented by the Red Kite Theatre. "Osment's densely textured 1987 work interweaves three fully fleshed plots filled with characters struggling to stay whole despite cynicism, racism, and homophobia. . . . And despite some shaky accents, the cast members perform their complex, multiple roles with assurance," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through April 28: Saturdays, 5 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $10.

Three Days 'Til Heaven

An old lady's faith in God is the theme of Wendell Lamar Hargrove's musical drama, presented by the Anointed Christian Theatrical Ensemble. Malcolm X College, Kuumba Theater, 1900 W. Van Buren, 941-3421. Saturday, April 20, 7:30 PM. $7 in advance; $10 at the door.

The Tiff and Mom Show

Corn Productions' sitcom spoof (complete with live commercials) concerns the daily lives of a dysfunctional family in Berwyn. (Berrrwyn?!) Currently running is the show's third episode, "The Charity Barbecue." "Yes, it's gross and sophomoric. Yes, it draws on the wasteland of TV to make its points and connect with the audience. Yes, it's self-consciously incorrect and messy, often relying on drag performances for its laughs. And yes, I enjoyed it. . . . [It] offers good cheap laughs and gross-outs--plenty of yuks and yucks--along with some comic performances so irresistibly energetic that even the sloppiness of the production becomes endearing," says Reader critic Stephanie Shaw. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Open run: Wednesdays, 8:30 PM. $5.

Tommy Gun's Garage

The restaurant-cabaret presents a "roaring twenties musical comedy revue" in a speakeasy setting, with dining and drinking integrated into the show. Tommy Gun's Garage, 1239 S. State, 728-2828. Open run: Thursdays, 6:30 PM; Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 6:30 PM; Sundays, 6 PM. $38-$45 (includes tax and tip).

Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding

"[This] freewheeling, audience-interactive re-creation of a contemporary Italian wedding is living proof of the marvelously spontaneous theater that can be made when the audience is included. True, the premise here is kind of silly. For three hours you are part of the wedding party--you attend the service and reception, eat authentic cheap Italian food, even dance (for a dollar) with the bride and groom. Woven into the evening are all the usual Catholic-wedding jokes. . . . But they're presented with such finesse and subtlety that even the most well worn are funny.

. . . This surprisingly lifelike and remarkably funny re-creation reminds one . . . of the entertaining chaos of Robert Altman's best films," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Piper's Alley, 230 W. North, 664-8844. Open run: Tuesdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 5 PM; additional matinee the first Wednesday of each month, 12:30 PM. $47-$60 (includes food). Note: "All Wednesday nights are smoke-free."

Tony 'n' Tony's Wedding

See Critic's Choice. Piper's Alley, 230 W. North, 664-8122. Open run: Mondays, 7:30 PM. $45 (includes food). Also Tuesday, May 7, 7:30 PM. $50 (benefit for Howard Brown Health Center; for tickets, call 871-5777, ext. 391).

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

The Neo-Futurists perform 30 plays in 60 minutes in this "futurist evening in the grand Italian tradition," created by Greg Allen. The show changes weekly, with between two and twelve new scripts written each week depending on the roll of the die by audience members. "Allen's tongue-in-cheek updating of a futurist entertainment exalts speed and chance.

. . . The result is unashamedly live and democratic theater," says Reader critic Lawrence Bommer. Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, 275-5255. Open run: Fridays-Saturdays, 11:30 PM (doors open 10:30 PM); Sundays, 7 PM (doors open 6:30 PM). $3 "plus the roll of a single six-sided die" ($4-$9).

Train Is Comin'

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a student choir of former slaves at Fisk University in the late 1800s, is the subject of this new a cappella gospel musical by McKinley Johnson. "Jam-packed with familiar, beautifully moving traditional songs, [and featuring] a stellar cast of ten exquisitely voiced actors, [this] world premiere is layered with the kind of wit and deep emotion all too rare on Chicago stages. But three hours is a long haul for rather sketchily drawn characters and . . . only the skeleton of a plot. . . . Train Is Comin' is enjoyable and educational, but it's still a rewrite or two away from being something really special," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Chicago Theatre Company, Parkway Community House, 500 E. 67th, 493-5360. Through April 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15.

The Truth

New plays by three local playwrights are showcased in this presentation by OverBored Productions. The program consists of Curse the Darkness, by Edward J. Underhill, about a young couple debating their religious beliefs; Let's Spend Money, by Michael Burke, in which three actors play eight people talking about sex, death, and money; and Not Seven, Elizabeth Ward's comedy about the blossoming friendship between an upfront lesbian and an uptight gay man. "Like the other plays, Not Seven . . . is too talky, lacks plot development, and confuses discussing profound topics with actually being profound. But Ward paces the play well and gets an engaging and idiosyncratic performance out of RoiAnn Phillips as the lesbian. The question is whether it's worth wading through the two sketchily written, tentatively performed, and indifferently directed plays that precede it," says Reader critic Adam Langer. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 477-2032. Through April 28: Saturdays-Sundays, 7 PM; no show Saturday, April 20 or 27. $7.

The Turn Around and Lifelines

Students perform staged reading of these two plays, by Daphne Earley and Marvin Chambers respectively. University of Chicago, Reynolds Club, Francis X. Kinahan Theater, 5706 S. University (third floor), 702-3414. Saturday, April 20, 8 PM. Free.

Ubu Roi

Hystopolis Productions presents its adult puppet version of Alfred Jarry's proto-absurdist classic, about an amoral oaf who becomes a tyrant. The puppet-theater format is especially appropriate to this play, written when its author was 15 years old: eight years before its official premiere in 1896, it was originally performed by marionettes. This production features a new English translation by Sherry C.M. Lindquist and music by Evan Chen. "Jarry's nasty and brutish avant-garde play" is "vulgar, bleak, and blackly funny" as performed by this "ensemble of grotesque, outrageous, life-size puppets," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Rosary College, Candida Lund Auditorium, 7900 W. Division, River Forest, 787-7387. Through May 4: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $17.

Valentine Matters

The Magpie Stage Company performs a trio of short plays by William Donnelly--Hard Hearts, Hemostat, and Host--each of which "traces one aspect of the different facets of relationships." Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway, 327-5938. Through May 7: Mondays-Tuesdays, 8 PM. $8.

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom

Charles Busch, the Northwestern University alum who has gone on to become Manhattan's queen of drag theater, wrote this camp comedy about two feuding divas who travel from prehistoric Sodom and Gomorrah ("the Twin Cities") to 1920s Hollywood and 1970s Vegas. This raunchy collage of ancient and modern mythic kitsch wallows in the excesses of DeMille-esque biblical epics, silent-movie melodramas, and Carter-era schlock-pop, providing a diverting showcase for hilarious drag clowning and ingenious visual design. Honey West and Alexandra Billings star. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 327-5252. Through June 2: Fridays-Saturdays, 7:30 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $17.50-$20; $10 for persons 21 and under.

Waiting on Sean Flynn

Steve Patterson's drama concerns three journalists in the Vietnam war linked by their friendship with Errol Flynn's son, a photojournalist who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970. The production is a joint effort of T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. Productions, Close Call Theatre, and the Chicago Vietnam War Museum. Chicago Dramatists Workshop, 1105 W. Chicago, 929-5083. Opens Thursday, April 25, 8 PM. $25 (proceeds benefit the Chicago Vietnam War Museum). Through June 1: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $10; $8 for veterans.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl's bittersweet tale of a candy man and the greedy children he ensnares is performed by the Papai Players. Cutting Hall, 150 E. Wood, Palatine, 847-359-9556. Through April 24: Friday-Saturday, April 19 and 20, 10 AM; Wednesday, April 24, 10 AM. $5 in advance; $6 at the door.

Wombat Man: Episode 54, The Cereal Murders

Chrisi Collins wrote and directed this superhero spoof. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall, 3319 N. Clark (second floor), 327-5588. Through April 19: Fridays, 11 PM. $8; $2 off "if you come dressed as your fave super-hero."

Wrens

Anne McGravie's portrait of seven friends in the Women's Royal Navy during World War II is presented in its world premiere by the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Footsteps Theatre Company, 5230 N. Clark (second floor), 472-1169. Through May 12: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $12; $25 for the show on Sunday, April 21 (includes postshow reception; proceeds benefit Rivendell Theatre Ensemble). (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Yellow Boat

This family play by David Saar concerns a boy with AIDS who learns to understand himself through art. The Theatre School, DePaul University, Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo, 325-7900. Through May 25: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 AM; Saturdays, 2 PM; no shows Thursday, April 25 and May 23, and Saturday, May 4. $5; $2 for children 18 months and younger. An ice cream social and discussion follow the show on Saturday, April 20, at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan; tickets for the postshow event are $2.

The Zoo Story and A Man of Experience

Hidden Stages Theatre performs two one-acts, by Edward Albee and Robert Friedman respectively. Malcolm X College, studio theater, Campus Room 2418, 1900 W. Van Buren, 752-1766. Opens Thursday, April 25, 7 PM. Through May 30: Thursdays, 7 PM. $7.

By Albert Williams

Are You Happy?

Marcia Wilkie's one-woman show juxtaposes confessional monologues with character sketches. "Wilkie has always been an empathic performer, but [here] she proves just how sensitive an observer of life she truly is," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 871-1212. Through May 4: Wednesdays, 8 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 11 PM. $12.

Campaign '96: Lemmings Doing Wind Sprints

"Marijuana is a very dangerous drug. Some people smoke it just once and go into politics," says political satirist Barry Crimmins. This one-man show features up-to-date commentary on the current election season. Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood, 465-8005. Saturday, April 20, 10 PM. $6.

Female Deviations: Autobiographies of Desire

Anita Loomis explores the fiction of sexual identity in this "warm, witty, sexy semiautobiographical show, . . . which is as entertaining as it is liberating," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. The performance is part of this spring's "Neo Mondo Solo" series. Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, 275-5255. Through April 27: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $8. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

The Hick, the Spic, and the Chick

Performance artists Paul Turner, Antonio Sacre, and Donna Jay Fulks team up for an evening of solo storytelling. Turner's piece is inspired by his rural upbringing in Cairo (that's Illinois, not Egypt); Sacre's work recounts his upbringing in a Cuban-Irish household; and Fulks's The Magic Kingdom uses comedy to explore her reaction to her brother's death. Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway, 528-9696. Opens Saturday, April 20, 11 PM. Through May 11: Saturdays, 11 PM. $7.

I'm Afraid to Quit My Job

Monologuist Frank Melcori explores personal and professional anxieties in this new one-man show. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, 327-6666. Through May 31: Fridays, 8 PM. $7, "or what you can." (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

In One Ear

An ongoing showcase for spoken word performance and comedy, hosted by Michael O'Toole. No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 743-3355. Open run: Wednesdays, 9 PM. $1. Tickets are $2 for both In One Ear and Bang Bang (see separate listing under Theater) later the same evening.

Next Generation Project

Peter Carpenter, Atalee Judy, Hollis Johnson, Marianne Kim, and Cynthia Reid offer new works in performance, theater, movement, and video. Carpenter's new solo Bashed on Broadway follows a gay man's journey through the experience of being assaulted; Judy's Box explores "the monotony of isolation" through dance and performance; Johnson's dance offerings include Into the Wind and an untitled solo; Kim's performance piece Between Infinity and Sickness features "a smorgasboard of music" from Patsy Cline to Puccini; and Reid's Profiles in Courage is a "quasi-documentary" video exploring the pretenses of art and artists. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 281-0824. April 19 through 21: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $8.

No No, I Was Sleeping You Know

The Lucky Pierre performance collective performs a piece studying "American vernacular speech as power," with texts coming from folk songs, the TV show Cops, the film Easy Rider, and other sources. Lucky Pierre, 2003 W. Fulton, 525-6648. April 19 through 27: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $5.

Noise From the Underground

Storytelling, monologues, and music are presented by "favorite regulars and invited guests." La Piazza Cafe, 3845 N. Broadway, 868-0998. Open run: Saturdays, 9 to 11 PM. Free.

Open & Out

This open-mike program encourages gay and lesbian performers to come out and forward with monologues, stories, comedy, poetry, songs, and the like. La Piazza Cafe, 3845 N. Broadway, 472-7340. Open run: "almost always the first and third Sunday" of each month, 7 to 9 PM; upcoming shows are scheduled for April 21, May 5 and 19, and June 2 and 16. Free.

Pot Luck Sundays: Specialties of the House

The Curious Theatre Branch's performance series features leftovers and freshly cooked mini meals. Scheduled for this week (April 21) is Michael Martin's autobiographical piece Pattern Recognition, which Reader critic Justin Hayford says "reinvigorates the confessional monologue . . . by recasting [Martin's] life as an archetypal journey toward the pathologically unrecognized self." Also on the bill: Bedding Cary, performed by Bryn Magnus and Ler Noot Fiesta, and I Cry for My Brother, performed by John Starrs with Ler Noot Fiesta. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 235-8021. Through May 5: Sundays, 8 PM. $10, "or pay what you can."

The Quick Cabaret Collective

Michael H. Brownstein hosts an evening of spoken-word performance. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 409-6762. Through April 29: Mondays, 9 PM. $5.

The Rent Party

Larry Winfield hosts an evening of spoken-word performance featuring the poetry band Brass Orchid and an open mike. Yo Mama's Cafe, 1466 N. Milwaukee, 862-9806. Open run: Thursdays, 8 PM. $2; $1 for persons participating in the open-mike portion of the evening.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago Graduate Show

SAIC graduate students present an evening of performance. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, performance space, 280 S. Columbus, 443-3703. April 18 and 19: Thursday-Friday, 7 PM. Free.

Sex Talk

The program changes weekly in this series of late-night performances presented by the Prop Theatre. The current "ideal schedule" listed below is subject to change, so call for updated information. See Critic's Choice on Jimmy Doyle for this week's show. Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, 486-7767. Through May 18: Fridays, 11 PM; Saturdays, midnight. $10; $100 for series subscriptions. Scheduled for April 19 and 20: Jimmy Doyle. For April 26: Sheila Donahue. For April 27: Kate Anderson. For May 3 and 4: Jeff Dorchen. For May 10 and 11: Annie Sprinkle. For May 17 and 18: Michelle Fitzsimmons with Ruby Streak.

The Testing Ground

Greg Gillam hosts a weekly open stage for spoken word, performance, circus acts, music, etc. Sweet Alice, 1056 N. Damen, 227-4906. Open run: Tuesdays, 9:30 PM. Free.

20th Century Man: An Evening With Ray Davies

See Critic's Choice. Apollo Theater Center, 2540 N. Lincoln, 902-1500. Through April 21: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 7:30 and 10:30 PM; Sunday, 7:30 PM. Then April 24 through 27: Wednesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 7:30 PM. $32.50-$37.50.

Two Straight Guys and the Vortex

Storyteller Michael H. Brownstein, poet/actor Brian Kirst, and performance artist Clair Kaplan team up for this collection of "humorous/serious tales about attempted love, attempted suicide, and attempted attempts at purchasing good bagels." Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 409-6762. Through April 26: Fridays, 7:30 PM. $7.

The Vertigo Show

Emily Brady, Carmen Schwarting, Gina Lovoi, and Michele Walker offer an evening of poetry, storytelling, and music. Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 728-1935. Opens Saturday, April 20, 7 PM. Through May 25: Saturdays, 7 PM. $7.

By Laura Molzahn

Chicago Academy for the Arts Faculty Concert

Students perform the choreography of faculty members Claire Bataille, Randy Duncan, Ginger Farley, Jill Dema, Rodney Irwin, and Anna Paskevska. Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 and Saturday at 3 and 7:30 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $8 Thursday and Saturday matinee, $30 Saturday evening (a scholarship benefit performance that includes dinner). Call 421-0202 for tickets and information.

Joe Chvala and the

Flying Foot Forum

This percussion dance group, based in Minneapolis, combines clogging, rhythm tap, flamenco, and Native American dance in its pieces. The troupe will offer a lecture-demonstration Tuesday at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; free. Call 747-4800 for information. Regular performances, featuring three works from humorous and parodic to fierce, will be Thursday through next Saturday, April 25-27, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $14-$16. Call 989-3310 for tickets and information.

Jan Erkert & Dancers

This award-winning Chicago choreographer offers two new works: Gaps, about the transitional places that make change possible, and Puerto del Alma ("Doorway to the Soul"), a collaboration with 70-year-old Guatemalan-American Julietta Torres. Also on the program are Erkert's 1995 Whole Fragments and associate artistic director Mark Schulze's Inward and Outward Round (called last fall I.S.T.B.E. #9). Friday and Saturday at 8 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; $12-$16. Call 800-732-6230 for tickets and information.

Forever Tango

Seven couples from Argentina trace the history of the tango, which began in the bordellos of 1880s Buenos Aires, in duets generally described as sizzling and sexy; they'll be accompanied by an 11-piece string and piano orchestra, including four players of the bandoneon (the accordionlike instrument associated with the tango), and a singer. Tuesday through next Friday, April 26, at 8; next Saturday, April 27, at 3 and 8; and next Sunday, April 28, at 3 and 7:30 at the Arie Crown Theatre, McCormick Place, 2300 S. Lake Shore Dr.; $19-$45. Call 902-1500 for tickets and information.

Joel Hall Dancers

The troupe presents "The Crossing," a chronological group of dances in the African-American tradition set to folk and pop music, from field songs and spirituals to ragtime, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, soul, and disco. Thursday, April 18, through Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 at the O'Rourke Center for the Performing Arts, 1145 W. Wilson; $10-$20. Call 878-9761 for tickets and information.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

The company's two-and-a-half-week engagement, part of the Spring Festival of Dance, includes the premieres of Twyla Tharp's I Remember Clifford and Kevin O'Day's Hellblondegroove, both of them set on HSDC, plus a variety of company favorites by these and other choreographers. Wednesday at 7: I Remember Clifford, Tharp's Fait Accompli, and Mauricio Wainrot's Perpetuum Mobile. Thursday, April 25, at 7 and next Friday, April 26, at 8: I Remember Clifford, Perpetuum Mobile, and Daniel Ezralow's Read My Hips. Next Saturday, April 27, at 8 and next Sunday, April 28, at 3: Hellblondegroove, O'Day's Quartet for IV (and Sometimes One, Two or Three . . . ), and Perpetuum Mobile. Performances continue through Sunday, May 12. At the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $12-$40. Call 902-1500 for tickets, 663-0853 for information.

Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

See Critic's Choice. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $10-$25. Call 902-1500 for tickets, 602-1135 for group rates and information.

On the Wings of Yemoja

Students from the Hedwig School of Dance perform Laurie Goux's new work (in Yoruba culture, Yemoja is the mother of all lakes and oceans) Sunday at 2 in the dance studio of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; free. Call 907-2192, 744-6630, or 346-3278 for information.

Ritmos Unidos

Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater kicks off its 20th-anniversary season with "United Rhythms," a benefit featuring performances by some 60 dancers and musicians: artistic director Dame Libby Komaiko and Ensemble Espanol, the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Tierra Colombiana Dance Company, Cuerdas Colombianas, and Aires de mi Tierra. Saturday at 8 in the auditorium of Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis; $15-$20. Call 583-4050, ext. 3015, for tickets and information.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet

The oldest ballet company in North America, founded in 1939, returns to the Chicago area for the first time in 18 years to perform four works: Marius Petipa's Don Quixote pas de deux, George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, Mark Godden's Miroirs, and Brian Macdonald's Theft. Saturday at 8 at the Center for Arts and Technology, Governors State University, Stuenkel Rd. east of Governors Highway in University Park; $35. Call 708-235-2222 for tickets and information.

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