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The angel on your shoulder will likely tell you to see Crowns, which rings with gospel glory. Based on a coffee-table book about African-American church ladies and their all-but-sacred go-to-meeting hats, Regina Taylor's musical first played Goodman Theatre in 2004; it returns now with new material. Reader critic Zac Thompson says great singing and incredible headwear make up for the fact that most of the characters are interchangeable.
Julie Ganey is on the side of the angels, too. Her 60-minute autobiographical monologue, Love Thy Neighbor . . . Till it Hurts, asks why oh why we can't all just get along. And then there's Beauty and the Beast at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Jack Helbig praises it as a pitch-perfect, family-friendly pleasure—at least, for those families who like high-gloss Disney musicals.
The devil on your other shoulder will more likely point you in the direction of the Windy City Burlesque Festival. Expect tassels to twirl, eyebrows to rise, and wardrobes to strategically malfunction in this weekend-long event at Stage 773.
Elsewhere, it's personalities that do the malfunctioning. Gruesome Playground Injuries charts the course of a destructive 30-year relationship starting with grammar school, and Simon Gray's biting 1971 comedy Butley presents an acerbic, arrogant, alcoholic London professor on the worst day of his life.
A couple Reader-recommended productions should work regardless of which celestial side you choose. Justin Hayford salutes Steppenwolf Theatre for breathing life into Anton Chekhov's most maddeningly plotless play, Three Sisters. Finally, Audible Odyssey is new collaboration with a winning concept: take seven emerging tap choreographers and give them ten minutes each to do whatever they want. Laura Molzahn suggests you see the results in "Sound + Resound," which features a solo accompanied by African drums and a duet performed to a jazz cover of Stevie Nicks's "Gold Dust Woman."