Going Batty | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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Johann Strauss was upset when his operetta Die Fledermaus was first produced as grand opera in the 1890s. He didn't think this music-theater confection of sexual shenanigans and mistaken identity could withstand the heavy-handed treatment that was standard procedure in opera houses. On that score, this weekend's production by Opera Theatre Highland Park might be OK with him: the two-and-a-half-hour English-language version is costumed and staged, but the chorus and ballet parts have been edited out and the accompaniment is string quartet and piano. Chicago-area singers Anne Marie Lewis and Mark Meier are the flirtatious married couple, Rosalinde and Eisenstein; Jessye Wright is their gender-bending host, Prince Orlofsky; Warren Moulton is Rosalinde's lover; John Payonk is the warden; and Theresa Ludden is the maid in this classic marital mix-up built around the tricks friends and lovers play on each other. It runs Friday, January 18, at 8 and Sunday, January 20, at 2 at the Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan. A one-hour family version will be performed at 3 on Saturday, January 19. The kids will get act two only (and piano-only accompaniment), plus an introductory lecture by company founder and director Marla Forbes and a chance to meet the performers after the show. Forbes says they'll emphasize the disguise gags and lose the debauchery for the PG performance. Tickets are $25 on Friday and Sunday, $12 on Saturday. Call 847-831-2938.

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