NOVEMBER THEATER PICKS (Kerry Reid)
Laura and the Sea
A travel agent has the “best/worst day” of her life and decides to end it all, leaving her colleagues at sea as they try to piece together the missing parts on a memorial blog. (Think Dear Evan Hansen without the songs.) Kate Tarker’s darkly comic play gets a world premiere with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble under Devon de Mayo’s direction, starring RTE artistic director Tara Mallen as the title character. Through 12/8, see website for showtimes, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge, rivendelltheatre.org, $38.
P.Y.G. or the Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle
Pygmalion goes pop in Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s sardonic comedy about a Canadian bubblegum star hoping to toughen up his image on a reality TV show, with the help of “bad boy” rappers Black and Alexand of Petty Young Goons. Lili-Anne Brown directs the midwest premiere. 11/5-12/21, see website for showtimes, Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway,jackalopetheatre.org, $27-$35.
Rutherford and Son
Githa Sowerby’s 1912 play was a hit, but it fell off the radar (perhaps in part because producers learned that “K.G. Sowerby”—the name under which the play was first presented—was a woman). Steppenwolf’s Francis Guinan plays the hard-as-nails owner of a glassworks in northern England who dominates his three children. Compared to Henrik Ibsen’s work in its time, Sowerby’s drama has enjoyed revivals in recent years. Mechelle Moe directs. 11/6-1/12, see website for showtimes, TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington, timelinetheatre.com, $42-$57.
South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and playwright Eric Simonson, whose collaborations for Steppenwolf reach all the way back to 1992’s The Song of Jacob Zulu, reunite for this world premiere, written by Simonson, who codirects with Jonathan Berry. Set in Chicago and South Africa, the play combines blues with Zulu a cappella in a story about a Black South African woman who meets a white drummer from Chicago in the underworld. The two must return to the land of the living to correct a past mistake. 11/7-1/5, see website for showtimes, Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, steppenwolf.org, $44-$80.
Always . . . Patsy Cline
Firebrand Theatre, the only musical theater company dedicated to expanding opportunities for womxn on- and offstage, plays musical chairs in this staging of Ted Swindley’s show about legendary country crooner Cline and Louise, the superfan who meets her one memorable evening and becomes a pen pal for the rest of Cline’s too-short life. Firebrand artistic director Harmony France and Christina Hall—both of whom have played Patsy in the past—will alternate in the two roles during the run of the show, which features most of Cline’s best-known hits. 11/16-12/15, see website for showtimes, Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, firebrandtheatre.org, $40-$50.
NOVEMBER DANCE PICKS
If one step in resisting climate change is honing the senses that grant us gratitude for what we experience and trust in what we witness, this evening of performances at the Poetry Foundation promises a full range of training. Get a glimpse of Floe, a work in progress by the Seldoms on the theme of water and its shifting manifestations—glacier to ocean to flood. Hurricane Harvey victims and rescuers, marine scientists, and Moby-Dick are just some of the source materials for this sweeping work directed by Carrie Hanson, with text by Seth Bockley. Paired with Floe is a reading of Losing Miami, bilingual poetry by Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué on the loss of Miami to the sea. “Start with sinking,” it begins. Thu 11/7, Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior, poetryfoundation.org, free.
What the Moon Pulls
RE|Dance Group, established to explore the long-distance collaboration between Chicago-based executive director Lucy Vurusic-Riner and Wisconsin-based artistic director Michael Estanich, celebrates ten years of making it work with the premiere of Vurusic-Riner’s What the Moon Pulls. This evening-length dance considers another form of long-distance influence: the moon on the tides and the corresponding push and pull of human relationships. Performed by eight dancers in the round, the work features original music by Mark Burns and uses lunar astrological charts to guide solos. Knowing RE|Dance, there will also be a little howling at the moon. Two other pieces from 2019, The Biggest Wail from the Bottom of My Heart and What Love Looks Like, round out the bill. Thu 11/21-Sun 11/24, 8 PM, Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee, redancegroup.org, $20-$30.
NOVEMBER COMEDY PICKS
Arguments & Grievances
Comedy meets high school debate team in this monthly show that sorts out the battles that really matter. Things like “Hugs vs. Drugs” and “Dr. Dre vs. Dr. Seuss.” This month Matt Riggs hosts with a lineup including Deanna Ortiz, Paula Skaggs, AJ Marroquin, and Dwayne Murphy Jr., just to name a few, arguing the merits of “My Birthday vs. Your Birthday,” “Vegan vs. Keto,” and more. Fri 11/1, 8 PM, North Bar, 1637 W. North, argumentsandgrievances.com, $10, $5 in advance.
Curated Presents: Pork Show
It was only a matter of time before this show turned itself into a cured meat joke. This month the variety show that puts each edition into the hands of a different beloved performer will be taken over by Chicago sweetheart Eunji Kim. There will be comedians, storytellers, discussions of food, music, and an actual feast with a roasted pig. Sat 11/16, 7 PM, Cards Against Humanity Theater, 1551 W. Homer, facebook.com/curatedpresents, $20, $15 advance.
Becca Brown and Her Hot Friends
Everyone’s favorite comedian/musician extraordinaire Becca Brown is putting on a show! The night features comedy, music, drag, and fashion from Holmes, Devin Middleton, Derry Queen, Jerwin Gabriel Santiago, Allison Reese, John Love, and more. Tue 11/19, 8 PM, the Martin, 2515 W. North, themartinchicago.com, $10 suggested donation. v