* The Ruckus Theater presents a revamped version of its 2009 show "Heist Play," Mitch Vermeersch's dark comedy about a film fan named Nick, his best friend and the girl both of them love and their plan to rob a grocery story, a caper Nick thinks has screenplay potential. Allison Shoemaker directs the production, which previews Friday, Oct. 11, at The Side Project Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave., Chicago. The show opens Saturday, Oct. 12. See .
* Two-time Jeff Award winner Kelli Harrington stars as opera diva Maria Callas in Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre's revival of "Master Class," Terrence McNally's bio-drama of the diva inspired by a series of master classes she conducted at the Julliard School. Artistic director Fred Anzevino directs the play with music (by Verdi, Puccini and Bellini), which begins previews Friday, Oct. 11, at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. The show opens Monday, Oct. 14. (800) 595-4849 or .
* About Face Theatre presents The Black and Tan Supper Club, a 1920s-themed fundraiser taking place from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at a secret location. Tickets cost $250 for the event, which includes cocktails, dinner and "gender-bending performances" showcasing About Face Theatre's Season of Transformation. They're available at (773) 784-8565 or .
* The Actors Gymnasium opens its 19th season on Saturday, Oct. 12,
with "Circus in Progress -- An Evening of Daring New Work," which offers a sneak peek at in-development acts and the upcoming season. Performances are at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. (847) 328-2795 or.
* A former nurse traumatized by the horrors of the Civil War establishes a commune with other like-minded individuals that unfortunately goes horribly wrong in John Guare's "Lydie Breeze." The show previews on Friday, Oct. 11, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Jeremy Garrett directs the Ka- Tet Theatre Company production, which opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (773) 404-7336 or .
* Wendell Tucker debuts his new one-man show, "Wendell Tucker Hates the World," about his experiences as an African-American man diagnosed with depression, on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 598-4549 or .
* Filament Theatre debuts its original piece "Crossing Six Corners: Sears Stories," part of a celebration of the Six Corners Sears' 75th anniversary, made up of stories culled from interviews with residents and patrons. "To Six Corners, Sears is more than just a department store. It's a symbol of a bygone way of life, and of a changing economic landscape," said artistic director Julie Ritchey in a prepared statement. The free performance takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 270- 2660 or .
* Hubris Productions hosts the adults-only cabaret titled Halloween Hijinx and featuring Muffy and her "good time galz." The event begins with a preshow at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at The Call, 1547 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago. See .
* "The Wedding Singer" is a stage adaptation of the 1998 film about a wedding singer trying to recover from being left at the altar and an admiring waitress who is herself engaged to be married. Haven Theatre Chicago, a local newcomer, presents the musical, which begins previews Sunday, Oct. 13, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show opens Oct. 20. (773) 975-8150 or .
* Writer/actress Nora Dunn hosts a post-show discussion following the 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, performance of her one-woman show "Mythical Proportions," partly inspired by her experiences growing up in Chicago. Joining Dunn are designer Peach Carr and artist Arica Hilton. Performances continue through Oct. 20 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 975-8150 or .
* Red Tape Theatre opens its 10th season with the world premiere "The Life and Death of Madam Barker," a music and comedy cabaret conceived by actress/director Molly Brennan and singer-songwriter John Fournier and written by Brooke Allen. Performances begin Monday, Oct. 14, at 621 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. See .
* The Button Down, a Chicago-based storytelling community that insists "oversharing leads to understanding," presents a Halloween edition from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. (773) 598-4549 or.
* Clock Productions celebrates Halloween with its latest installation of Scary Tales 2013, opening Tuesday, Oct. 15, at National Pastime Theater at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. The show includes tales about ghosts, Medusa, a college prank and baseball among other subjects. Performances run through Nov. 3. (773) 327-7077.
* The Hypocrites artistic director Halena Kays directs Nigel Williams' adaptation of William Golding's classic tale "Lord of the Flies" as part of Steppenwolf for Young Adults' series opening Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. The play unfolds on a deserted island where a plane wreck has stranded a group of English schoolboys whose initial euphoria at being freed from societal constraints turns deadly. (312) 335-1650 or .
* Performances begin Wednesday, Oct. 16, for "The Table," Blind Summit's theatrical interpretation of the story of Moses using puppets and told by an old man in the middle of his own existential crisis. The production from this United Kingdom company marks the beginning of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 2013-2014 World's Stage Series. Performances run through Oct. 27 at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5600 or .
* Previews begin Thursday, Oct. 17, for A Red Orchid Theatre's Midwest premiere of "Trevor," by Nick Jones ("Orange is the New Black"). A comedy about fame and success, the play centers on two souls -- Trevor, a chimpanzee who performed in commercials, and his owner Sandra -- who are trying to make the world understand their love. Artistic associate Shade Murray directs. The show opens Oct. 20 at 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. (312) 943-8722 or .
* The Neo-Futurists invite audience members to "choose your own autocracy" as part of its new show "The Sovereign Statement," an examination of how nations are born, beginning previews Thursday, Oct. 17, at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago. Created by Bilal Dardai and directed by Brandon Ray, the show uses the audience as citizens who get to vote or abstain in the creation of a modern state. The show opens Oct. 21. (773) 275-5255 or .
* Robert Bills Productions presents Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" (female version), a 1985 adaptation of the Tony Award-winning comedy. Robert Bills directs. The play recasts Felix and Oscar as Florence and Olive, two mismatched roommates coping with the end of their respective marriages. Elaine Carlson and Missy Styles star in the production, which previews on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. The show opens Friday, Oct. 18. (773) 404-7336 or .
* Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of "The Color Purple," inspired by Alice Walker's book and starring Trisha Jeffrey as Celie, Jasondra Johnson as Sophia and Adrienne Walker as Shug. Performances continue through Nov. 10. (773) 325-1700 or .
* Goodman Theatre has extended director Chuck Smith's production of "Pullman Porter Blues," Cheryl L. West's play with music about three generations of African-American train porters whose dreams of a better future are set against the heavyweight championship pitting Joe Louis against James Braddock. Performances continue through Oct. 27 at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (312) 443-3800 or .
* The Cupid Players celebrate the 10th anniversary of their sketch comedy show "Cupid Has a Heart On: A Musical Guide to Relationships," one of the longest-running shows of its kind. Performances are at 8 p.m. Saturdays at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. (773) 327-5252 or .
* The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee will honor actor Dale Benson at the Nov. 4 ceremony with a special Jeff Award commemorating his theater career spanning 50 years. Besides the accolades he earned at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, which closed in 1997 after 38 years, Benson was also lauded for his comic performance as Captain Andy in "Showboat," which he performed at Candlelight, Marriott and Drury Lane theaters as well as roles in Marriott Theatre's "Hello Dolly!" and Remy Bumppo's "You Never Can Tell" among others. For more information on the Jeff Awards ceremony, see .
* has named Sandy Shinner as its newly created position of producing artistic director. Shinner, who served more than 25 years as Victory Gardens Theater's associate artistic director, has directed more than 100 productions at theaters around the country and created and produced VGT's annual IGNITION! Festival. "I am very excited to join this dynamic ensemble of veteran and emerging artists who are on the edge of resurgence," said Shinner in a prepared statement in which she described Shattered Globe as defining the "resilient spirit" of Chicago theater characterized by a strong work ethic and a willingness to embrace risk. See .
* Kokandy Productons inaugurates its 2014 season with the announcement of a new mission that focuses on musical theater. The all-musical season begins Jan. 11, 2014, with the Marvin Hamlisch/ Craig Carnelia/John Guare show "Sweet Smell of Success." Based on the 1957 film, the plot centers on J.J. Hunsecker, a ruthless gossip columnist with the goods on everyone, who presses struggling press agent Sidney to keep tabs on J.J.'s kid sister Susan. Next up is Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins" (June 14-July 20, 2014). Performances take place at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The company will also hold off-night staged readings of new musicals in conjunction with each staged production. Lastly, John D. Glover and Allison Hendrix have been named the company's associate artistic directors. For details, see .
* Chicago Shakespeare Theater recently released a collection of essays on the performance and staging of Shakespeare plays the company has performed over its 25-year history. Among the productions examined were those directed by artistic director Barbara Gaines, Michael Bogdanov, Edward Hall and Josie Rourke. Writers contributing to the collection include theater critic Jonathan Abarbanel, The Guardian theater critic Michael Billington, actor/director Simon Callow, Northwestern University's Gina M. Di Salvo and Wendy Wall, NPR personality Peter Sagal and Alicia Tomasian, of Harper College in Palatine. Copies are available for purchase at the theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, or online at .
* Pride Films & Plays announced the five finalists in its 2013 Great Gay Screenplay Contest. Finalists are: Brent Hartinger for "The Starfish Scream," Amir Sade for "The Passion Child," Dennis Shinners for "Boys in Summer," Edward J. Yaeger Jr. for "Buddy Booth" and Brandon Yarns for "Saguaro." Staged readings of the plays will take place from Nov. 15-17 at the Center on Halsted's Hoover- Leppen Theatre, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. (773) 472-6469 or .
* Single tickets are now on sale for Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2013-2014 season, which includes: "Tribes" by Nina Raine; "Russian Transport" by Erika Sheffer; "Leveling Up," a Steppenwolf for Young Adults play by Deborah Zoe Laufer; "The Way West" by Mona Mansour; and "The Qualms" by Bruce Norris. Tickets are available at the box office at 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, or or (312) 335- 1650.
-- Barbara Vitello
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