With its three major venues on Navy Pier – the Courtyard, the Upstairs and The Yard (its new flexible space immediately adjacent to its main building) – the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a year-round operation of nonstop, 24/7 activity.
The evidence of that energizer impulse can be seen in the full range of programming the company has just announced for its 2018-2019 season, which features 14 productions, a slew of guest directors and a mix of shows created both here and abroad.
There are six productions in its main ticket package (one is yet to be announced):
• “Nell Gwynn” (Sept. 30-Nov. 4, 2018): Jessica Swale’s music- and dance-infused comedy about the witty, beautiful 17th century actress who became the mistress of King Charles II. A hit in London, the show will receive its North American premiere at CST under its original director, Christopher Luscombe, an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
• “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Dec. 6, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019): Director Joe Dowling (of Abbey Theatre and Guthrie Theatre fame) will revisit his 1999 CST production of this Shakespeare comedy in honor of CST’s 20th year at its Navy Pier home.
• “An Inspector Calls” (Feb. 19-March 10, 2019): CST will host the award-winning National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of J.B. Priestley’s classic thriller, directed by Stephen Daldry (whose credits include the film and musical “Billy Elliot,” and the hit Netflix series “The Crown”).
• “Hamlet” (April 17-June 9, 2019): Barbara Gaines, CST’s founder and artistic director, will revisit the tale of the Danish prince for the first time in more than two decades.
• “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (May 30-July 28, 2029): The world premiere of a new musical theater adaptation of the Walt Disney classic. Featuring music by the Oscar- and Grammy-winning brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with a book by Brian Hill, and new songs by Neil Bartram, the show spins the story of the adventures of three children evacuated to a seaside village during the London Blitz of World War II. Rachel Rockwell will direct.
Meanwhile, WorldStage, the CST’s international series, will take a somewhat different form in the coming season with three examples of Flemish theater presented under the umbrella title of “Big in Belgium – Chicago.” The “boundary-pushing” works are described as “designed to dissemble the boundaries of the ‘fourth wall’ and fuel a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.” The series, which is being curated by CST, Richard Jordan Productions and David Bauwens, will include:
• “BigMouth” (Sept. 12-22, 2018): A production of Belgium’s SKaGeN company featuring a solo turn by actor Valentijn Dhaenens that traces the 2,500-year history of oratory, and draws on sermons, eulogies and declarations of love and war.
• “Fight Night” (Oct. 23-Nov. 4, 2018): A work by the Ontroerend Goed collective that equips audience members with electronic voting boxes and creates a showdown that suggests “the mechanism of democracy.”
• “Us/Them” (Jan. 22-Feb. 3, 2019): A work from the Brussels-based BRONKS that explores how two children cope with disaster as it looks at the horrific 2004 Beslan school siege by Chechen separatists in Russia.
On top of all this, CST will partner with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival for a production by France’s Compagnie Non Nova of “L’apres midi d’un foehn” (Jan. 24-27, 2019). And the theater’s Pub will become the site for another immersive work: Roddy Doyle’s “Two Pints” (March 5-31, 2019), a two-man show from Ireland’s Abbey Theatre.
For its summertime family show on the Courtyard stage CST will present “Peter Pan – A Mysical Adventure” (June 27-Aug. 19, 2018), a 75-minute musical version of the J.M. Barrie classic with a score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and direction by Amber Mak.
Plans for CST's seventh annual free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production will be announced at a later date.
For tickets, call (312) 595-5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com.
March 2: A vivid production of “Schiller’s Mary Stuart” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is fresh and modern, but never artificially tricked up.
Feb. 28: world premiere play by Bruce Norris, a rare return to acting by Tarell Alvin McCraney and the Chicago premieres of a recent Broadway hit by Lucas Hnath and a 2015 play by Danai Gurira – and more – are coming to Steppenwolf Theatre.
Feb. 21: Court Theatre’s newly announced 2018-2019 season includes a world premiere stage adaptation of Saul Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (“Proof”).