Anne E. Thompson, Kirsten Fitzgerald and Mary Beth Fisher in Rebecca Gilman’s “Swing State.” (Photo by Liz Lauren, provided)

"Swing State" is the 10th play by Rebecca Gilman to be staged at the Goodman Theatre in the past 25 years, and one of the last plays to be directed there by her long-time champion, Robert Falls, who is now working his way through his final season as the Goodman's artistic director.

The view from the stage out into the nearly empty seats of a concert hall. (Kevin Schmid / Unsplash)

When the COVID-19 lockdown hit in March 2020, Chicago’s artistic productions were abruptly placed on hold. Now more than two years later, theater companies are evaluating a path forward with an audience that has new expectations. 

From left, Reza Salazar as Rafael, Nedra Snipes as Letitia, Kevin Kenerly as Montrellous and Garrett Young as Jason in “Clyde’s” at the Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Lynn Nottage’s most recent play, “Clyde’s — a nominee at last year’s Tony Awards that is now receiving a production at the Goodman Theatre — deals with a rarely explored but crucial issue. It’s the matter of the extreme difficulty faced by those who have been incarcerated and who, upon release, find it all but impossible to find a job.

Paul Alexander Nolan and Samantha Williams in Britta Johnson’s “Life After.” (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

A combination of admiration, disillusionment, guilt and pain drives “Life After,” the musical with a book, music and lyrics by the young Canadian-bred Britta Johnson. The 90-minute show is now running at the Goodman Theatre.

“Relentless” by Tyla Abercrumbie is not playing at the Goodman Theatre through May 8, 2022. (WTTW News)

A new show at the Goodman Theatre is exploring what the Victorian era was like for Black Americans.

Sean Hayes in Doug Wright’s “Good Night, Oscar” at the Goodman Theatre. (Credit Liz Lauren)

Oscar Levant was a virtuosic pianist, conflicted champion of George Gershwin, conductor, film actor, author, proudly uncensored comic and self-confessed victim of mental illness. Actor Sean Hayes is so riveting, and so real, in his portrayal that you might begin to wonder if Levant has been fully reincarnated.

E. Faye Butler (Fannie Lou Hamer) in “Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer)” by Cheryl L. West, directed by Henry Godinez at Goodman Theatre, Oct. 15- Nov. 21. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The Chicago actress is giving a rip-roaring performance in playwright Cheryl L. West’s “Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer,” a 75-minute, one-woman show to which the actress brings all the grit, endurance, fiery spirit and vocal power that marked the indomitable Hamer herself.

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour RENT 20th Anniversary Tour (Credit Amy Boyle 2019).

Among the shows that have marked the return of live theater in Chicago are three very different music-driven works variously set in the final three decades of the 20th century. Seen during present day upheaval, as well as through the lens of their original conception, the result is an intriguing double vision. 

We go behind the scenes of “American Mariachi,” a co-production between the Dallas Theater Center and the Goodman Theatre, set in 1970s Chicago. (WTTW News)

It was just before opening night that “American Mariachi” had to close its doors. Now, nearly 18 months later, the cast has returned to the stage. We go behind the scenes of this new musical play set in 1970s Chicago.

Mary Beth Fisher (Bella) and John Drea (Christopher) in ’The Sound Inside’ by Adam Rapp, directed by Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre (May 13 – 16, 2021) (credit Cody Nieset)

The play by Adam Rapp will be streamed live through May 16

Adam Rapp’s “The Sound Inside” depicts the brief but harrowing relationship between Bella (Mary Beth Fisher), a lonely, middle-aged Yale professor and author who teaches a course in creative writing, and her intense, gifted, profoundly alienated freshman student, Christopher (John Drea).

Hershey Felder in “A Paris Love Story” featuring the music of Claude Debussy. (Courtesy of Christopher Ash)

The multitalented actor, pianist (and yes, composer in his own right) brings the eighth installment in his renowned “Great Composers Series” to Chicago in June and simultaneously makes his Goodman Theatre debut.

James Konicek (Olin Britt), Ayana Strutz (Townsperson), Matt Casey (Townsperson), Tommy Rivera-Vega (Tommy Djilas), Kelly Felthous (Zaneeta Shinn), Christopher Kale Jones (Jacey Squires), Geoff Packard (Harold Hill), Alejandro Fonseca (Townsperson), Laura Savage (Farmer's Wife / Townsperson), Adrienne Velasco-Storrs(Townsperson), Sophie Ackerman (Amaryllis Squires) and Ron E. Rains (Mayor Shinn) in “The Music Man” with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and a book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, d

The overall pacing of this bear of a show can sometimes feel a bit off. At the same time, there is such a sense of jubilation about this production that its imperfections are easy to overlook.

A scene from “The Music Man” at Goodman Theatre, with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and a book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, directed by Mary Zimmerman. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

“The Music Man” marches into the Goodman Theatre. Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman gives us details on the big parade.

Anne Thompson (Sharlene), Heather Chrisler (Jaycee), Hayley Burgess (Clarice) and Becca Savoy (Sam) in the world premiere of “Twilight Bowl” by Rebecca Gilman, directed by Erica. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

“Twilight Bowl” is a telling depiction of a crucial transitional period in the lives of a cross-section of young women who are at once lost and found in the American heartland.

Brendan Coyle in "St. Nicholas" (Photo by Helen Maybanks)

It takes an actor of formidable technique to bring this two-act, two-hour monologue to vivid, active, almost cinematic life. From the moment Brendan Coyle emerges from the shadows, the spell is cast.

Linda Gehringer as Helene in the world premiere production of “Lady in Denmark” at Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

As it happens, there are two “ladies” in Dael Orlandersmith’s play, “Lady in Denmark,” now in its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre. But only one is fully seen or heard on stage.