"Clybourne Park" at Steppenwolf, "Count of Monte Cristo" at Lifeline, "Mourning Becomes Electra."

"Clybourne Park" at Steppenwolf, "Count of Monte Cristo" at Lifeline, "Mourning Becomes Electra." (August 29, 2011)

As we bid farewell to the Summer of Swelter, it's a grand time for pulling up the appointment app on your smart phone (or pulling out the day planner, if you're a traditionalist) and setting aside some play dates with the hottest shows in town.



The Tony-winning musical about race relations and rock 'n' roll makes a local stop on its national tour.  Cadillac Palace Theatre; Nov. 22-Dec. 4

"Million Dollar Quartet"

Another tale of Memphis rockers – Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins — and Sam Phillips, the legendary producer who launched their careers, continues to pack them in for a third year. Apollo Theater; open run

"Clybourne Park"

Frequent Steppenwolf scribe Bruce Norris won the Pulitzer this past spring for this jaundiced look at race relations and gentrification that uses Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" as its launching pad. Amy Morton directs. Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Sept. 8-Nov. 6

"In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)"

Wilmette native Sarah Ruhl's saucy look at Victorian sexual "hysteria" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2010. Sandy Shinner directs the local premiere.  Victory Gardens Biograph Theater; Sept. 9-Oct. 9

"Love, Loss, and What I Wore"

Former local Nora Dunn (one half of the Sweeney Sisters in the 1980s-era "Saturday Night Live") comes home in this showcase of stories by sisters Delia and Nora Ephron. Felicia Fields and Barbara Robertson also star.  Broadway Playhouse; Sept. 14-Oct. 23


Victory Gardens ensemble member John Logan took home the Tony in 2010 for this two-person portrait of anguished abstract painter Mark Rothko and his young assistant, Ken, as the former wrestles with his muse and conscience while creating murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. Robert Falls directs. Goodman Theatre; Sept. 17-Oct. 23


Chicago Shakespeare brings back longtime associate and Stephen Sondheim aficionado Gary Griffin for a revival of Sondheim and James Goldman's portrait of two couples reexamining their relationships against the backdrop of an aging theater marked for demolition.  Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Oct. 4-Nov. 6

"My Fair Lady"

Aurora's Paramount Theatre kicks off its first subscription season under new artistic director Jim Corti with the Lerner and Loewe chestnut. Andrea Prestinario stars as Eliza Doolittle, with Nathan M. Hosner as persnickety Henry Higgins.  Paramount Theatre, Aurora; Sept. 14-Oct. 2

"Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind"

The Neo-Futurists' trademark show has offered up "30 plays in 60 minutes" for 23 years, and the late-night lines around their Andersonville venue haven't diminished as new generations discover this made-in-Chicago fringe favorite. New playlets are added weekly, and if they sell out, they send out — for pizza.  The Neo-Futurarium; open run