Chicago Curtain Call : Robin Spann Surveys 5 Must-See Theater Shows

Put down the remote. Get dressed. It’s time to get back to the theater.

After over a year of being stuck inside with only streaming and mindless scrolling, add a little culture to your entertainment. Theaters are back open. Cue the standing ovation.

Few are more excited than Robin Spann. Growing up in a home that valued the arts, he regularly attended plays and productions with his grandparents. This passion continued to grow during his undergraduate studies at Baldwin Wallace University. But, after moving to Chicago five years ago, it reached new heights.

The Windy City features a vibrant theater scene, with plenty of new shows to explore. Robin Spann looks at five must-see theater experiences set to debut this September.

The Things I Could Never Tell Steven

Only playing through September 19, “The Things I Could Never Tell Steven” is worth rushing out to see. As the season opener for PrideArts, the musical introduces us to the titlular character Steven through the perspective of the four people who know him best. The audience is treated to a revue-style performance that is both edgy and touching.

The Magic Parlour

From a third-generation magician and mind reader, Dennis Watkins opens his iconic “The Magic Parlour.” Hailed as Chicago’s longest-running magic show, the intimate experience is celebrating its tenth year. Showing until December 18 at the Palmer House, Dennis Watkins wows with more than just tricks. He also weaves in stories passed down from his equally magic family.

American Mariachi

Through family, love, and tradition, “American Mariachi” pulls at the heartstrings. Stuck caring for her ailing mother, Lucha and her cousins decide to start an all-female mariachi band. The play is a reminder that anything is possible through love and music. A collaboration with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, this production is infused with live mariachi tunes. Robin Spann encourages any music lover to check this out. It is featured at the Goodman Theatre through October 24.

Thirteen Days

History afenciados will line up for this world premiere. Adapted from Robert F. Kennedy’s memoir on the Cuban Missile Crisis, “Thirteen Days” tells the story of these real-life events with a refreshing twist. While all the prominent figures in the book, and in reality, were white males, this production will include a diverse ensemble of only women. As an added bonus, City Lit Theater received permission to include once-unreleased excerpts from President John F. Kennedy’s strategy sessions during the peak of the Cold War.

The Second City’s 109th Revue

No list of Chicago performances is complete without an offering from The Second City. The world-renown comedy club brings back its long-running, live series with new sketches, scenes, and characters. As Robin Spann points out, improv is always on full display, meaning the audience will never see the same show twice.