LOOKING FORWARD: Top Ten Shows We're Excited to See in 2017


Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago-based director and adaptor. She wrote this list roughly in order in which they open (and all are affordably priced, to boot):

- Tympanic's Waiting for Godot: I read the casting announcement for this show and thought, "You had me at hello."

- Wolf at the End of the Block (Teatro Vista): Because Ike Holter does not miss a beat (and Gabe Ruiz is usually ok, too).

- American Hwangap (co-pro between A-Squared and Halcyon): I first met Helen Young as an actor and I'm so excited by her work as a director as well!

- Hookman at Steep Theatre: I'm such a Lauren Yeel fangirl (I've already seen two other productions of this play) and she and Vanessa Stalling seem like a perfect match.

- Force Continuum, Eclipse Theatre: the whole season of Kia Cothron's plays is on my "must see" list, but I'm partial to this one because one of my favorite artists and humans, Michael Aaron Pogue, is directing.

- Peerless, First Floor Theatre: I've been longing to see this smart and funny riff on the Scottish play -- Jiehae Park's wit is razor sharp.

- Beauty's Daughter, American Blues Theater: I know very little about this show but admire many of the artists involved, and I love that ABT is committed to a diverse design team.

- We're Gonna Die, Haven Theatre: I trust Josh Sobel with anything, really, and I've shamefully yet to see Young Jean Lee's work (but will finally catch this as well as Straight White Men at Steppenwolf this year).

- Police Deaf Near Far, Chicago D(ART): If you only catch one show on the list, make it the debut production by this vital new company that explores ways to bridge the communication barrier between the d/Deaf and hearing worlds. Read more at www.chicagodart.com

- the Gift Theatre's entire 2017 season: I couldn't pick just one. Go see 'em all.

Honorable Mentions

Men on Boats at American Theatre Company (the only reason this didn't make the cut is because I assumed it would be on everyone else's lists, but I have a huge crush on this entire cast and production team), Sideshow's Freshness Initiative (new work by Isaac Gomez, Selina Fillinger, and J. Nicole Brooks!), Into the Beautiful North and Muthaland at 16th Street Theatre, whatever the New Colony has in store (I don't know what it is, but I trust them that much)

Other Productions in the Midwest

- How to Use a Knife (Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, January 19-February 12): I've seen two readings of this play, and it's so compelling that I basically held my breath the whole time. (Also playing at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, January 25-February 19.)

- I Call My Brothers (Cleveland Public Theatre, February 9-March 4): this play, this company, and this director should all be on your radar.

- Vietgone (Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, April 10-30): I don't care if you're tired of me yelling about how good this play it is IT IS SO GOOD. Full script will be published in American Theatre Magazine next month. To quote Amy Kim Waschke, "[Vietgone is important] because it shows refugees as human beings. Not a problem or a number -- but human beings."

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