As much as we hate to see summer end, we can take pleasure in the fact that the arts scene is really ramping up. Here’s a look ahead so you don’t miss a beat.
With more than 250 theaters in Chicago, there’s something for everyone. Start on a serious note with the Goodman Theatre’s “Dana H” from playwright Lucas Hnath (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”). The show, which chronicles the real-life abduction of Hnath’s mother, stars Deirdre O’Connell (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Nurse Jackie”), who lip-synchs to a recording of the victim recounting her ordeal (Sept. 6-Oct. 6; goodmantheatre.org). News junkies with good memories will appreciate TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago premiere of J.T. Rogers’s “Oslo.” The Tony-winning play looks behind the scenes of the 1993 peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, in which a Norwegian couple played a vital role (Sept. 18-Oct. 20; timelinetheatre.com).
On a lighter note, there’s “Latin History for Morons” (shown above) at Cadillac Palace, the one-man show from actor-comedian John Leguizamo. Irreverent as always, Leguizamo inhabits various personae as he plays a father out to set his son straight on the past (Oct. 29 -Nov. 3; broadwayinchicago.com). A quick précis of “Dance Nation” (“preteen dance troupe navigates ambition, friendship and desire as they claw their way to Nationals in Tampa Bay”) might suggest Clare Barron’s play is cheap shots and satire. But the show — which receives its local premiere at Steppenwolf — digs deeper to explore female uncertainly and empowerment (Dec. 12-Jan. 26; steppenwolf.org). Meanwhile, diva Renée Fleming (who earned a Tony nod for her performance in “Carousel” on Broadway last season) takes to the Lyric stage in the “The Light in the Piazza,” the musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel about an American and her daughter coming to terms with life and each other on a visit to Italy in 1953 (Dec. 14-29; lyricopera.org).
Galleries are back at it, too. At Gray Warehouse, you’ll find the work of Leon Polk Smith, who employed bright geometric forms to create dynamic illusions of space and depth (Sept. 13-Nov. 23; richardgraygallery.com). At the Art Institute of Chicago there’s “Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.” The work of Pittsburgh’s famous son seems ever-present, but in fact, this is the first Warhol retrospective in Chicago in 30 years. Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, this blockbuster features over 350 works from across his boundary-breaking career (Oct. 20-Jan. 26; artic.edu). Down at the University of Chicago, the Oriental Institute, which houses the largest collection of ancient Middle Eastern artifacts outside the Louvre and the British Museum, marks its 100th anniversary Sept. 28 with a public celebration and a new identity: OI Museum. Work by contemporary artists Michael Rakowitz and Mohamad Hafez will be unveiled, visitors will enjoy live jazz, and family-friendly activities include a scavenger hunt (oi.uchicago.edu).
The fall dance season includes offerings from a host of local troupes, as well as some interesting visitors. Among the latter is Australia’s Bangarra Dance Theatre at the Harris Theater. Celebrating the history and tradition of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, the troupe combines contemporary movement and ritual forms to create works that honor the power of the land and the fullness of the human spirit (Nov. 22 & 23; harristheaterchicago.org).