'Rock 'n' Roll,' 'Grey Gardens' to come 2009

This year’s rollout of season announcements for Chicago’s biggest theaters resembles nothing so much as the TKTS half-price booth in Times Square for the last year or two, with Broadway shows such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “The Seafarer,” “Grey Gardens” and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” all scheduled to hit town.

Regional theaters are taking advantage of the Broadway spotlight placed on properties that drew critical praise but often failed to take root commercially. Since the theaters continue to program new works as well, the Rialto graduates are taking slots that likely would have gone to revivals in past seasons.

Adding to a previously announced slate, the Goodman Theater will stage “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tom Stoppard’s take on communism and rock music, which ended its Rialto run March 9. Charles Newell, artistic director of Chi’s Court Theater, will helm the production on the Goodman stage in spring 2009.

At his home base, Newell will look back a couple of Broadway seasons to direct the Tony Kushner-Jeanine Tesori musical “Caroline, or Change.”

Steppenwolf Theater Company has already announced that it will produce Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer,” which wraps its Broadway run March 30. Due to start performances Dec. 4, the Steppenwolf incarnation will feature ensemble member John Mahoney.

And for its 2008-09 season, Northlight Theater in suburban Skokie takes a sizable slice of the recent Broadway pie. The theater will present Tony-winning tuner “Grey Gardens,” about Long Island eccentrics Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter; Theresa Rebeck’s play “Mauritius,” about two half-sisters and a stamp collection; and Martin McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” chronicling an Irish hitman’s bloody return to his childhood home.

Among new work debuting in Chi, Northlight will present the world premiere of Kenneth Lin’s play “Po’ Boy Tango,” about a Chinese immigrant attempting to re-create his mother’s “Great Banquet.”

Steppenwolf will produce “Kafka on the Shore,” adapted and directed by Frank Galati from the work of Haruki Murakami, as well as Bridget Carpenter’s play “Up,” directed by “August: Osage County” helmer Anna Shapiro.

And the Goodman Theater previously announced a 2008-09 slate heavy on new work, including “Ruined,” by Lynn Nottage; “Yohen,” by Philip Kan Gotanda; and “Ghostwritten,” by Naomi Iizuka. The Goodman has also added Rebecca Gilman’s “The Crowd You’re in With,” which premiered at the Magic Theater in San Francisco.

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