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Steppenwolf unveils slate

'Ragtime,' 'The Glass Menagerie' in the wings

CHICAGO — Frank Galati’s first creative outing since “Ragtime” and a new production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” directed by Mark Brokaw highlight the 1998-99 season at the Steppenwolf Theater Co. These are heady days for the increasingly opulent Chicago troupe, which also recently announced plans to buy the bank building across the street from its northside home.

Galati will helm a new spring production of Sylvia Regan’s 1940 saga “Morning Star,” the tale of widow struggling on the Lower East Side.

And although casting has not yet been announced for Brokaw’s “Menagerie” (opening Dec. 3), it’s thought likely that the production will contain an illustrious name or two from among the founding members of the ensemble. Brokaw’s acclaimed New York productions include Craig Lucas’ “The Dying Gaul,” “As Bees in Honey Drown” and “How I Learned to Drive.”

Other shows on the season include Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain,” Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmann” (the first play by the Irish new wave to make it to Chicago) and a premiering work by Charles L. Mee, entitled “The Berlin Circle” and set in East Germany after the fall of communism. This season opener, by the author of “Time to Burn,” will be directed by Tina Landau, the newest Steppenwolf ensemble member.

The company will also buy the LaSalle Bank building at 758 W. North Ave., and convert the structure to rehearsal space and administrative offices for fall occupancy. The new purchase will allow Steppenwolf to maintain three full-time producing venues — the mainstage, the studio, and a new performing space carved out of the first floor of the expanding theater’s parking garage.

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