Even though it feels as if we've jumped from winter straight into summer, we're not complaining. In the spirit of all things Spring, we've found five world premieres by local companies opening up this spring on stages across Chicago.
"Rick Bayless in Cascabel: Dinner -- Daring -- Desire"
Despite the (gulp) price tag, tickets are almost sold out for this theatrical-culinary adventure in which the Fontera Grill celebrity chef stars in a work he co-created about a boardinghouse chef whose cuisine confers magical powers on those who try a bite -- but he becomes enchanted by a woman who has no interest in his food. The audience dines on each course of the feast as the chef serves it up onstage amid circus acts, music, dance and, of course, the love story.
Go: Wednesday-April 22 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N. Michigan Ave.
Tickets: $200-$225; 312-337-0665; lookingglasstheatre.org
"We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1844-1915"
Despite its out-of-control title, this drama by Brooklyn-based playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury was a runaway hit when it debuted in stripped-down form at Victory Gardens' 2010 Ignition Festival. The story centers on a group of actors who come face to face with their own fears and subconscious bigotry as they prepare a lecture about an historical genocide.
Go: March 30-April 29 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $15-$50; 773-871-3000; victorygardens.org
"A Bend in the Road"
National Pastime Theater celebrates its brand new home in the historic Preston Bradley Center with a brand new drama by resident playwright Michael Sokoloff about two 19th Century American men on a journey into the wild, wild west. The company describes the production as a "concoction of mystery, magic, dark corners, political content, aggressive sexuality and violence."
Go: May 4-June 9 at National Pastime Theater, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.
Tickets: $15-$25; nationalpastimetheater.com; 773-327-7077
Gay Play Weekend
Five different facets of the gay male experience come to life in this festival of comedies, dramas and a musical selected as finalists in Pride Films and Plays' Great Gay Play Contest. The lineup includes "At the Flash," an interwoven exploration of gay bars over the last 50 years; "Hello, Norma Jean," in which a gay man's grandmother confesses that she is Marilyn Monroe and that she faked her death; "Lost in History," about a man attempting to have a baby through a surrogate; "Mr. Teddy," about a role-playing subculture; and "Under a Rainbow Flag," a musical based on the real-life experiences of a local gay WWII Navy corpsman and his friends.
Go: April 13-15 at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.
Tickets: $10 each or $35 for all; 800-838-3006; brownpapertickets.com
Tony Award-winning adapter-director Frank Galati ("The Grapes of Wrath") presents his new epic adaptation of the E.L. Doctorow Civil War-era novel of the same title about the interconnected experiences of a liberated slave, a sheltered daughter of a Southern judge, a pair of Confederate Army deserters and others whose lives are forever changed during the upheaval of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's 62,000-man march through Georgia. The 25-person cast includes artistic director Martha Lavey, who steps onstage as Sherman's wife.
Go: April 5-June 10 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St.
Tickets: $45-$75; 312-335-1650; steppenwolf.org
Julia Borcherts is a RedEye special contributor.