John Ortiz and Jimmy Smits in rehearsal for Steppenwolf Theatre Companys… (Joel Moorman/Courtesy…)
With January right around the corner, the best thing to plan is your hibernation, right? These five theaters aim to lure you out to all corners of the world—from a tiger's cage in Baghdad to an Indian customer service call center—and to all corners of your imagination, courtesy of a scantily clad "Dr. Who" parody, a retelling of "Macbeth" and a lover's twisted quest for revenge.
The Mother[bleep]er with the Hat
Jimmy Smits ("Sons of Anarchy," "Dexter," "The West Wing") makes his Chicago stage debut as a 12-step recovery program sponsor. In this fast-paced farce, Smits plays the role Chris Rock originated in the Broadway production by Stephen Adly Guirgis about a recovering alcoholic whose discovery of another man's hat in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend sends him off on a misadventure-filled quest for revenge. Anna D. Shapiro—who directed the Broadway premiere—returns to direct the Steppenwolf production.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 28 through March 3 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.
Tickets: $20-$86. 312-335-1650; steppenwolf.org
"Sugarward" and "Lady M."
The Side Project rotates two plays about human nature getting in the way of personal and political ambitions. "Sugarward" is a world premiere period comedy about the misadventures of a fictionalized early 18th Century British Leeward Islands governor, penned by The Hypocrites founder Sean Graney and directed by Geoff Button. In addition, "Lady M." is a tragedy adapted from Shakespeare's "Macbeth" by Chicagoan Laley Lippard, who also directs. See one or the other at the Rogers Park theater seven nights a week.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5 through Feb. 10 ("Sugarward") and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 through Feb. 6 ("Lady M.") at The Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave.
Tickets: $20; $15 for students. 773-340-0140; thesideproject.net
Don't Blink: A 'Dr. Who' Burlesque
Hop on board Dr. Who's TARDIS—in your mind, anyway—and into this sexy parody of the classic British sci-fi TV show featuring different incarnations of the time-traveling doc and his respective companions. The show is co-written by the Belmont Burlesque Revue's Ms. Pixy, who wrote and directed "Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque," the show that kicked off Gorilla Tango's uber-successful nerd burlesque series.
Go: 9 p.m. Feb. 1 through April 26 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: $35. 773-598-4549; gorillatango.com
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
In this Pulitzer Prize-nominated dark comedy by Rajiv Joseph, the main character—a trash-talking tiger—is shot dead when he bites off the hand of an American soldier in Iraq. But the tiger continues to haunt the streets of Baghdad as the wounded soldier and others plot to sell the gold-plated gun that killed him.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 through March 17 at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave.
Tickets: $36-$70; $28-$38 previews through Feb. 8; 312-337-0665; lookingglasstheatre.org
Go behind the scenes at one of the most intriguing developments of our modern techno-age—the India-based call center—in this darkly humorous drama by Anupama Chandrasekhar. Employees who pretend to be located in Chicago get sucked into the dark side of the American dream as they target credit card defaulters, and one staffer's plans go awry when he develops a relationship with a mark. Sixteenth Street Theater artistic director Ann Filmer directs the U.S. premiere of the play, which originally debuted at London's Royal Court Theatre.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 through Feb. 24 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $20-$50. 773-871-3000; victorygardens.org
Julia Borcherts is a RedEye special contributor.