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T.R. Knight and Alexandra Silber in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Chicago Shakes to Speak ‘The King’s Speech,’ Debut New Tesori Opera

Also on next season’s slate: ‘As You Like It’ with Beatles songs and a production from Mexico’s Makuyeika Theatre Collective.

CHICAGO: Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced its 2019-20 season, which contains 10 productions.

“At a time in our lives when estrangement and belonging are so entwined into our public discourse, we are looking forward to a season of stories that explore our boundaries—personal, societal, geographic—and how we cross them in order to better understand ourselves, our neighbors, and the world we inhabit,” said artistic director Barbara Gaines in a statement.

The season will open in the summer with an outdoor production of The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, in an adaptation by John Kane, featuring music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg (July 6-Aug. 25). Brian Hill will direct.

The second outdoor production will be Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (July 18-Aug. 18). It will be performed for free in neighborhood parks around Chicago. David H. Bell will direct.

The fall season will begin with the North American premiere of The King’s Speech by David Seidler (Sept. 12-Oct. 27, 2019). It follows King George VI, who ascends the throne as England stands on the brink of war with Germany, and is tasked with giving an inspiring speech to the nation but must first overcome a stutter. The play inspired the Oscar-winning film starring Colin Firth.

Then Chicago Shakes will present the touring production of A Man of Good Hope, based on the book by Jonny Steinberg (Oct. 4-12, 2019). The production, which originated in London, is the story of a Somali refugee who journeys to South Africa. It is performed by the South African Isango Ensemble, and is a production with the Young Vic and in association with the Royal Opera, Repons Foundation, X and Y.

After that will be Andraes, written and directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu (Oct. 23-27). It is created by the Makuyeika Theatre Collective from Mexico, and is about the people who live in the remote parts of Mexico. It will be presented as part of Destinos, the Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.

The season will open with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Nov. 1-Dec. 22). Gaines will direct the play for the first time in her career.

Then the theatre will present the world premiere of Paul Gordon’s musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma (Jan. 28-March 15, 2020). Gaines will direct.

In April 2020, Chicago Shakes will host a production from England’s Royal Shakespeare Company. The show title and dates will be announced later.

Later in the spring, the theatre will present a ’60s-inspired take on Shakespeare’s gender-bending comedy As You Like It (May 1-June 21, 2020). Daryl Cloran, artistic director of Citadel Theatre in Canada, will direct. The production will feature the songs of the Beatles.

The season will close with a new opera by Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori, titled Blue (June 19-28, 2020). With libretto and direction by Tazewell Thompson, the play explores the fall out in a Black family when a son is killed by a police officer. Blue is a coproduction of Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a Tony-winning year-round theatre that programs a mix of plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe.

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