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Drama Club

Move over, Broadway! Chicago’s theaters are at their best this summer, staging both high-wattage world premiers and intimate, character-driven dramas. Here are some of the must-see performances.

Catch William Petersen in Slowgirl through Aug. 25.

1. Steppenwolf premieres Slowgirl, a compelling thriller in which a teenager flees a party gone awry and retreats to her uncle’s Costa Rican home. The tense drama tells the story of a young woman working on not letting her past define her future. July 18-Aug. 25. Tickets $20-$52. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. 312.335.1650, steppenwolf.org


2. Bring the whole family to Shrek The Musical, a heartwarming musical based on the Academy Award-winning film and starring everyone’s favorite green ogre. Be sure to stick around after the performance to meet the costumed cast in the theater lobby. July 13-Sept. 1. 11am and 2pm. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., 312.595.5656, chicagoshakes.com

3. Written by Jackie Taylor, the founder and executive director of the Black Ensemble Theater Company, Ain’t No Cryin’ the Blues: In the Memory of Howlin Wolf tells the story of one of Chicago’s most respected blues singers. Actor Rick Stone reprises the role of Wolf, a giant of a man who made his way from White Station, Miss., to Chicago, and ultimately into the Grammy and Rock & Roll halls of fame. Through Aug. 11. Tickets $49.50-$65. Black Ensemble Theater Company, 4450 N. Clark St., 773.769.4451, blackensembletheater.org

4. Tony-winning director Mary Zimmerman’s world-premiere adaptation of Disney’s classic The Jungle Book is one of most buzzed about productions of the summer season, featuring breathtaking costumes, original music and Indian-inspired dance. Don’t worry, many of the film’s beloved songs remain. Through Aug. 11. Tickets $32-$113. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., 312.443.3800, goodmantheatre.org

5. Bust out your slouchy gray sweatshirt for the stage version of one of the ’80s most enduring films, Flashdance, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. Relive the story of steel welder/dancer Alex Owens and sing along to hits like “Maniac,” “Gloria” and “I Love Rock & Roll.” Aug 6-18. Tickets $18-$85. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., broadwayinchicago.com