Lily James and Gillian Anderson in “All About Eve”

You don’t need to be a theater or music lover, child of nature, adventurer or horror fan to appreciate five standout productions hitting Chicagoland this spring. These first-rate plays all convey the human experience in an entertaining, moving and memorable way.

Before Steven Spielberg’s remake of the Oscar-winning movie hits cinemas, check out “West Side Story” (May 3-June 2) as it’s meant to be seen via live performances at the city’s Lyric Opera House. Co-produced with the Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass Festival, the Chicago premiere of Lyric’s grand-scale production stars Corey Cott and Mikaela Bennett. The “Romeo and Juliet” retelling also features music by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim performed by the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra. It even includes the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, recreated for Lyric by Julio Monge.

Barbara E. Robertson stars in the Chicago premiere of Firebrand Theatre’s “Queen of the Mist” (May 25-July 6), based on the true story of the first woman to go over Niagara Falls. Directed by Elizabeth Margolius, the musical features book, music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and music direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre.

The life of English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall is explored in “Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall” (April 25) at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. Presented by the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour, the family-friendly play is based on a book by Patrick McDonnell with music and lyrics by Andy Mitton.

“The idea of bringing ‘Me…Jane’ to the stage is very exciting,” Goodall told the Kennedy Center. “I love the book and I am sure that the live action will inspire children of all ages to pursue their dreams and to realize if Jane did it, they can do it, too.”

Recommended for ages 12 and up, Lookingglass Theatre Company unleashes the world premiere of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (May 8-Sep. 1) in Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works building.

“I’m fascinated by the blur between Mary Shelley’s story of creation, rejection, and destruction and her own life of love, loss, and abandonment. How does the human heart survive desolation and misery?” asks director David Catlin, who adapted the classic by Mary Shelley for stage.

“We’re collaborating with the Actors Gymnasium to bring Frankenstein’s haunting ghosts high into the air above and have five extraordinary actors digging deep to animate this story that continues to unsettle us two hundred years after it was written,” continues Catlin.

Experience London in Evanston as Wirtz Center’s Stage on Screen series presents the National Theatre Live’s broadcast of “All About Eve” (June 8-9) at the Josephine Louis Theater. Adapted from the Oscar-winning film of the same name and based on Mary Orr’s play “The Wisdom of Eve”, this new British production features Gillian Anderson as actress Margo Channing and Lily James as her overzealous protégé Eve. All signs point to a bumpy night!

Lily James and Gillian Anderson in “All About Eve”
courtesy of National Theatre Live  © Perou

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.