Spring shows bring the feels

Joy and grief, anticipation and nostalgia; no season better embodies the complex interplay of feelings like ol’ “tank tops and snow boots” springtime herself. Check out these three stage shows to explore the best of the emotional best—and don’t forget to pack an extra layer.

Rent

If your tween can’t get enough of the Hamilmania sweeping the nation, introduce her to Rent, the smash musical that changed the face of Broadway forever. (Loosely based on Puccini’s La Bohème, it was arguably the Hamilton of the ‘90s.) The grittily defiant story of a group of young artists struggling to make history—as well as their monthly rent—is a love letter to humanity during a time of uncertainty and fear. We’re well into this year’s 525,600 minutes, but there’s still plenty of time to measure your life in love.

May 9-14, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

Hansel and Gretel: How Hansel Became Hansel

In a timely twist on a classic story, nonprofit tap collective jorsTAP Chicago (now in its fifth season) reimagines the tale of the brother and sister as one of sister and sister by birth. There’s more to love than the mainstreaming of the formerly taboo topic of transgender identity, however. A collaboration with internationally known artist and designer David Lee Csicsko will bring new props, painted masks and even a new gingerbread house for each performance. The company, helmed by Artistic Director Kendra Jorstad, aims to prove just how much more tap dance is than percussive footwear—based on this production, they can add “safe space-provider” to that ever-growing list.

May 5-7, Fulton Street Collective, 1821 W. Hubbard St., Chicago.

Pinocchio

What happens when the lauded Chicago Children’s Theatre teams up with Neverbird Project (a youth-based artistic home who uses “American Sign Language, spectacle and wonderment”) to tell the story of marionette who wants to become a real boy? A beautiful tale results, one full of innocence and love, loss and growth, and hope for our lives to come. Whether you’re a fan of the Italian children’s novel by Carlo Collidi or enjoy your fables the old-fashioned Disney way, this is one the whole family will love. The company is comprised of both deaf and hearing actors of all ages, and the joy of inclusivity goes even further than that: during the performance, each and every actor onstage will sign.

Through May 7, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago

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