Review: Sneak peek at theater pleasures arriving in 2024

Karen Mayberry Greuel (Felicia Dantine), Trace Gamache (Dierdre McDavey), Rikki Lee Travolta (Andrew Rally) in "I Hate Hamlet."

Tragedy, comedy and drama – from Shakespeare to Sondheim – are all potential enjoyment encounters for area theatergoers in 2024.

Crystal Lake’s Raue Center For The Arts is welcoming back the long-awaited, much-admired Williams Street Repertory, its in-house professional theater company, with three productions. Their 2024 season offers Karen Zacarias’ comedy “Native Gardens” (Feb. 23-March 17), Shakespeare’s “Othello” (April 26-May 19) and David Javerbaum’s biblical comedy “An Act of God” (Aug. 2-25). Raue Center School For The Arts also will return to the stage with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical” (April 18-20).

The Woodstock Opera House’s planned January through March renovations necessitated Theatre 121′s postponement of its opening production to April for Robert Harling’s popular “Steel Magnolias” (April 12-28), followed by the Sondheim-Wheeler musical “Sweeney Todd” (June 21-30).

The Blackbox Theatre at McHenry County College will offer Noel Coward’s classic mid-life crisis “Present Laughter” (March 8-24).

A little farther down the road, the Elgin Art Showcase, an eighth-floor performance venue, will host a multitude of productions in 2024 by various theater companies. Eduardo De Filippo’s relationship comedy “Filumena,” an Elgin Theatre Company production, is first up (Feb. 9-25). ETC also has slated “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” and “Art” for its theatrical season. Continuing its 26th year of productions, Janus Theatre will present Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” (dates to be announced). The iambe theatre will produce Julie Marie Myatt’s “Wake Up, Mrs. Moore” (April 12-28), and will return with David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony-nominated “Good People” (Oct. 25-Nov. 10). Independent Players will return with Christopher Sergei’s adaptation of the generation-defining “The Outsiders” in mid-2024.

Another Elgin group, Elsinore, will present Peter Oswald’s historical drama “Mary Stuart” in the theater at Side Street Studio Arts (April 12-28).

St. Charles’ Steel Beam Theatre’s season offers “The Cake,” the topical dramatic comedy by Bekah Brunstetter (Jan. 19-Feb. 11), and “Steel Magnolias” (April 19-May 12).

Arlington Heights’ Metropolis Performing Arts Centre has several performer tributes lined up in its Presented Series beginning in January. Their 2024 theatrical season includes Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man in Concert” (Feb. 2-14); “9 to 5: The Musical” (May 2-26); and “Million Dollar Quartet” (July 11-Aug. 4).

Aurora’s Paramount Theatre Broadway Series offers the Elton John-Lee Hall musical “Billy Elliott” (Feb. 7-March 24) and the Douglas McGrath-Carole King musical “Beautiful” (April 24-June 16). And the finale of its BOLD Series will be Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (March 13-April 21) on stage at its more intimate Copley Theatre across the street.

Any of these shows will provide a remarkable chance to learn more about the human condition, not to mention an opportunity to be entertained. And there’s nothing like live theater to get that mind engaged, your feelings involved, and you participating in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of a shared experience with other audience members. I’ll see you there!

• Regina Belt-Daniels has been in love with the theater since the first grade when she was cast as a rather bossy Mother Goose. She has appeared onstage and backstage in many capacities ranging from performer to director at the Raue, Woodstock Opera House, Elgin Art Showcase and McHenry County College in Illinois. She most recently directed Elgin Theatre Company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Play.”


Raue Center For The Arts: 815-356-9212,

McHenry County College’s Blackbox Theatre: 815-455-8746,

Woodstock Opera House: 815-338-5300,

Paramount Theatre: 630-896-6666,

Steel Beam Theatre: 630-587-8521,

Metropolis: 847-577-2121,

Elgin Theatre Company: 847-741-0532,

Janus: 847-363-3573,

iambe: tickets through,

Independent Players: 847-697-7374,

Elsinore: 847-429-2276,