Preview: See Theater in the Parks This Summer With Midsommer Flight, Chicago Shakes and Porchlight Music

We can look forward to theater in public parks all over Chicago this summer—and all free. Midsommer Flight will stage Shakespeare’s Cymbeline from July 7 to August 13. Chicago Shakespeare Theater will present a new production with the theme of heroism drawn from Shakespeare’s plays July 25 through August 5. And there’s musical theater too. Porchlight Music Theatre will present Broadway in Your Backyard in city parks June 27-August 8.

THE HERO WITHIN BY CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER

Chicago Shakespeare Theater will offer free popup performances exploring the theme of heroism in Shakespeare’s plays July 25 through August 5. All performances are at 6:30pm. Weaving together popular music and multidisciplinary performances with favorite scenes and speeches from Shakespeare’s plays, the ensemble explores how can we all be heroes in our everyday lives—for ourselves, our families, and our communities. 

This imaginative new work was created with and features the Beverly Arts Center, Jose “iasEL” Gonzalez, Noelle Klyce, Emma Lyons, Move Me Soul, Daryl Satcher, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Alexis Willis and Yin He Dance. More information here

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Navy Pier–Tue, July 25 and Wed, July 26—Polk Bros Park, 600 E. Grand Avenue.

Little Village—Thu, July 27—Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St.

Austin—Fri, July 28—Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Ave.

Hermosa and Belmont Cragin—Sat, July 29 —Blackhawk Park, 2318 N Lavergne Ave.

West Pullman—Thu, August 3—West Pullman Park, 401 W 123rd St.

Englewood–Fri, August 4–Ogden Park, 6500 S. Racine Ave.

Chinatown—Sat, August 5–Ping Tom Memorial Park, 1700 S. Wentworth Ave.

CYMBELINE BY MIDSOMMER FLIGHT

Midsommer Flight’s annual summer production of free Shakespeare in Chicago parks continues for the 11th year with Shakespeare’s not-often produced late play, Cymbeline, directed by Beth Wolf. The play has true love, adventure, disguised identities, adulterous schemes, an evil stepmother queen, and even a potion whose effects mimic death. There are also timely questions of equity, gender roles, power, and deceit.

You can see Cymbeline in city parks starting on opening night, Friday, July 7, at 6pm at Chicago Women’s Park and Garden, 1801 S. Indiana Ave. Performances are at 6pm on Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. Bring your own blanket or chair. Admission is free; donations happily accepted. More information here

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE 

July 7, 8, 9—Chicago Women’s Park and Garden 1801 S. Indiana Ave.

July 14, 15, 16—Gross Park, 2708 W. Lawrence Ave.

July 21, 22, 23—Kelvyn Park, 4438 W. Wrightwood Ave.

July 28, 29, 30—Harold Washington Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

August 4, 5, 6—Lincoln Park, 2045 N Lincoln Park West (Stockton Drive between Dickens and Armitage)

August 11, 12, 13—Touhy Park, 7348 N Paulina St

Audience at a Wicker Park concert in 2022. Image courtesy Porchlight Music Theatre.

BROADWAY IN YOUR BACKYARD BY PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE

Porchlight Music Theatre will perform this Broadway show-tunes series June 27-August 8; all concerts at 6pm. For the third year, Porchlight presents this series starring Broadway veterans and recent Porchlight “New Faces.” The 60-minute concert, held in parks throughout Chicago, includes favorite Chicago music theater performers singing some of the best-loved hits from the Broadway songbook including songs from Funny Girl, Guys and Dolls, Mary Poppins, Grease, RENT, Hairspray, Aladdin and others

Broadway in your Backyard is co-directed by Frankie Leo Bennett and Michael Weber with music directed by Linda Madonia. The rotating company includes . Adrian Aguilar, Bryce Ancil, Lydia Burke, Desiree Gonzalez, Lorenzo Rush Jr and Ciarra Stroud with conductors/pianists Kevin Disch and Justin Akira Kono. 

Broadway in your Backyard is suitable for all ages and audiences are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to enjoy the outdoor concerts. More information here.

CONCERT SCHEDULE

Unity Park, 2636 N. Kimball Ave.—Tuesday, June 27 at 6 p.m.

Wicker Park, 1425 N. Damen Ave.—Thursday, June 29 at 6 p.m.

Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.—Thursday, July 6 at 6 p.m.

Seneca Playlot Park, 220 E. Chicago Ave.—Tuesday, July 11 at 6 p.m.

Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Rd.—Thursday, July 13 at 6 p.m.

South Shore Cultural Center/Fieldhouse, 7059 S. Shore Dr.—Tuesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.

Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton Ave.—Thursday, July 20 at 6 p.m.

Washington Park, 5531 S. King Dr.—Tuesday, July 25 at 6 p.m.

Munroe Park, 2617 W. 105th St.—Thursday, July 27 at 6 p.m.

Stout Park, 5446 S. Greenwood Ave.—Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m.

Schreiber Playground Park, 1552 W. Schreiber Ave.—Thursday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m.

Washington Square Park, 901 N. Clark St.—Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.

Midsommer Flight, Broadway in Your Backyard and Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks are all presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Did you enjoy this post and our coverage of Chicago’s arts scene and sometimes beyond? Please consider supporting Third Coast Review’s arts and culture coverage by making a donation by PayPal. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support!

Picture of the author
Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at nancybishopsjournal.com, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.