2013 Fall Guide: Coming soon to a stage near you

"Once" by New York Theatre Workshop.

"Once" by New York Theatre Workshop. (Joan Marcus / September 3, 2013)

The fall theater season of 2013 is already very much underway. From the scores of intriguing possibilities, here are 10 Chicago shows, opening between now and the holidays, that sound especially juicy. They're listed in alphabetical order; date ranges include preview performances.

"Appropriate": This provocative new play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins already made a splash at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky., this year; it's the story of the children of an Arkansas plantation owner who discover horrors when they meet to divide up his estate. Gary Griffin directs at Victory Gardens, as he did the Kentucky premiere. Nov. 8-Dec. 8 by Victory Gardens at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; $20-$60 at 773-871-3000 and victorygardens.org

"Cyrano de Bergerac": Thanks to his work on Navy Pier, actor Harry Groener ("The Madness of George III") now has a strong following in Chicago. His fluency and heart would seem like an ideal match for the big-nosed title role in "Cyrano de Bergerac," the marquee offering this fall at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where Edmond Rostand's classic will be under the direction of Penny Metropulos. Sept. 24-Nov. 10 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier; $58-$78; 312-595-5600 and chicagoshakes.com

"Detroit '67": You'll have to wait until next year for "Motown: The Musical," but Northlight Theatre has the Chicago premiere this fall of another work set in the Motor City, whose recent bankruptcy has it very much in the news. Penned by Dominique Morisseau, "Detroit '67" is set during very different times for Detroit, just as the world was about to explode on turntables and in the streets. Ron OJ Parson (whose current production of "A Raisin in the Sun" is superb) is at the helm. Nov. 8-Dec. 15 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; $25-$75 at 847-673-6300 and northlight.org

"The Normal Heart": Actor-director David Cromer returns to Chicago to star in a new, Nick Bowling-directed production of Larry Kramer's definitive, raging drama about the early years of the AIDS crisis. The supporting cast at TimeLine Theatre is stellar, and the recent Broadway revival of this great American drama proved that Kramer's cri de coeur has only increased in force and potency. Oct. 26-Dec. 22 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; $37-$50 at 773-281-8463 or timelinetheatre.com

"Once": The best screen-to-stage adaptation in years, the 2012 Broadway musical "Once" enchants by understanding the crucial importance of theatricality. John Tiffany's production, a perfect match for Enda Walsh's exquisite book, has improved every time I have seen it. One hopes that record continues with the first national tour of this beautiful story of love and loss on the streets of Dublin. Move fast, the Chicago run is brief. Oct. 9-27 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.; $27-$95; 800-775-2000 and broadwayinchicago.com

"Pullman Porter Blues": Cheryl L. West was, in the 1990s, one of the busiest and most engrossing American playwrights. She's been less prolific of late, but "Pullman Porter Blues," about the famous railroad employees housed in George Pullman's company town on the South Side of Chicago, marks her welcome return to the Goodman Theatre. Sept. 14-Oct. 20 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; $25-$86; 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org

"Smokefall": The playwright Noah Haidle is, to say the least, a very interesting and volatile young writer. This big talent has a lot of fans in Chicago, and he's premiering his latest work in the Goodman's Owen Theatre. "Smokefall" is about an ordinary family, but there is nothing ordinary about anything Haidle has tapped out in the past. Oct. 5-Nov. 3 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; $10-$40; 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org

"Tercer Cuerpo (Third Wing)": The MCA Stage program of visiting companies has been responsible for numerous remarkable theatrical evenings in the past year. This fall, the skillfully curated venue brings us the work of Timber 4, one of the leading fringe companies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, known for its intensity. This piece is about office workers, desperately seeking meaning in their lives. Oct. 3-6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; $28 at 312-397-4010 or mcachicago.org

"Tribes": Another British play at Steppenwolf this fall, Nina Raine's "Tribes" is the story of a hyperintellectual, if somewhat dysfunctional, family, talking rather more than any of them are listening. Under David Cromer's direction, this was a remarkable experience off-Broadway. Director Austin Pendleton is forging a new production for Steppenwolf, with the formidable Alana Arenas and Francis Guinan in his cast. Dec. 5-Feb. 9 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.; $20-$82; 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org

"The Wheel": Thanks to a busy movie career and a move away from live performance, Joan Allen has not appeared at her home theater in years. But she returns this fall to the stage where many of her early performances remain stamped on the memories of theater-loving Chicagoans. Allen stars in the American premiere of a new work by British playwright Zinne Harris, beginning on a 19th-century Spanish farm and then ranging across time. Thursday to Nov. 10 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.; $20-$82; 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org

cjones5@tribune.com

Twitter @ChrisJonestrib

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