"The Amen Corner": This gospel musical, based on James Baldwin's 1965 play about a storefront pastor in Harlem and her estranged musician husband, kicks off the season under Runako Jahi's direction at the oldest operating professional African-American theater in Chicago. Eta Creative Arts Foundation; Sept. 13-Oct. 21

"The Spitfire Grill": James Valcq and Fred Alley's redemptive musical, based on the warmhearted 1996 movie about a recently released female convict who finds salvation in the title eatery, gets an intimate staging with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble under Anna Hammonds' direction. Heartland Studio; Sept. 14-Oct. 14

"Godspell": Stephen Schwartz's break-out 1971 hit gave a hippie-rock twist to the Gospels, with the help of book writer John-Michael Tebelak. M. William Panek directs for The Brown Paper Box Co. Collaboraction Studio; Sept. 20-Oct. 7

"Smokey Joe's Cafe": Brenda Didier directs and choreographs this popular revue based on the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in Theo Ubique's intimate "dinner theater" venue. No Exit Cafe; Sept. 24-Nov. 11

"Assassins": The dark heart of American politics and celebrity gets skewered in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical about presidential assassins. (They got there long before Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation.") Director Billy Pacholski stages an independent production right before the presidential election — which is either very good timing or very bad taste. Viaduct Theatre; Oct. 10-Nov. 10

"Harold and the Purple Crayon": Chicago Children's Theatre premieres a new musical based on the beloved Crockett Johnson book and created by Don Darryl Rivera, Robert Burgess, and Auston James. Sean Graney directs the production, recommended for ages 3 and older+. and up, which is the first in the company's season at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. It will also tour to Beverly Arts Center and the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. Ruth Page Center for the Arts; Oct. 11-Nov. 4

"My One and Only": The high elegance and romance of the Gershwin era comes alive in this tap-dancing extravaganza. Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire; Nov. 7-Dec. 31


"Supernatural Chicago": Neil Tobin's long-running show combines magic, mentalism, and ghost stories — and, around Halloween, a special "Houdini Seance." Excalibur Nightclub; open run

"The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story": David Rice's popular adaptation of chilling Poe tales and true stories from the author's tragic life returns to First Folio Theatre in an ambulatory production in the Peabody mansion. Mayslake Peabody Estate, Oak Brook; Sept. 26-Nov. 4

"Frankenstein": Mary Shelley's game-changing horror story, as adapted by Bo List. City Lit Theater; Sept. 28-Nov. 4

"Hellcab": When you're a Chicago cabbie, every night is Halloween. Will Kern's sardonic comedy about a cab driver and the motley assortment of fares who make his life a nightmare became a long-running cult hit in the 1990s and appeared in celluloid form in 1997 as "Chicago Cab." It returns home for a 20th anniversary staging at Profiles, directed by Darrell W. Cox. Profiles Theatre Main Stage; Nov. 9-Dec. 23