Fire and brimstone! Meet Kayla, the estranged daughter of a Pentecostal preacher in the Deep South whose longtime charm with snakes has unaccountably failed, leaving him at death’s door. Composed by Kamala Sankaram to a libretto by Jerre Dye, Taking Up Serpents has moved and shaken critics in its original incarnation on the East Coast. A newly expanded edition for the Chicago premiere, freshly staged, could prove more potent still. Expect eerie sonorities; the orchestra features electric guitar, waterphone, and whirly tubes. —M.G.
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