‘Little Shop of Horrors’ – a silly little musical that feeds on blood

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Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)
Will Lidke and Kelly Felthouse in Little Shop of Horrors at Drury Lane Theatre. (Brett Beiner photo)

With Halloween 2018 on the horizon, “Little Shop of Horrors” plays into the spookiness of the season. The sort-of-dark musical comedy is now running at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. It’s more spirited, shall we say, than scary.

The action centers around a dilapidated flower shop on Skid Row and its hard-scrabble denizens. The two central characters are Seymour, a hapless employee played by Will Lidke, and Audrey, his tartly dressed coworker and the object of his affection played by Kelly Felthous. Mr. Mushnik, their boss played by Ron E. Rains, is just as down on his luck as everyone else.

Seymour suddenly is offered success beyond his imagination by a demanding, carnivorous, exotic plant on a growth spurt. The condition? The plant is blood thirsty.

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‘Radio Golf’ is a Hole-in-One

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From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

A Pittsburgh real estate developer with aspirations of becoming mayor finds himself at odds with his wife and his business partner after encountering a couple of guys from his old neighborhood who bring him closer to his own history and the roots of his community.

This is a story about the quest for success, what is legal, what is fair and ultimately, what is right and what is wrong.

These concepts are not just black and white. They are usually very muddy and predicated on each individual’s point-of-view. On some level this story tries to indicate that there is a clear distinction.

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Good song and dance numbers sweeten Marriott’s ‘Charity’

The cast of 'Sweet Charity' goes into the 'Big Spender' song and dance number. (Photo by Justin Barbin)
The cast of ‘Sweet Charity’ goes into the ‘Big Spender’ song and dance number. (Photo by Justin Barbin)

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When Charity Hope Valentine is asked why she believes in love, she replies, “You have to have some religion.”  In “Sweet Charity,” a show replete with good lines, after all Neil Simon wrote the musical’s book, this expression lies at the heart of the story.

However, audiences who have seen the 1969 movie and are seeing the show now at Marriott Theatre, will also catch that the theme that frames the show is Charity’s middle name, Hope.

No matter how often she is disappointed, Charity, a dance-hall hostess, rebounds. Instead of following the typical “and they lived happily ever after,” in “Sweet Charity” she moves forward, “hopefully.”

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New entertainment venue to open downtown Chicago

 

Aerial artists Duo Rose (Photo by John Cornicello)
Aerial artists Duo Rose
(Photo by John Cornicello)

Imagine walking into the Camabria Hotel next to the Oriental Theatre on Randolph, being transported up to the 14th floor, stepping out into a dark, cavernous space not knowing what to expect. And then, offered buffet breakfast tidbits by The Goddess and Grocer and treated to an incredible acrobatic act.

That was what several folks in the entertainment business experienced Sept. 12, 2018. The event introduced the opening of Teatro ZinZanni, a combination cabaret, cirque, dining theater founded by Norman Langill in Seattle in 1998.

Gazing around what looks like a huge, maybe more than four-story high and equally wide, unfinished, abandoned building shell, it’s hard to imagine this space will be magically transformed by April 2019 when Teatro ZinZanni expects to premiere “Love, Chaos & Dinner.”

The key, Langill explained during Wednesday’s announcement, is the Spiegeltent, a large, wood and canvas traveling structure that looks like the tent it is on the outside but will look like a marvelous brick, wood, mirrored and stained glass entertainment venue inside.

Just as fascinating is how its thousands of pieces will get into the space.  Because some are too large to fit in a freight elevator or through a window, some pieces will be dropped by helicopter through a hole in the roof.

So, Chicagoans can expect to see some fascinating maneuvers outside in the theater district before the venue opens inside.

And given that Teatro ZinZanni has a reputation for showcasing excellent aerial trapeze artists such as Duo Rose who performed Wednesday, along with known comedians, singers and magicians, “Love, Chaos & Dinner” will likely add fascinating entertainment inside.

“It the nightclub of your dreams,” said Langill.

DETAILS: “Love, Chaos & Dinner” opens in the Spiegeltent ZaZou in the Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St., April 5, 2019. For Broadway In Chicago Subscription and Groups Sales  tickets (includes 4-course meal), call (312) 977 -1710 and visit Broadway In Chicago.  For individual tickets visit ZinZanni.com/Chicago. Presale tickets beginNov. 26, 2018 and general tickets start Dec. 7, 2018.

Jodie Jacobs

New Chicago Architecture Center definitely worth a visit

 

Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)
Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has moved to a perfectly placed space on Wacker Drive across form the Chicago River and near the starting point of its famed Architecture Boat Tour.

Called the Chicago Architecture Center, the space is more than a good place to pick up tickets for the boat or other tours previously stamped CAF, now CAC.

See the Chicago City Model

On the main floor is the start of a two-level exhibit that contains a room-long model of downtown Chicago basically from the South Loop up to Lincoln Park.

Filled with more than 4.200 buildings that do more than just sit there looking pretty, the city model tells stories.Read More

‘A Shayna Maidel’ packs powerful punch for Holocaust Remembrance

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Lusia (Emily Berman) left, and Rose (Bri Sudia) are two sisters trying to reconnect after years of separation brought on by the Holocaust. (Photo by Lara Goetsch)
Lusia (Emily Berman) left, and Rose (Bri Sudia) are two sisters trying to reconnect after years of separation brought on by the Holocaust. (Photo by Lara Goetsch)

 

What is family? Can it be created or reborn? “A Shayna Maidel” answers these  thoughtful questions in a most profound way. Written in 1984 by Barbara Lebow and now performed as a revival by TimeLine Theatre, the play confronts the horrors and aftermath of the Holocaust.

Two sisters and their father, reunited after years of separation, are now forced to examine their roles, responsibilities and guilt.

Daughter Rose and father Mordechai Weiss were fortunate to escape from Poland before the war. Not so lucky were daughter Lusia, who had scarlet fever and their mother who were left behind. Read More

‘Vietgone’ translates love and war into a romcom

Matthew C. Yee and Aurora Adachi-Winter are the leads in 'Vietgone' at Writers Theatre, Glencoe. (Michael Brosilow Photo)
Matthew C. Yee and Aurora Adachi-Winter are the leads in ‘Vietgone’ at Writers Theatre, Glencoe. (Michael Brosilow Photo)

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Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” at Writers Theatre offers a fascinating  perspective on immigration that shatters stereotypes while basically telling a love and adventure story that is funny (think rom-com).

It also is a musical but instead of sentimental arias as in “Madam Butterfly” or ballads as in “South Pacific” you have the leads Quang (Matthew C. Yee) and Tong (Aurora Adachi-Winter) rap and sing to Gabriel Ruiz’s music. Read More

Goodman leads Jeff award nominations

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Macbeth received a nomination in the Production category. (L to R) Chaon Cross (Lady Macbeth) and Ian Merrill Peakes (Macbeth) watched by the Weird Sisters (McKinley Carter, Emily Ann Nichelson and Theo Germaine) in ‘Macbeth’ at Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s The Yard. (Photo by Liz Lauren
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Macbeth received a nomination in the Production category. (L to R) Chaon Cross (Lady Macbeth) and Ian Merrill Peakes (Macbeth) watched by the Weird Sisters (McKinley Carter, Emily Ann Nichelson and Theo Germaine) in ‘Macbeth’ at Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s The Yard. (Photo by Liz Lauren

The Jeff awards equity nominations, now announced, recognize exceptional performances, direction, scenic and other important production elements in both large and midsize plays and musicals done by Chicago area theaters during the 2017-18 season.

With 178 nominations in31 categories, the list is too long to publish here so go to Jeff award nominations.  But a quick scan finds Goodman and Court Theatres received the most acknowledgement with Goodman receiving 15 nominations an Court getting 13. Next were Porchlight Music Theatre with 12 and Marriott theatre with 11.

They were followed by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Paramount theatre and Vistory Gardens theatre with 10 nominations. Don’t worry about the different theater/re spellings. They all choose their own preference.

The Jeff committee also paid particular attention to world premieres – 24 plays and musicals.

The winners will be announced at the 50th annual Jeff Awards dinner Oct. 22, 2018, at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Tickets are $85 per person and $65 for production members of such associations and societies as Actor Equity and American Federation of Musicians. Visit Jeff Awards for tickets and other information.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Three Labor Day Weekend choices

Who wants to celebrate Labor Day Weekend falls into the debatable category. If returning or starting school is on the can’t wait list than OK. Same goes for “I love fall.” But if it means the end of summer free time, maybe not so much.

So what makes sense on how to say goodby summer, hello labor? Here’s three ways (actually more if you count all the days of the weekend listening to different bands at the Chicago Jazz Festival) to take advantage of now. Two of them won’t be available again until next year.

 

A pair of Zebra Longwings are attra ted to this cluster of flowers in the Chicago Botanic Garden Butterflies and Blooms exhibit. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
A pair of Zebra Longwings are attra ted to this cluster of flowers in the Chicago Botanic Garden Butterflies and Blooms exhibit. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Chicago Botanic Garden Butterflies and Blooms

Go before the annual butterfly exhibit leaves the Chicago Botanic Garden Sept. 3. The garden is basically open from sun up to sun down but the butterfly house hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a ticketed exhibit with the last ticket sold at 4:30 p.m.

For this exhibit the best parking lot is the first one visitors come to left of the first traffic stop sign after the parking lot booth (not the “if someone is in the crosswalk” warning signs). The exhibit is next to the Regenstein Learning Center and outdoor children’s hilly play area.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. For more information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Chicago Botanic or Chicago Botanic Butterflies.

 

Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller
Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller photo)

Miller Lite Beer Garden

The popular Miller Lite Beer Garden on Navy Pier is doing its “Live on the Lake” music series from Friday through From Friday, August 31 through Monday, Sept. 3. Come Friday to toast the weekend with special Happy Hour prices from 4 to 6 p.m. then stay for the music. Or return Saturday for music and stay for Navy Pier’s fireworks at 10:15.

Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., The Beer Garden is considered 700 E. Grand Ave. For more Beer Garden info call (312) 595-5446 and visit Beer Garden. For Navy Pier information cal (800) 595-Pier (7437)and visit Navy Pier.

 

Orbert Davis Chicago Jazz Philharmonic is among the headliners at the Chicago Jazz Festival. (Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special events/Orbert Davis photo)
Orbert Davis Chicago Jazz Philharmonic is among the headliners at the Chicago Jazz Festival. (Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special events/Orbert Davis photo)

 

Chicago Jazz festival

Good jazz is happening right now in Chicago venues as it does every week but this last week of August and first weekend of September are special. The Chicago Jazz Festival is happening downtown and around the city through Sept. 2, 2018. The festival is celebrating its 40th year with several area bands and headliners Ramsey Lewis, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, Maceo Parker and Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.  See the schedule to catch the jazz artist or band  you don’t want to miss or just go over to Millennium Park and enjoy the concerts. They’re all free. Programming is by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. It’s produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Aug. 29

Jay Pritzker Pavilion 6:30-9pm – Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: Legends and Lions

Aug. 30

 Jay Pritzker Pavilion: 5pm – Second-line Procession led by Mystick Krewe of Laff featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at the west side of the Great Lawn); 5:25–6:15pm – Geof Bradfield Nonet; 6:30–7:25pm – Nicole Mitchell and Mandorla Awakening; 7:45–9pm – Kurt Elling featuring Marquis Hill and Jeff “Tain” Watts.

Chicago Cultural Center: 11am–12pm – What Is This Thing called Jazz? Ernie Adams: Insights on Improvisation 12:30–1:30pm – Carmen Stokes Quartet, in collaboration with the South Side Jazz Coalition; 2–3pm – Paul Giallorenzo Trio, in collaboration with the Elastic Arts Foundation; 3:30–4:30pm – Chicago Cellar Boys, in collaboration with the Iliana Club of Traditional Jazz.

Park Grill Plaza: 12–2pm – Julius Tucker, 4–6pm – Thaddeus Thukes Vibez

Aug. 31

Jay Pritzker Pavilion: 3:45 pm – Second-line Procession led by Mystick Krewe of Laff featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at the west side of the Great Lawn) 4:15–5:05pm – Tribute to Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams; 5:25–6:15pm – Sabertooth Organ Quartet 25th Anniversary 6:30–7:25pm – Louis Hayes Quintet: “Seranade for Horace;” 7:45–9pm – Dianne Reeves.

Von Freeman Pavilion (Chase Promenade South): 11:30am–12:25pm – Junius Paul Quartet; 12:40–1:35pm – Quin Kirchner Group 1:50–2:45pm – Chris Speed Trio 3–4pm – Greg Ward and 10 Tongues.

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (Chase Promenade North): Noon–1pm – Gayle Kolb Sextet 1:30–2:30pm – Roy McGrath Remembranzas Quintet 3–4pm – Million Brazilan Project featuring Sarah Marie Young and Guy King.

Park Grill Plaza Stage: 12–2pm – High Hat; 4–6pm – Bomanville.

Sept. 1

Jay Pritzker Pavilion: 3:45pm – Second-line Procession led by Mystick Krewe of Laff featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at the west side of the Great Lawn); 4:15–5:0; 5pm – Tribute to Willie Pickens 5:25–6:10pm – Kenny Barron Quintet; 6:25–7:25pm – Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society; 7:45–9pm – Ramsey Lewis.

Von Freeman Pavilion (Chase Promenade South): 11:30am–12:25pm – Black Diamond; 12:40–1:35pm – Dustin Laurenzi and Natural Language; 1:50–2:45pm – Matthew Shipp and Ivo Perelman; 3–4pm – Amina Claudine Myers Trio.

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (Chase Promenade North): Noon–1pm – Bruce Henry; 1:30–2:30pm – The Chuck Webb Band featuring Margaret Murphy; 3–4pm – Nolatet.

Park Grill Plaza: 12–2pm – Petra van Nuis; 4–6pm – Isabella Sherwood.

 Young Jazz Lions (Harris Rooftop): 11–11:30am – ChiArts Jazz Combo; 11:45am–12:15pm – Morgan Park High School Jazz Combo; 12:30–1pm – CYSO Jazz Combo; 1:15–1:55pm – Eric Solorio High School Jazz Ensemble; 2:10–2:50pm – Whitney Young High School Jazz Ensemble; 3:05–3:45pm – Kenwood Academy Jazz Band.

Sept. 2

Jay Pritzker Pavilion: 3:45pm – Second-line Procession led by Mystick Krewe of Laff featuring the Big Shoulders Brass Band (starts at the west side of the Great Lawn); 4:15–5:05pm – Matt Ulery’s Loom Large; 5:25–6:10pm – Arturo O’Farrill Sextet; 6:25–7:25pm – Charles McPherson-Barry Harris Quartet; 7:45–9pm – Maceo Parker.

Von Freeman Pavilion (Chase Promenade South): 11:30am–12:25pm – Tribute to John Wright; 12:40–1:35pm – Jaimie Branch’s Fly or Die; 1:50–2:45pm – Jason Stein Quartet; 3–4pm – Eric Revis Quartet featuring Ken Vandermark.

Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (Chase Promenade North): 12–1pm – Quentin Coaxum Quintet;1:30–2:30pm – Alejandro Urzagaste’s Flow featuring Bill Carrothers; 3–4pm – Fareed Haque and his Funk Brothers.

Park Grill Plaza Stage: 12–2pm – Lucas Gillian; 4–6pm – Irvin Pierce.

NextGenJazz  (Harris Rooftop): 11:15am–12pm – Derek Duleba Quartet; 12:15–1pm – Cesar Martinez’s Cuicatl;1:15–2pm – Morgan Pirtle+5; 2:15–3pm – Greg Uhlmann’s Typical Sisters; 3:15-4pm – Jahari Stampley Ensemble.

Neighborhood venues, visit City of Chicago Jazz  Neighborhood. For more Jazz Festival information visit CityofChicagoDCA Jazz Festival.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Sneak Peak Part Six: Chicago suburban theater scene

Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Not all memorable theater is in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters put on Jeff award-winning productions. But whether looking to the city or suburbs or both, one way to not miss a show you want to see is to save this Sneak Peak Series and mark productions for tickets or theaters for subscriptions. Enjoy! (Note: Some companies spell their work and space theater but others use theatre. Both are correct.)

North

 

Citadel Theatre

The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.

Citadel is doing “The Little Foxes, Sept. 28-Oct. 28 followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”  Nov. 16-Dec. 23.  An early 2019 show is TBA but then “Sentimental Journey” is Apr. 26-May 26.

For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

 

Marriott Theatre

The theatre does professional musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.

The season continues with “Murder for Two” through Aug. 26 followed by Sweet Charity” Sept. 5-Oct. 28, “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.

In addition to the shows, the theatre is hosting  a fundraising concert in memory of director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell Sept. 17 called “We Three” featuring the stars of Marriott’s “Mama Mia,” Meghan Murphy, Cassie Slater and Danni Smith.

For show tickets call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.  To get tickets to “We Three” call the Marriott or order on line tickets at  Ticket Master.

 

Metropolis Performing Arts Center

The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing   “Beehine” through Aug. 25, then “Chorus Line” Sept. 20-Nov. 3 and “James and the Giant Peach Jr. Nov. 8-10. In 2019, productions continue with “Mouse Trap” Jan. 31-March 16 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” May 16-June 29 and “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” July 18-Aug. 24.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston.

Currently “Anything Goes” continues through Aug. 25 then it’s “Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine” Oct. 5-14 and “Into the Woods” Dec. 22-31 .

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

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