Chicago Theatre Week has deals for you

 

Steppenwolf is among the theatre companies participating in Chicago Theatre Week. Kyle Flubacker photo
Steppenwolf is among the theatre companies participating in Chicago Theatre Week. Kyle Flubacker photo

Just as many Chicago restaurants are offering special prices and deals during Restaurant Week Jan. 25-Feb. 7, 2019, several Chicago theater companies will have particularly low ticket prices for shows the following week, Feb. 7 to Feb.17. ( BTW don’t be bothered that some companies spell theater the old-fashioned and British way of theater and others spell it theatre).

Ranging from $15 to $30 a ticket, Theatre Week deals are too good to pass up. The catch is that there are a limited number of tickets at the bargain price so theater-goers in the know snap them up ahead of time.

Of the Chicago area’s 250 theater companies, about 120 are participating with their current productions. A sampling includes Goodman Theatre’s “How to Catch Creation,” Paramount Theatre’s “The Producers,” Windy City Playhouse’s “Noises Off,” Shattered Globe Theatre with Theater Wit’s, “The Realistic Joneses” and Steppenwolf’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2.”

To see what shows are available at what discount price during Chicago Theatre Week visit, Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism site. Choose Chicago is working with the League of Chicago Theatres  (also known as ChicagoPlays).

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Around Town: CubsCon and SoxFest

Sox cap photo by Mira Temkin
Sox cap photo by Mira Temkin

Just when you think mid and late January dates seem far off you realize they are already here. So, Chicago baseball fans closely following any tidbits of who has re-signed and what star might be added to the team’s firmament, might get some clues from events taking place this weekend, Jan. 18-20, 2019, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago or next weekend, Jan. 25-27, 2019 at the Hilton Chicago.

 

Cubs Convention 

Cubs cap photo by Jodie Jacobs
Cubs cap photo by Jodie Jacobs

Sorry, tickets are no longer available but fans can go online @ Cubs to check behind-the-scenes action and follow live streams of these four events (all CST): Opening Ceremony , 6 to 7 p.m.,Jan. 18, “Friday Night with Ryan Dempster” from 7:30 to 10 p.m. CT, same night, “In the Batter’s Box”  from 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 19 and “Cubs in Cooperstown” later that day from 3 to 4 p.m. Convention panels will also include “Joe Maddon & the Coaching Staff,” “Baseball Operations Update” and “Business Operations Update”

Who will be there

Among those players attending are pitcher Kyle Hendricks and outfielders Jason Heyward and Kye Schwarber. Among the alums are catchers Jody Davis and Randy Hundley, pitchers Fergiew Jenkins and Kerry Wood (of course Dempster), outfielder Andre Dawson and infielder Ryne Sandberg. To see the whole roster check Players and Alumni.

 

SoxFest

Yet a week away, there still are tickets available to SoxFest. Chicago Theater and Arts would ike to thank those fans who participated in the drawing for a free pair of SoxFest passes. The winning name, a resident of Highwood, IL,  was drawn of Jan. 14.

Who will be there (More will be added closer to SoxFest)

Among the players will be José Abreu, Yonder Alonso, Tim Anderson, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Jace Fry, Leury García, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo López, Yoán Moncada, Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sánchez.

Alumni will include Harold Baines, John Cangelosi, Carlton Fisk, Ozzie Guillén, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Michael Huff, Bo Jackson, Ron Kittle, Carlos May.

 

Recap

The Cubs Convention moves into the Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E. Water St.), Jan 18-20, 2019.

SoxFest takes over the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) Jan. 25-27, 2019.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Theater critic reviews own acts

 

Brendon Coyle in the Donmar Warehouse production of St. Nicholas. (Photo by Helen Maybanks
Brendon Coyle in the Donmar Warehouse production of St. Nicholas. (Photo by Helen Maybanks

3 stars

“…Power… I was a theater critic…,” says Brendan Coyle in “St. Nicholas.” The show, a one-person play by Conor McPherson is at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre fresh from its success at London’s popular Dormar Warehouse.

An Olivier Award winning actor from McPherson’s “The Weir,” Coyle drew laughter from Goodman’s opening night crowd of theater critics and patrons almost every time he said the word “critic.”

However, given that McPheron’s portrait of a critic contains more than a few resemblances to Oscar Wilde’s philosophical and Gothic  “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” it arguably would be better to ask a Goodman Theater patron how that person liked or felt about the play.

Read More

Delightful ‘La boheme’ revisited

Parisian street scene in "La boheme at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Todd Rosenberg photo)
Parisian street scene in “La boheme at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Todd Rosenberg photo)

3 stars

Opera lovers who hoped to see “La boheme,” Lyric’s attractively updated version  directed by Richard Jones when the 2018-19 season opened in the fall, still have a few opportunities.

After the musician’s strike cancelled one performance, this fresh version of Giacomo Puccini’s popular opera is back with more January dates added to the schedule.

The new production is beautifully sung, featuring Zachary Nelson (Marcello), Michael Fabiano (Rodolfo) and Maria Agresta (Mimi). In the performance I saw, Ann Toomey (Musetta) stood in for Danielle De Niese who had a cold.

Read More

Joffrey to debut new ballet

 

Joffrey Ballet dancers Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez. (Photo by Cheryl Mann at The Richard Driehaus Museum)
Joffrey Ballet dancers Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez.
(Photo by Cheryl Mann at The Richard Driehaus Museum)

 

Imagine a story about Imperial Russian society, desire and betrayal as the body and bones for an exceptional novel. Leo Tolstoy did and penned “Anna Karenina” in a periodical series from 1873 to 1877, then as a book in 1878.

Tolstoy’s story of Anna’s scandalous extramarital affair with a dashing cavalry officer and the couple’s ensuing downfall has been the dramatic fodder of many media forms from opera to movies and ballets.

John Neumeier’s “Anna Karenina” using mostly Tchaikovsky’s music and moving the story to contemporary times, had its North American Premiere with the National Ballet of Canada in Nov. 10. 2018.

But fresh from the highly successful re-imaging of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” the Joffrey Ballet Company saw the potential of interpreting “Anna Karenina” in a new ballet with a new score.

To do so the company commissioned Russian composer Ilya Dtmutsky for the score and San Francisco Resident Choreographer Yuri Possokhov to interpret it in dance.

“It’s a real rarity for any ballet company to commission a full-length score. And it was a coup to secure Demutsky, one of the brightest lights in the world of music today,” said Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck.

About the choreography, Speck said, “Possokhov is very careful to be true to the score, so he is using Demutsky’s musical vision as the inspiration for his choreography. Ilya is the Tchaikovsky of this ballet.”

Accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic led by Speck, Joffrey Ballet’s “Anna Karenina” will have its world premiere at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells (Congress  Expressway at Michigan Avenue) )Feb. 13 and continue through Feb. 24, 2019.

For tickets and more information visit Joffrey/Anna.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Greek gods and monsters populate Percy Jackson musical

 

Kristin Stokes,l, Chris McCarrell and Jorrel Javier go on a hero quest in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
Kristin Stokes,l, Chris McCarrell and Jorrel Javier go on a hero quest in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

2 ½ stars

Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series about the trials and friendships among children of god and mortal coupling should understand and enjoy “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” now playing at the Oriental Theatre.

Adults not familiar with the series will get the idea from this low-budget (no real scenery changes), touring show that yeah, what Riordan calls “half-blood” youngsters not only have to please their mortal parent but also put up with and please their Greek god dad or goddess mom.

Because my granddaughter liked the series, I read the books, was hooked on their adventures and thought the show might be fun.

Well, it’s not bad. All it needs are some decent-singing voices aside from Chris McCarrell who does a fine job as Percy and his mom Sally, played by Jalynn Steele, who has the best voice in the cast.

The rest of the cast are certainly in character but it’s hard to understand all the words because they shout-sing in nasally, tinny voices.

Percy fans might not care but if a song is worth writing and singing it ought to be sung so audiences hear more than a couple of words.

And the songs, with music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, are basically good. McCarrell puts over his frustration well in the “The Day I Got Expelled” and “Good Kid.”

Riordan’s page-turning story-telling, cleverly interpreted in the book by Joe Tracz, keeps audiences wondering what will happen next and how will these “kids” handle the next obstacle.

Director Stephen Brackett, scenic designer Lee Savage and lighting designer David Lander move the story along with obviously low-budget staging. Riordan fans likely don’t care. They just enjoy seeing how Percy, the love-child of powerful god Poseidon, handles his “hero quest” to bring his mom, struck down by a Minotaur,  back from the Underworld and also recapture Zeus’ lightning stolen by Hades.

The show is only in Chicago for a short time so Percy Jackson fans who want to see how Riordan’s story is interpreted on stage need to snag a ticket now.

DETAILS: “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through Jan. 13, 2019. Running time: 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (800) 775-2000 and visit Broadway In Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Around Town: Lunapalooza and MLK event

 

Adler Planetarium is on the eastern edge of chicago's Museum Campus. (J. Jacobs photo)
Adler Planetarium is on the eastern edge of chicago’s Museum Campus. (J. Jacobs photo)

 

No, Lunapalooza is not a typo. The Adler Planetarium is celebrating the total eclipse of the moon late into the night of Jan. 20 with Lunapalooza and Writers Theatre is celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a free Civil Rights production Jan. 21.

Lunapalooza

Pretty much every time our universe puts on a sky show, the Adler celebrates by sharing its astronomers and equipment. During the solar eclipse last August, the Adler was handing out the proper sunglasses and had a companion craft activity to safely watch the event.

For the lunar eclipse the night of Jan 20, Chicago’s world-class planetarium is celebrating with a free outdoor experience, no telescope or glasses needed but PJs are OK because the event goes from 8 p.m. to midnight.

But there’s a lot going on inside.

With the admission pass of $14 adults and $8 children age 3 to 11, guests can go to “Eclipse HQ” in the Space Visualization Lab which has a live feed and chat opportunities with astronomers.

The pass also is good for seeing the Adler’s new show, Imagine the Moon that opens Jan. 18 and charts how the moon was part of people’s lives through the ages.

Indoor activities include a glow-in-the-dark PJ party in the Family Zone and grabbing a cup of hot chocolate before going outside to witness the event.

There are more things to see and do so go to  Lunapalooza. To find out how to get tickets go to  Adler Planetarium shop. To learn more about Adler’s new show visit Imagine the Moon.

The Adler Planetarium is at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

 

Chicago History Museum. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum and choose Chicago)
Chicago History Museum. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum and choose Chicago)

 

The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Right

 Produced by Writers Theatre, the annual, one-person- show written by Yolanda Androzzo and featuring Angela Alise, will be performed free at the Chicago History Museum Jan. 21, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. The Chicago History Museum is at 1601 N. Clark St. and Lincoln Park. The hour-long show will be followed by a discussion.

 Writers Theatre takes the show, a meshing of interviews of Chicago-based Civil Rights activists with poetry and hip-hop expression that is directed by Tasia A. Jones, to 35 Chicago Public Schools, community centers and juvenile detention centers during a 6-week tour.

 The production can also be seen earlier at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe,on Feb. 2 at both 4 and 7 p.m. Those tickets are Adults $20, students $10. They are available by calling (847) 242-6000 and at WritersTheatre MLK Project.

 

 

Around Town: Baseball heats up in January

 

Expect to see Cubs and Sox caps, shirts and jackets on the north and south sides of downtown Chicago the last couple of weekends of January 2019.

The Cubs Convention moves into the Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E. Water St.), Jan 18-20.

SoxFest takes over the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) Jan. 25-27.

Both fests feature player meet-and-greets, panels,exhibits and autograph sessions

 

What you need to know to go

(Logo courtesy of the Cubs organizations.)
(Logo courtesy of the Cubs organizations.)

Cubs fans: Individual weekend passes and Sheraton packages are sold out but a few two-night, four-passes packages are still available for the W Chicago Lakeshore (644 N. Lakeshore Dr.).

For more information and to snag a W Chicago Lakeshore package visit Cubs Convention. More information on Cub players/coaches/alum to attend will be announced shortly before the convention starts.

 

(SoxFest logo courtesy of Sox organization)
(SoxFest logo courtesy of Sox organization)

Sox fans: There are still two-night hotel packages and weekend passes available. Some players, coaches and alum have already been announced. For the packages, passes, who will be there and more info visit SoxFest.

 

 

 

*** Drawing for free pair of SoxFest passes to readers of Chicago Theater and Arts.

The Sox organization is graciously donating a pair of passes to SoxFest for a Chicago Theater and Arts reader to use (not sell).

What to do

To enter the drawing, facebook readers can follow me on facebook at Jodie Jacobs, put their name in the comment area with code SX. I will send a reply asking for contact info.

Or if not on facebook send an email with name, phone and address to jjtravelsmart@gmail.com.

Names must be in by Jan. 13. Drawing will be on Jan. 14. The person will be informed by Jan. 15 with instructions on whether the passes will be mailed or picked up at the Chicago Hilton.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Thoughts about how print and podcasts tell a story

Cecelia Iole (Little Red Riding Hood) and Benjamin Sprunger (Wolf) In Music Works production of Into the Woods. (Brett Beiner photo)
Cecelia Iole (Little Red Riding Hood) and Benjamin Sprunger (Wolf)
In Music Works production of Into the Woods. (Brett Beiner photo)

When writing for a suburban weekly, a county-wide daily, contributing to the Chicago Tribune for 25 years and doing articles for other publications, the articles seemed to live on in archives, on line and in my closet. They were fun and thoughtful reminders of what was going on where.

The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)
The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)

But when invited to guest on a podcast about the past Chicago theater season I found that an oral conversation that was well-guided by thought-provoking questions with some give and take on critical review points could be just as rewarding.

So, here is the podcast tape I just did with Reno Lovison of Chicago Broadcasting Network. It goes back over some of the shows that appeared in Chicago this past year. It was fun and enlightening because it revealed themes and trends.

(front L-R) Ian Paul Custer, Brandon Dahlquist, John Mohrlein (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
(front L-R) Ian Paul Custer, Brandon Dahlquist, John Mohrlein
(Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Reno has also made podcasts of the reviews he does for ChicagoTheaterAndArts.com.

His podcasts can be found at iTunes, Spotify, and GooglePlay.

Hope you enjoy listening to this theater year in review podcast. It is about an hour long show with a very short announcement break halfway through it.

Front, l to r, Andrea San Miguel, Jennifer Latimore, and Matthew C. Yee, and back, William Brown in Twelfth Night at Writers Theatre (Photos by Michael Brosilow)
Front, l to r, Andrea San Miguel, Jennifer Latimore, and Matthew C. Yee, and back, William Brown in Twelfth Night at Writers Theatre (Photos by Michael Brosilow)

To hear Click  podcast

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Three theater festivals brighten January landscape

 

Fillet of Solo Festival brightens January. (Fillet of Solo photo)
Fillet of Solo Festival brightens January. (Fillet of Solo photo)

What to do in long, blah January? These three festivals: Chicago Sketch Comedy, Fillet of Solo and Rhinoceros Theater turn that gray month between red and green December and red and pink February into a multi-colored vision of comic moments, heartfelt songs and thought-provoking stories.

 

Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival Jan. 10 -20, 2019

The Chicago mayor’s race may be a local subject for sketch comedy or politics in Britain and the US may be skewered from the stage but part of the fun of attending the annual festival is to hear how comedic entertainers view what is going on in the world or in families or in their own lives that may turn out to be similar to yours.

Started in 2002 with 35 comedy groups sharing their thoughts, the festival now attracts more than 180 groups from all over. They will be performing about 200 shows beginning Jan 10 and going through Jan. 20, 2019. So check out the performers and their dates at Chicago Sketch Comedy Lineup, get tickets and head over to Stage 773, a multi space venue at 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago.

 

Fillet of Solo Festival  Jan. 18 – Feb. 2, 2019

Fillet of Solo  celebrates storytelling by groups and solo performers. The performances are at Lifeline Theatre 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. and the Heartland Studio Theatre, 7006 N. Glenwood Ave. (Free parking and shuttle available). To find out who is performing where and when visit Performances.

 

Rhinoceros Theater Festival  Jan. 18 – Feb. 24, 2019 

Begun in 1988 as the Curious theatre Branch, this fringe theater festival brings together music and theater performers. Originally located in Wicker Park and then moving to Rogers Park, the festival took root at Prop Thtr in 2009 which co-produces the festival with Curious. Events are at Prop at3502-04 Elston Ave., Chicago.

For music, stories and plays schedules visit Rhinofest titles. For more information call visit Rhinofest.

 

Jodie Jacobs