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