Theater Sneak Peak: Part Three Belmont/Lakeview/Wrigleyville


Sometimes it’s nice to know what a theater company you like is doing for its next season and the dates to put on your calendar. The “Sneak Peak” series does just that, listing the companies by area .

Descriptions of shows will follow in the next series which will be by category such as world premier, classic, Halloween and holiday.

Meanwhile click on the venues in “Sneak Peak” for the theaters’ own details. BTW, some companies use theater and others use theatre, thus the differences written here are deliberate and not typos.


Anthenaeum Theatre

The venue is at 2936 N. Southport Ave. Black Button Eye Productions is doing “Nightmares and Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier” here, Aug. 17 – Sep 15 in Studio Two. and Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop is doing “Alice and Wonderland Jr. Aug. 17- 18 on the Main Stage.

Studio One has “Bliss (Or Emily Post is Dead)” through Aug 25 and Studio Three has “Bus Stop” through Aug. 19, 2018.

“The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” is in Studio Three Nov. 22-Dec. 16 and  “The Elder Son” is in Studio Two, Nov. 15-Dec. 22.

For tickets and other information call (773) 935-6875 and visit Athenaeum Theatre.

The Proscenium (Pro) at Stage 773. (A Stage 773 photo)
The Proscenium (Pro) at Stage 773. (A Stage 773 photo)


Mercury Theater

The theater is at 3745 N. Southport Ave. Currently, “Avenue Q” has been extended through Sept. 9  then “Pippin” is in the  Venus Cabaret Theater, opening TBA followed by its annual “The Christmas Schooner, date also TBA.

For tickets and other information call (773) 325-1700and visit Mercury Theater.


Stage 773

A multi-theater venue, Stage 773 is at 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

American Blues Theater is doing  “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Sept. 15, then “Flyin’ West” Oct. 5-Nov. 3 and its annual holiday show, “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”  Nov. 15, 2018-Jan 5, 2019.

Hell in a Handbag has “The Artificial Jungle” Sept. 23-Oct. 28. and “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes” Oct. 13-Nov. 3.

The Degenerates are doing “Potty Talk”  Sept. 3- Oct. 29.

For tickets and other information call (773) 327-5252 and visit Stage 773, American Blues Theater, Hell in a Handbag Productions and The Degenerates Theatre

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Saturday in the Park with Porchlight

Michelle Lauto r gives park audiences a preview of some of Porchlight's 2018-19 musical season accompanied by Music Director David Fiorello, l, (Reno Lovison photo)
Michelle Lauto r gives park audiences a preview of some of Porchlight’s 2018-19 musical season accompanied by Music Director David Fiorello, l, (Reno Lovison photo)

An ensemble from Porchlight Music Theatre offered a sneak preview of their upcoming 2018-2019 theater season including selections from “1776,” “Gypsy” and “A Chorus Line.”

The lucky audience in lawn chairs at Washington Square Park across from Chicago’s Newberry Library, heard performances by Leah Davis, James Earl Jones II, Michelle Lauto, Liam Quealy, and Music Director David Fiorello.

Michelle Lauto confidently belted out “He Plays the Violin” from “1776” while James Earl Jones II wrapped up the one-hour preview with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy.”

DETAILS: Porchlight Music Theatre is at the Ruth Page Center For the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Pkwy. To see more about the season visit Porchlight Season.

Reno Lovison

Video highlights by Reno Lovison can be seen at Chicago Broadcasting Network.

Related:  A Look at the coming Chicago theater season: Part Two



‘Heartbreak House’ provides exellent reason to visit American Players Theatre


Tracy Michelle Arnold, Jonathan Smoots & Jim DeVita, Heartbreak House. (Photo by Liz Lauren.)
Tracy Michelle Arnold, Jonathan Smoots & Jim DeVita, Heartbreak House. (Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Watching “Heartbreak House” at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, I am wondering what George Bernard Shaw would make of today’s world and most of all, the U.S’s current political scene.

With the subtitle “A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes,” “Heartbreak” proclaims the writer’s admiration for Anton Chekhov. However, though Chekhov appears to present his characters’ flaws and inability to do much about them as in “Cherry Orchard,” he still seems to have a fondness for them and likes them as if they should be tolerated as one does family members.

Shaw has a more critical attitude. He not only populates the English home of Captain Shotover with characters who sound as if they mean well but are so into their own little worlds that they do little to change anything, he also paints them as caricatures in a society that that won’t accept responsibility for its country’s problems.

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A look at the coming Chicago theater season: Part Two


Downtown Chicago has a slew of good shows scheduled for the 2018-2019 theater season but don’t miss out on the shows that are likely to be Jeff Award Winners in the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

Our next peek at what will be playing checks on the Near North/Lincoln Park neighborhoods including the multi-theater venues of the Ruth Page Center and Greenhouse Center. Some theaters in the area have not published their season yet so stand by for more info.

Steppenwolf is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (Steppenwolf photo)
Steppenwolf is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (Steppenwolf photo)

A Red Orchid Theatre

The theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., starts the fall with “Small Mouth Sounds” Oct. 18 then goes into winter with “Fullfillment Cente Jan. 31 and into spring with “The Killing Game” May 2. For tickets and more information visit Red Orchid and call (312) 943-8722.

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A peek at the next theater season


Ford Oriental Theatre in the foreground and Cadillac Palace Theatre in the background are two Broadway in Chicago venues. (Broadway in Chicago photo)
Ford Oriental Theatre in the foreground and Cadillac Palace Theatre in the background are two Broadway in Chicago venues. (Broadway in Chicago photo)

Chicago is blessed with a terrific pool of actors, directors, choreographers and theater technicians and a community of theater-goers who really appreciate a good production. But it is still amazing that the Greater Chicago area has 250 theater companies. They share venues throughout the city and suburbs. Thus, there are lots of choices of where to go and what to see. (BTW, some of them like to spell theater as theatre. That’s OK.)

Because there are so many companies it is arguably hard to keep track of what everyone is doing so we’ll look at the 2018-2019 season by area starting with downtown from the Broadway Playhouse to Lookingglass Theatre and more.

First off, the expensive ticket shows seen in New York are brought to the Cadillac Palace, CIBC, Ford Oriental, Broadway Playhouse and sometimes  Auditorium, by Broadway in Chicago. Here is what to expect so far at those venues during the 2018-2019 season.

Broadway Playhouse

Located at 175 E. Chestnut Water Tower Place, it has “Heartbreak Hotel” through Sep 9, 2018.

Cadillac Palace Theatre

The theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. has the pre-Broadway world premier of “Tootsie” beginning Sept. 11 followed by “Miss Saigon” on Nov. 13 and “Fiddler On The Roof” Dec. 18. Then “Kinky Boots” opens on Jan 22, 2019 followed by “Dear Evan Hansen” on Feb. 12, “Come From Away” opens on July 30 and “The Band’s Visit opens next fall on Sept. 10.

CIBC Theatre

At18 W. Monroe, the theatre still has “Hamilton” which is expected to go through Jan. 20, 2019.

Ford Oriental Theatre

Located at 24 W. Randolph St., the theatre has ” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” coming Oct. 2, followed by “Hello, Dolly” Oct. 23, then “The Book of Mormon” Nov. 20 and “The Play That Goes Wrong,” Dec. 4. Starting off 2019 is “The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson Musical” opening Jan. 8, followed by “A Bronx Tale” Mar. 12, “Anastasia” Mar. 26, then “Falsettos” May 28 and “Cats” on July 16.

For tickets and other information visit Broadway in Chicago and call (800) 775-2000.



The Yard is at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier
The Yard is at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Situated on Navy Piere at 800 E. Grand Ave. (On Navy Pier), CST currently has “Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure” through Aug. 19.

Coming this fall are “Big Mouth” Sept 12, “Nell Gwynn” opening Sept. 20, Circolombia’s “Acelere” on Oct. 23, “Fight Night,” also on Oct. 23, “Q Brothers Christmas Carol” on Nov. 20 and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Dec. 6.

The season continues with “Us/Them” opening Jan. 22, 2019, “L’Apres Midi D’un Foehn” on Jan. 23, then “Short Shakespeare Macbeth” opens Feb. 16 and “An Inspector Call’s opens Feb. 19, “Two Pints” starts Mar. 6, “Hamlet” opens Apr. 17 and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” on May 30.

For tickets and more information visit Chicago Shakes and call (312) 595-5600.


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Two concerts preview coming theater season

Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Frank Gehry.

Hear the voices from the Broadway and opera stages at two free concerts in Chicago’s Jay Pritzker Paviion at Millennium Park

First, and this comes quickly on the calendar, is the Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert, Aug. 13 at 6:15 p.m. So grab a blanket for the grass or get there early for a seat to hear songs from the following shows on the Broadway tour:

“The Book of Mormon,” “Hello Dolly,” “A Bronx Tale: The Musical,” “ Ronald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Dear Evan Hansen,”  “Anastasia,” “ Miss Saigon,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cats,” “ Falsettos” and “Come From Away.”

Hosted by ABC 7 Chicago entertainment reporter Janet Davies Pre=Broadway “Tootsie” star Santino Fontana, the concert is sponsored by Channel 7 and presented by the City of Chicago department of cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is at 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago but it’s a can’t miss venue because of its billowing steel ribbons topping The Pavilion was designed for Millennium Park by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. For more information visit Broadway In Chicago.Read More

Good Chicago area art fairs fill the August and September calendar

You never know what you will see or find at a summer art fair. (Port Clinton-Jodie Jacobs photo)

Check out some suburban shopping areas and Chicago neighborhoods while the weather is still  warm and breezy. The reward may be a painting perfect for the hall, a sculpture just right for the yard or mantle, a silk print scarf or tie to wear to a concert or a piece of jewelry to hold onto until gift giving during the holidays.

Here are some art fairs that are a good excuse to get outdoors.


 4-5 Glenview

Art at the Glen features 185 artists in the Glen Tower Center. Hours: 10 am – 5 pm. For more info see Amdur Productions.

11-12  Lincolnshire

About 120 artists participate in the annual Lincolnshire Art Festival held on the Village Green in north suburban Lincolnshire. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm.  For more info see Amdur Productions.

 25-26 Oak Park

On the western edge of Chicago look for more than 130 exhibitors at  the annual Oak Park Avenue-Lake Arts & Crafts Show in Scoville Park at Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street. Hours: Saturday 11 am – 7 pm , Sunday 9 am – 5 pm. For more info see American Society of Artists.

25-26 Highland Park

The Port Clinton Art Festival, among the Midwest’s best art fairs, sprawls across First and Second Streets and the Port Clinton Plaza on Central Avenue as it showcases about 265 artists from across the globe. For more info see Amdur Productions.

25-26 Chicago

About 200 artists exhibit their works at the annual Bucktown Arts Fest held in Senior Citizens Memorial Park, 2300 N. Oakley Ave at 2300 W. Lyndale St. Hours: 11 am – 7 pm. For more info see Bucktownh Arts Fest. Read More

The John Singer Sargent you only thought you knew

If you think you can recognize any painting by John Singer Sargent you are likely to be surprised when you visit “John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age” now at the Art Institute of Chicago through Sept. 30, 2018.

John Singer Sargent, 'Thistles' is in the Art Institute of Chicago Show. (Photos by Jacobs)
John Singer Sargent, ‘Thistles’ is in the Art Institute of Chicago Show. (Photos by Jacobs)

Of course there are some of his famed portraits, but as you wander through the show, an extensive exhibit of nearly 100 objects, you will see landscapes.

You will find not just oils but also watercolors. You will see that Sargent not only did traditional portraits but also did murals and captured the movement of wind-blown plants, water scenes, people on city streets and western ranges in an impressionistic style.

You will also learn that he and artists in his circle painted each other such as in Sargent’s ” An Artist at His Easel” painting of British artist Adrian Stokes.

John Singer Sargent, 1914 'An artist at His Easel'
John Singer Sargent, 1914 ‘An artist at His Easel’

The exhibit explains that Sargent (1856-1925) had several ties to Chicago and that many of his works were displayed in the city  including at the World’s Columbian Exposition and at the Arts Club of Chicago.

But Chicago ties aside, what the Art Institute exhibit accomplishes most of all, is to present the many dimensions of a brilliant artist.

DETAILS:  “John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. through Sept. 30, 2018. This is a ticketed exhibition so for tickets or more information call (312) 443-3600 and visit Sargent artic 

Jodie Jacobs

Remarkable ‘Mass’ performance reveals another Bernstein dimension

Paulo Szot as the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein's Mass at Ravinia Festival (Ohotos by Patrick Gipson)
Paulo Szot as the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at Ravinia Festival (Photos by Patrick Gipson)

To report that Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” performed under the baton of Marin Alsop and directed by Kevin Newbury at Ravinia Festival July 28, received a long standing ovation would merely relate the overwhelming response to this seldom done, lesser known work.

Even though it is an appropriate bow to Bernstein on the anniversary of his 100th birthday, it is hoped that “Mass” will be presented more often.

Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the 1971 Kennedy Center opening, “Mass” goes way beyond a tribute to John F. Kennedy and his religion. As Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, explained during a pre-concert talk Saturday, the work is autobiographical.

The music is really a journey that takes the audience from dutiful respect to protest, from moody contemplation to rapture, from disbelief and madness to acceptance and peace.

At Ravinia, it was accomplished through the extraordinary interpretation of Brazilian operatic baritone Paulo Szot as the Celebrant.

The operatic world knows of Szot through his appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and other houses. But he is also perfect for the Bernstein Celebrant role because “Mass” is described in its subtitle as  “A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers. Szot received the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance as Emile De Becque in the 2008 revival of “South Pacific.”

But this is a also a work best performed with several singers, musicians and several talented players.

Bernstein's Mass at Ravinia
Bernstein’s Mass at Ravinia

To fill those roles Ravinia pulled in the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Highland Park High School Marching Band and a really fine “Street Chorus” of Sumayya Ali, Aaron Blake, Matt Boehler, John Clay III, Nicholas Cunningham, Alexander Elliot, Erica Everett, Nicole Fragala, Devon Guthrie, Devin Ilaw, Morgan James, Alexa Jarvis, Mykal Kilgore, Meredith Lustig, Timothy McDevitt, Michael Maliakel, Barrie Lobo McLain, Kaitlin Mesh, James Onstad, Michael Preacely, Isabel Santiago and Karim Sulayman.

A shout-out has to go to Altar Children Wyatt Parr and Myra Sahal. It was Parr’s “Lauda, Laude” that brought peace to the Celebrant and congregation on stage and wonderment to audiences on the grass who didn’t catch everything happening on stage.

However, it was the brilliant interpretation of Bernstein’s conflicting, pensive and joyous mood swings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Alsop that moved the journey along.

Sadly, Ravinia’s “Mass” was a one-night experience but there are two more Bernstein programs on the schedule this summer. “Bernstein and Friends” will present songs and arias by Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano in the Martin Theatre, Aug. 10 that includes two Bernstein pieces.

Then Marin alsop will return to the Pavilion on Aug. 19 with the CSO playing the First Symphonies of Bernstein and Mahler.

Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For tickets and other information call (847) 266-5100 and visit Ravinia Tickets.

For the complete Ravinia schedule visit Ravinia Calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Massive Bernstein “Mass” comes to Ravinia




The Blues Man is the real deal



Rick Stone is the Blues Man at Black EnsembleTheater.
Rick Stone is the Blues Man at Black EnsembleTheater.

“Rick Stone The Blues Man” at the Black Ensemble Theater is a nightclub style jukebox musical written and directed by Jackie Taylor that stars Rick Stone himself and a cadre of six seasoned blues singers backed up by an awesome house band.

The songs are classic blues led by the very talented BET musical director Robert Reddrick on drums who is joined by “young” Adam Sherrod (Keyboards), Gary Baker (Guitar) and Mark Miller (Bass).  Lamont D. Harris (Harmonica) is considered part of the vocal ensemble but holds his own adding his “blues harp” accompaniment to many of the tunes.

This production works hard to make you feel like you just happened to stroll into a vintage blues club. The cast wanders in, casually greeting individuals along the way. Ushers greet everyone by saying, “Welcome to Rick’s.” The stage has a small bar and few tables and chairs which incidentally are available to audience members as V.I.P. seating.Read More