A spectacular evening at Ravinia

 

The annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular fills the lawn at Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)
The annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular fills the lawn at Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Tchaikovsky, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Itzhak Perlman brought friends and families out to Ravinia Festival Sunday. After storming in the morning, the weather was cooperating for Ravinia’s annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” in early evening.

Blanket carrying, luggage-rolling, chair-toting, concert goers kept pouring through the park’s gates even past the early 5 p.m. program start.

Each year, the popular concert fills the lawn with music lovers who know that the final notes of the “1812 Overture” are also an appropriate cannon  send-off to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra that is at Orchestra Hall downtown during the winter but plays at Ravinia in Highland Park in summer.

Heads, nodded and even feet seemed to join in from the blankets and chairs behind the Pavilion and across the lawn as Perlman expertly conducted Tchaikovsky’s familiar Symphony No. 4.

Regular Ravinia goer Patsy Haase, Arlington Heights, chats with daughter Julie Haase and Sydney Burks, MO berore the program begins and the lawn starts to fill. (J Jacobs photo)
Regular Ravinia goer Patsy Haase, Arlington Heights, chats with daughter Julie Haase and Sydney Burks, MO before the program begins and the lawn starts to fill. (J Jacobs photo)

After intermission, the 2017 Credit Swisse Young Artist Award winner, cellist Kian Soltani, a Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, wowed listeners with his deft handling of “Variations on a rococo theme for cello and orchestra and its virtuosic coda.

For the “1812” some lawn sitters with youngsters on shoulders, strolled over to the space on the northeast side of the Pavilion to watch the cannon shots.

Ravinia Festival was living up to its name. A festival mood had spread across the park as youngsters skipped around blankets and many picnickers, reluctant to leave on this balmy concert night, continued sipping, eating and chatting.

Frequent Revinia goers, Donna and Dan Berman, Deerfield, know to get to popular concerts early. and Dan knows to bring a hat because the sun changes. (J Jacobs photo)
Frequent Revinia goers, Donna and Dan Berman, Deerfield, know to get to popular concerts early. and Dan knows to bring a hat because the sun changes. (J Jacobs photo)

They had come well-supplied with wine bottles, dishes to share and other stuff.

Although this was the first time Sidney Burks and Julie Haase from Southern  Missouri had been to Ravinia, they were visiting Julie’s folks, Patsy and Roger Haase, regular Ravinia goers from Arlington Heights. What was important to bring?

“A light,” said Patsy, pointing to a very attractive decorated glass container sitting by their table that would be good for concerts continuing after dark. “This way we can find our way back to our table,” she said.

Dan and Donna Berman who lived a lot closer in Deerfield, had already seen several concerts and had more planned on their calendar including the Michael Feinstein program.

Why come?

“I love Ravinia,” said Dan. “I love music.” He added. “Not necessarily in that order.”

“We come every year for the ‘1812,’” said Donna.

To see the schedule for remaining Ravinia concerts visit Ravinia Festival/calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

‘Hunchback’ has melodious ring

 

Hunchback of Natre Dame choir by Music theater Works in Cahn Auditorium, Evanston. (Photo by Brett Beiner)
Hunchback of Natre Dame choir by Music theater Works in Cahn Auditorium, Evanston. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

4 stars

I was curious to imagine how this epic story that features a soaring gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris would be portrayed at Music Theater Works’ Cahn Auditorium venue.

But from the moment the curtain rose revealing the stunning scenic set design and twenty-four member choir for MTWs’ “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the audience was thoroughly captivated.

Set around 1492 the essence of this operetta is derived from Victor Hugo’s  epic novel of the same name with similar themes of intolerance, injustice, abuse of power, and “man’s inhumanity to man” as in his “Les Miserables.”

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Around town this weekend and next

 

Chicago Riverwalk (Photo courtesy of City of chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)
Chicago Riverwalk
(Photo courtesy of City of Chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)

Of course you know the Chicago Air and Water Show haappens across the city’s near-north lake front Aug. 16 (practice) then Aug. 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

But there is also a yummy food fest throughout Chicago from Aug. 14 through Sept. 1 and an interesting theater festival up in Skokie Aug. 16 to 18.

 

If your attention span stops you from seeing plays that are three hours long, Skokie Theatre has the answer in its Fifth Annual Short Play Festival.  Six,15-minute plays take the stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. The low ticket price of $15 shouldn’t dent the culture budget.

They run the gamut from a woman who makes a strange request while planning her father’s funeral in “A Funeral Home in Brooklyn” to What happens in an antiquities gallery stays in an antiquities gallery in “Museum Piece.”

Skokie theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL. For tickets visit OvationTix.

 

If you count yourself a foodie and also like the idea of meeting different chefs, trying different cuisines and giving back to the community check out the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl. It takes place at restaurants throughout the city, Aug. 14-Sept.1, 2019.

Then, if you like to see how the Riverwalk has developed with restaurants, bars and pop-up places, go down and over to the area from 201 West to 305 West Riverwalk South where you see Art on theMART at the Confluence and the Jetty for the Food Bowl Night Market, Aug. 23-25. (Franklin/Orleans Streets to Wells Street).

For more information visit Food Bowl events/calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

Always remember ‘All That He Was’

 

'All That He Was.'  L to R:  Ethan Warren,  Rick Rapp. (Photos by Nicholas Swatz)
‘All That He Was.’
L to R: Ethan Warren, Rick Rapp. (Photos by Nicholas Swatz)

4 stars

 

First, a gentle warning to theatergoers planning to see”All That He Was,” a deeply moving, sometimes humorous new musical by Pride Films & Plays at The Buena: bring along lots of Kleenex.

When theatergoers walk into The Buena, they may be surprised to discover that they’re about to attend a funeral. The entire theatre has been transformed into an outdoor, park-like space.

This sepulchral space is highlighted by a tasteful garden of plants and flowers surrounding an arbor and peppered with places to sit and the stage is festooned by strings of tiny white lights.

A poignant AIDS-inspired, mostly sung-through musical, “All That He Was” is a newly revised version of the original, award-winning one-act by Larry Todd Cousineau (book and lyrics) and Cindy O’Connor (music).

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Free museum days offer end of summer fun

 

Art Institute of chicago has a free family center and also has free hours Thursday evenings. (J Jacobs photo)
Art Institute of chicago has a free family center and also has free hours Thursday evenings. (J Jacobs photo)

There still are a few days left to explore the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and some of Chicago’s other world-class museums without dipping into fall school supply funds.

Some museums are always free. Others have free admission on certain days or hours of the week. But check what is available with free admission because at some museums general admission is free but there still are ticketed exhibits. A valid ID with proof of residency is needed. if the free day is for Illinois residents or Chicago youth.

 

Art Institute of Chicago

Children under age 14 always admitted free. Chicago teens under age 18 are also admitted free. In addition, admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. The Ryan Learning Center near the Modern Wing entrance is always free to families and children’s care givers.

The main entrance is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. but there is also an entrance around the corner at the museum’s Modern Wing, 159 E. Monroe St. For hours and more information call (312) 443-3600 or see artic/visit.

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Museum of Contemporary Art

The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave. just east of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Admission is free for youth 18 and younger every day and for Illinois residents on Tuesdays. For hours and more information call  (312) 289-2660 or see MCAChicago/visit.

 

Chicago History Museum

The museum is free to Illinois residents Tuesdays from 12:30 to 9 p.m. and always free to Illinois youth under age 18. Located at 1601 N Clark St., the museum is on the edge of Lincoln Park. For more information call (312) 642-4600 or see ChicagoHistory/visit.

 

DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. (Photo courtesy of DuSable Museum)
DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. (Photo courtesy of DuSable Museum)

 

DuSable Museum of African American History

Located at 740 E. 56th Place in Washington Park at 57th and cottage Grove, the museum’s exhibits feature augmented reality when tied to an app that can be easily downloaded. Admission is free every Tuesday.

For more information call (773) 947-0600 or see DuSable Museum/Visit.

 

The Field Museum

The museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive at the west end of Chicago’s Museum Campus. It has free basic admission for Illinois residents on Wednesdays from Aug. 14 to Nov. 13, 2019.

Go to FieldMuseum/exhibitions then click on the individual exhibits to see which ones are included in basic admission or needs an All Access or Discover Pass. For more information call (312) 922-9410 or see Field Museum/visit.

 

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Think of this museum as an iceberg with much of what there is to see below the Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive level. It is inside the Southwest Bridgetower but entry is down at river level at 99 Chicago Riverwalk at the northwest corner of Michigan and Wacker. Sundays are free.  Visitors learn about the historic structure, the river’s bridges and the Chicago River.

For more information call (312) 939-0490 ex. 28 or see Bridgehousemuseum/visit.

 

Wired to Wear is the new hit exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Photo credit to JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Wired to Wear is the new hit exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Photo credit to JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

 

Museum of Contemporary Photography

The museum is at at Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave. near Harrison Street. It is always free but donations are welcomed. For more information call (312) 663-5554 or see MOCP/about.

 

Museum of Science and Industry

Located  at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive in a building from the 1893 Columbian Expostion, MSI is among the world’s largest science museums so there is plenty to see on free general admission days for Illinois residents even though they don’t include the ticketed exhibits. Coming free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.

For more information call  (773) 684-1414 or see MSIChicago/visit.

 

National Museum of Mexican Art

The museum is at 1852 W 19th St,  in the Pilsen neighborhood, south west of downtown Chicago. Admission is free, daily. For hours and more information call (312) 738-1503 or see National MuseumofMexicanArt/faqs.

 

Shedd Aquarium

The Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is the second building on Chicago’s Museum Campus. Lines are long any day but particularly on free days so go early. Capacity is limited so some people reserve their tickets on line for a $3 transaction fee. Illinois resident free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.

Illinois residents get access to  all exhibits, chats, presentations and Stingray Touch. For more information call (312) 939-2438 or see Shedd/visit.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Women of 4G’ – Lost in space

 

Fast forward to the year 2094, 75 years in the future when”Women of 4G,” presented by Babes with Blades, tackle Earth’s uninhabitable air.

Cast of Women of 4G (Photo courtesy of Babes With Blades)
Cast of Women of 4G (Photo courtesy of Babes With Blades)

3 stars

Because of the arrogance and stupidity of our world leaders, the earth’s fragile environment has now been totally destroyed. With the planet’s atmosphere almost completely polluted, mankind is literally gasping its last breath.

In one final, heroic attempt to insure  another 500 years of life, a team of seven superior female scientists and their lone male Captain, have been sent on a life-and-death mission into outer space.

Once into the cosmos, the crew of 4G plan to launch a lifesaving satellite, brilliantly developed by one their own, LT Wollman. This celestial orb promises to reverse the harmful gases and lethal rays that have destroyed earth’s precious oxygen supply.

But something else has gone deadly awry. At the top of the play, the audience learns that the ship’s captain has been murdered. Playwright Amy Tofte’s often funny, frequently violent feminist science fiction melodrama quickly evolves into an intergalactic whodunnit?

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‘Six’ returns to Chicago next summer

 

Chicago cast of 'Six' (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Chicago cast of ‘Six’ (Photo by Liz Lauren)

If you tried but couldn’t get tickets to “Six” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater before it recently closed, you will have another chance to see the show. However, it will be at a different Chicago venue as part of the Broadway in Chicago series.

Yes, that means it is on its way to Broadway.

How the six wives of Henry VIII, Aaragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard and Parr, viewed him and themselves is the unlikely story behind a British concert-style musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

First opening in Edinburgh and England, it just left its North American premiere in Chicago to visit other towns before its debut on Broadway. “Six” will be at the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, Aug. 21 – Sept. 7, Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, AB Canada, ‪Nov. 2-24 and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, MN, Nov. 29 – Dec. 22.

it will be in previews in February and open at New York City’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, March 12, 2020.

As with other shows that have pre-Broadway Chicago premieres, the tour form of the show will return as part of the Broadway in Chicago series. But in the case of ‘Six,’ a sell-out at Chicago Shakespeare, the hit musical will be back within a year instead of the usual two or three years.

According to Broadway in Chicago folks, “Six” will open at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton July 8, 2020. Also unlike most other tour shows it is currently scheduled to stay through Oct. 25, 2020.

“We would like to thank Chicago Shakespeare Theater for their overwhelming support of our North American premiere over the past few months,” said producers Wendy and Andy Barnes.  “It was such a thrill to watch American audiences lose their heads for SIX.  We cannot wait to return to Chicago next summer, where our US journey began.”

Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Broadway in Chicago will be opening subscription and single ticket sales this fall. .

To see what else Broadway in Chicago has in store visit “Looking ahead to the next theater season.”

Jodie Jacobs

Four tickets to get now

 

Cast of ‘Miracle’ at Royal George.

Three shows leave and a hit returns

Instead of saying “oops” after “Miracle,” “Manet” and “Head Over Heels” have left Chicago, fit in the one you really hoped to see. Then, if good at planning ahead, look for tickets to “Six.”

 

“ Miracle”

Tickets are available just through Sept. 29, 2019 for this fun show that ties the life of a Wrigleyville bar-owning family to the Chicago Cubs. “Miracle,” whose full title adds on “A musical 108 years in the making,” is at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. For Tickets and other information call (312) 988-9000 or visit MiracletheMusical. For the review visit Wrigleyville and Cubs story make great theater.  For the backstory see Miracle Musical.

 

“Manet and Modern Beauty”

At the Art Institute of Chicago, this extensive exhibit on Manet’s later works and transitions of style leaves Sept. 8, 2019. This is a ticketed, dated exhibition. For tickets and more information visit ARTIC/manetand modernbeauty.  For a review see Art Institute turns the spotlight on Edouard Manet.

 

“Head Over Heels”

Two weeks have been added to Kokandy Productions’ hit musical comedy but after Sept. 8, 2019 it will be gone. The show is at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets call (773) 975-8150) or visit KokandyProductions or stop by Theater Wit. For the review please see Head over Heels has got the beat.

 

“Six”

The sold-out concert-style show about Henry VIII’s wives just closed at Chicago Shakespeare but even though it is headed to Broadway it will return to Chicago in 2020. The touring production will open July 8 at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton through the Broadway in Chicago series. Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Watch for the Broadway in Chicago single tickets this fall. For group tickets visit GroupSales@BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information and single tickets visit BroadwayInChicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Five ideas on where to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show

Chicago Air and Water Show comes Aug. 17-18. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)
Chicago Air and Water Show comes Aug. 17-18. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)

If you hear thunder but the sky is blue, Aug. 16, it is likely the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are flying overhead on their way to practice above North Avenue Beach.

The Chicago Air and Water Show, now in its 61st year, will be above and on the popular beach from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17-18. By the way, the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds headlined last year.

The event is free but given that it attracts about two million people those two days, it makes sense to go the day before when the headliners and acrobatic flights are practicing.

Tip: All the fly-bys are great but the top draw this year, the Blue Angels, come at the end of the show.

Taking public transportation  is best. Parking is also available in Millennium Park Garages where people can take a shuttle to North Avenue Beach.

But an alternate to going the day before or milling with the crowds during the show is to watch from somewhere between Ohio Street and Fullerton Avenue such as the places listed below where you can eat lunch or brunch during the show.

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Perfect Junie B Jones timing: How to overcome school problems

Cast of Junie B Jones at Marriott Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Cast of Junie B Jones at Marriott Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

3 stars

In her Junie B Jones stories, children’s author Barbara Park found interesting solutions to problems youngsters face at school. Which means that “Junie B. Jones, The Musical,” put together by the “Dear Edwina” team of Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, is perfect for youngsters to see right before school starts this fall.

Now at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire just through Aug. 11, 2019, the show is for all elementary-middle school youngsters.

On the first day of school, Junie B encounters problems right away on the bus when her best friend from last year now has two other best friends so won’t sit with her.

Once at school, Junie B doesn’t understand why she can’t read words on the board. She’ll have to wear glasses but what will her classmates think and say.

And the problems keep happening.

Elizabeth Telfore is a terrific Junie B. Adam LaSalle is great as her piano-playing day (and teacher Mr. Scary and others). Rashada Dawan is perfect as mom, (and the cafeteria cook and others).

Marriott shows, whether for a general or young audience, always have excellent voices and choreography. “Junie B” is no exception.

But the reason to take youngsters to the show is for them to see that there are ways to work through things that sometimes go wrong at school.

DETAILS: “Junie b. Jones, the Musical,” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Running time: 1 hour. For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 or visit Marriott Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago