Around Town

Chicago goes from baroque and Broadway to bacon this week.

Going Baroque

If you haven’t made plans yet for tonight, March 27, 2017,  the glorious sounds of Music of the Baroque will fill the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The program is at 7:30 p.m. but there is a concert lecture across Michigan Avenue at the Chicago cultural Center at 6 p.m.

The Harris Theater is in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Dr. For tickets and other information call (312) 551-1415 and visit Harris.

Fabulous multi-genre concert

The Handsome Family, John Pine and Shemekia Copeland were among the performers at the Chicago Voices Concert. Photo by Cory Weaver
The Handsome Family, John Pine and Shemekia Copeland were among the performers at the Chicago Voices Concert. Photo by Cory Weaver

Whether or not you made it to the Lyric to see the fabulous Chicago Voices Concert, you can see the concert on WTTW Channel 11 at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 30.

The concert features famed opera singer Renée Fleming, Blues Queen Shemekia Copeland, Broadway star Jessie Mueller, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, tenor Matthew Polenzani, gospel, pop and everything else singer Michelle Williams, folksinger John Prine, the indie folk group The Handsome family and the Trinity Mass choir.

Visit Chicago Theater and Arts for the concert review and go to Chicago Voices for other information.

Yummy Bacon

OK, listen up bacon lovers. Chicago has a Baconfest Friday March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Chefs from local restaurants will be tempting your taste buds and satisfying your bacon cravings at the IC Forum, 725 Roosevelt Rd. for tickets and other information visit bacon.

 

Hurricane damaged house exposes and repairs family problems

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Their Staten Island house ravaged by Hurricane Sandy is not the only thing that needs extensive repair when 60-something-year-olds Marty and Mary Murphy return to what had always been their home.

Penny Slusher (Mary Murphy) and Francis Guinan (Marty Murphy) return to their Hurricane Sandy ravaged home in 'By the Water' at Northlight Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Penny Slusher (Mary Murphy) and Francis Guinan (Marty Murphy) return to their Hurricane Sandy ravaged home in ‘By the Water’ at Northlight Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

In Sharyn Rothstein’s ‘By the Water,’ a Chicago premiere now at Northlight Theatre, attempts by the stubborn Marty to live there again and convince his neighbors to return, antagonize his friends who want to accept a bailout and move where safe from a repeat disaster.

But that is minor compared to how those efforts finally reveal Marty’s serious past mistakes, the feelings of his long-suffering Mary, and how and why his adult sons feel the way they do towards each other and their dad.

Well directed by Cody Estle, audiences will find there is a lot more going on then seen in the first 20 minutes of a play that only lasts an hour and 45 minutes.

Marty, brilliantly played by Francis Guinan, starts out as a sympathetic character who wants to rebuild the house his father gave him.

But sympathies start to erode as he shows little love and appreciation for his successful eldest son Sal, nicely interpreted by Jordan Brown, and instead empathizes with his recently released from prison younger son, Brian, charmingly played by Joel Reitsma.

His character draws even less sympathy as he continues to dominate Mary, exceptionally portrayed by Penny Slushier.

Amanda Drinkall is very believable as recently divorced Emily Mancini, Brian’s love interest. Her parents, the neighboring couple Andrea and Philip Carter, are well played by Janet Ulrich Brooks and Patrick Clear.

Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s impressive scenic design perfectly accomplishes the impression of a hurricane disaster while still offering a skeletal place to stay and greet family and neighbors.

‘By the Water’ by Sharyn Rothstein is at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL, now through April 23, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Northlight and call (847) 673-6300.

 

Exhibit prepares for total solar eclipse

Tornado chasing may sound familiar but how about eclipse chasing?

Adler astronomer Larry Ciupik steps on the floor map of eclipses to show how much of the sun will peek out in Las Vegas Nevada which is not right on the path of the 2017 solar eclipse. The green line going across from left to right is the 2017 eclipse path. The map also shows Carbondale, IL as the best place to be. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Adler astronomer Larry Ciupik steps on the floor map of eclipses to show how much of the sun will peek out in Las Vegas, Nevada which is not right on the path of the 2017 solar eclipse. The green line going across from left to right is the 2017 eclipse path. The map also shows Carbondale, IL as the best place to be. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

‘Chasing Eclipses,’ a new exhibit opening at the Adler Planetarium March 25, has a terrific “Eclipses Over America” floor map that includes the primary watching path for the total solar eclipse US residents will experience on Aug. 21, 2017.

Visitors can see that the Aug. 21 eclipse will be moving diagonally across the country from Salem, Oregon through Carbondale, IL to Charleston South Carolina. It also shows the paths of other eclipses. Read More

‘Circus 1903’ resurrects entertainment before TV and tech toys

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Circus 1903 brings back the old-fashioned kind of sideshow and acts that visited small towns years ago. Mark Turner Photo.
Circus 1903 brings back the old-fashioned kind of sideshow and acts that visited small towns years ago. Mark Turner Photo.

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up to a funny sideshow with a great contortionist, thrilling main acts of accomplished aerialist and high-wire performances, terrific juggler, fine acrobats and a ringmaster who beguiles kids and adults with patter that is both charming and insightful.

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Mind and body influences turn out to be a hard problem in new Stoppard play

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Viewed in its purist form, ‘The Hard Problem,’ Tom Stoppard’s newest cerebral play, has members of a brain science institute arguing about Darwinism, matter, biology and neuroscience versus the influence of consciousness and psychology.

It’s a mind-body question and equation that might be tempered by computer intelligence and statistics.

Chaon Cross in 'The Hard Problem' at Court Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Chaon Cross in ‘The Hard Problem’ at Court Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Religion and philosophy are not supposed to enter into their discussions.

A complicating factor is that venture capital and hedge funds pay for the institute’s existence.

However, Hilary, a psychologist who works there, believes in God and prays for the well-being of a daughter she had when a teenager and gave up for adoption.

But after seeing the play, now at Court Theatre, and thinking about how it ends with Hillary, beautifully interpreted by Chaon Cross, leaves the institute and has her prayers answered, there is another way to view the story.

The question may legitimately be asked if after years of academic-style arguments, is Stoppard now asking intellectuals to not take themselves too seriously and loosen-up to see and acknowledge other views and influences?

Director Charles Newell and scenic designer John Culbert  encourage the play’s dichotomy by having the arguments play out in an uncluttered white box -type setting where an important prop is the candle Hillary uses when she prays.

Vary appropriately produced in a theater on the University of Chicago’s north campus, the play should be seen with someone who enjoys the type of arguments and balancing behaviors Stoppard puts forth in this play.

‘The Hard Problem’ by Tom Stoppard is at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL, now through April 9, 2017. For tickets and other information call (773) 753-4472 and visit Court Theatre.

Live “telenovela” of overly dramatic scenes and plot twists make for a fun evening

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If ‘Destiny of Desire’ sounds like the title of a soap opera you would be very close to right.

Ruth Livier (Fabiola Castillo), Ricardo Gutierrez (Dr. Jorge Mendoza) and Evelina Fernandez (Sister Sonia) in 'Destiny of Desire' at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Ruth Livier (Fabiola Castillo), Ricardo Gutierrez (Dr. Jorge Mendoza) and Evelina Fernandez (Sister Sonia) in ‘Destiny of Desire’ at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

On stage at Goodman Theatre now through April 16, the “soap” that audiences sit in on as it is supposedly being televised in an empty Chicago theater (note the lighting props), is a Latino “telenovela.”

It has all the overemphasized drama of the Latino mini TV series that has even made the format the show of choice in Eastern Europe and Asia. Read More

High school students perform on “Hamilton” stage and see the show

The atmosphere inside the PrivateBank Theatre was electric March 15 as hundreds of Chicago high school students filed in to watch their peers perform on the “Hamilton” stage.

Alexander Hamilton and cast. Joan Marcus photo
Alexander Hamilton and cast. Joan Marcus photo

It was the third of what would be 10 student performances during 2017.

By the end of a  special education program tying “Hamilton’” to their American History studies, 20,000 Chicago high school students will have seen their peers perform in the morning followed by a regular Hamilton matinee.

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‘Upright Grand’ at Citadel is 90 minutes of amazing theater

Charlotte Mae Ellison (Kiddo) and Mark Ulrich (Pops) in 'Upright Grand.' Photo by North Shore Camera Club
Charlotte Mae Ellison (Kiddo) and Mark Ulrich (Pops) in ‘Upright Grand.’ Photo by Kyle Techentin.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps has taken a riviting script about parent-child relationships by playwright Laura Schellhardt (think Auctioning the Ainsleys and the Aportecary’s Daughter) and placed it in the intelligent hands of Jeff award winning director Scott Weinstein.

But to really pull off multiple messages on growing up, fulfilling dreams and responsibilities,  Citadel cast the play with Chicago area veterans who ought to be up for Jeff nominations in their “Upright Grand” roles.

The father, a talented pianist called Pops who tells personal stories while playing at the Broken Man’s Bar is Mark Ulrich.

Charlotte Mae Ellison as his daughter, Kiddo, is perfect as a 12–year-old with all the angst of a teenager who is suspended for writing “School is crap” on her academy’s wall, later, as the sophisticated accomplished 21-year-old who is on a concert circuit and at the end when she comes home and…. OK, won’t put in spoiler alert here.

The third figure is Matt Edmonds who literally plays as the Accompanist. He is a shadowy figure for father and daughter, a piano tuner who compares people to pianos that are out of tune or in tune. Later he is Todd, son of Pops’ friend Toady from the bar.

Premiered at Theatre Works in Pal Alto, CA at its 2012 New Works Festival, the play examines how one’s parental role and responsibility or lack, influences the next generation and how sometimes those actions are not understood until years later.

Pops goes through life as an absentminded professor who doesn’t know how old his daughter is at different stages but “retires’ from the bar to encourage her to focus on piano when he learns she is gifted. He sees his own dad as far from encouraging him with his musicianship.

By the play’s end, a successful Kiddo understand what her father went through and voices what probably many adults think when she says “I’d go back if I could.”

A charming part of the play is that throughout the different stages, Kiddo asks her father for one of his stories and audiences get to hear snatches from classical and popular music.

Something to think about is how to characterize a person or family. Pops’ family were farmers. He plays an upright piano. His wife’s family are wealthy and have endowed a musical academy. They have a grand  piano.

A phrase to think about that is said during the show is “We’re more upright than grand.”

Unfortunately,  “Upright Grand”  is only at Citadel through March 26, 2017.

Citadel is at 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, IL. For tickets and other info call (847-) 735-8554 and visit Citadel.

 

U2, Blues, Ravinia favs Diana Krall and OneRepublic, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza heat up Chicago summer nights

Get out the calendar to mark the 2017 summer music festivals you hope to catch. Copy the ticket info and good luck.

Blues comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in June. Jodie Jacobs photo
Blues comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in June. Jodie Jacobs photo

First, U2 + The Lumineers will be at Soldier Field June 3-4. Yes, they will be doing “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety.See  U2 + The Lumineers 

Then the Chicago Blues Festival is in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 Randolph St.) in Millennium Park June 9-11. It’s free admission. Headliners include Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues with special guest James Cotton. Also headlining are Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens and Ronnie Baker Brooks. For tickets and other info visit Blues.

Next, is Ravinia, the wonderful outdoor music park in Highland Park.  For the full schedule click Ravinia.

John Legend’s “Darkness and Light Tour” is June 10. It opens with Grammy-nominated artist Gallant.

The multi-Oscar-nominated film,”La La Land,” will be shown under the stars on large screens accompanied by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto on June 18.

Gipsy Kings, a group that blends flamenco with pop and Latin rhythms comes Friday, June 23.

Tickets will soon be available for Ravinia Music Festival headliners. Jodie Jacobs photo
Tickets will soon be available for Ravinia Music Festival headliners. Jodie Jacobs photo

Diana Krall, a five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist and vocalist comes June 28,

The Moody Blues do “Days of Future Passed” June 30.

OneRepublic & Fitz and The Tantrums are on stage July 14-15.

Blondie and Garbage start their 2017 “Rage and Rapture” tour at Ravinia July 22.

American Acoustic with Punch Brothers, I’m With Her and Julian Lage  are Aug. 14.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 9. Donors can request tickets March 22 depending on their giving level. For more information including early request dates. Visit Ravinia.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is back in Union Park July 14-16. Visit Pitchfork Music Festival  Headliners include. LCD Soundsystem,  A Tribe Called Quest and Solange

In addition Pitchfork is collaborating with Saint Heron, for an art installation, film screening, artist talks, late night jazz jam sessions. Visit Pitchfork for tickets and collaboration sites.

Lollapalooza  returns to Grant Park Aug. 3-6. Visit Lolla for tickets and

 

What would Clarence Darrow think?

Maybe Clarence Darrow’s ghost will appear. But even if you don’t see him, you will hear how his view of populism differs from what is being expressed by today’s politicians when the Annual Clarence Darrow Symposium takes place March 13, 2017.

The Clarence Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry. City of Chicago MSI photo.
The Clarence Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry. City of Chicago MSI photo.

Titled “Robber Barons & Populists: Would Clarence Darrow recognize today’s Populism,” the event begins with a commemorative ceremony at 10 a.m. near the Clarence Darrow Bridge behind the Museum of Science and Industry (where you might see the ghost). Darrow died March 13, 1938.

Ceremony  guests include  Ald. Leslie Hairston, activist Bernardine Dohrn, ACLU of Illinois Associate Legislative Director Khadine Bennett and Gene Winkler, adjunct faculty at the Divinity School, University of Chicago.

John A. Farrell, author of “Clarence Darrow: Attorney For The Damned,” will speak in the Museum of of Science and Industry’s Rosenwald Room beginning at 10:45. Refreshments will be served.

For more information visit Darrow Bridge.