You know this is the biggie, the one that requires good walking shoes and lots of hollow-leg room to visit the dozens of restaurant booths lining Grant Park. Taste runs July 10-14. Hours are Wednesday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Admission is free but you have to buy tickets to use at the booths to get any food and beverages.
Along with the regular booths check out the food trucks, pop-up restaurants and chef demos. Also stop by the Petrillo Music Shell to hear who’s entertaining the day you’re there.
Some streets will be closed (or clogged with traffic) behind the Art Institute and around Jackson for Taste so take public transportation.
What you need to know is that this year, Windy City Smokeout has moved from River North to the United Center Parking Lot at 1901 w. Madison St., that the dates are July 12 – 13, 2019 and that gates open at 2 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
The annual festival benefits and is at the 92-year-old St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church on Chicago’s Northside in the Edgewater neighborhood. Celebrating Helenic heritage, it features Greek food, music, dancing and band plus has artisans and kids’ activities.
The festival is July 12-14. Hours ate Friday 5-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. at5649 N Sheridan Rd. For more information visit Events/GreekFest.
More than a block party but just as friendly is Roscoe Village’s Chamber of Commerce’s annual Burger Fest. The place to go for great burgers, music on two stages and artisan booths is 2000 W. Belmont at Damen Avenue, July 13-14 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. B TW you get to vote on Chicago’s Best Burger.
If old enough to have seen and loved the 1962 film “The Music Man” you’ll likely be expecting someone like Robert Preston to be portraying con man Harold Hill and someone like Shirley Jones as the reserved librarian/music teacher Marian Paroo in the production now playing at Goodman Theatre.
And maybe you would expect the townsfolk to be human beings rather than stereotyped small-town farm characters.
Helmed by the amazingly creative Mary Zimmerman, the Goodman show has several fun moments from the superb opening “Rock Island” salesmen (and woman) train scene and the “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” hen-clucking number to the delightful quartets by formerly bickering board members.
But the strong emotions of the lead characters and townsfolk found in the film, the Broadway revivals and some other Chicago and regional productions are missing.
Part of the problem may be that even though the dancers are excellent, the many dance numbers run too long in a show that really is about changing people’s attitudes.
That change was accorded a small nod at the end. However, I was disappointed that the band didn’t march onto the stage from the wings in a more stirring finale.
Broadway and national tour regular and Chicago stage veteran Geoff Packard does an OK impression of Harold Hill but something seems to be lacking in his interaction with Paroo played by Chicago and regional theater veteran Monica West. They have the credentials, (a request often asked of Hill by River city’s mayor) but their interaction seems more surface than substance.
Chicago actor Mary Ernster was delightful as usual as mom Mrs. Paroo. And a shout-out goes to the charming quartet of James Konicek, Christopher Kale Jones, Jeremy Peter Johnson and Jonathan Schwart.
The production is worth seeing for the fine book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, the excellent musical direction by Jermaine Hill (not related) and hearing the exciting “Seventy Six Trombones.”
DETAILS: “The Music Man” is at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, through Aug. 18, 2019. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3811 and visit Goodman Theatre.
When the music is good, the songs are good, the voices are good and the staging is good, the show, in this case, “Darling Grenadine,” deserves to be seen and appreciated even if the subject is not at the top of theater-goers’ list of musicals must-do.
Conceived and written by Daniel Zaitchick about stress leading to alcohol addiction that is often experienced by musicians and others in the entertainment industry , the show is more in line with the personal battles of “Next to Normal” than Marriott’s next play, “Something Rotten,” that is a comedic musical about trying to write a hit show.
Whereas “Something Rotten,” was a full-fledged, 2015 Broadway musical comedy hit, “Darling Grenadine” is more an intimate, chamber musical that is making its way from its concert form at LA;s Rockwell Table & Stage and continued its fleshing out at Johnny Mercer Writers Colony of Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, CT before presented by Marriott in what is labeled a Midwest premiere.
Whoever would’ve imagined that a new, surprisingly entertaining musical comedy, based upon a lengthy 16th century poem by Sir Philip Sidney, conceived and fashioned into a script by Jeff Whitty, and adapted for the Broadway stage by James Magruder, would evolve into a toe-tapping jukebox musical?
With a score adapted from the songs of popular 80’s girl band, The Go-Go’s, this perky show feels not only original but groundbreaking. And, in many ways, it is. The musical follows in the footsteps of other unlikely tune-filled Broadway hits such as “Spring Awakening” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Debuting in 2015 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the show ran for a month in San Francisco but its next stop was a dazzling 2018 Broadway production that just closed this past January.
Kokandy Productions is making theatrical history by presenting one of the first regional stagings of this musical, one that’s bound to become a cutting-edge new standard in theatres around the country.
When looking up 2019-20 show listings don’t forget the theaters in the Chicago’s neighborhoods. You don’t want to miss excellent productions that are likely to be Jeff Award Winners. The next peek in a what will be on stage series takes in the Near North and the Lincoln Park area. (Don’t worry that some places spell theater.
The theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., starts the fall with the world premiere of “Grey House” Oct. 10 – Dec. 1, 2019. Winter’s production is the Chicago Premiere of “Do You Feel Anger?” Jan.16 – Mar. 8, 2020. Spring brings the Chicago Premiere of “The Moors” April 23- June 14, 2020.
The Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., hosts a variety of theater companies with a packed line-up in 2019-20. This list is for summer, early fall 2019.
Currently, BOHO Theatre is doing the Chicago Premiere of “The River” through July 28. The Comrades do “The Roast” July 18- Aug. 19. Then, MPAACT Summer Jams holds a theater festival of 17 acts in 7 days Aug. 5-11.
The venue, 1641 N. Halsted St., currently has the world premiere of “Miracle: 108 years in the making” (about the Chicago Cubs) extended through Labor Day. Also “Late Nite Catechism” as an open run is at 5 p.m. Saturdays and “Bible Bingo” is an open run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
For tickets and more information visit Royal George and call (312) 988-9000.
The theatre company, 1650 N. Halsted St., currently has “Ms. Blakk for President” (upstairs) through July 21 and Sam Shepard’s “True West” through Aug. 25 (main stage).
The new season begins with “The Great Leap” (upstairs) Sept. 5- Oct. 20 followed by “Lindiwe” based on music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo (downstairs) Nov. 7-Dec. 29 and the Chicago premiere of “Dance Nation” Dec. 12, 2019-Jan. 26, 2020.
Then comes Tracy Letts’ “Bug” Jan. 23-Mar. 8 (downstairs) followed by “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” downstairs) April 2-May 17.Then, “King James on LeBron James’s reign (upstairs) May 7-June 21, ending with “Catch as Catch Can (downstairs) June 4-July 26.
A Chicago Park District property at 2401 N Lake Shore Dr. presents Manual Cinema’s “End of TV” July 16-19, “Stories from 2nd Story” 7 p.m. and “The Grelley DuVall Show” 9 p.m. July 23-26. The Neo Futurists are doing “Tangles and Plaques” Aug. 13-16 and Peasus Theater has “Eclipsed” Aug. 20-23. The 2019 summer season ends with Steep theatre’s Red Rex” Aug. 27=30. Tickets are free. Reserve tickets at the Chicago Park District box office (312) 742-7994 or find more ticket and time information at theater on the lake/theater.
The theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., currently has a co-production on stage. Sideshow Theatre Company and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble are doing “Something Clean” through July 21.
For its 45th season, Victory Gardens starts with the Chicago premiere of “Tiny Beautiful Things” Sept. 6-Oct. 13 followed by the world premiere of “The First Deep Breath” Nov. 15-Dec. 22, 2019.
Into the new year is the co-world premiere with Actors Theatre of Louisville’s “How to Defend Yourself” Jan. 24-Feb. 23. Then, “Dhaba on Devon Avenue” is Mar. 27-Apr. 26. The season ends with the Chicago premiere of “Right to be Forgotten” May 29-June 28, 2020.
About 20 of the original herd of more than 300 cows are returning to downtown Chicago for the month of July. Look for them in the Jane Byrne Park abutting Chicago’s historic Water Tower. But who knows, a few may pop up elsewhere.
The bovines in the park mark the 20th anniversary of 1999’s “Cows on Parade,” thanks to the Magnificent Mile Association which is calling the return exhibit “Cows Come Home.
The cows lived mostly on Michigan Avenue and in the Loop from June 15 through Oct. 31 1999 until they were auctioned off (money went to different charities).
A check of the records show that Peter Hanig (think shoes) brought the idea to then Chicago Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg in 1998 after he spotted and liked a Zurich, Switzerland cow display.
Chicago’s fiberglass cows were constructed in three poses (head down, up or prone body) by the same Swiss company, then offered by the Department of Cultural Affairs to various artists to decorate as a Public Art Project.
What followed was that Chicago’s cows achieved international coverage and spawned similar art projects in other cities using different shapes.
Among the famous cows that have returned, look for “Holy Cow!” a nod to Hall of Fame Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray (which likely will return to Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch Restaurant), the “Lady Bug” cow last seen climbing? up the front of the Talbott Hotel and “Mooving Eli,” which usually resides at Eli Cheesecake World.
Take advantage of the cows’ temporary grazing location to go across Michigan Avenue to the other half of the park’s historic campus. Visitors can go into the Chicago Water Works across the street to view and photo its unusual interior and also find out what its resident Lookingglass Theatre is doing this summer and the rest of the season.
. “We are excited to see the artful, whimsical installations on display and hope our patrons will find as much joy in them as we do,” said Lookingglass Theatre Artistic Director Heidi Stillman.
“As part of the Water Tower Arts District—a district filled with theatre, art, music and culture—Lookingglass Theatre Company is glad to welcome back the Cows on Parade to our neighborhood, ” Stillman said.
There are two very good reasons to see “The Flower of Hawaii” at Stage 773 on Belmont.
First, is the exceptional musical score by Hungarian composer Paul Abraham expertly conducted by 2007 Georg Solti Foundation Award recipient Anthony Barrese leading an exceptional 19-piece orchestra.
Secondly, is the exciting vocals of tenor Rodell Rosel in the role of Prince Lilo-Taro. The prince has returned to Hawaii after being lost at sea in time to claim his childhood betrothal to Princess Laia performed by the alluring former Ms. Illinois (2014) and Chicago native Marisa Buchheit.
Written by Paul Abraham in 1931, “The Flower of Hawaii” is a jazz operetta now making its American premiere. Translated by Hersh Glagov, it is presented by Folks Operetta as part of their “Reclaimed Voices Series” giving voice to Jewish composers and librettists who were persecuted, exiled or perished at the hands of the German Third Reich.
A fun way to renew acquaintance with the founding of the United States of America and learn more about the significance of July 4 is to see “1776” at Skokie Theatre.
The musical with book by Peter Stone is a fictionalized account of the goings on that led the delegates of the Second Continental Congress to eventually, unanimously vote for Independence on July 2 and approve the Declaration of Independence document on July 4, 1776. Just don’t expect a fast-paced “Hamilton” style musical.
While “1776” also boasts the Tony Award for Best Musical (1969), the music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards paint the dithering and arguing by the delegates with a brush dipped in sarcastic-toned ink.
Located on the city’s popular Navy Pier, CST is currently doing “Six” a fun, pop-concert-style musical about Henry VIII’s wives that has been so popular it’s been extended through Aug. 4. Also there is the family musical “The Wizard of Oz” which opens July 6 and continues through Aug. 25, 2019.
The theatre is on Dearborn Street at Randolph Street near downtown attractions such as Millennium Park and the city’s Piccasso. Shows are on stage in the Albert Theatre and smaller Owen Theatre.
Currently, Goodman is doing “The Music Man” helmed by famed director Mary Zimmerman, June 29-Aug. 11, 2019 (Albert). Then “Hanna H. is Sept. 6-Oct. 6 (Owen) and “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” Sept. 14- Oct. 20 (Albert). “A Christmas Carol,” a family holiday favorite, continues for its 42nd annual production Nov. 16 – Dec. 29, 2019 (Albert).
The Lyric Opera House. a historic building on north Wacker Drive at Madison Street, will resound with the sounds of Rossini and Verdi, Wagner and (Jake) HeggieL as the 2019-2020 season mixes the popular with the provocative.
Opening the season is Rossini’s popular “The Barber of Seville” Sept. 28-Oct. 27 followed by Verdi’s “Luisa Miller”Oct. 12-31. Then Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s unusual “Dead Man Walking” opera is Nov. 2-11. The series returns to the classics with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Nov. 14-Dec. 8 but offers a gorgeous vocal treat with Sondra Radvanovsky singing the finales of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux in a semi-staged performance of Donizetti “The Three Queens” Dec 1-7, 2019.
Now located in the Ruth Page Center, Porchlight will open the 2019-20 season with “Sings: 25 years of Porchlight,” a benefit concert Aug. 5 that celebrates its past 25 years on Chicago’s musical theater scene.
A leading lady of Chgo theater, Hollis Resnik, makes her Porchlight debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” Oct. 11- Nov. 24. However, there will also be a quick revisit to Irving Berlin’s “Cal Me Madam,” Nov. 20-21. Next is the Ruffians’ “Burning Bluebeard” Dec 13-27.
If taking in some of the shows in Chicago now, you know the theaters put on amazing productions. The problem is that with 250 theater companies it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what and when. So we’ll look at the 2019-2020 season according to location for you beginning with Broadway in Chicago because it has four main downtown venues. That will be followed by other theaters in what is loosely called downtown and includes the Mag Mile. Then, the series continues with theater companies in Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs.
New York’s Broadway shows appear as touring productions in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace, CIBC, Nederlander, Broadway Playhouse and sometimes the Auditorium Theatre, all presented by Broadway in Chicago. These are historic venues so are worth seeing no matter what is playing but here is the lineup known so far for the 2019-20 season starting this summer.
“Oslo” is coming to the Playhouse Sept. 10-Oct. 20, 2019. Then “An Evening With C S Lewis” is Oct. 22-Nov. 3, 2019 followed by “Potted Potter” Dec. 5, 2019-Feb. 2, 2020. The Playhouse is at 175 E. Chestnut St. next to Water Tower Place.