Lake County museum surprises from Dryptosaurus dinosaur to Civil War drum

Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at Lake County Forest Preserves Dunn Museum (J Jacobs photo)
Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at Lake County Forest Preserves Dunn Museum (J Jacobs photo)

A full-sized Dryptosaurus dinosaur greets visitors at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County and they’ll learn that such a creature likely roamed the area 67 Million years ago.

In the next room, they’ll see and can touch a huge fossil rock found in Lindenhurst formed about 420 million years ago and they’ll learn the area was covered with water and sea creatures.

As visitors move through the museum they will come upon and can sit in a large wigwam and see objects from the mid-19th century but hear about Native Americans who lived in the area 120,00 years ago and those who still live in the area.

Visitors can see Native American objects in a replica ted wigwam in the Native american room at the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Visitors can see Native American objects in a replica ted wigwam in the Native american room at the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

Walking further into the museum, they’ll find an old-fashioned classroom of a one-room school house where McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Readers sit waiting to be opened on the desks and a small, stovepipe furnace reminds youngsters that central heating came later.

Further along are uniforms, a drum and other artifacts and stories of local citizens during the Civil War.

Lodge posters and a real lotus boat, used to navigate among the lakes’ flowers show vacation trends of a bygone era.

Then, a Waukegan railroad depot sign invites visitors into a room with industrial, agricultural and other interesting items from the past ranging from a 35mm motion picture machine to a brewing company’s advertisements.

The new Dunn Museum in Lake County has space now for visitors to sit in a one room school house. (J Jacobs photo)
The new Dunn Museum in Lake County has space now for visitors to sit in a one room school house. (J Jacobs photo)

Items on loan from local historical societies fills the special exhibit gallery in Lake County’s tribute to the Illinois Bicentennial 1919-2018.  They are items featured in the book, “200 Objects That Made History in Lake and McHenry Counties,” is going on through early January.

What everything described in brief here is better seen in person. They  can be found in the recently opened Dunn Museum, formerly known as the Lake County Discovery Museum that used to be in the Lakewood Forest Preserves.

Some items were moved but many more were taken out of storage now that the Lake County Forest Preserves have a large, new building with excellent museum space on West Winchester Road, Libertyville.

Lake County Forest Preserves general office building houses the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Lake County Forest Preserves general office building houses the Dunn Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

Of course visitors of all ages are welcome weekdays except Monday and weekends but the museum also has noon tours a couple of times a month for adults on their lunch hour and craft days for families with children age 12 and younger during vacations.

So if looking for a museum on a smaller scale than what is downtown Chicago put the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County on the family’s “let’s check it out” list.

BTW Bess Bower Dunn was Lake County’s first official historian.

The museum is in the Lake County Forest Preserves building in an office-industrial complex so the best way to find it is at museum planning directions.

The Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County is at 1899 West Winchester Rd., Libertyville, IL 60048. For more information call (847) 968-3400 and visit LCFPD Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Bah humbug turns around!

4 stars

“A Christmas Carol” was written 175 years ago by Charles Dickens—and its popularity has never wavered since, as it appears on stages all over the country. For the past forty years, Goodman Theatre has presented “A Christmas Carol” until going downtown Chicago to see it has become a tradition for many families.

Directed  for several years by Henry Wishcamper, the play tells a basic story of the redemption of the leading character, Ebenezer Scrooge by giving him a glimpse at his past, present and what the future might hold if he doesn’t change..

Played by Larry Yando, Scrooge is the embodiment of what the name has come to represent since written by Dickens. He hates Christmas and only begrudgingly allows his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit (Thomas J. Cox) to take off Christmas Day. He refuses to donate to good causes with comments about where the poor should go.

Scrooge’s selfish business partner, Jacob Marley who died years earlier returns as a ghost (Kareem Bandealy). Clanging chains wrought by miserly deeds, Marley warns Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits and that Scrooge must listen or be cursed and carry even heavier chains.

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‘The Safe House’ at City Lit is a safe bet

 

 marssie Mencotti, L. and Kat Evans in City Lit's The Safe House. (Photo by Steve Graue)
marssie Mencotti, L. and Kat Evans in City Lit’s The Safe House. (Photo by Steve Graue)

3.5 Stars

This world premiere slice of life drama is sure to strike close to home.

For many, the place they have lived and raised a family is more than an assembly of bricks and wood, it is a repository of memories and the physical manifestation of a life’s work. When it comes time to consider leaving it behind there are more considerations than a change of address.

“The Safe House,” commissioned by City Lit and based on a true story by Chicago playwright Kristine Thatcher, is expertly supervised by Producer/Artistic Director Terry McCabe.

You get a feeling you know where the cookie jar is in designer Ray Toler’s cozy retro kitchen/dining room stage setting It brings us right into the domain of “Grandma” Hannah (marssie Mencotti) who must confront the realities of her changing condition and abilities.Read More

Around town in December

Certainly Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Macy’s State Street holiday windows are on many folks’ traditional “do” list. But there are also other good shows to see and fun places to go as December 2018 turns into January 2019.

Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Shows

“Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s “not happily ever after” take on traditional fairy tales, is at Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium on Sheridan Road in Evanston Dec. 22-31. Music Theater Works was formerly called Light Opera Works.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is about magic, love, and in this production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is backed by a mash-up of rock, jazz, blues and doo-wop., Dec. 6, 2018 -Jan 27, 2019.

“La Ruta” world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre  Dec. 13-Jan. 27. At U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the women who live, work and often disappear along the route, it’s much more.

Opera

“Cendrillon” (Cinderella) at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, select dates from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20.

Concerts

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass plays numbers from Holst to Tchaikovsky, 8 p.,. Dec. 19, at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. and the CSO does Handel’s “Messiah” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Symphony Center.

Activities

Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

Ice skate free in Millennium Park if you bring your skates, skate rental is $13 weekdays and $15 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Skating rink is street level on Michigan Avenue below Cloud Gate (The Bean) between Washington and Madison Streets.  Hours and more information at Millennium Park.

Take a “Holiday Lights, City Lights’ bus tour with the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago and then check out CAC’s diorama on the main floor and skyscraper exhibit upstairs.

However, you can still find traditional holiday ideas at After Thanksgiving and Holiday shows and shopping plus light sights.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Arcadia’ is close to ideal

Chris Smith, Megan DeLay, Chris Woolsey (Photos by Tim McGrath, TCMcG Photography)
Chris Smith, Megan DeLay, Chris Woolsey (Photos by Tim McGrath, TCMcG Photography)

3.5 Stars

“Arcadia” begins with thirteen year-old Thomasina Coverly (Meghann Tabor)asking her tutor Septimus Hodge (Chris Woolsey) the meaning of the term “carnal embrace.” Hodge replies essentially that the word carnal is derived from the Latin “carne” meaning meat and it is therefore referring to an embrace with a “side of beef” or “leg of mutton.”

From this opening dialog playwright Tom Stoppard is creating an atmosphere of inquiry and humor. He is sending a message that though this may be challenging at times, we are going to have fun with it.

The action takes place around a table in an historic and aristocratic English manor house in which there are two intersecting story lines set roughly two hundred years apart.

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Lookingglass takes ‘Steadfast Tin Soldier’ to another level

The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)
The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photos by Liz Lauren)

4 stars

At Lookingglass Theatre audiences see a charming screen a few minutes before Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” story is pantomimed on stage.

The actors, dressed as figures that might be found in a young European child’s nursery or at a “Panto,” take turns on stage opening  windows that reveal children’s toys – except one that shows a fire.

And thus, perceptive audiences might pick up the clue that as with many of the famed Danish author’s fairy tales such as “The Little Mermaid,” life will not be very smooth for the lead character but the ending can offset what appears to be devastating consequences. Read More

Appreciate Jane Austin once again with ‘Mansfield Park’

Heidi Kettenring (Mrs. Norris) tells Kayla Cargter (Fanny Price) she can never say no at Mansfield Park while Kate Hamill (a maid) helps change Price's clothing. (Michael Brosilow photos)
Heidi Kettenring (Mrs. Norris) tells Kayla Cargter (Fanny Price) she can never say no at Mansfield Park while Kate Hamill (a maid) helps change Price’s clothing. (Michael Brosilow photos)

3 stars

Readers familiar with Jane Austen’s novels know this author sees through surface-only charm, social pretense and people who talk about manners but are not at all well-mannered.

These readers also know to expect thinly cloaked feminism about a century before the women’s rights movements were causing waves and making some progress in England and the United States.

But given Austen’s first two books, “Sense and Sensibility” in 1811 and “Pride and Prejudice” in 1813, audiences who see “Mansfield Park,” now at Northlight Theatre, will find in Austen’s third novel, out in 1814, that practicality no longer wins arguments. They will also note that one of “Mansfield Park’s theme stresses that financial benefit doesn’t excuse slavery.

“Mansfield Park’s heroine Fanny Price is portrayed to perfection by Kayla Carter. She convincingly takes her character from a young girl trying to adapt to her relative’s moneyed and mannered life when sent there as a servant and companion, to her metamorphosis as an independent young lady who does not succumb to pressure and who is willing to lead an impoverished life.

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‘Joseph:’ A Citadel show of biblical proportions

Joseph (Jacob Barton) shows off his “coat of many colors” to his jealous brothers. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)
Joseph (Jacob Barton) shows off his “coat of many colors” to his jealous brothers. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

3.5 stars

First performed on Broadway in 1982, this interpretation of the Old Testament’s story of Joseph and his brothers through contemporary eyes is a fun, high-energy show featuring a delightful chorus of local children.

Based on Joseph’s “coat of many colors” from the Book of Genesis, the story shows what can happen when a parent plays favorites.

From the get-go, the show begins with two narrators instead of the traditional one and takes off like a rocket from the very first musical number, “Any Dream Will Do.”

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Superb voices meet Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’ challenge

Tamara Wilson (Lenora) in Il Trovatori at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Todd Rosenberg photo)
Tamara Wilson (Lenora) in Il Trovatori at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Todd Rosenberg photo)

3.5 stars

Thanks goodness, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Il Trovatore” has much more going for it than the famed “Anvil Chorus” (“Vedi le fosche notturne”) in which some of the workers overdo their loud clangs, forgetting that the gypsies are singing to Verd’s music and the anvils ought to be an interesting accompaniment.

This production is an opportunity to hear Soprano Tamara Wilson, making her Lyric debut as Leonora . Wilson lets the audience know right away that she was well chosen as the doomed heroine with her “Tacea la note placida, a beautiful cavatina with its high c, and the passionate “Di tale amor che dirsi” aria made even more impressive by its trills.

It is also an opportunity to hear mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, last heard at the Lyric in as Giovanna in Donizett’s Anna Bolena in 2014. Read More

‘Miss Saigon’s’ heat is on!

Anthony Festa (Chris) and Emily Bautista (Kim) in Miss Saigon at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Matthew Murphy photo)
Anthony Festa (Chris) and Emily Bautista (Kim) in Miss Saigon at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Matthew Murphy photos)

4 stars

After its 25th anniversary revival on Broadway in 2017, “Miss Saigon” is reappearing this year on a national tour.  Directed by Laurence Connor, the music is by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr.

Loosely based on Puccini’s opera, “Madame Butterfly,”  “Miss Saigon” follows the final days of the Vietnam War.

The first lead character that opens the show is The Engineer played by Red Concepcion. The Engineer runs Dreamland, a steamy bar and brothel in Saigon that’s packed with beautiful Vietnamese women whom he has lined up for American soldiers.

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