‘Trevor, the musical,’ now in its world premier at Writers Theatre, is based on the story behind the Oscar winning short film that led to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention/crisis intervention initiative for youngsters in the LGBTQ community.
Set in 1981, it reflects the attitudes of the times but just as important, it reflects the kind of general adolescent bullying, cruelty, peer pressure and even parental inattentiveness and misunderstandings that still exists today.
That said, ‘Trevor, the musical’ showcases the amazing talent of Eli Tokash, a young Broadway (‘Finding Neverland, ‘Pippin’) actor who performs with the grace and style of Fred Astaire,
Tokash as Trevor, wants to be writing, directing, choreographing and playing in musical theater in 10 years. But his current goal as a 13-year-old in his last year of a suburban junior high, he wants to perform in the school’s annual talent show or direct the eighth grade football team in a dance number he devises.
It’s acceptable to Pinky, the team’s captain, perfectly portrayed by Declan Desmond as a guy who would rather dance a Fred Astaire type number than parade around in a pink tutu that past teams had to wear for the show.
While working with Pinky, Trevor realizes he has a crush on the football star. Also, while trying to prove he likes girls, he goes to a smooching spot with Cathy, delightfully played, glasses, braces rubber bands and all, by Tori Whaples.
As they try to kiss, Trevor realizes he isn’t interested even though Cathy is.
The kicker that throws his life into suicide mode comes when his best friend, Walter, nicely acted by Matthew Uzarrage, gives Trevor’s journal to Mary (Eloise Lushina). She reads Trevor’s notes about Pinky to her friends and gives the journal to the football team.
Trevor fantasizes about his funeral. He wants Diana Ross’ “Endless Love” to be playing.
Although not really a jukebox musical because many of the songs are by Wick Davis (music) and Dan Collins (book and lyrics), the show spotlights Trevor’s adoration for Ross’ music and philosophy.
Performed beautifully by the talented Salisha Thomas (‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,’ vocalist for Disney) she sings many Ross hits throughout the show beginning with “Do You Know?”
“Beautiful” director Marc Bruni has brought his seamless touch to this production which has aspirations of moving on to Broadway. Expertly choreographed by Josh Prince (also “Beautiful”) it likely will get there.
However, given the seriousness of its theme, at a mere two hours and 10 minuets, there is room to expand the tension surrounding the teens, adults and anyone who doesn’t fit the attitudes and models of the times.
‘Trevor’ is at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, now through Sept. 17, 2017. For tickets and other information call (847) 242-6000) and visit Writers Theatre.
Knowing how vaudeville acts had to move around to make a living or even how current performers continue to do so, it’s easy to understand they live what is thought of as a gypsy life.
But when hearing ‘Gypsy’ capitalized as in the 1959 Broadway hit by Jule Styne (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (book), you are likely to think Ethel Merman as the indomitable stage mother of entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc.
In the Music Theater Works production of ‘Gypsy,’ Mary Robin Roth is so believable as Rose, an over-the-top stage mother, that her character is not easy to like. Indeed, a few theater-goers might equate how she directed her daughter’s lives with their own experience.
However this is the show Merman arguable made famous with her brash portrayal of Rose so, everyone can expect Roth to belt out commands and the show’s famed “Everything’s Coming up Roses.” They won’t be disappointed.
It’s also fun to watch the incredible transformation of Louise, the shy, unimposing elder sister of Baby June into the renowned burlesque entertainer, Gypsy Rose Lee, a sophisticated and striking strip tease vedette.
Along the way there is the charming voice of Sophie Kagi as the young Baby June, the boys who march with her in the early stage troupe and the talented young lads who accompany the older June (Rosie Jo Neddy) as an aging troupe. They’re featured in several fine dance numbers choreographed by Clayton Cross.
The evolution from young troupe to older was amazingly accomplished in a whirling, order-in-chaos dance scene thanks to Cross, stage director Rudy Hogenmiller and lighting designer Andrew H. Meyers.
In addition, Russell Alan Rowe is the long suffering Herbie who loves Rose, acts as the troupe’s agent and is sensitive to the needs of the boys and Louise.
The musical is based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee who was also an author and actress (“Stage Door Canteen” 1949).
‘Gypsy’ is at Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) now through Aug. 27, 2017. The show is in Northwestern University’s Cahn Auditorium at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road. For tickets and other information visit the box office at 516 4th St., Wilmette, call (847) 920-5360 or visit Music Theater Works.
Many issues that women dealt with a century ago still hang over their heads and affect their lives, work, families and relationships. From wanting to feel protected while searching for freedom to embracing dreams while being steered toward stereotypical roles, women continue to struggle against being controlled.
These issues are front and center in the Greenhouse Theater Center’s compelling revival of “Machinal,”a play by Sophie Treadwell that hit Broadway in 1928.
The play is based on the life and trial of Ruth Snyder, a ruthless and manipulative murderess who, with her lover, killed her husband for a double indemnity insurance payout. But Machinal’s protagonist, “Young Woman,” portrayed by Heather Chrisler, is nothing like the real Ruth Snyder.
She garners the audience’s empathy as she encounters the demands of a rigid and unfriendly workplace and a life of struggles to support her mother.
In the midst of an argument over whom she should marry, she asks her overbearing mother, “Did you love Pa?” Her mother replies, “I suppose I did . . . I don’t remember. What difference does it make?” The mother pushes her daughter into marrying a man for financial gain.
Years later, feeling trapped in a loveless marriage, Young Woman’s goal is to free herself from captivity.
Chrisler does an excellent job as she captures the complexity of the main character and the challenges faced. She portrays a frightened woman who follows the daily rules of work, marries someone whom she doesn’t love, gives birth to a child she doesn’t want, pleads with everyone to “Let me alone” and eventually finds a lover outside of her marriage who contributes to her ultimate demise.
The nine other cast members are wonderful as they play multiple roles including Young Woman’s co-workers, mother, husband, lover, doctors, nurses, trial lawyers, reporters and priest.
With minimal props on a stage devoid of scenery, the ensemble lights up the audience’s imagination in innovative ways that draw them into this mesmerizing story—a story that ends with Young Woman declaring, “I wanted to be free. I wanted him out of the way. It made me free for one moment!”
Directed by Jacob Harvey with movement by Elizabeth Margolius, Machinal is a play that addresses the balancing act that women have long attempted.
DETAILS: “Machinal” is at Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Main Stage), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago through Sept. 24, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Greenhouse Theater or call (773) 404-7336.
Late summer seems a time to get ready for back-to things such as school,a fall sport, workout classes if they stopped and volunteer activities. But August is also a good time to plan ahead to catch shows you’ll want to see. With about 250 theatre companies in the area the season can be overwhelming without checking out some of the offerings ahead of time.
The last two round-ups of what’s coming to area theatres were listings for the northern and western suburbs.
This one is for downtown Chicago. If you go you will find the venues have interesting, historic homes.
Next will be neighborhood Chicago theatres. When you see how many shows are at each venue you’ll understand how easy it is to miss one you really want to catch.
Louis Sullivan’s iconic performing arts hall showcases productions by the Joffrey Ballet and other dance companies ranging from Shen Wei Dance Arts, Ensemble Espanol and Alvin Ailey to Les Ballets de Monte Carlos, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ballet Nacional Cuba and Giordano Dance Chicago.
In addition, its season includes musical groups and singers such as Jonathan Lee, and the Jazz Gospel Messiah’s “Too Hot to Handel.” In between are lectures, documentary presentations, comedians and tributes to pop and jazz stars.
Here is the Joffrey Ballet Schedule: Gisselle Oct. 18-29, Dec. 1-30, 2017, Modern Masters (George Balenchine, Myles Thatcher, Nicolas Blanc, Jerome Robbins) Feb. 7-18, 2018, Midsummer Night’s Dream April 25-May 6.
For other production dates and the full calendar click Auditorium. The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is at 50 E. Congress Parkway, (312) 341.2300.
Broadway in Chicago
Touring Broadway shows are typically in four venues: Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph St., Oriental, 24 W. Randolph St., PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. and Broadway Playhouse. Tickets are available at Broadway in Chicago and also Ticket Master by clicking on individual shows at Broadway Chicago and at the theatres’ box offices. Also call (800) 775-2000.
Of course everyone knows that the mega hit, “Hamilton” is still in town at The PrivateBank Theatre. Tickes are currently available through April 29, 2018.
At the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Disney’s “Aladdin” is there now through Sept. 10 followed by “Motown the Musical” Oct. 3-8 and “Les Miserable” Oct. 11-29. Then there is “School of Rock” Nov. 1-19 followed by Irving Berlin’s “White Chirstmas” Nov. 21-Dec. 3, 2017. “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical” returns to town, Dec. 5, 2017 and goes to Jan 28, 2018. The play, “The Humans,” comes Jan 30-Feb. 11 followed by ”Love Never Dies” Feb. 14-March 4. Then it’s “On Your Feet!” March 21-April “ followed by “Waitress,” July 3-22.
At the Oriental Theatre “Escape to Margaritaville” is Nov. 9-Dec. 2, 2017. “Wicked” is there Dec. 6-Jan. 21 2018 and “The Color Purple” goes on July 17-29, 2018.
At the Broadway Playhouse, “90210: The Musical” will be there Sept. 13- Sept. 17 followed by Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” Nov. 11-Dec. 31. 2017. Also during that time is Gobsmacked” Dec. 5-10.
The company has expanded its venue at Navy Pier to include The Yard so some of the shows are there and others in its regular hall. Check when buying tickets.
“The Taming of the Shrew is Sept.16 – Nov. 12 and James Thierrée’s “The Toad Knew” opens The Yard Sept. 19 – 23. “Amarillo” is Oct. 17 – 29, 2017 and “Red Velvet” is Dec 1, 2017 –Jan 21, 2018. “Short Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is Feb 3-March 10, “Macbeth” is April 25-June 24 and “Waiting for Godot” is May 23- June 3, 2018.
For details visit Chicago Shakes and call (312-595-5600. Chicago Shakespeare is at 800 E. Grand Ave. on Navy Pier, Chicago.
The historic venue has something going on every weekend but some of the seasons highlights are Fleet Foxes, Oct. 3-4,Steve Martin and Martin Short Oct. 6-7, Tori Amos, Oct. 27 Dream Theater in contcrt, Images, Words and Beyond Mov. 3 An evening with the Avett Brothers Nov. 9-11 Celtic thunder Symphony Tour dec. 7 Joe Biden American Promise tour Dec. 11 For more information visit Chicago Theater. The Chicago Theater is at 175 N State St. For tickets call (800) 745- 3000 or go to Ticketmaster.com.
The Goodman starts fall with Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge” Sept 9 – Oct 15 followed by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Nov 18 – Dec 31, 2017. Rogelio Marinez’ “Blind Date” (Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev) is Jan 20- Feb. 25, 2018 followed by Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” Mar. 10-Apr 15. Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” is May 5-June 10 and Ellen Fairey’s “Support Group for Men” is June 23-july 29.
In addition, Goodman’s Annual New Stages Festival is Sept 20-Oct. 8. The Festival features new works by Christina Anderson, David Cale, Mikhael Tara Garver, Rebecca Gilman, Ike Holter, Jose Rivea, Mat Smart and Bess Wohl.
Goodman Theatre is at 170 N. Dearborn St. For for information visit Goodman. or call (312) 443-3800.
Harris Theatre for Music and Dance
October features Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir, and the English Baroque Soloists have announced an ambitious international tour, with concert performances of all three operas – L’Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea – and Rennie Harris Puremovement and Arias a dn Barcarolle by Lincoln center chamber music society .
Nov. has “Hot Sardines” comeing. Cec. Brandenburg concertos. By lincon chentr chambermusic society . Jan Brian Brooks dance Companyh, and lc chanmber doing Brahms and dvorak . Feb American Ballet and chamber doing Vienna to Hollywood
March is Mark Morris dance group with the Silk Road Ensemle and then Christian Scott aTude Adjuah May is chamber duoing Tempost in C Minor.
The Harris Theater is at the north end of Millennium park at 205 E. randolph St. For tickets and more events visit Harris and call (312) 334-7777.
Lookingglass is in the historic Water Works across form Water Tower Place. The theatre company is known for artistic innovation and interpretation that often includes gymnastics.
Next season features “Hard Times” Oct. 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018, “Plantation” Feb. 21 – Apr. 22 ending with “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” May 23, Aug. 19, 2017.
Lookingglass Theatre is at 821 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611. For tickets and more information visit Lookingglass or call (312) 337-0665.
Take a look and enter it on the calendar so you don’t miss a great show.
The Pilsen area on the near south side of Chicago has been evolving into a significant arts destination, partly due to the presence of the Chicago Arts District on Halsted Street and the National Museum of Mexican Art which is a kind of anchor for the neighborhood’s art community.
A number of small art galleries there are gathering attention and contributing to Chicago’s vibrant urban art scene including the LALUZ Gallery on 18th Street.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, LALUZ Gallery opened its newest show, “Visions of Wisconson” to feature artists Sara Strozinsky, Anne Horjus, Katie Schofield and Laura Annis.
The four artists who have distinctly different aesthetics are friends and collaborators from the Baraboo/Madison area.
Watercolors depicting calming close-up views of Wisconsin prairie grass, watery rocks and trees by artist Sara Strozinsky offer a sharp contrast to the bustling Ashland Avenue traffic just outside the door.
Dutch born artist and current Wisconsin resident Anne (pronounced ON-eh) Horjus is exhibiting two series, each inspired by the choral works of composer Eric Whitacre. Horjus is a singer and a visual artist, so working the two disciplines together is a natural fit for him.
His first series entitled “Sleep” combines fine-lined sketch work with muted colors that depict the thoughts of a slumbering boy. Done in black Derwent pencils and airbrush it has a wonderfully light touch. “Sleep” is now available in book form with a poem by Charles Anthony Silvestri and includes a link to Whitacre’s musical composition.
The artist’s second series, bolder with more highly-saturated colors, is “Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine.” Inspired by the works of DaVinci, it complements another Whitacre composition.
When viewed side by side it is difficult to imagine that they are works by the same artist, but Horjus is nothing if not versatile. Friends describe him as a “Renaissance Man.”
The show also features the works of artist Katie Schofield who is primarily known for her natural forms that usually are showcased in outdoor venues, and Laura Annis’ known for her bold colors to depict nature and mythology in an animation/illustration style.
“Visions of Wisconsin” at LALUZ Gallery 1545 W. 18th Street. through September 2, 2017. For hours and other information visit LALUZ or call (312) 401-344.
HAIR The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a revival of the infamous hippie era production that raised many eyebrows in its day and contributed significantly to the evolution of American musical theater.
It might be easy to simply see this current production of HAIR as riding a “permanent wave” of nostalgia. Or you might choose to see it as a “bald” faced celebration of 1960’s era youth, depicting the struggles a significant portion of the boomer generation experienced on the road to adulthood, which incidentally had a huge impact on modern culture.
The original production contemporaneously reported on that cultural shift in America as it simultaneously contributed to it. So it is impossible to speak about the current production without referencing its history.
If asked what would you like a robot to do what would be your answer?
That’s a question that Tom, an employee who often can be found taking a shift in the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Robot Revolution” exhibit, asks the crowd of kids and adults who gather around while he explains drones.
Homework and housework are two of the frequent answers he said he gets.
If you go MSI’s Robots exhibit you can see a robot that is doing some housework. It moves along the floor cleaning dirt and debris. And that robot is on the market.
The other robots in the exhibit also exist in today’s world but are used by industry, health care and other commercial ventures. They are fascinating to watch. They come in all shapes. And they can do tasks that might be harmful to humans.
When you first walk in you see a person-type of robot. Press “How Do I Work” to have him talk to you and explain what makes him move. Don’t be surprised when you walk away if his eyes follow you even though he has stopped talking.
There are robots you can touch, such as a cuddly stuffed-animal that is used in hospitals and clinics that make patients feel better when they pet it and robot “bots” that you can put together yourself to do some things such as shine a light.
There are robots that can move up and down stairs and inclines that can be used in dangerous situations and robots that can be programmed to play soccer.
Just allow enough time to try everything in this exhibit but don’t forget to check out some of the science museum’s other wonders.
Yes Lollapalooza just ended Sunday, but Platinum and VIP tickets are already on sale for 2018.
Next year the mega music festival returns to Chicago’s Grant Park Aug. 2-5. So if at all interested enter the dates on your calendar. Pick up tickets for all four days or the day you want to go.
BTW some hotel packages are already sold out so if coming to town you probably should book your room now.
The tickets available now are still in 2017 mode. Though not cheap – well maybe not bad considering the headliners, eight stages and 170 bands and what their tickets often cost – the Lolla tickets are likely to be higher next year.
The 2017 Platinum four-day tickets are $4,200 and VIP four-day are $2,200.
Click Lolla to get a ticket and see what is included in the General , VIP and Platinum categories. And pray for no thunderstorms.
Clad in signature vanilla sports jacket and broad grin, Bennett entertained cheering crowds inside Ravinia’s Pavillion and around it on the jammed lawns, Friday, a day after turning 91.
“I travel all over but this is my favorite place,” Bennett told the crowd. Indeed, Ravinia Festival is where Bennett has been coming on or day after his Aug. 3 birthday.
Starting with some fine jazz from The Tony Bennett Quartet followed by a few songs from daughter Antonia Bennett, the iconic pop star was introduced as he’s been in recent concerts by the voice of mentor Frank Sinatra saying he’s “the best.”
After a long standing ovation, the crowd was treated to one notable Bennett hit after another from “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Someone Who Needs Me” to “Who can I Turn to,” “Because of You and “The Shadow of Your Smile.”
Some were just a few lines such as “Rags to Riches.” Most others were the whole song.
Sometimes his voice was pure, sometimes, raspy, but Bennett showed he still had it with terrific voice control in amazingly long-held notes. Also, there were nice repeats of key words in his emphatic style as in “The Way You Look Tonight. Tonight! Tonight!”
He did a great “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” with jazz, pop and classical pianist Tim Ray sitting in for this season tour regular Billy Stritch.
Ray, who has accompanied Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt and played with Rufus Reid and with the Boston Pops was fun to watch and listen to during solo turns on the piano.
The concert wasn’t all pop. Bennett moved to jazz with “Stepping Out With My Baby” with Ray, as Bennett pointed out, in the style of Duke Ellington.
The blues feeling came with a gorgeous “In My Solitude” done with Bennett’s long-time guitar player, Gray Sargent. Bennett and Sargent did several songs together as a well-matched pair.
Also good to hear were quartet regulars Marshall Wood on bass and Harold Jones on drums in brief shout-outs.
Then there were the audience chuckles as when Bennett started in with “As I approach the prime of my life” in the fine song, “This Is All I Ask.”
It ends with the wonderful words that seem to sum up this multi grammy-winner’s staying power: “And let the music play, As long as there’s a song to sing, and I will stay younger than Spring.”
But with the last words of what some consider his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the lights came on and the audience applauded thinking the concert was over. However, Bennett continued the joyous evening with a couple more songs.
When it ended for good, the Pavilion audience kept standing and applauding as Bennett left the stage but encores were not to be. Except for short band solos and riffs, he had sung straight through from 9 to 10 p.m. with seemingly endless energy.
And it was easy to believe the final lyrics of “This Is All I Ask.”
It’s not too early to check out shows that are coming in 2017-18.
Because Metropolitan Chicago is rich in theatre and entertainment choices, what is happening and where next season is divided into areas. Click northern suburbs season options for that section. City sections will be next.
First, take a look at some of the go-to possibilities west of Chicago. They are exciting enough to attract people from other areas in and around the city.