Go to Paramount Theatre’s ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ if you love Johnny Cash. Go if you appreciate really good boogie piano. Or go if you are interested in the Sam Phillip’s Sun Studio’s handling of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
It’s nice to have the show back in the Chicago area, if even for its short, little over a month, duration.
The story, captured in a photo and on tape at Sun Records Studio, Memphis, tells of the only time that four of Sam Phillip’s top stars jammed together.
They happened to stop by his recording studio when Carl Perkins was supposed to be taping. Some were going to tell Phillips that they were not renewing their contract but Lewis was looking for a long contract at Sun.
The important incident was turned into a “jukebox” show of great mid-last century songs by Floyd Mutrux who wrote the book with Colin Escott and directed the original productions.
Started in Daytona Beach in 2006 before going to Seattle in 2007, the show was developed further at the Goodman Theatre in fall 2008.
It transferred to the Apollo Theatre where it ran until recently, closing early in 2016. But the original cast went on to NYC where ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ ran on Broadway from mid 2010 to mid 2011 while still playing the Apollo. It brought Levi Kreis a Tony Award as Jerry Lee Lewis.
The phrase “blown away” is often used but that was how I felt when seeing Kreis. Paramount guests will feel the same way when watching Gavin Rohrer as Lewis. Rohrer is incredible. He has already portrayed Lewis in two other shows including the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.
Nor will long time fans of Johnny Cash feel cheated when they see Bill Scott Sheets in the role. An operatic baritone who has all played such musical theatre rolls as Don Quixote, Sheets nails Cash’s sound and microphone approach.
While some rockabilly aficionados might know that “Blue Suede Shoes” was written by Perkins who epitomized the genre, the fact that his hit song was closely identified with Elvis Presley is important to the show.
That frustration comes across with Broadway actor Adam Wesley Brown, a veteran of Chicago theatre and film, taking on the role of Perkins with the characteristic knee raise and emphasis.
It’s easy to see that Kavan Hashemian who has appeared in other ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ productions as Elvis, really enjoys the role. He has the moves down pat and can probably sing the songs in his sleep because he has been performing them since age three.
The surprise of the Paramount show which is all about male performers, is the wonderful turn as Elvis’ girlfriend, Dyanne, by Courtney Mack. Her “Fever” in Act I and “I Hear You Knockin” in Act II, brings the house down. Of course, Paramount regulars likely remember her from “Mamma Mia”
Another unexpected musical treat comes when Zach Lentino as Perkins’ brother Jay shows off his skills as an upright bassist. BTW Lentino was in ‘Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo.
Drummer Scott Simon who plays in several Chicago productions is Fluke, a member of Perkins’ group. He’s excellent but not really noticed until near the end.
Perhaps the most unappreciated role in the show is that of Sam Phillips. Played by Nicholas Harzain, a film actor who is also in several regional shows, Phillips comes across as a hard-working, small-town, talent developer.
A note about Kevin Depinet’s set design: folks who have been to Memphis and walked through what is now, basically a museum, know Depinet has totally captured Sun Studio.
Directed by Jim Corti with music direction by Kory Danielson, ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ has a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
DETAILS: ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is at Paramount Theatre, 23 Galena Blvd., Aurora, now through Oct. 29, 2017. Running time is two hours. For tickets and other information visit Paramount or call (630) 896- 6666.
Visitors going to the American Craft Exposition at the Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend, get a two for one experience.
ACE, as the show is popularly known, presents the highest quality crafts produced by artists from across the United States.
Many of the artists, such as wood master Michael D. Mode of New Haven VT., have been showing their work at ACE for several years.
Mode who Started with the exhibition in 1996 explained. “It’s a good show with a good venue and it’s wonderful to be seen in a high quality show. It’s one of the top shows in the country,” he said.
When through admiring beautifully turned wood sculptures, gorgeous porcelain objects, amazing watercolor-like embroidery and lots of attractive, wearable art, visitors can relax at the café, then set out to see what is blooming in the gardens and what trees and plants are changing color.
Unfortunately, the exhibition is only up Sept. 15 through 17, so the show needs to be slotted into busy weekend schedules. However, it is worth the trip and admission. And the show, arranged by the Auxiliary of Northshore University HealthSystem , benefits orthopedic regenerative medicine and pharmacogenomics research.
Tickets, whether used one day or for all three days, are one price with $13 for CBG members and $15 nonmembers. Children under age 12 enter free. The Botanic Garden is free but there is a parking charge for nonmembers.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, just east of the Edens Expressway.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For other tickets, parking and other information visit Chicago Botanic or call (847) 835-5440.
If from the generation that became addicted to the “Beverly Hills 90210” television series, you’ll appreciate the references and characterizations in the musical ‘90210’ now touring the United States.
Cobbled together by Bob and Tobly McSmith with music by Assaf Gleizner, the show is a parody and it is funny.
Songs proclaim the life-style of spoiled rich kids (and their parents) in LA’s iconic 90210 zip code.
The show deals with some of the drama, however without empathy for teenage problems.
And if looking for clever dialogue, forget it. The script relies on juvenile humor.
But if merely interested in what a popular teen series in the 90s looks like as a campy show, you’ll probably like it and for sure will laugh.
The best part of the show is the singing voice of Ana Maru as Brenda Walsh, a new girl in town from the Midwest.
DETAILS: ‘Bob and Tobly’s Beverly Hills 90210 The Musical (The unauthorized parody)’ is at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St. Chicago, Sept. 13 – 17, 2017. For tickets and other information call (800) 775 -2000 and visit BroadwayinChicago.
Audiences know that when the lights go off the show will start after actors take their places on stage. But in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ a multi-Tony Award winning musical at Skokie Theatre, the lights stay off while a voice is heard moving closer to the stage.
“I hate theater,” says a man’s voice. As he approaches the stage he explains that what he wants is a short show of about two hours. “Three hours is too much,” he says.
He notes that he wants the show to take him to another place so he can escape from the horrors of the real world. He wants to be entertained.
After the stage lights come on and he sits down in an old chair next to a record player, he asks the audience if they mind if he puts on one of his favorite musicals, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ Of course, the audience agrees.
And so, James Spangler who is perfect as The Man in the Chair, has broken down that fourth wall of the stage as he addresses the audience throughout the show.
And yes, the musical that he asks the audience to imagine coming to life while he plays his record, is short. Running time is two hours, including a 15 minute intermission. But as The Man in the Chair requested, the show entertains.
A spoof of 1920s musicals populated by predictable characters, it has a Broadway producer and his ditsy girlfriend, gangsters, a talented musical star who will leave show business for love, her wealthy boyfriend, a Latin lover, an alcoholic dame and an aviatrix.
Across his sparse, care-worn flat, the first characters to appear are Mrs. Tottendale (Debby Shellard), owner of the mansion where the action takes place and Underling (Mark Anderson), a butler who caters to her whims. After wondering why she has on a fancy dress, he explains they are hosting a wedding.
Groom Robert Martin (Christopher Johnson) enters saying he may be getting “cold feet.” When followed by best man, George (Joe Lewis) the two do a terrific “Cold Feet” tap dance number.
The plot, as is appropriate for spoofs, thickens. Broadway producer Feldzieg (Bob Sandders) is confronted by The Tall Brothers gangsters (Zeke Dolezalek and Connor Hernandez), who pose as bakers and say their boss, a backer, seriously doesn’t want the show‘s star to wed and leave the production.
Feldzieg’s girlfriend, Kitty (Abby Boegh), says she’s ready to step in with a different kind of act when the star and bride-to-be, Janet Van De Graff (Rachel Whyte) leaves to marry.
Asked if she is serious bout leaving show business, Whyte brings down the house with her “Show Off” song and dance, full-company number. While showing off everything she can do including splits she insists she doesn’t want to “show off” anymore.
Beautifully choreographed by Julie Salk and performed with acrobatic agility by Whyte, the surprise it that the number can be performed on the Skokie Theatre’s small stage.
Convinced his star does mean what she says, Feldzieg plots to change her mind by bringing in Adolpho, nicely overacted with the right amount of flamboyancy and vanity by Sean Barett.
Adolpho is sent to the bride’s room where he finds The Drowsy Chaperone, interpreted with zestful fun and sophistication by Mani Corrao.
Meanwhile, the bride tests the groom to see if he really loves her.
Act II brings resolution. It also brngs Trix the Aviatrix, played with pizzazz by the Sabrina Edwards, down to ground to perform a quadruple wedding.
As The Man in the Chair says, “Everything always works out in musical.”
Along the way, the audience is reminded that they are merely seeing a musical as explained by the Man in the Chair when he pauses the record player needle and the actors stop mid-movement, or when he has to correct the needle when it sticks. Yep, picture it.
Patty Halajian’s costumes add nostalgic charm. Directed by Stephen M. Genovese with musical direction by Aaron Kaplan, the Skokie Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone, offers a delightful, high-quality, tongue-in-cheek view of 1920s musicals.
First shown in 1998 in Toronto, then opening on Broadway in 2006, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a musical comedy with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
DETAILS: ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a MadKap Productions show at Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, now through Oct 7, 2017. For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.
‘Rock of Ages’ at Drury Lane Oak Brook is a fun 80’s inspired musical romp through the apparently now nostalgic Reagan / G.H.W. Bush era.
The ankle-deep plot is reminiscent of the old Beach Party movies of the 1960’s. Basically boy, Drew (Russell Mernaugh) meets girl, Sherrie (Cherry Torres). He aspires to be a rock star. She aspires to be a movie star. The couple’s love affair is interrupted by the intervention of superstar Stacee Jaxx (Adam Michaels) and hijinks ensue.
Meantime the evil, Nazi inspired Hertz (George Keating), reluctantly aided by his cowering and outrageously funny son, Franz (Nick Cosgrove), plans to push out the “rockers” and redevelop a portion of the Hollywood Sunset Strip into a European inspired mega-mall featuring all of the popular retail brands.
The plan includes taking a wrecking ball to the iconic Bourbon Room, a kind of Urban Cowboy bar run by aging proprietor Dennis (Gene Weygandt) who has not noticed that time has snuck up on him.
However, the culturally destructive aims of Hertz and Franz are energetically and enthusiastically challenged by the grassroots efforts of Regina – pronounced with a long “I” (Tiffany Tatreau).
This musical farce is sped along by the cornball humor and physical antics of Lonny (Nick Druzbanski). Think Svengoolie meets John Belushi.
The stage manager/audio tech and keeper of the Fogmaster 5000, acts as a kind of one man Greek chorus.
‘Rock of Ages’ has no religious connotation and the idea that the music of this period has a kind of timelessness is hopeful at best.
The story-line is basically an excuse to revisit a series of tunes and pay homage to the theatrically inspired Los Angeles Glam Metal genre whose rhythms are ideal for driving your shopping cart through Target or Walmart which is where you have probably heard most of these songs lately.
As the early part of generation X, the 80’s is defined musically by the rise of Madonna, Whitney Houston, Prince and Michael Jackson. The rock bands of the period had names like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Poison, Megadeth, and Anthrax which this production aptly spoofs.
Every member of the cast has the vocal chops required for their individual tasks. Donica Lynn who plays Mother gives us a couple of much appreciated soulful gospel-inspired moments.
The voice of Tiffany Tatreau is not lost in the crowd. Her feisty performances alone, and with Adam Michaels, really raise the energy level.
Much of the success of this production is due in no small part to the outstanding rock band led by keyboard/conductor Chris Sargent with guitarists Tom Logan and Dan Peters, Patrick Williams on bass and drummer Rich Trelease. The high point of the evening was their post finale jam played as the audience was filing out.
This production lived up to the high standards Chicago audiences have come to expect from The Drury Lane Theatre.
Director Scott Weinstein obviously encouraged his performers to have fun. The choreography (Stephanie Klemons) included a cool segment that was reminiscent of the mechanical bull rides that were popular at the time.
The set design (Jeffrey D. Kmeic) that incorporated the use of projected images and video was very innovative and effective, while the lighting (Greg Hoffman) captured the techno vibe of the era and contributed to the rock and roll atmosphere.
Kudos also to Theresa Ham for some costume surprises and Ray Nardelli for keeping the sound levels appropriate for a theatrical audience while not losing the rock essentials.
Though not timeless, “Rock of Ages” is an energetic fun filled performance that can be enjoyed by ages 13 and up.
DETAILS: “Rock of Ages” is at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, now through Oct. 15, 2017. For tickets and other information call (630) 530-0111 and visit Drury Lane Theatre.
Guest reviewer Reno Lovison says, “Don’t Stop Believing.” He is an avocational folky soft-rock singer/acoustic guitarist and video producer who says he was too busy to remember much of the 1980’s.
Celebrate Chicago EXPO Week Sept 11 through Sept 17, 2017.
What is it?
The week features EXPO Chicago, a top quality, annual exhibition in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. Visitors can see what is being shown by top galleries across the world and in the U.S., Sept. 14 to Sept. 17.
It’s also a time when Chicago art galleries and institutions usually start new exhibitions. The Program site on EXPO Chicago lists several area art shows.
It’s a chance for art lovers to visit galleries that will stay open past their usual hours. Many of the galleries are opening new exhibits on Sept 12 with evening receptions. Others will stay open from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15. See Art After Hours on EXPO Chicago.
This year, EXPO Chicago also partially coincides with the city’s Architecture Biennial which primarily fills the Chicago Cultural Center with past, present and future architectural projects and initiatives beginning Sept. 16, 2017 and continuing to Jan 7, 2018. There are also special exhibits and installations off site.
So, put on the walking shoes, save these links to the smart phone calendar and figure out where to go and when to take advantage of Art Week.
At Navy Pier
EXPO Chicago (International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art) at Navy Pier opens Sept. 13 with Vernissage, an evening benefit reception for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The EXPO features 135 internationally known galleries. See tickets for EXPO hours and admission costs. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave.
Special Exhibitions by regional, national, and international non-profit institutions, museums, and organizations will be on the main exhibition floor of the exposition.
Palais de Tokyo is holding “Singing Stones,” an exhibit of emerging Chicago and French artists, in The Roundhouse at Du Sable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Sept. 13-Oct. 29. Also at the DuSable Museum is “Chicago: A Southern Exposure,” Sept. 12, 2017–Mar. 18, 2018.
Go over to the Peninsula Chicago Hotel, 108 E. Superior St. to see “What it is to be Human,” an exhibit of artist/ architect Gaetano Pesce curated by Salon 94 Design that ties in with EXPO Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (Sept. 16, 2017-Jan. 7 2018). The exhibit is on the ground level lobby and 5th floor lobby, Sept. 11-Oct. 9, 2017.
The John David Mooney Foundation, 114 W. Kinzie St., is participating in the Art After Hours with a reception Sept. 15, 2017 for an exhibition of works by modern Vietnamese Artists and particularly the paintings of Bùi Xuân Phái.
The University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, 5701 S. Woodlawn Ave., is doing “Terence Gower — Havana Case Study,” Sept. 12 – Dec. 15, 2017 in conjunction with the Architecture Biennial.
The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago has several new exhibits. “Emmanuel Pratt: Radical [Re]Constructions” is Sept. 12, 2017 to the summer of 2018. “Revolution Every Day” is Sept. 14, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018. “The Hysterical Material” is Sept. 14 – Dec. 17, 2017. The Smart Museum of Art is at 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
“Materials Decoded” is Sept. 10, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.
“Let Me Be an Object That Screams” is Sept. 8 – Oct.21, 2017 in Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago University of Illinois in the Chicago Art and Design Hall, First Floor 400 S. Peoria St. (at Van Buren Street).
Graham Foundation Sep 14, 2017 – Jan 06, 2018
The Graham Foundation in the Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Place, is showing David Hartt’s “In the Forest,” a new, multi-part installation in conjunction with the Architecture Biennial.
There isn’t a beer hall or gin joint in Chicago with a piano that hasn’t been visited sometime in the past 50 years by the fingers of jazz pianist and boogie master Erwin Helfer.
This week we caught up with him at Hungry Brain 2319 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, where he will be appearing Tuesdays at 7 p.m. through September and possibly longer.
The venue is a clean. old-school style tavern with a mid-century vibe and a sizeable beer list. Wine lovers will find only a red and white choice. They have enough booze to whip up a cocktail if you keep it simple. Cash Only!
Sorry no food, but we skipped around the corner to “90 Miles” on Clybourn and brought back a couple of delicious Cuban sandwiches which I washed down with a Bells Brown Ale while my wife opted for a glass of the “white.”
If you are a lover of straight-up classic jazz with a boogie rhythm, Erwin is “the man.” He’s a pianist’s pianist. I know this because my wife is a pianist she has been a groupie of his for years.
Erwin has a mean left hand that can pound that bookie bass. His improvisations on the right hand are thoughtful but not showy. He is classically trained and has restraint and a love for the songs he plays.
Between the banter and reminiscences of the many legends he has known and performed with, you’ll hear him play several of your favorite melodies like “Georgia on My Mind”, “St. James Infirmary” and “Swanee River Blues” (a variation on “Swanee”). You’ll know “Pinetop Blues” when you hear it and according to his mood you might hear some riffs on gospel standards like “Take My Hand Precious Lord” or a country tune like Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.”
Erwin Helfer is one of the sweetest guys you’ll ever meet. He is a gentle soul whose temperament is reflected in his music. At 80+ he still gigs several times a week. Seeing him wherever he is playing should be on your Chicago bucket list.
If you miss him at Hungry Brain you might check out his upcoming concert with Spanish Blues and Boogie Woogie pianist Lluís Coloma at the Old Town School of Folk Music Oct. 27, 2017 at 7 p.m.
‘Bonnie & Clyde,’ a Kokandy Productions musical now at the Wit Theater, is based on real outlaw lovers. They found nationwide fame during the 1930’s depression for their crime spree across the southwestern U.S. and lower Midwest.
[Spoiler Alert] The couple famously met their end in a police ambush that resulted in perhaps one of the most salacious news photos of all time showing their bullet riddled bodies and car that ironically provided the duo with the notoriety they both craved.
In the second song, “Picture Show,” Young Clyde (Jeff Pierpoint) a psychopathic boy idolizes the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid, introducing himself with his main theme of “Bang Bang You’re Dead.”
Young Bonnie (Tia L. Pinson) sweetly sings of being an “It Girl” like screen star Clara Bow and plans to be a movie star, singer and poet.
In an age progression Clyde Barrow (Max DeTogne) and Bonnie Parker (Desiree Gonzalez) find love, linked by a mutual goal of fame and fortune that leads to their ultimate destruction.
In the context of today’s news cycle these themes of violence are all too familiar and have the potential to make this death-wish love story somewhat uncomfortable. But it does make for good theater, particularly when combined with the music of Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) with lyrics by Don Black (Billy, Sunset Boulevard) and book by Ivan Menchell, performed by an outstanding cast of singers accompanied by a superb four piece orchestra.
Originally presented at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and transferred to Broadway in 2011 this Chicago premiere production happens in a now familiar hodgepodge set by Ashley Ann Woods. In this case, it’s designed to represent a farm house, jail, café, bank, church and boudoir. The automobile where the two meet their end is skillfully handled.
The storyline unfolds through a series of songs written in the “modern pop” genre with blues, gospel and rockabilly accents. This does a lot to keep the tension high and action moving but has a negative effect of seeming like it is constantly speeding. This, of course, mimics the fast paced life of the main duo racing through life.
Clyde’s sister-in-law Blanche (Missy Wise) is the voice of reason who provides a welcome respite from the chaos with her tender ballad “That’s What You Call a Dream” and the humorous number “You’re Goin’ Back to Jail” with husband Buck (Justin Tepper) and the Salon Girls.
Max Detogne who appeared in Theo Ubique’s production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has a voice tailor-made for this genre and infuses Clyde with all of the requisite humor and charm necessary for us to care about the character.
Desiree Gonzalez understands the complexities of Bonnie Parker who establishes early on that she is Clyde’s equal as she manages the character’s vulnerability and ruthlessness
“How ‘Bout a Dance” shows Bonnie’s softer side while the disturbing “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” reveals Bonnie’s other side and her commitment to live fast and die young.
Tia L. Pinson is a potential scene stealer (in a good way). She is an “It Girl” who has a charming presence onstage and is someone to keep an eye on.
Kokandy Productions, a Theater Wit resident company, has put together a tight package effectively led by Spencer Neiman (Director) and John Cockerill (Musical Director).
This is an instance where the subject matter on the surface is unsettling. It has the potential to make heroes of criminals and minimize the death and destruction they perpetrated. “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” comes dangerously close to romanticizing what is essentially a suicide pact between young lovers.
In the end Bonnie and Clyde is a theatrical performance that explores the need for recognition and love. It explores romantic love, parental love, spiritual love, self-love, lost love and unrequited love.
Played out in a depression era where many people felt unseen, unvalued and desperate Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow decided to reject the society who rejected them and in so doing became sort of perverted ‘Robin Hood’ folk-heroes acting out what others were feeling, thus fulfilling Clyde’s objective, “This World Will Remember Me.”
The mission of Theater Wit is to promote humorous, challenging and intelligent plays. Check, check and check.
DETAILS; Bonnie & Clyde’ is at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, now through Oct. 15, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Theater Wit.
If you don’t want to compete with other drivers going out of town Labor Day, take advantage of the long weekend to visit events and places in the Chicago area.
Cirque du Soleil
“Luzia, A Waking Dream of Mexico” will leave Chicago after this weekend. The final performance is Sept. 3. An amazing mix of color and culture, the show is under a tent at the United Center in Parking Lot K. For tickets and other information visit Cirque du Soleil Luzia.
Chicago Jazz Festival
Enjoy great music to sway and tap to under the stars in Millennium Park or surrounded by wonderful mosaics in the Chicago Cultural Center at the Chicago Jazz Festival this weekend. Admission is free. Millennium Park stages (201 E. Randolph St.) host music from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For Cultural Center, (78 E. Washington St.) times and for who is playing where and when visit ChicagoJazzFestival.
Art Fair on the Square
Wander around historic Market Square downtown Lake Forest Sept. 3 or 4 to see 180 exhibitors at Art Fair on the Square. Sponsored by the Deer Path Art League, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is free.
For directions and more information visit Deer Path Art League.
Catch the Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago before it leaves. It is an exceptional show of Paul Gauguin’s sculptures, ceramics, paintings and etchings, but it ends Sept. 10 so try to fit it in during the long Labor Day Weekend. The exhibit is so popular it requires tickets. They’re included in admission price but they are date sensitive. For information and tickets visit ARTIC.
Breakfast and hike
Go to Morton Arboretum for waffles, eggs and other yummy treats in the Ginko Garden Restaurant, Saturday or Sunday. Then, hike the trails to work it off. The weather is supposed to be perfect for exploring the Arboretum, 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle. For more information or restaurant reservations call (630) 968-0074 and visit Morton Arb.
Hear UB40 or Aretha Franklin
Picnic on the lawn at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park where UB40 performs Sept. 2 and Aretha Franklin gets respect Sept. 3. The UB40 concert is 7:30 p.m. Aretha Franklin, original scheduled for June 17, also starts at 7:30. Original tickets will be honored. Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For directions, parking, tickets and other information visit Ravinia.
The good news about the Chicago theatre scene is there are many excellent productions because the city has an abundance of talented actors and directors. The bad news about the Chicago theatre scene is that there are so many good productions that it is close to impossible to fit all the shows into a busy schedule.
Indeed, there are so many theatre groups that many share their space or do a show in association with another company.
Planning ahead might help. Here are some of the shows scheduled for the 2017-18 season for several of the theaters in the city.
A group that specializes in Nordic works, Akavit is doing ‘Ghosts and Zombies’ by Henrik Ibsen and Gustav Tegby, translated by Chad Eric Bergman, Sept. 28-Oct. 29, 2017. The show will be at the Strawdog Theatre Company at 1802 W. Berenice. For tickets and other information visit Chicago Nordic.
The company has two shows planned so far for next season. First, is ‘1984’ adapted by Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall Jr. and William A. Miles Jr. based on George Orwell’s novel. It runs Sept. 14 through Oct. 8, 2017. Secondly is ‘The Laramie Project’ by Moisés Kaufman and members of Tectonic Theater Project, June 7 to July 8 2018. Both shows will be at The Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. For tickets and other information visit AstonRep.
Black Ensemble Theater
The company is doing ‘The Black Renaissance (More Than A Moment In History)’ Oct. 14-Nov. 19,2017 followed by ‘Sammy: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.’ Dec. 9, 2017 to Jan. 21, 2018. Black Ensemble Theater is at 4450 N Clark St. For more information call (773) 769-4451 and visit Black Ensemble.
The company just ended its award winning “At the Table” production which sold out even after it was extended so check back to Broken Nose Theatre for updates on next season.
The new Court Theatre season starts with ‘Five guys Named Moe,’ a musical by Clarke Peters, Sept. 7 to Oct. 8, 2017. Next is ‘The Belle of Amhurst’ by William Luce based on Emily Dickinson’s diaries, letters and poems, Nov. 2 to Dec. 3, 2017. Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ starts the new year Jan. 11 to Feb. 11, 2018 followed by Todd Kreidler’s ‘Guess Who’s coming to Dinner,’ Mar. 15 to Apr. 15, 2018. The season ends with John Strand’s ‘The Originalist,’ May 10-June 10.
Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. on the University of Chicago Campus. For tickets and other information visit Court Theatre.
The group is doing ‘Open Season,’ written and performed by Adithi Chandrashekar, Sept. 15 to 17, 2017. An inaugural production of its 4802 Play Development Program, the show is free of charge. The next show is ‘A Swell in the Ground’ by Janine Nabers, Oct. 13 to Dec. 10, 2017. Gift Theatre is at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 283-7071 or visit Gift Theatre.
Hell in a Handbag Productions
The company has moved its long-running ‘Golden Girls’ by David Cerda to Stage 773 from Mary’s Attic. The show will be there Saturdays at 10:30 from Oct. 7 to Nov. 11. ‘Bewildered,’ based on TV’s “Bewitched” with book by Ron Weaver, music and lyrics by Aaron Benham and Ron Weaver, will run Sept. 27 to Nov. 11 at at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. For more information visit Handbag Productions.
The company opens the season with ‘Dracula,’ a world premiere adapted by Sean Graney, Oct. 7 through Nov. 5, 2017. The show will be at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. The season contginues in April (check website for dates) with ‘Aristopanesathon,’ the eleven comedies of Aristophanes presented in a four hours and 30 minutes with food and cash bar. Adapted by Sean Graney it will be at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St. For tickets and other information visit The Hypocrites.
The House Theatreof Chicago
The company is doing ‘United Flight 232,’ adapted by Vanessa Stalling based on the book, “Flight 232,” by Laurence Gonzales. The show will run Sept. 1 to Oct 21, 2017. It is followed by ‘The Nutcracker,’ (non-ballet) by Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich, Kevin O’Donnell, and Tommy Rapley from the E.T.A. Hoffmann story, Nov. 3 to Dec. 30, 2017.
The new year begins with ‘Hatfield and McCoy,’ a murderous musical by By Shawn Pfautsch with original songs by Pfasutsch and Matt Kahler, Jan. 19 to Mar. 11, 2018. The season ends with ‘Ellen Bond, Union Spy,’ conceived by Jess McLeod, written by Jenni Lamb with music, lyrics and movement by Tanji Harper and Blu Rhythm Collective, Mar. 30 to May 20, 2018.
The House Theatre of Chicago shows are held at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. For tickets visit House Theatre. For other show information see Season 16. More information on the Chopin Theatre, an arts venue used by several groups see Chopin Theatre.
Mercury Theater Chicago
Mercury ends the 2017 season with ‘The Christmas Schooner,’ a holiday musical tradition with book by John Reeger and music and lyrics by Julie Shannon. The show runs from Nov. 24 through Dec.31 at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 325-1700 or visit Mercury Theater.
The company is doing “Bullets over Broadway, the musical’ Sept 11 to Oct. 8, 2017 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. In 2018 it is doing ‘If/Then, the stage musical’ with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, Feb 21 to Mar. 25. For more information visit NightBlue.
Working in association with Chicago Dramatists’ Grafting Project, Other Theatre is doing the world premiere of ‘The Making of a Modern Folk Hero,’ based on Martin Zimmerman’s novel, Sept. 29 to Oct. 29, 2017. The production is at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. For tickets and more information visit Other Theatre and Chicago Dramatists.
The company is doing ‘The Civility of Albert Cashier,’ a true Civil War tale. Book is by Jaul Paul Deratany with music and lyrics by Joe Stevens and Keaton Wooden, Aug. 31 to Oct. 15. for more information visit Stage 773.
Porchlight which was present shows at Stage 773 has moved to Ruth Page Center for the Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn St. but some shows will be held at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie and Uptown Underground, 4707 N. Broadway, Chicago.
‘Billy Elliot, the Musical,’ based on the 2000 film with music by Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall will be Oct. 6 to Nov. 19, 2017 followed by ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ Jan 26 to Mar. 11, 2018 at the Ruth Page Center.
‘New Faces Sing Broadway 1959 will be Feb. 26 at Skokie Theatre and Feb. 27, 2018 at Uptown Underground. Then, ‘They’re Playing Our Song’ is Mar. 6 to 8, 2018 at Ruth Page.
‘Memphis’ is Apr. 19 to June 3 at Ruth Page. ‘Do Re Mi’ is May 22 to 24, 2018 at Ruth Page. ‘New Faces Sing Broadway 1975,’ is June 4 at Skokie Theatre and June 5 atUptown Underground. For directions and more information call 773-777-9884 and visit Porchlight.
The Chicago premiere of ‘Choir Boy’ By Tarell Alvin McCraney, will be at Raven Theatre Sept. 27 to Nov. 12, 2017. Then, the Chicago Premiere of ‘Nice Girl’ By Melissa Ross runs Jan. 24 to Mar. 11, 2018.
Next is the world premiere of ‘The Gentleman Caller’ by Philip Dawkins, Mar. 28 to May 13, 2018. The season ends with ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’ By Tennessee Williams, May 2 to June 17, 2018. Raven Theatre Company is at 6157 N. Clark St. For more information call (773) 338-2177 and visit Raven Theatre.
A Red Orchid Theatre
Wallace Shawn’s ‘Evening at the Talk House’ opens A Red Orchid Theatre’s 2017-18 season, Sept. 29-Nov. 19, 2017. Winter is the world premiere of ‘Traitor’ adopted by Brett Neveu from Henrik Ibsen’s ‘An Enemy of the People’ running from Jan. 5 to Feb. 15, 2018. The spring show is ’33 to Northing’ by Grant Varjas April 6 to May 27, 2018. The summer bonus show is Eugene Ionesco’s ‘Victims of Duty’ July-August (dates TBA). The theatre is at 1531 N. Wells Ave. For more information call (312) 943-8722 and visit A Red Orchid Theatre.
Red Tape Theatre
The group is moving to 4546 N Western Ave in Lincoln Square. The new venue has a spacious lobby, rehearsal space, and flexible 75-seat black-box theatre. Check back at Red Tape Theatre for season updates.
The ensemble is doing the world premiere of ‘Alias Grace,’adopted by Jennifer Blackmer from Margaret Atwood’s novel, Sept. 2 to Oct. 15, 2017. Rivendel is at 5779 N. Ridge Ave.. For more information visit Rivendell Theatre.
Route 66 Theatre
The company is presenting the Chicago premiere of Halley Feiffer’s ‘ A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center of New York City. The show runs now through Sept. 23, 2017 in The Den’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Route 66 is a resident company at The Den Theatre. For more information, visit Route 66 Theatre.
Theater Wit produces shows and is a venue for resident and visiting companies.
‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ book by Ivan Menchell, music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black, is a Kokandy Productions resident show in Theater One, Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, 2017. ‘One Thousand Words,’ book and lyrics by Michael Braud, music by Curran Latas, is a theater Faction visiting company in Theater Two Sept. 1-17, 2017. “The Heavens are Hung in Black’ by James Still is a Shattered Globe Theatre resident company in Theater Three Sept. 7 to Oct. 21, 2017.
Theater Wit’s season also includes ‘Significant Other’ by Joshua Harmon, a co-production with About face theater, Nov. 2 to Dec. 10, 2017. Coming in 2018 is the world premiere of ‘The Antelope Party’ by Eric John Meyer, Jan. 5 to Feb. 24. The Chicago premiere of ‘Women Laughing Alone with Salad’ by Shelia Callaghan is Mar. 9 to Apr. 29, 2018.
Theater Wit is as 1229 W. Belmont. For more information call (773) 975-8150 and visit Theater Wit.
The company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of ‘The Rembrandt’ by Jessica Dickey, Sept. 7 to its newly extended date of Nov. 5 due. The show is in the Upstairs Theatre.
Then ‘The Minutes’ by Tracy Letts goes from Nov. 9 to Dec. 31, 2017 in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.
Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ begins the 2017-18 season of Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) Oct. 8 to Oct 21.
Steppenwolf is at 1650 N. Halsted. Check SYA times and dates and more information on the regular season by calling (312-335-1650 and visiting Steppenwolf.
Federico Garcia Lorca’s ‘Yerma,’ adopted by Héctor Alvarez with music by Nicholas Tonozzi is co-presented by Theatre Y and Red Tape Theatre, Oct. 27 to Dec. 10. The show will be at Red Tape’s new home, 4546 N. Western Ave. For more information visit Theatre Y.
The company’s season has already begun with Robert O’Hara’s ‘Barbecue,’ running from mid-August to Sept. 30, 2017 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre at 1700 N. Halsted St. The new year will start with Henrik Ibsen’s ‘The Pillars of Society’ adapted by Samuel Adamson. It runs Jan. 19 to March 3, 2018 in Strawdog’s new theatre at 1802 W. Berenice. The season concludes with the world premiere of ‘Damascus’ by Bennett Fisher, May 11 to June 23, 2018, also on Berenice. For other information visit Strawdog.
The company is doing the Chicago premiere of ‘The Audience by Peter Morgan, now through Nov. 12, 2017 at the TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave. Then, there is ‘In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play’ by Sarah Ruhl, Oct. 26-Dec. 16, 2017 at Stage 773.
The Chicago premiere of ‘Boy’ by Anna Ziegler will be presented back on Wellington Jan. 18 to Mar. 18, 2018 followed by the world premiere of ‘To Catch a fish’ by Brett Neveu, Developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective, it runs May 3 to July 1, 2018, also on Wellington.
For more information call (773) 281-8463 or visit Timeline.
The season features five thought-provoking plays starting with ‘Fun Home’ Sept. 19 to Nov. 12, an award-winning show with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. It continues with ‘Fade,’ Nov. 4 to Dec. 23, 2017 by Tanya Saracho as a co-production with Teatro Vista in association with CLATA.
Then, 2018 starts with ‘Breach,’ Feb. 9 to March 11, by Antoinette Nwandu, followed by ‘Doing It,’ Apr. 6 to May 6, by Boo Killebrew. The season ends with ‘Mies Julie,’ May 25 to June 24. Written by Yaël Farber, it is adopted from August Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie.’
Victory Gardens Theater is at 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. For more information call (773) 871-3000 and visit Victory Gardens.