Hear the voices from the Broadway and opera stages at two free concerts in Chicago’s Jay Pritzker Paviion at Millennium Park
First, and this comes quickly on the calendar, is the Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert, Aug. 13 at 6:15 p.m. So grab a blanket for the grass or get there early for a seat to hear songs from the following shows on the Broadway tour:
“The Book of Mormon,” “Hello Dolly,” “A Bronx Tale: The Musical,” “ Ronald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Anastasia,” “ Miss Saigon,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cats,” “ Falsettos” and “Come From Away.”
Hosted by ABC 7 Chicago entertainment reporter Janet Davies Pre=Broadway “Tootsie” star Santino Fontana, the concert is sponsored by Channel 7 and presented by the City of Chicago department of cultural Affairs and Special Events.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is at 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago but it’s a can’t miss venue because of its billowing steel ribbons topping The Pavilion was designed for Millennium Park by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. For more information visit Broadway In Chicago.Read More
Several orchestral works by Leonard Bernstein, the composer popularly known in musical theater circles for “West Side Story” can be heard at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park as part of a world-wide celebration of the 100 birthday of this musical genius (Aug. 25-1918-Oct. 14, 1990).
On the Ravinia schedule is “Mass,”commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the 1971 opening of the Kennedy Center. The work will now be making its CSO and Ravinia debut with a star-studded cast, July 28, 2018.
When the Lyric Opera of Chicago celebrated Bernstein’s birthday with his one-act opera, “Trouble in Tahiti” plus other vocal works, March 10 this year, Lyric Dramaturg Roger Pines said during a phone interview, “I think it will be revelatory.”
In Chicago, food and music just go together. Ergo, no surprise that two big food festivals also feature bands and two mega music festivals include food vendors. Even a free summer jazz series is steps away from a slew of food counters and restaurants.
Diet after Labor Day. Head over to Grant Park July 11-15, 2018, to taste more than 70 restaurant favorites that have made Chicago a foodie town. The festival is free but tasting is by tickets. They are sold in strips of 14 for $10 (expect a $3 charge for Taste amenities). Also available are 1-6 tickets for smaller “Taste of Portions” from each food vendor. Look for pop-up restaurants, food trucks and five-day regular booths. New this year is the Taste Oasis tent, a cool AC place in the park’s Butler Field to hang out and taste. Taste Oasis is $50 for the day you choose.
Great a great mix of country music and food at the Windy City Smokeout, July 13-15, 2018. The event stretches between Grand Avenue and the Chicago River. What to expect: barbeque flavors and styles from all over including Nashville and Chicago plus such folks as Renee Blair and Brett Young. For tickets, hours and other info go to Windy City Smokeout.
How do you like to celebrate Independence Day? If in the Chicago area and looking for really spectacular fireworks, you are likely to find none better than the Aon Summer Fireworks’ July Fourth show at Navy Pier. You can make it an all-day Pier experience or go out on a boat to watch.
If you like the idea of saluting US troops, love entertainment and enjoy a good fireworks show but don’t want to deal with crowds or transportation concerns, there is a really good, gather-round-the-TV option.
The fireworks are spectacular and Navy Pier is a fun destination with good skyline views, its famous Centennial Wheel, games, shops, restaurants and entertainment in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.
The Pier does fill to capacity on the Fourth so go early. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the Fourth. Gates actually close when the pier is filled. but guests with advance tickets for shows or restaurants will be allowed on. See the Capacity and Transportation categories at Navy Pier.
Take advantage of public transportation or the Pier’s free trolley service. Offsite parking is cheaper than the Pier’s garages. In addition check the holiday’s Code of Conduct on the same site. For instance, no pets are allowed except service dogs because of the crowds.
Watch the fireworks with 3D glasses aboard a Mercury Cruises boat. Mercury is hosting a 2. 5 hour lakefront, skyline tour that includes Chicago’s spectacular fireworks show off Navy Pier. Guests will be given 3D glasses to enhance the fireworks experience.
The cost, $64 adults and $49 children under age 15, includes the cruise, treats and glasses. The cruise leaves at 8 p.m. to tour the lakefront. Fireworks are at 9:30. For tickets and dock location and information visit Mercury Cruises.
Watch the country’s annual Capitol Fourth celebration that is broadcast live from the West Lawn. On PBS from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET, the celebration honors the men and women in uniform and their families with a star-studded concert, then presents Washingtin D.C.’s fireworks.
Four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renee Fleming will be singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel,” John Williams be on video on the 40th anniversary of “Superman” and there will be a tribute to the Beach Boys.
Also featured are music legend Jimmy Buffett with the “Escape to Margaritaville cast, three-time Grammy Award-winning Pentatonix, pop siner/songwriter Andy Grammer, legendary actress/singer/dancer Chita Rivera, Motown stars The Temptations and multi-platinum country music star Luke Combs.
In addition, the amazing lineup also includes, Gospel singer CeCe Winans, Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell, The Voice season finalist Kyla Jade and the National Symphony Orchestra led by pops conductor Jack Everly.
The celebrations is funded by grants fromn The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Department of the army and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
Sometimes it’s nice to know that an artist whose work you admired at one art fair will also be showing at others during the summer so you get another chance to pick up a piece you liked.
Such is true if attending the Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival. When paintings, sculptures and other art fill the garden’s Esplande area June 30-July 1, visitors can view works by some of the same fine artists who exhibited downtown Highland Park in The Art Center’s Festival of Fine Arts June 23-24, including that of Kwang Cha Brown and Roy and Vivian Rodriguez. The art festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
If downtown Chicago this weekend, check out the art festival on Michigan Avenue at Lake Street. Hours: Firday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday6 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
July 14-15 Southport Art Festival
Visit the Southport neighb orhood to stroll the art booths on Southport Avenue from Waveland Avenue to Grace Street. Hours: Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. For more information visit Star Events.
July 28-29: Geneva Fine Arts Fair and Glencoe Festival of Art
Travel west of chicago to Geneva, a charming, historic town of good restaurants and boutiques to see art downtown centered at Third Street. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. For more information visit EmEvents.
Or go north to the lake shore suburb of Glencoe where the booths will also line the downtown centered at Vernon and Park Streets. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
For am interesting night at the theater and a chance to catch how playwrights view the world, get tickets to the Chicago One-Minute Play Festival, 8 p.m. June 26 or the 27th.
Audiences see different takes on current topics by about 70 Chicago playwrights. Known as 1MPF, the event will be at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“We’ve reached nine years of 1MPF in Chicago, at a cultural and political moment in our nation that is full of strife, uncertainty and a feeling that we are more divided than ever,” said 1MPF Producing Artistic Director Dominic D’Andrea.
Art fairs are a great excuse for forays to Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Fortunately, there are plenty to match destination and date. These are some of the area’s better, larger art festivals.
Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 & 27
Two annual festivals come up this weekend in the western suburbs: the Barrington Art Festival and the St. Charles fine Art Show.
Go to downtown Barrington from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 130 artists along Cook & Station Streets. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
Or go downtown St. Charles Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 100 artists on Riverside Avenue from Main Street (Hwy 64) to Illinois Avenue. For more information visit Downtown St. Charles.
The famed 57th Street Art Fair returns to Hyde Park for its 71st fair Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. There will be more than 250exhibitors near William H. ray Elementary School at 5631 S. Kimbark St. For more information visit 57 Street Fair.
There are three good art fair choices the second weekend of June. The Hinsdale Fine Arts Festival and two Near North mega fairs: Wells Street Art Festival and Old town Art Fair. Both have admission charges.
See about 130 artists in Hinsdale’s Burlington Park, 30 E. chicago Ave., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. For More information visit Hinsdale chamber.
Or go downtown St. Charles Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 100 artists
Visit more than 225 exhibitors at the Wells Street Art Festival between North Avenue and Division Street, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information see Wells Street Art.
To stroll by an additionalt 250 exhibitors stay in the area and go over to the Old Town Triangle in the 1800 block of Orleans Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit Old Town Fair. June 16-17
A couple of large art festivals return each year on the third weekend of June, one in Evanston and the other in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Evanston hosts Custer’s Last Stand an arts with an “s” festival in the Main Street Shopping area sponsored by the Evanston Festival Theatre. Visit with about 375 exhibitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. For more information visit Custer Fair.
At the Gold Coast Art Fair, held the past few years in Grant Park’s Butler Field, see about 300 artists from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
For Head for the northern suburbs for art festivals in Highland Park and Evanston the fourth weekend of June.
The Art center (TAC) holds its annual Fetival of Fine Arts along sheridan Road east of the Metra traks downtown Highland Park 10 a.n. to 5 p.m. both days. This is a relatively small fair but it has high quality artists.For more information visit Amdur Productions.
The Evanston Chamber Artisan Summerfest features 225 exhibitors at Sherman Avenue and Church Street, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit Evanston Festivals.
June 29 – July 1
An art festival based on a garden theme takes place in Glencoe the last weekend of June.
About 100 artists show at the Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival in the Esplande area from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. both days. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
Chicago’s sophisticated theater audience has seen and admired gymnastically able actors, puppetry and story-telling-style body motions at such influential theater venues as Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare and Writers Theatre.
However, the Physical Festival Chicago, coming to Stage 773 June 1 through June 9, 2018, is a chance to see what is happening in those and other exciting genres on the international and Chicago scene.
Among the productions are “Nobody’s Home” by United Kingdom’s Theatre Témoin and Grafted Cede that places PTSD into Homer’s Odyssey, solo puppet and mask performances by Theatre Zarko’s (Evanston) Michael Montenegro and Franco-Brazilian Gael le Cornec’s thriller “The Other.”
“It’s all original work created by each company,” said Marc Frost who co-founded the festival in 2014 with wife Alice da Cunha. They met in London while studying at London International School of Performing Arts. Commonly known as LISP, the school recently relocated in Berlin.
Chicago audiences may have seen da Cunha in House Theatre’s Jeff award winning “United Flight 232.” Frost will be bringing the national touring company of Theater Unspeakable’s two current productions, one about the American Revolution and the other a moon shot, to the Kennedy Center fall, 2018.
Theater companies from around the world who apply each year are curated by the couple to bring a balance of genres.
“It can be puppets. It can be bouffon,” said da Cunha.
They explain that Michael Montenegro is a puppeteer but his Theatre Zarko is not traditional and Gael le Cornec uses projections and shadow puppetry in “The Other.” Bouffon is the late night show “The Red Bastard: Lie With Me.”
Frost said, “We have said physical to start with but now have added visual and contemporary. We are trying to bring to Chicago shows of the kind not seen very often.”
He liked that an actor’s body could become scenery and or props to tell a story. In “The ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha” by the Spain/UK-based Little Soldier Productions, an actor uses his body to put across the Cervantes’ tale.
“He is using the body to express much of the text. It shows what the body can express,” said Frost.
Physical Festival also includes workshops. Among them “How to audition for “Cirque du Soleil” and one by le Cronec on how to create a solo work.
Head over to the Chicago Botanic Garden before Spike, a nearly seven-foot tall flower, is moved from the semitropical display greenhouse back to its production home on the grounds.
Called the corpse flower because of its rotting garbage odor when it blooms, Spike’s real designation is Amorphophallus titanium (titan arum).
Spike fully opened to show off its huge flower with burgundy fringe (spathe) and emitted its telltale smell on April 26.
But even though it is now closing and the odor has mostly dissipated, a bit of colorful fringe can still be seen. And, after all, a flower this tall, the largest corpse flower to bloom at the Botanic Garden, is still a site to behold.
“It certainly is something to see. You can still see the burgundy color of its spathe and then turn around and read about it in the posters,” said Botanic Garden outdoor floriculturist Tim Pollak.
“It’s never going to close tightly,” Pollak said. He thought Spike might stay on display through the weekend and possibly move on Monday or early next week.
When moved, it will go dormant then start the cycle over from having its corm (bulb) repotted to leafing out and regaining the energy needed to bloom.
“Next time it will be big, the corm will be big. This weight was over 100 pounds. Then in three to five years it may bloom again.
With Mother Nature, you don’t know. Spike did try to bloom in August, 2015 but didn’t seem to have enough energy to open.
To see what a corpse flower looks like when leafing, go next door to the tropical greenhouse. The plant looks like a tree and has a number, not a name.
“We don’t name them until they flower,” Pollak said.
No matter how dismal April has been (minus one great beach day) Spring is in the air. You know that because organizations and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium are celebrating Earth Week with a clean-up day April 21, because One of A Kind Spring Show will be back at the Mart with lots of gift ideas for Mother’s Day, friends and family and because it’s time to fly a kite in Lincoln Park.
Shedd gets down and dirty for Earth Week
Shedd, working with a GLAD team (Great Lakes Action Days) is looking for volunteers at some specifically designated beaches from 10:30 a.m.to noon on April 21. For beaches in the program and how to sign up visit GLAD or call (312) 692-3330. You’ll be GLAD you did. For more Shedd info visit Shedd Aquarium Conservation.
Think art, gifts and craft demonstrations
The One of a Kind Spring Show ® returns to the Merchandise Mart April 27-29, 2018. This year’s show features more than 300 art and gift booths and the Lillstreet Art Center’s demonstrations and hands-on activigties. The Merchandise Mart is at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza on the northside of the Chicago River west of Wells Street. For more information visit One of a kind show.
Kites fly on Cricket Hill
Kites will be flying high on Lincoln Park’s Cricket Hill (Montrose and Wilson)May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Lake Shore Drive between Montrose and Wilson). Fine if you have a favorite kite but if not Chicago Kite will be selling kites. Part of the fun though of going is too watch professional kite flying demonstrations with unusual kites. For more information visit Chicago Kids and Kites.