Around Town: CubsCon and SoxFest

Sox cap photo by Mira Temkin
Sox cap photo by Mira Temkin

Just when you think mid and late January dates seem far off you realize they are already here. So, Chicago baseball fans closely following any tidbits of who has re-signed and what star might be added to the team’s firmament, might get some clues from events taking place this weekend, Jan. 18-20, 2019, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago or next weekend, Jan. 25-27, 2019 at the Hilton Chicago.


Cubs Convention 

Cubs cap photo by Jodie Jacobs
Cubs cap photo by Jodie Jacobs

Sorry, tickets are no longer available but fans can go online @ Cubs to check behind-the-scenes action and follow live streams of these four events (all CST): Opening Ceremony , 6 to 7 p.m.,Jan. 18, “Friday Night with Ryan Dempster” from 7:30 to 10 p.m. CT, same night, “In the Batter’s Box”  from 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 19 and “Cubs in Cooperstown” later that day from 3 to 4 p.m. Convention panels will also include “Joe Maddon & the Coaching Staff,” “Baseball Operations Update” and “Business Operations Update”

Who will be there

Among those players attending are pitcher Kyle Hendricks and outfielders Jason Heyward and Kye Schwarber. Among the alums are catchers Jody Davis and Randy Hundley, pitchers Fergiew Jenkins and Kerry Wood (of course Dempster), outfielder Andre Dawson and infielder Ryne Sandberg. To see the whole roster check Players and Alumni.



Yet a week away, there still are tickets available to SoxFest. Chicago Theater and Arts would ike to thank those fans who participated in the drawing for a free pair of SoxFest passes. The winning name, a resident of Highwood, IL,  was drawn of Jan. 14.

Who will be there (More will be added closer to SoxFest)

Among the players will be José Abreu, Yonder Alonso, Tim Anderson, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Jace Fry, Leury García, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo López, Yoán Moncada, Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sánchez.

Alumni will include Harold Baines, John Cangelosi, Carlton Fisk, Ozzie Guillén, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Michael Huff, Bo Jackson, Ron Kittle, Carlos May.



The Cubs Convention moves into the Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E. Water St.), Jan 18-20, 2019.

SoxFest takes over the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) Jan. 25-27, 2019.


Jodie Jacobs



Around Town: Lunapalooza and MLK event


Adler Planetarium is on the eastern edge of chicago's Museum Campus. (J. Jacobs photo)
Adler Planetarium is on the eastern edge of chicago’s Museum Campus. (J. Jacobs photo)


No, Lunapalooza is not a typo. The Adler Planetarium is celebrating the total eclipse of the moon late into the night of Jan. 20 with Lunapalooza and Writers Theatre is celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a free Civil Rights production Jan. 21.


Pretty much every time our universe puts on a sky show, the Adler celebrates by sharing its astronomers and equipment. During the solar eclipse last August, the Adler was handing out the proper sunglasses and had a companion craft activity to safely watch the event.

For the lunar eclipse the night of Jan 20, Chicago’s world-class planetarium is celebrating with a free outdoor experience, no telescope or glasses needed but PJs are OK because the event goes from 8 p.m. to midnight.

But there’s a lot going on inside.

With the admission pass of $14 adults and $8 children age 3 to 11, guests can go to “Eclipse HQ” in the Space Visualization Lab which has a live feed and chat opportunities with astronomers.

The pass also is good for seeing the Adler’s new show, Imagine the Moon that opens Jan. 18 and charts how the moon was part of people’s lives through the ages.

Indoor activities include a glow-in-the-dark PJ party in the Family Zone and grabbing a cup of hot chocolate before going outside to witness the event.

There are more things to see and do so go to  Lunapalooza. To find out how to get tickets go to  Adler Planetarium shop. To learn more about Adler’s new show visit Imagine the Moon.

The Adler Planetarium is at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.


Chicago History Museum. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum and choose Chicago)
Chicago History Museum. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum and choose Chicago)


The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Right

 Produced by Writers Theatre, the annual, one-person- show written by Yolanda Androzzo and featuring Angela Alise, will be performed free at the Chicago History Museum Jan. 21, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. The Chicago History Museum is at 1601 N. Clark St. and Lincoln Park. The hour-long show will be followed by a discussion.

 Writers Theatre takes the show, a meshing of interviews of Chicago-based Civil Rights activists with poetry and hip-hop expression that is directed by Tasia A. Jones, to 35 Chicago Public Schools, community centers and juvenile detention centers during a 6-week tour.

 The production can also be seen earlier at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe,on Feb. 2 at both 4 and 7 p.m. Those tickets are Adults $20, students $10. They are available by calling (847) 242-6000 and at WritersTheatre MLK Project.



Around Town: Baseball heats up in January


Expect to see Cubs and Sox caps, shirts and jackets on the north and south sides of downtown Chicago the last couple of weekends of January 2019.

The Cubs Convention moves into the Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E. Water St.), Jan 18-20.

SoxFest takes over the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.) Jan. 25-27.

Both fests feature player meet-and-greets, panels,exhibits and autograph sessions


What you need to know to go

(Logo courtesy of the Cubs organizations.)
(Logo courtesy of the Cubs organizations.)

Cubs fans: Individual weekend passes and Sheraton packages are sold out but a few two-night, four-passes packages are still available for the W Chicago Lakeshore (644 N. Lakeshore Dr.).

For more information and to snag a W Chicago Lakeshore package visit Cubs Convention. More information on Cub players/coaches/alum to attend will be announced shortly before the convention starts.


(SoxFest logo courtesy of Sox organization)
(SoxFest logo courtesy of Sox organization)

Sox fans: There are still two-night hotel packages and weekend passes available. Some players, coaches and alum have already been announced. For the packages, passes, who will be there and more info visit SoxFest.




*** Drawing for free pair of SoxFest passes to readers of Chicago Theater and Arts.

The Sox organization is graciously donating a pair of passes to SoxFest for a Chicago Theater and Arts reader to use (not sell).

What to do

To enter the drawing, facebook readers can follow me on facebook at Jodie Jacobs, put their name in the comment area with code SX. I will send a reply asking for contact info.

Or if not on facebook send an email with name, phone and address to

Names must be in by Jan. 13. Drawing will be on Jan. 14. The person will be informed by Jan. 15 with instructions on whether the passes will be mailed or picked up at the Chicago Hilton.

Jodie Jacobs



Three theater festivals brighten January landscape


Fillet of Solo Festival brightens January. (Fillet of Solo photo)
Fillet of Solo Festival brightens January. (Fillet of Solo photo)

What to do in long, blah January? These three festivals: Chicago Sketch Comedy, Fillet of Solo and Rhinoceros Theater turn that gray month between red and green December and red and pink February into a multi-colored vision of comic moments, heartfelt songs and thought-provoking stories.


Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival Jan. 10 -20, 2019

The Chicago mayor’s race may be a local subject for sketch comedy or politics in Britain and the US may be skewered from the stage but part of the fun of attending the annual festival is to hear how comedic entertainers view what is going on in the world or in families or in their own lives that may turn out to be similar to yours.

Started in 2002 with 35 comedy groups sharing their thoughts, the festival now attracts more than 180 groups from all over. They will be performing about 200 shows beginning Jan 10 and going through Jan. 20, 2019. So check out the performers and their dates at Chicago Sketch Comedy Lineup, get tickets and head over to Stage 773, a multi space venue at 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago.


Fillet of Solo Festival  Jan. 18 – Feb. 2, 2019

Fillet of Solo  celebrates storytelling by groups and solo performers. The performances are at Lifeline Theatre 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. and the Heartland Studio Theatre, 7006 N. Glenwood Ave. (Free parking and shuttle available). To find out who is performing where and when visit Performances.


Rhinoceros Theater Festival  Jan. 18 – Feb. 24, 2019 

Begun in 1988 as the Curious theatre Branch, this fringe theater festival brings together music and theater performers. Originally located in Wicker Park and then moving to Rogers Park, the festival took root at Prop Thtr in 2009 which co-produces the festival with Curious. Events are at Prop at3502-04 Elston Ave., Chicago.

For music, stories and plays schedules visit Rhinofest titles. For more information call visit Rhinofest.


Jodie Jacobs

Five places to ice skate New Year’s Day/Week


Skating in the Park at Parkway Bank Park Rosemont. (Photo courtesy of Parkway Bank Park)
Skating in the Park at Parkway Bank Park Rosemont. (Photo courtesy of Parkway Bank Park)


Lace up the figure skates, top the head with a jazzy knit hat and glide around a scenic rink. From city skyscapes to twinkling lights, Chicago area has fun places to skate and play for families, couples and girls’ New Year’s Week time off before the holiday ends.


Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest Ice Rink is open through Jan. 6. Because the rink is part of Wonderfest, the general activity ticket price applies of $13 for youngsters under 42 inches in height and $28 for visitors 42 inches and taller. For tickets and more information visit Navy Pier.


Skating in the Park at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont

The good news is that skating is free,skate rental is only $8 and parking is free with validation from Park entertainment venues. There also are restaurants to try after skating. Skating hours are listed for the holidays on website. The sorta bad news is that now is the best time to go there because hockey starts Jan 8 so that open public skating will only be on Sundays except for special holiday such as Martin Luther King Day. Parkway Bank Park is at 5501 Park Place west of River road in Rosemont, IL. For holiday hours and other information visit Skating in the Park.


Sky Rink at Peninsula Chicago

For a delightfully different view of the Mag Mile, skate on Peninsula Hotel’s fourth-floor terrace through the first week of March. Warm up with beignets and cider from the Chalet. The cost of $20 adults, $10 children includes skates and benefits children’s charities. Call (312) 337-2888 for hours.  The Peninsula Chicago is at 108 E. Superior St. and North Michigan Avenue, Chicago.  For more information visit Peninsula Chicago Sky Rink.

Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events)
Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events)


McCormick Tribune Skating Rink

It doesn’t matter how skillful you are when you skate frontwards, backwards, or holding gloved hands around the rink in Millennium Park. There’s a warming house, a stand for hot chocolate, and a place to rent skates $14 holidays and weekend $12 weekdays, but the rink is free. New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2019 the hours are 10am–10pm. There’s no lesson that day but other days feature lessons an hour before the rink opens. The rink is at Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets. But officially Millennium Park is 201 E. Randolph St. For hours and other information visit McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.


Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon

Or take on the challenge of the skating the dips and curves of Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon next to Millennium 337 E. Randolph St.. Admission is free but you can rent skates. For hours and other information visit  Maggie Daley Park.

Jodie Jacobs




Around town: Not gone yet


With everything you have to do, places to go, people to visit there might not have been time to fit in everything you hoped to see by Dec. 31. No worries. Some of the fun shows, exhibits and festivals will still be around in January, 2019.

Siobhan Stagg in Cendrillon at the Lyric Opera
Siobhan Stagg in Cendrillon at the Lyric Opera


Lyric Opera’s delightful “Cendrillon” (Cinderella ) runs through Jan. 20 and its exceptional “La boheme” continues at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through Jan. 31. For tickets and more information  visit Lyric Opera.

Steadfast tin Soldier at Lookinggglass Theatre in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N. Michicagn Ave. runs through Jan. 13. For tickets and other information visit Lookingglass.

Women of Soul” at the Black Ensemble Theatre goes to Jan. 27. See tickets and more information at Black Ensemble Theater.

“ A Midsummer Night’s Dream“ at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, opens this weekend (Dec. 14 2018), and runs through Jan. 27. Tickets and more information at Chicago Shakes.

At Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted, “Familiar” continues through Jan. 13 and “”La Ruta” goes through Jan. 27.  Visit Steppenwolf.


Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo


Illumination” at the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Il Hwy 53, Lisle, goes through New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.

Winter Wonderfest” continues at Navy Pier, Chicago, through Jan. 6. For tickets, parking and other information visit Navy Pier.

Wonderland Express” is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe (just east of Edens Expressway) through Jan. 6. (This is a time and date ticketed show)  For tickets and other information visit . For parking check Chicago Botanic.

Zoo Lights” at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.,, Chicago, is open New Year’s Day and continues through Jan. 6.

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Winter WonderFest


Navy Pier celebrates winter
Navy Pier celebrates winter

We had a great time visiting the Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier.

The event is sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and even though it is geared primarily toward the little ones there is plenty of fun for the whole family.

Essentially this is an indoor carnival. In fact the brochure claims “thrills without the chills.”

For the little tykes, designated as under 46 inches tall, there are two bouncers and other games in the Jingle Jym Junior area right by the entrance.

WinterFest at Navy Pier is a fun family experience (Photos by Reno Lovison)
WinterFest at Navy Pier is a fun family experience (Photos by Reno Lovison)

Of course the Kringle Carousel which is the first thing you see when you enter is fun for anyone looking for a classic carnival experience. My wife never misses an opportunity to ride a carousel.

There’s mini golf artic style and an artic plunge is a giant inflatable slide topped by an enormous polar bear.

The Lighthouse takes those 36” and taller up a roughly thirty foot lighthouse then unexpectedly drops them repeatedly for a bit of a thrill.

The Winter Tube is a slippery snowless toboggan-like slide, only rather than a sled, you ride a kind of colorful inner tube style ring.

Ice skating at WinterFest
Ice skating at WinterFest

I think a feature for many is the star spangled ice skating rink. This seems like it might be an attraction for teens looking for a fun date night, especially if mom makes you take your little brother along.  But indoor ice skating is actually my idea of enjoying the sport.

Kids love to climb and what could be more fun than making your way to the rafters via the Snowy Summit Climbing Wall?

The gigantic Christmas tree is beautifully decorated offering a perfect back drop for a photo or just to be enjoyed from virtually every vantage point within the fair.

Gaze up at the wonderful Christmas tree.
Gaze up at the wonderful Christmas tree.

The Cliff Hanger is certainly the most visual and most exciting offering, whirling you at break-neck speed in a kind of hang glider looking contraption, ultimately landing you gently back the ground.

The psychedelic lighting of the Winter WonderWhirl adds a lot to the sense of excitement.

There are bumper cars, an excursion train, Tilt’a Whirl and spinning Hot Cocoa Cups.

Enjoy plenty of holiday photo ops which you can do yourself or take advantage of the photo package available for purchase on site.

There are snacks, additional rides and attractions and as a nice bonus each ticket also includes a ride on Chicago’s very own Centennial “Ferris” Wheel.

This is a good excuse to get off the couch and do something together as a family or just another nice way to enjoy a trip to Navy Pier.

DETAILS: You will find the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at the West end of Navy Pier on the Lakefront at Illinois Street through Jan. 6, 2019. For tickets and information visit

Reno Lovison




Holiday gift ideas Mart show


Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)
Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)

Wear walking shoes because the more than 600 booths at the One of a Kind Show Chicago has taken over the 7th Floor of The Mart and they are worth investigating.

From gourmet foods along one wall to artists selling jewelry, glass, ceramics, paintings, interesting wall art, quilts, wooden objects, hats and bags, the One of a Kind Show is fulfilling holiday shoppers’ gift list.

They’re also finding items for their own jewelry box, given the number of shoppers trying on earrings and necklaces at the Patricia Locke (she was there for the opening) booth during “early access” hour Thursday.

Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)
Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)

BTW, The Locke booth also featured Rook + Crow jewelry, a less expensive line that didn’t go in for colored stones but was well designed.

This is not a quick walk-through show.

It’s a chance to chat with Midwest artists and gourmet food purveyors such as Wisconsin quilter Kathleen Johnson who brought gorgeous pieces that easily qualify as art work, Chicago multi-media artist and designer Emmy Star Brown who is also in demand as muralist and Chicago suburban artist Danuta Loane about her fine ceramics.

Danuyta Loane's ceramics (J Jacobs photo)
Danuyta Loane’s ceramics (J Jacobs photo)

And there are the Flaherty’s from Moline, IL to talk to about their yummy Irish Toffee and sample their hot Buttered Rum.

Opened Dec. 6, the show continues through Dec. 9, 2018 for holiday shopping and returns April 26-28, 2019 to start the spring-summer art fair season indoors.

The Mart is on the north side of the Chicago River between Orleans and Wells Streets. For ticket, hours and other information visit One of a Kind.

Jodie Jacobs


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)


“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.


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


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.


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.


Jodie Jacobs


Around Town: After Thanksgiving

Once the food and fuss of Thanksgiving has been set aside in the fridge and dishwasher there should be more to holiday fun than trying brave the crowds in stores on Friday and shop on line on Monday.  There is a wonderful ballet and opera that opens, an art show full of gift ideas and a zoo that becomes magical on the weekends.

Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)
Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)

One of a Kind Show

Find gifts  at the One of a Kind Show at the Mart. Artists bring their sculptures, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, furniture and fashions. And vendors bring gourmet foods. The show is fun and it’s hard to leave without finding something for others or oneself.

The show runs Dec.6 through 9 at Merchandise Mart, on the north side of the Chicago River bordered by Kinzie, Wells and Orleans Streets. For tickets, hours and other information visit One of a Kind Show.

Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)
Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

Visit Brookfield Zoo when more than a million colorful lights edgbe buildings, form larger-than-life animal shapes and line the paths – thanks to Comed and Meijer. Holiday Magic is on Saturdays and Sundays of December weekends and also Wednesday through Monday of Dec. 26-31.

Tip: look for the Talking Tree and the special entertainment scheduled each weekend. Park and enter at the North Gate, 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue at 31st Street), Brookfield. For admission, hours and a complete schedule of Holiday Magic activities and entertainment call (708) 688-8000 and visit CZS Holiday Magic.

Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Two December First show openings

Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Cinderella” open Dec. 1, 2018.  “The Nutcracker” runs through Dec. 30,2018 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Congress Blvd. at Michigan Avenue. This is the re-imagined staging by choreographer/director Christopher Wheeldon that takes place at the 1893 World’s Fair. The music is Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famed ballet. For tickets and more information visit Joffrey Nutcracker.

“Cinderella,” Jules Massenet” magical “Cendrillon” comes to life with funny, wicked, charming characters and delightful arias at the Lyric Opera House at six performances from Dec. 1, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019.  For tickets and information visit Lyric Opera Cendrillon.

Jodie Jacobs