Eugene O’Neill comedy at Goodman is lighthearted and profound

 

RECOMMENDED

Perfect for a month that includes the Fourth of July, Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness,” is about hope, wistfulness, freedom and coming of age in an idyllic family setting at the turn of the last century.

The extended Miller family in Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
The extended Miller family in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

So don’t, when you see the play is by O’Neill who penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning, semi-autobiographical play, “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” think dark family drama.

They both take place on a Connecticut seashore but “Ah, Wilderness” is a lighthearted comedy that likely presents the type of family O’Neill wished he had.

You will meet the Miller family during the Fourth of July. Nat, the father is presented intelligently and with empathy by Randall Newsome as a fine newspaper editor and family man who pretty much goes along with whatever wife Essie (Ora Jones) and second son Richard (Niall Cunningham) want.

It’s easy to see that Essie, nicely played by Ora Jones, softly wears the “pants” in the family. Richard, brilliantly interpreted by Niall Cunningham as an intellectual high school student who favors flowery, somewhat purple prose and poetry, adores neighboring sweetheart Muriel McComber (Ayssette Monoz).

Thus the title is taken from a translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a favorite poem of Richard. Many people will recognize at least part of the stanza. It goes “A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread – and thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness – Oh, Wildernesss were Paradise enow!

The rest of the family consists of eldest son Arthur (Travis A. Knight) who attends Yale where Richard is expected to go, daughter Mildred, played with spunk by Rochelle Therrien, and  youngest son Tommy, a cute turn by Matthew Abraham as a boy still in knee pants.

Their extended family include relatives Lily Miller, Nat’s sister who is wistfully interpreted by Kate Fry as the former fiancée of Sid Davis, Essie’s brother. They still love each other but he can’t change because he loves drink, gambling and “ladies of the night” too much. Davis is done with humor but without remorse by the talented Larry Bates.

Rounding out the picture are Norah, a funnily clumsy maid played with wonderfully comedic moves by Bri Sudia and Belle, the “fast” woman delightfully handled by Amanda Drinkall whom Richard is paired with at a local dive.

Muriel’s dad, David McComber, is portrayed as the dislikeable but understandably protective father by Ricardo Gutierrez. Also in the show are the dive’s bartender (Joe Dempsey) and The Salesman at the bar (Bret Tuomi).

The production also works now in 2017 even though its time period is 1906 because of the fine directing of Steve Scott (remember the insightful and comedic turns of his Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike). Scott is retiring this summer after several years as a Goodman Theatre producer and director.

Of course there is also Todd Rosenthal’s charming set and Amy Clark’s fine costumes that are wonderfully evocative of the period.

“Ah, Wilderness! is a sweet but not saccharine play of a family that deals philosophically with a teenager going through romantic and philosophical challenges. It even includes a heart-to-heart father-son discussion that almost touches on growing up hormones.

“Ah, Wilderness! is at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago through July 23, 2017. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3800 or visit Goodman.

 

Classic tale comes alive on stage

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

To get teenagers away from their cell phones for a while and interested in learning more about a classic novel or excited about going to a stage show, take them to ‘Moby Dick’ at Lookingglass Theatre.

Mattie Hawkinson, Kelly Abell, Javen Ulambayer and Cordelia Dewdney in 'Mob y Dick' at Lookingglass theatre. Ulambayar is Mungun. the three woman are the Fates and other roles. All photos are by Liz Lauren
Mattie Hawkinson, Kelly Abell, Javen Ulambayer and Cordelia Dewdney in ‘Moby Dick’ at Lookingglass theatre. Ulambayar is Mungun. the three woman are the Fates and other roles. All photos are by Liz Lauren

Following rave reviews on tour, the show is back in town where it first appeared and received four Jeff Awards in 2015. It’s now back home in Lookingglass’ black-box space in the historic Water Tower Water Works (a Chicago Fire survivor) through Sept. 3, 2017.

The way Lookingglass’ David Catlin has adapted and directs the Herman Melville seafaring epic, the story leaps off the pages with great physicality and graphic portrayals.

In addition to an exceptional ensemble, the production is done in association with The Actors Gynmnasium. They are aided and abetted by the fantastic, curving bone-like scenery that mimics the inside of a whale designed by Courtney O’Neill and the rigging designed b y Isaac Schoepp.

But the novel, and thus the show, is more than a tale about a fierce adventure surrounding a white whale called Moby Dick. As the crew of the Pequod find out after they’ve signed on, Captain Ahab who lost a leg to Moby Dick, wants vengeance in a manor reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedies. The story really is about obsession.

Anthony Fleming II, Nathan Hosner, Jamie Abelson and Cordelia Dewdney, Kelly Abell and Mattie Hawkinson in 'Moby Dick'
Anthony Fleming II, Nathan Hosner, Jamie Abelson and Cordelia Dewdney, Kelly Abell and Mattie Hawkinson in ‘Moby Dick’

Ahab, intensely interpreted  by Nathan Hosner, becomes madder to the point of not caring who dies as he pursues his goal.

The story is told by Ishmael, the only crew member who survives the pursuit. Jamie Abelson and Walter Owen Briggs alternate in the role.

On another level, the story is also about men, such as Queequeg, played magnificently by Anthony Fleming III, who seek adventure in place of responsibility, and Starbuck (really, long before the coffee chain) who seeks income through whaling oil.

This is a show that teens and adults who appreciate a well-told, well-presented yarn will appreciate.

‘Moby Dick’ is at Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Works at 821 N. Michigan Ave. through Sept. 3, 2017. For tickets and other information call (312) 337-0665 and visit Lookingglass.

 

Superb acting and singing make Lincoln Center ‘King and I’ a must see production

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna) and Baylen Thomas (Louis) arrive in Siam in 'The King and I' now on stage at the Oriental Theatre. Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago,
Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna) and Baylen Thomas (Louis) arrive in Siam in ‘The King and I’ now on stage at the Oriental Theatre. Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago,

Just when you think you have seen as many fine interpretations of how Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic ‘King and I’ musical ought to be done, along comes director Bartlett Sher’s beautiful and insightful Lincoln Center production.

Not only are all the voices in the outstanding category (and how often can you say that), Sher’s direction has brought forth all the characters’ strong motivations.

The songs everyone has come to know and love such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune and Hello Young Lovers” are beautifully sung by Laura Michelle Kelly as governess Anna Leonowens.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers in 'King and I.'
Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers in ‘King and I.’

“We Kiss in the Shadow” and “I have Dreamed” take on an added coating of sadness and desire when exquisitely sung Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao as doomed lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha.

But you also have Jose Llana who really makes you understand the crossroads where he’s at between Siam’s traditional views and the “westernization” of his court he thinks will keep his country from colonization. He not merely sings, but acts “A Puzzlement.”

Based on the real Anna Leonowens’ memoirs as told by Margaret Landon in the 1944 novel, “Anna and the King of Siam,” the musical depicts how two strong characters, the independent governess Leonowens, and the King, known as Mongkut who sees women as servants, move from strongly-held beliefs to mutual respect, admiration and caring.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in 'King and I'
Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in ‘King and I’

Then there is Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang (First Wife) singing “Something Wonderful.” The song does more than describe her feelings towards her husband, the King.

Almedilla’s exceptional expression of the words seemed to speak to many of the wives in the audience.

As to the youngsters in the show,  “The March of Siamese Children” is charming and lighthearted but Graham Montgomery does a particularly fine job as Anna’s son, Louis, and Marcus Shane presented just the right amount of royal demeanor as Crown Prince Chulalongkorn when he stepped into a role opening night usually played by Anthony Chan.

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s “The Small House of Uncle  Thomas,” a ballet meant to entertain visiting English dignitaries but actually is a message from Tuptim that slavery is wrong, is well put across by dancers Lamae Caparas as Eliza, Amaya Braganza as Uncle Thomas, Yuki Ozeki as Topsy, Rommel Pierre O’Choa as Simon Legree, Michiko Takemasa as Little Eva and Nobutaka Mochimaru as the Angel/George.

Jose Llana (King of Siam) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna Leonowens) in 'The King and I.'
Jose Llana (King of Siam) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Anna Leonowens) in ‘The King and I.’

The set design by Michael Yeargan was a creative mix of an Asian style wall backdrop, pillars and Buddha that places more emphasis on the action than ornamentation. That said, the set immediately captures attention when the curtains open with a a life-size boat coming onto the stage carrying Anna and Louis Leonowens.

Catherine Zuber’s costumes perfectly place the show into Leonowen’s  period and location.

‘The King and I’ is at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, Chicago, now through July 2, 2017. For tickets and more information call (800) 775-2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago.

 

 

Bette Davis is back for another bow

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

When I was a youngster, I would often hear my parents mention their favorite movie star, Bette Davis.  Decades later, I gravitated toward old films and I, too, became a huge Davis fan.

Jessica Sherr does 'Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies' at the Athenaeum Theatre. Photo courtesy of Jessica Sherr
Jessica Sherr does ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies’ at the Athenaeum Theatre. Photo courtesy of Jessica Sherr

As I watched ‘Dark Victory, ‘Now, Voyager,’ and her many other movies—some of them numerous times—I found myself reciting a few of her lines along with her. I thought I knew almost everything about Ms. Davis until I recently saw the captivating play ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies’ currently at The Athenaeum Theatre.

The one-woman show, written and performed by Jessica Sherr, is a fascinating look at Davis’s life and career. It only took a few seconds to actually feel that the actress and playwright on stage was the real Bette Davis.

Jessica Sherr not only resembles the actress in her early thirties but her voice, expressive eyes and mannerisms emulate Davis.  And the one-act play’s staging and set design are such that allow Sherr to change costumes while she continues talking to the audience, never missing a beat.

Often in just a sentence or two, Sherr takes the audience through various stages of Davis’s life, beginning with her relationship with her parents, especially her mother whom Bette called “Ruth” after her father left them when she was ten years old.

Sherr then touches on Davis’ career beginning when on stage in New York.  Not being a blonde and no taller than five-foot three, she fondly reminisces about her earlier years by commenting, “They don’t care what you look like!”

Invited by an agent who saw Davis on stage, she left New York and traveled to Hollywood to begin life as a movie star. Even though she became known as a Hollywood “hometown girl,” she still missed New York and has said, “I hate California—it’s so damn sunny it makes me sick!”

This show is for anyone who wants a closer look at Bette Davis – the ten-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Academy Award Best Actress winner for her roles in ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Jezebel.’

Along with a closer view of her career, you’ll learn about Davis’s marriages, her relationships, her Hollywood friends, the others she avoided and how she stood up for what she wanted, plus how it eventually turned out.  And there’ll be many laughs along the way.

Details: ‘Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies” is at the Athenaeum Theatre,  2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. A last minute extension now continues the show through July 9, 2017. For tickets more information visit AthenaeumTheatre  or call 773-935-6875.

-Francine Pappadis Friedman

Familiar Chicago figure Laurie Metcalf wins Best Actress Tony

When the list of nominees for 2017 Best Leading Actress in a Play were read at the Tony Awards Sunday, June 11, Laurie Metcalf’s name would have sounded familiar to many Chicago theater-goers.

Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf in "Glass Menagerie" Steppenwolf photo
Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf in “Glass Menagerie” Steppenwolf photo

They also could have predicted she would win even though the field was extraordinary. The other nominees were  Cate Blanchett, “The Present,” Jennifer Ehle, “Oslo,” Sally Field, “The Glass Menagerie” and Laura Linney for “The Little Foxes.”

Metcalf was nominated for her outstanding performance in Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” a sequel to the Ibsen’s classic directed by Sam Gold.

But  Chicagoans who have been following Metcalf’s career with Steppenwolf Theatre likely know she was an original  ensemble member of the world-renown company.

They may remember that she was in the company’s critically acclaimed “Balm in Gilead” production in 1984 that won her the 1984 Obie for Best Actress.

However, even though she has been in more than 40 Steppenwolf productions, Metcalf is not just a familiar Chicago figure.

She received Tony nominations for “Misery, “November” and “The Other Place” and starred in the Steppenwolf production of “Domesticated” at the Lincoln Center Theater in 2014.

Her name would also have been familiar to TV and film watchers. Among other shows, Metcalf was in “Rosanne,” “Desperate Housewives,” 3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Toy Story” and “JFK.”

“We are incredibly proud of fellow ensemble member Laurie Metcalf on her much deserved Tony win.,” said Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. “She’s helped define the reputation and style that Steppenwolf is known for through her iconic performances and has become a legend in American Theatre.”

Shapiro added, “ She is riveting in every role she takes on, and it is such a pleasure to be able to celebrate her work with this Tony,”

For more about Steppenwolf, visit steppenwolf.org

 

Around Town this week in June

The sounds of the Blues will be wailing on State Street and in Millennium Park. On Clark Street magicians astound in Uptown. And the Chicago theatre community understands when a one-man show has to cancel.

 

Muddy Waters Mural

Muddy Waters Mural dedication is June 8, 2017. It's a good start to the Chicago Blues Festival. City of Chicago photo
Muddy Waters Mural dedication is June 8, 2017. It’s a good start to the Chicago Blues Festival. City of Chicago photo

 Stop by the west side of State Street between Randolph and Washington Streets noon Thursday, June 8, 2017 to hear about Muddy Waters and hear some fine blues.

The event dedicates the nine-story mural of blues legend Muddy Waters across the way at 17 N. State St.  He brought the Delta blues to Chicago where he turned it into his own Urban Blues sound that has influenced generations of musicians.

Along with some folks from the Department of Cultural Affairs and mural artist Eduardo Kobra,  Muddy Waters’ daughter, Mercy Morganfield, will be there plus the Muddy Waters legacy Band of Mud and Big Bill Morganfield.

Also on hand will be Chicago Blues Festival headliners Billy Branch and Che “Rhymefet” Smith. (See Blues Festival here).

A pop-up shop will sell limited poster editions and other merchandise to benefit the Muddy Waters Foundation.

 

Chicago Blues Festival

Considered the largest free blues festival anywhere, the Chicago Blues Festival will take over Millennium Park with five stages 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., June 9-11, 2017. The venue is a change from Grant Park where the festival began in 1984.

On June 9  the festival stars Billy Branch & The Son of Blues with special guests Lurrie Bell, Freddie Dixon, J.W.S. Williams, Carlos Johnson, Carl Weathersby, Bill McFarland and Chicago Fire Horns plus Mae Koen & The Lights.

Millennium Park hosts the Blues Festival June 9-11, 2017. Pritzker Pavilion photo by Jodie Jacobs
Millennium Park hosts the Blues Festival June 9-11, 2017. Pritzker Pavilion photo by Jodie Jacobs

Headliners June 10 are William Bell, Theo Huff and the New Agenda Band and Nellie Tiger Travis. The festival closes June 11 with Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

The Chicago Blues Festival attracts about half a million music lovers. For more information visit chicagobluesfestival.

 

Chicago Magic Lounge

Old timers might recall Frank Everhart’s Magic Bar at the Ivanhoe or remember when Chicago had other magic show venues. But the fascination that magic holds is still alive. The Chicago Magic Lounge has stepped in to fill the void.

Open now with shows every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night, the place is Uptown Underground at 4707 N. Broadway, Chicago.  Go Wednesday for the Mind Reading Show or Thursday or Saturday for close up magic and stage performances.

Admission is age 21 plus however age 16 will be admitted with guardian. For more information call (773-867-1946 and visit Chicago Magic Lounge.

 

Pamplona Update

Goodman Theatre plans to reschedule ‘Pamplona’ by Jim McGrath, according to a recently released statement.  A one-man show about Ernest Hemingway’s final years, ‘Pamplona’ was starring long-time stage and screen actor Stacy Keach. However, after a successful week of previews, the opening night performance stopped more than half-way through when Keach became ill.

Goodman spokespeople said medical testing showed that Keach had suffered a mild heart attack and that doctors expected him to fully recover after rehabilitation and rest.

Artistic Director Robert Falls said in the statement: “On behalf of Stacy Keach, his family and the Goodman, we would like to extend our gratitude for all of the generous support and concern shown to Stacy this past week. I remain awed by Stacy’s courage and strength after experiencing such a disturbing event; his spirits are high and he is resting and recovering comfortably. Jim, Stacy and I look forward to continuing our collaboration on ‘Pamplona.’’

People who already have tickets have a choice of a full refund or tickets to Eugene O’Neill’s ‘Ah Wilderness’ which runs June 17 through July 23, 2017. They will be contacted by ticket representatives and can call (312) 443-3800.

 

‘Parade,’ a powerful story of injustice relevant today

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Writers Theatre production of ‘Parade, a powerful, Tony Award-winning musical about the wrongful conviction and death of a Jewish factory manager, is so well acted and sung that many audience members seemed to have bought the false witnesses’ stories.

Patrick Andres and Brianna Borger in 'Parade' at writers theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Patrick Andres and Brianna Borger in ‘Parade’ at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

They must have believed the manager was guilty because there were gasps from the show’s opening night audience when in the second act the stories turned out to be no more than lies coached by a prosecutor with an eye on the governorship.

The story is a true tale of how Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew, is deliberately convicted and killed for the rape and death of a young Atlanta, GA factory girl in 1913.

Although married to a lass Georgia born and bred, Frank was a Yankee and a Jew. He appeared cold and unfriendly and didn’t appreciate his wife in the beginning.

 

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‘Ragtime’ still a social issues reminder

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

There is nothing ragged about this Griffin Theatre version of Tony Award-winning ‘RAGTIME.’

Katherine Thomas , center with cast of 'Ragtime.' Photo by Michael Brosilow
Katherine Thomas , center with cast of ‘Ragtime.’ Photo by Michael Brosilow

Re-imagined by Director Scott Weinstein, the 1996 musical with book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, has new orchestrations by Matt Deitchman and is perfectly scaled to the intimate Den Theatre stage.

A tight ensemble follows the adventures of three groups of individuals from various cultural and socio-economic strata at the turn of the 20th century by using the new music of the era – Ragtime. It has become the soundtrack of the age.

The new sound’s syncopation punctuates the changing rhythms of the increasingly fast-paced times that introduced industrialization along with such social challenges that defined pre-WWI America as European immigration, urban racial integration, unionization and women’s independence.

Taken from E.L. Doctorow’s novel, the musical throws together African American domestic worker Sarah (Katherine Thomas), her baby and the baby’s piano playing daddy, “Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Denzel Tsopnang), into the household of an upper middle class, white suburban (New Rochelle) family

“Father” (Scott Allen Luke) is a fireworks manufacturer and part-time world explorer who leaves his wife to manage the business. In the process she finds opportunities to explore her own independence.

This brings “Mother” (Laura McLain) into contact with “Teteh,” a recent Jewish immigrant (enthusiastically played by Jason Richards), and his pre-teen daughter (Autumn Hilava) who recently arrived in New York seeking the American dream.

“Little Boy” (Ben Miller) opens the play by introducing the characters to the title tune “Ragtime.” “The Little Boy” weaves among the characters throughout the rest of the production and is on some level the thread that pulls them together and toward one another.

The “Family” household additionally includes “Grandfather” (Larry Baldacci who also appears as industrialist J.P. Morgan). He just wants some quiet.

Then there is “Mother’s Younger Brother” (Matt Edmonds). He finds meaning in his life by embracing the plight of the underclass “Negroes” and mistreated workers.

There are appearances by historical notables Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman and “Specialty Entertainer/Celebrity” Evelyn Nesbit (Caitlain Collins), who provides periodic comic relief. Their vignettes supply political and social context of the time that drives the action.

Every character has a musical opportunity to shine resulting in a production with many glittering gems that come together like a charm bracelet; each with an individual tale commemorating a specific experience but in the end working together to tell the story of one grand shared adventure.

The entire cast is comprised of excellent singers. Laura McClain gave us everything she had in “Back to Before.” Katherine Thomas was a joy every moment she sang including “Your Daddy’s Son” and the show stopper duet “Wheels of Dream” with Denzel Tsopnang.

Pianists Jermaine Hill and Ellen Morris with Clarinet Dan Hickey perform in costume onstage providing outstanding accompaniments in a production where the music virtually never ends.

Details RAGTIME is at the Den Theatre at 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, now through July 16, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Griffin Theatre or call (866) 811-4111.

 

 

Around Town on the cusp of May into June

At Goodman Theatre 

At Goodman Theatre, "Pamplona" is in the Owen. Goodman Theatre photo
At Goodman Theatre, “Pamplona” is in the Owen.
Goodman Theatre photo

If you heard that Goodman Theatre’s opening night for the world premiere of “Pamplona,” a play by Jim McGrath that features Stacy Keach as Ernest Hemingway, stopped early, then don’t worry. The Goodman put out the following notice:

“Goodman Theatre had to unexpectedly halt this evening’s performance of Pamplona by Jim McGrath. The show’s star, Stacy Keach, had not been feeling well earlier in the day, but made the decision to go on with the performance. When it became clear midway through that Mr. Keach was struggling, Director Robert Falls took the stage and announced that the performance would conclude. Performances are expected to resume as scheduled.”

 

Gospel Fest

It may not seem as long as 32 years ago for Chicago to hold its Gospel Music Festival but considering that Chicago takes credit for gospel music it probably feels as if the genre has been around forever, at least in city area churches.

Gospel comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park June.2-3. Jodie Jacobs
Gospel comes to Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park June 2-3. Jodie Jacobs photo

So, this weekend, June 2 and 3, 2017, the city is holding its 32 Chicago Gospel Music Festival. The concerts are on Friday. They are free and are taking place outdoors in Millennium Park and indoors (it may rain on and off those days) in the Chicago Cultural Center. Gospel music combined with workouts and wellness activities are on Saturday.

Here is the schedule but acts and times may change

June 2, 2017
Randolph Square area on the first floor of the Cultural Center
–       Noon is Iliani Morales, 12:40 p.m. is Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir

–       1:10 p.m. is R&R featuring Russ and Roe and 1:40 p.m. is Neicy Robertson and Friends

–       2:10 p.m. is “Chicago’s Next” with 2ndNature Band, Isaiah Freeman, Jazmin Jones and Denton Arnell Harris and 3:20 p.m. is Arthur Sutton & The Gift of Praise

Millennium Park in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

–       5:30 p.m. is Glenn Johnson & The Voices of Innerpeace and 6 p.m. is University of Illinois Black Chorus conducted by Ollie Watts Davis

–       6:40 p.m. is Malcolm Williams & Great Faith and 7:20 p.m. is Celebration of Gospel Music Quartets with Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and The Warriors, God’s Posse, The Gospel Crusaders and The Stars of Heaven

–       8:30 p.m. is Jonathan McReynolds with special guests Anthony Brown and Travis Greene

June 3, 2017

Millennium Park’s Great Lawn

– 7 a.m. is Gospel Music Yoga with instructor Marta Bailey and 8 a.m. is Gospel Music Cardio Workout with instructor LaTonya Ellis

– 9 a.m. is Pilates with an East Bank Club instructor and 10 a.m. is Zumba® also with an  East Bank Club instructor

In the North Promenade Tent at Millennium Park

–       11 a.m. to 5 p.m. is Health & Wellness Oasis with screenings offered by Oak Street Health and Be The Match

–       Also from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. are children’s activities in the Kids Activity Zone that include face painting, a balloon artist, Plaster of Paradise and the Imagination Playground

For more information visit Chicago Gospel Fest 

 

It is all relative

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Mike Nussbaum (Albert Einstein) and Katherine Keberlein (Margaret Harding) in 'Relativitiy' at Northlight Theatre. Michael Brosilow photo
Mike Nussbaum (Albert Einstein) and Katherine Keberlein (Margaret Harding) in ‘Relativitiy’ at Northlight Theatre.
Michael Brosilow photo

Theater-goers lucky enough to have seen Mark St. Germain’s ‘Freud’s Last Session’ at Mercury Theater when Mike Nussbaum took on the role of Freud (as of June 3, 2012) will have an idea of how Albert Einstein is portrayed in the world premiere of ‘Relativity’ at Northlight Theatre.

Once again, Nussbaum, now 93, is brilliant and St. Germain’s intelligent writing presents interesting insights into a world-renown, intellectual figure.

The story line revolves around a daughter born to him in 1902 by first wife Mileva Marić before the two were married. The world knew about his two sons born later, but not about daughter Lieserl until correspondence came to light in 1987.

What was known then was that Lieserl had contracted scarlet fever but no mention was made later about her. Although conceived in Switzerland where her parents were at the Zurich Polytechnic, Lieserl wasn’t brought back there to by her mother following the birth and Marić’s convalescence with her parents in Serbia.

St. Germain builds his new play on the premise that Lieserl survives.

Einstein is working at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study where his cantankerous housekeeper/secretary Helen Dukas, delightfully played by Chicago theater veteran Ann Whitney, protects him from interruptions by curiosity seekers and reporters.

Dukas successfully stops Margaret Harding, well depicted by Katherine Keberlein. The forty-something Harding who says she is a reporter from a Jewish publication finally waylays Einstein outside. Noting that it is cold he asks her in.

What follows are personal questions because Harding says her article will be different.

Using known quotes by Einstein, St. Germain has him field and rebuff Harding’s piercing questions about family, personal relations and views on mankind with statements about the importance of solving the mysteries of the universe.

Similar to ‘Freud’s Last Session’ where two protagonists, Freud and allegorist C. S. Lewis, argue their points of view, ‘Relativity’s  arguments, though more personal, are between Harding and the originator of the famous E=MC2 formula. Theories, including those in quantum physics are mentioned, but Harding’s arguments keep returning to the definition of a “great” person.

Directed by BJ Jones, the play is a fascinating, fictionalized, 80-minute look at Albert Einstein.
Details: Relativitiy’ is at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, through June 18, 2017. For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 and visit Northlight.