Chicago theatres and entertainment venues have a terrific line-up of shows for the 2017-18 season. Now is a good time to plan what to see with season tickets or dropping hints for birthday or holiday presents.
Don’t just consider plays. There’s also one-and two-nighters of top entertainers at a couple of venues. With so many places to go for a night out the Chicago theatre scene has to be broken into different areas. Not everything to see is downtown or Near North. So, try some of the theatres and other venues north of the city.
With such top drawing festivals and names as Pitchfork, Windy City Smokeout and Jimmy Buffett (among several others) filling parks and fields all over Chicago this past weekend, you might think that a north suburban music outpost would not be jammed.
Yet Ravinia Festival in Highland Park packed them in for James Arthur, Fitz & The Tantrums and OneRepbulic, Saturday, and its Tchaikovsky Spectacular played by the CSO, Sunday.
“Every inch of space and lawn was filled,” said a One Republic fan describing the Saturday scene.
If understandable for the pop rock genre, it might have come as a surprise to classical music lovers that the same was true on Sunday as visitors kept filing in and looking for even a few inches to sit and picnic.
The luckier folks, or make that those in the know, staked out their space two hours ahead of Sunday’s early, 5 p.m. concert start.
Spread out with a yummy-looking picnic under the trees before the crowds descended were The Nelson family who came from Chesterton and West Lafayette, IN and from Evanston.
“We all came last year,” said Wendy Nelson, Evanston. The rest chimed in with “We enjoyed it so much wanted to do it again,” said Laura Nelson, West Lafayette; “You know, Purdue University,” husband Jeffrey said. They were there with parents Eileen and Roger Nelson, Chesterton. “I’m the patriarch,” said Roger.
By 4 p.m. the lawn was a sea of humanity. After the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, a sterling piano performance of Concerto No. 1 by Simon Trpceskiand and the Francesca da Rimini fantasy, came the 1812 Overture with real cannons in a roped off area.
When the smoke faded and the last note played, some people left to catch the Union Pacific North Line train but that didn’t make much of a dent in the crowd that still enjoyed getting together and picnicking on the lawn.
“Great concert,” said a guy from Glen Ellyn on his way to the parking lot.
Well, there are a lot more chances to come to Ravinia, this summer.
The CSO returns July 18 with Yefim Bronfman playing Brahm’s Piano Conderto No. 2. The orchestra which makes Ravinia its summer home, will be back for several more concerts including July 20-21 to play Beethoven and Sibelius programs.
BTW, Tony Bennett returns Aug. 4. Hootie & the Blowfish founder Darius Rucker is at Ravinia the next night, Aug. 5.
Santana, the famed guitarist of Latin, rock an jazz fusion, is there Aug. 11-12 and heartland rocker/rock and roll hall-of-famer John Mellencamp is coming for the first time to Ravinia Aug. 26-27.
Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For more schedule information, tickets, prices and parking, call (847) 266-5000 and visit Ravinia.
Taste of Chicago has been here and gone but there are lots more festivals to feed our culinary, cultural and musical cravings this summer. With a city as rich in ethnic neighborhoods and interest in music as Chicago you would expect an almost endless list. But here are a few of the festivals to enjoy before fall’s back-top-school and cooler temps change the social calendar.
July 14 Ravenswood neighborhood
Think revolution. The French celebrate their rising up not July 4 but July 14 when the populace took over the hated Bastille prison in 1790. In Chicago, Bastille Day, also called French National Day is celebrated in French restaurants but also on the grounds of the French School translated as Lycée Français. Located at 1929 W. Wilson, the festival includes the game, pétanque to watch and learn, children’s activities, music, a DJ, a waiters’ race with trays and a child appropriate film. Attendees bring their own food for a picnic. Wine and beer will be sold nearby because the public cannot bring alcoholic beverages on the school property. Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. For other information visit Bastille Day.
July 14-16, West of River North
The popular Windy City Smokeout is back with more beer, barbeque booths and bands. VIP tickets are sold out but individual tickets of $40 and $45 plus three-day $110 tickets are still available. The event is at 560 W. Grand Ave.nue a block west of the Chicago River. For more information visit Windy City Smokeout.
July 14-16, Near West neighborhood
Chicago’s famed Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Union Park at Randolph Street and Ogden Avenue. The festival’s reasonable prices and predilection for featuring good bands draws about 50,000 music lovers from across the world. For hours and tickets visit Pitchfork.
July 21-23, River North
Taste of River North spreads across Kingsbury and Erie with music stages and food booths the fourth weekend of July. Hours are Friday 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For other information visit Taste of River North.
July 22-23, Sheffield Neighborhood
Now in its 29th year, the Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk has become a much anticipated summer event. Entered at Sheffield and Webster,the community festival asks for a $10 donation. Hours are noon to 10 p.m.. For other information visit Sheffield.
July 29-30, Wicker Park Neighborhood
Wicker Park Fest is all about neighborhood fun with music, food, crafts and children’s activities. For other information visit Wicker Park.
Aug 4-6, Jefferson Park neighborhood
Jeff Fest features is a music festival in the northwest Jefferson Park area of Chicago around 4822 N. Long Ave. For the band lineup and more information visit Jeff Fest.
Aug. 12-13, Boystown
The street-filling North Halsted Market Days returns to Lakeview with food, music and crafts centered at 3400 N. Halsted St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For other information visit North Halsted.
Aug. 18-20, Taylor Street
Go to Festa Italiana to enjoy the culture. There will be traditional food, music, folk dances and games and, of course, meatballs. The festival is on Taylor Street from Ashland Avenue to Racine Street. Hours are Friday, 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. For other information visit Starevents.
Aug. 19-20, North Avenue Beach
The Chicago Air and Water Show, a wonderful, free event that draws folks to North Avenue B each and anywhere along the near north shoreline, features the U.S. Navy Blue angels this year along with the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and other heart-stopping aerobatics. For more information visit City of Chicago.
Aug. 31-Sept 3, Downtown Chicago
The Chicago Jazz Festival ends the summer in Millenium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center. Headliners include Jon Faddis, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom and Rebirth Brass Band. For line-up locations and times visit Chicago Jazz.
The good news is that Chicago is an arts mecca. The problem news is that Chicago is such an arts mecca that it is arguably impossible to catch all the terrific music, art, dance, theater and exhibits offered in the city and suburbs. Listed here is a sampling of really good events that might not have made it to your arts radar.
Comedienne extraordinaire Rita Rudner will be on stage at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. April 21. A regular act at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Rudner is also a screenwriter, best-selling author, actress and playwright. For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 or visit North Shore Center. The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts is at 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie.
Philip Glass has fictionalized Walt Disney’s final days as an opera. Composed of dreams and nightmares revolving around the fate of his kingdom and legacy, it includes recognizable people. The Chicago Opera Theater is performing the Chicago premiere of ‘The Perfect American’ at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The Harris is in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 334 -7777 or visit Harris.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago is bringing the famed violinist to the city for one performance. It is 3 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Opera House. Accompanied by pianist Rohan De Silva, Perlman’s program includes Vivaldi’s Sonata in A Major for Violin and Continuo, Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major, Schumann’s Fantasiestuck, and Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in G Major. The Civic Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 827-5600 or visit Lyric.
‘Odysseo,’ a wondrous equestrian production visiting Chicago from Canada, that also includes acrobatics and aerial performances, has been extend through May 7. Drivers who have gone by Soldier Field or the Museum Campus will have seen the huge white tent where ‘Odysseo’ takes place. But what they might not know unless they’ve attended a show is that it has a 17,500 square foot stage that includes a three-story-high hill and other natural elements. The staging makes attendees feel as if they have been transported to the land where these horses cavort instead of the other way around. Entry is through the parking gates on East 18th Drive. For tickets and other information call (866) 999-8111 or visit Cavalia.
The Joffrey Ballet is doing ‘Global Visionaries,’ a tribute to several choreographers that includes the world premiere of a piece by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman and the Chicago premier of a ballet by Russian choreographer Yuri Possokhov. Also showcased is Dutch choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s ‘Mammatus. The program is at the Auditorium Theatre 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. For tickets and other information call (312) 341-2310 or visit Auditorium Theatre.
If you haven’t made plans yet for tonight, March 27, 2017, the glorious sounds of Music of the Baroque will fill the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The program is at 7:30 p.m. but there is a concert lecture across Michigan Avenue at the Chicago cultural Center at 6 p.m.
The Harris Theater is in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Dr. For tickets and other information call (312) 551-1415 and visit Harris.
Whether or not you made it to the Lyric to see the fabulous Chicago Voices Concert, you can see the concert on WTTW Channel 11 at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 30.
The concert features famed opera singer Renée Fleming, Blues Queen Shemekia Copeland, Broadway star Jessie Mueller, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, tenor Matthew Polenzani, gospel, pop and everything else singer Michelle Williams, folksinger John Prine, the indie folk group The Handsome family and the Trinity Mass choir.
OK, listen up bacon lovers. Chicago has a Baconfest Friday March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Chefs from local restaurants will be tempting your taste buds and satisfying your bacon cravings at the IC Forum, 725 Roosevelt Rd. for tickets and other information visit bacon.
Get out the calendar to mark the 2017 summer music festivals you hope to catch. Copy the ticket info and good luck.
First, U2 + The Lumineers will be at Soldier Field June 3-4. Yes, they will be doing “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety.See U2 + The Lumineers
Then the Chicago Blues Festival is in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 Randolph St.) in Millennium Park June 9-11. It’s free admission. Headliners include Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues with special guest James Cotton. Also headlining are Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens and Ronnie Baker Brooks. For tickets and other info visit Blues.
Next, is Ravinia, the wonderful outdoor music park in Highland Park. For the full schedule click Ravinia.
John Legend’s “Darkness and Light Tour” is June 10. It opens with Grammy-nominated artist Gallant.
The multi-Oscar-nominated film,”La La Land,” will be shown under the stars on large screens accompanied by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto on June 18.
Gipsy Kings, a group that blends flamenco with pop and Latin rhythms comes Friday, June 23.
Diana Krall, a five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist and vocalist comes June 28,
The Moody Blues do “Days of Future Passed” June 30.
OneRepublic & Fitz and The Tantrums are on stage July 14-15.
Blondie and Garbage start their 2017 “Rage and Rapture” tour at Ravinia July 22.
American Acoustic with Punch Brothers, I’m With Her and Julian Lage are Aug. 14.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 9. Donors can request tickets March 22 depending on their giving level. For more information including early request dates. Visit Ravinia.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is back in Union Park July 14-16. Visit Pitchfork Music Festival Headliners include. LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest and Solange
In addition Pitchfork is collaborating with Saint Heron, for an art installation, film screening, artist talks, late night jazz jam sessions. Visit Pitchfork for tickets and collaboration sites.
Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park Aug. 3-6. Visit Lolla for tickets and
There is always so much going on in Chicago it is easy to miss something you will want to see or find that the tickets you wanted are gone. So check out the following events and opportunities.
If you love the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, you will love his beautiful, dramatic “Eugene Onegin” opera. The Lyric Opera of Chicago completes its 2016-2017 series with the musically lush opera starting Feb. 26 and going through Mar. 20, 2017.
Based on a Alexander Pushkin’s poetic novel about ill-fated romantic attractions, the Lyric production stars soprano Ana Maria Martinez as Tatiana Larina and baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Eugene Onegin. The Lyric production is at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera.
Tickets are available for the Chicago stop of “Exhibitionism,” the first major touring exhibit of Rolling Stones memorabilia. Opened first in London and currently in NYC, the show will take over Navy Pier’s Festival Hall April 15 –July 30, 2017. Time dated tickets range from StonesExhibitionism.com. $25- $35 for adults to $20-$22 for juniors. Special tickets are $80 for two visits, any time, fast-track entry.m Group tickets are available from Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. Chicago.
You can beat the crowd by going to the Members’ Preview Feb. 10, 5-7:30 p.m. for cocktails and music ($30). Or go Feb. 11 or 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when orchids will be sold in the Orchid Marketplace and experts will be around to answer your orchid questions. The show starts this weekend but is extended to March 26, 2017 so there is time to return with more friends and orchid growing questions.
Cost: Adults: members/nonmembers: $10/$12, seniors 62+ $8/$10, children age 3–12: 8/$10. Nonmember parking is extra but can be bought in advance for easier garden entry and there is a Two Pack deal for parking and two tickets. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Call (847) 835-5440.
It’s always interesting to see what’s going on at the museum and to check out two special programs there during Black History Month. But if you are an Illinois resident you can do so free of charges this week, Feb. 7-9, and next week, Feb. 14-16.
The Juried Art Exhibition, an annual show since 1970, features professional and aspiring black artists from across the country, now through Feb. 19, 2017.
The other program is the Innovation Studio where visitors learn about African American contributions to the sciences and can add their own ideas and solutions. It is there now through March 4, 2017. The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake shore Drive, Chicago.
There’s so much going on in Chicago it’s a challenge to figure out what to try and do and see. Or, to wonder the why and wherefore of the crowd outside Goodman Theatre Jan. 19, 2017. ‘Around Town’ is an occasional feature to help sort through at least some of the city’s events.
You might think the scenery hasn’t changed when you look north on Dearborn Street near Randolph Street. Butif there fter Jan. 19, 2017, you should see the lights of Goodman Theatre’s tall marquee during the day.
The old marquee, damaged in an electrical fire last spring, has been replaced with a similar version but with an important difference. You will see it lit 24/7. The lights are LED, color-changeable and each letter is programmable.
“Our marquee is the brightest, most visible symbol of Goodman Theatre’s 30+ year commitment to high quality productions, cultural and aesthetic diversity on and off our stages, and proactive engagement in our Chicago community—a commitment that has distinguished us, and redefined what a major cultural institution can be,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls.
The Jan. 19 illumination was a deliberate date choice to call attention to the The Ghostlight Project, a national American theater initiative of inclusiveness.
“As part of the Ghostlight Project, we will stand with our theater colleagues across the country at the same time and pledge to protect the values of equality, inclusion, justice—and empathy for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Falls said.
Maybe you noticed that during the past few years the Museum of Contemporary Art has evolved into a multi-media venue that presents dance, music and theater programs, aside from its changing menu of art exhibits.
So, the addition of dance performances up on the fourth floor during the opening weekend of ‘Merce Cunningham: Common Time,’ a multi-media exhibit, seems almost like a given.
Former Merce Cunningham Dance Company members will incorporate important pieces from the past 60 years into performances called Events, Feb. 11 and 12., 1:30 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m.
Staged and arranged by Andrea Weber, the Event showcases dancers Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott and Melissa Toogood. The accompanying musicians are Hanna Brock, Nicolas Collins, Kg Price, Katharine young and their arranger, Stephan Moore.
There will be free events across Chicago in February honoring Black History Month. Among them are stage related segments coordinated by the Goodman Theatre under the umbrella “Black Words Mater: Celebrating Black Voices on Stage and Beyond.”
Among the events are a reading of “Gee’s Bend” by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder at the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E. 56th Place,) Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. and film screening August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” at AMC Dine-In Theatres at Block 37 (108 N. State St. (availability limited).
In addition, “Playwrights from past to present” is a lecture by Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck smith at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State St) Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and a panel discussion on “Diversity in theater administration and Intern/apprentice networking” at Goodman Theatre’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (107 N. Dearborn St.), Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m.
The Art Institute has a full Chinese menu of activities the last Saturday of January. If you at the Art Institute of Chicago Jan. 28, follow the exotic sounds you hear.
They will pull you into Gallery 101 at 10:30 a.m. and noon for Chinese Guzheng performances and to the Griffin Court in the Modern Wing at 11:30 a.m. for a Lion Dance. Then, it’s back to Griffin Court at 1 and 2 p.m. for the China National Peking Opera.
In addition to the performances there is a Mandarin tour of the museum’s Asian collection at noon and calligraphy demonstrations in the Ryan Learning Center (near the Modern Wing entrance) from 1:30 through 4 p.m.
But even before Jan. 28, the Art Institute is celebrating with drop-in Chinese New Year fun for kids in the Ryan Center, Jan. 17 through Feb. 11.
Best entrance to use for the celebration and Ryan Center is the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60603. General admission fee and free to children age 13 and younger and free to Chicago teens 14-17. Visit AIC.
If all you have is the lunch hour to celebrate, go over to the Chicago Cultural Center Jan. 30 for Chinese dances, martial arts and music in the very impressive Preston Bradley Hall. Jackie Chan’s Long Yun Fung Fu Troupe will be performing from noon to 1 p.m (free).
For more information visit DCAS The Chicago Cultural Center is across from Millennium Park at 78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602.
To see the full Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe’s program get tickets to show at the Auditorium Theatre Feb. 4. Tickets start at $33. Show time is 7:30 p.m. The discount code is CFAS. The program blends dance and martial arts. The Auditorium Theatre is at 50 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605. Visit Auditorium and call (312) 341-2300.
The following week, Navy Pier’s ‘Neighborhoods of the World’ series spotlights the Chinese culture on Feb 12, from noon to 4 p.m. Go up to the Crystal Gardens for arts performances and a Chinese marketplace. Navy Pier is at 600 E Grand Ave Chicago, IL 60611. Visit CFA