Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conductor Rafael Payare and pianist Emanuel Ax gave bravo performances at Ravinia Festival Aug. 2, 2019.
Payare, a Venezuelan conductor who has led ensembles and orchestras across the globe and will lead the San Diego Symphony as its new music director this fall, infused Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 with extra exuberance and sensitivity to its Napoleonic themes.
Although the themes are familiar to classical musical lovers, Eroica in less able hands has sometimes come across as too predictable and automatically played. But when Payare opened the symphony by (I think appropriately) upping the pace on the Allegro con brio, there was a new feeling of excitement stretching across the Pavilion and lawn.
It was in perfect contrast to what became the very expressive Marcia funebre movement in C minor followed by the CSO strings’ nimble and delightful Scherzo that went back to the symphony’s key of E-flat major.
During the symphony, the cameras for ravinia’s screens’ focused on the orchestra’s exceptional oboist, flutist and French horns.
They deserved the extra acknowledgement accorded them by Payare after the heroic symphony’s exuberant final notes drew enthusiastic applause.
This interpretation of Beethoven’s epic, groundbreaking symphony was among the best I’ve heard.
It would take another epic performance to complement the first half the program.
And that is what Ax delivered with his extraordinary Brahm’s Concerto No. 2 in B –flat major.
Back at Ravinia for his 28th appearance since 1975, the 70-year-old Ax still has the powerful hands, agile fingers and emotion variations that won the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv in the 1974 and the Avery Fisher Prize in New York City in 1979.
Among the finest pianists of our time, Ax appeared to be having a love affair with the piano (or with Brahms) on Friday.
From hands crossing to land powerful chords and fingers flying across the keys to their producing lyrical waterfalls and gentle caresses, Ax married technique with sensitivity.
What audiences may not recall is that Brahms pays homage in Piano Concerto No. 2 to another instrument he likes to write for, the cello. In notes on the work, Brahms calls the section of the Andante that features a cello solo, a “concerto within a concerto.”
Ax is familiar with Brahms piano cello pairings. As a frequent partner with cellist Yo Yo Ma, the duo has won several Grammy Awards for their Brahms recordings.
As the strains of the last notes of Brahms second piano concerto echoed through the Pavilion, the audience rose, almost as one body, applauding loudly and long.
The double bill of bravo performances made Friday at Ravinia a night to remember.
(Friday was the second night to feature Beethoven symphonies and Brahms concertos. Thursday’s concert was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor followed by pianist Yefim Bronfman playing Brahms’ Concerto No. 1 in D minor.)
Set in a Holiday Inn hotel room in International Falls, Minnesota, traveling comedian Tim has come to the end of the road while front desk clerk Dee wants to escape her life. Together they explore the use of comedy to mask their sadness and express their pain.
Tim (Sean Higgins) shares his unsuccessful quest to find his own unique voice and urges Dee (Marie Weigle) to find hers, stressing that honesty and authenticity is what is important.
In “International Falls,” playwright Thomas Ward evidently understands that struggle and has clearly met the challenge writing some of the most authentic and honest dialogue I have ever heard on stage.
Presented by by the Agency Theater Collective in partnership with End of the Line Production, Ward’s brilliant dialogue comes to life as spoken by Higgins and Weigle. You feel like you are sitting in their hotel room witnessing the events unfold.
Higgins’ cringingly awkward stand-up asides are perfectly painful and his obvious discomfort with himself combined with false bravado is portrayed with appropriate nuance.
Weigle’s pent up frustration, emerging confidence and vulnerability is palpable but never goes over the top.
The blocking was seamless and meaningful.
The naturalness of the actors can only be achieved when they have a critical eye assuring them that what they are doing is right.
Director Cody Lucas clearly gets credit for pulling this small ensemble together into a beautiful unified performance. Orchestrating the emotional level with symphonic accuracy, Lucas dials up the emotions to peak levels that never gets shrill, then dials them back down to create a needed contrast that keeps the audience engaged and caring about the characters.
This voyeuristic experience is further enhanced by the intimate setting of the Nox Arca Theatre which is actually a small industrial space on the 5th floor of a concrete loft building on the corner of Irving Park in the Ravenswood corridor. Scenic Designer Soli Eisenberg has done a brilliant job of incorporating the natural elements of the room to create the effect.
By the way the music mix before the show began was awesome.
DETAILS: “International Falls” is at Nox Arca Theatre, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave, #405. Chicago, through August 31, 2019. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and information visit We Are the Agency.
Be sure to look at what is being projected on the Chicago River side of theMart. See if you can identify which great work of art is now on the building’s 2.5 acre façade.
It could be “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” the popular 1884 painting by Georges Seurat.
Or it might be “The Bedroom,” a famous 1889 work by Vincent van Gogh.
“Art on the MART” has been doing digital projections across the huge building that used to be known as the Merchandise Mart on the north side of the Chicago River since the end September 2018 in partnership with the City of Chicago and privately funded by theMART owners Vornado Realty Trust.
Now, as of Aug. 1, 2019, those projections will be digitalized pictures of works from the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection. They can be seen from Wednesday through Sunday for about two hours each night beginning about half an hour after sunset.
Also geared for projection is Georgia O’Keefe’s “Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.”
Digitalized projections on the MART rotate each season.
“The Art Institute is thrilled to share some of our most iconic works with the city through our partnership with theMART- a landmark architectural site and a new platform for public art in Chicago,” said Robyn Farrell, Art Institute of Chicago Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.
Explaining that part of Art on theMART’s mission is to make public art space available to cultural institutions and artists, Executive Director Cynthia Noble said, “We are honored to work with the Art Institute of Chicago to offer unprecedented access to four beloved, yet transformed, works from the permanent collection.”
Pretty much everyone recalls where they were when they heard that planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Radio announcers guessed it was an accident when American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston’s Logan International Airport bound for Los Angeles went into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Then United Airlines Flight 175 from Logan, also bound for LA flew into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.
(Two other planes were also hijacked, AA Flight 77 which flew into the Pentagon and United flight 93 was brought down by its passengers before it could hit its target in Washington D.C.)
At 9:25 a.m. the Air Traffic Control System Command Center at Washington Dulles, directed about 4,300 planes to land, ordering 120 inbound overseas flights to Canada and the rest to return to countries of origin.
The United flight that our daughter was flying from London to Los Angeles was diverted to Edmonton, Canada. All she heard before landing was that the US airspace was closed. (We didn’t know it was a direct flight. She could have gone through Boston.)
Of the planes in the air, 38 were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland where they stayed for five days.
“Come From Away” is the amazing story, told in a musical with a rock beat by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, of how the small town of Gander (9,000 residents) managed to feed, clothe, find facilities and befriend approximately 7,000 passengers and crew members while working through the visitors’ foreign customs, language difficulties and personal distress.
The musical tell a mash-up of their stories in just 100 minutes.
Except for a passenger who keeps trying to find out about her son, an NYC fire fighter, and the American Airlines pilot of a plane landing in Gander who learns her friend Charles (Burlingame) was the pilot on the ill-fated Flight 77, the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, were not the story.
Instead, though some moments lead to tears, others result in laughter and smiles. Audiences will be reminded that kindness brings out kindred spirits and understanding can change antagonism to gratitude.
Moving from an Ontario theater workshop in 2012 and through other stops on the way to Broadway in 2017, “Come From Away” garnered seven Tony nominations and won the “Best Director of a Musical” award for Christopher Ashley.
Now, the touring company is in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through Aug. 18, 2019.
Gander characters double as passengers and crew, a difficult feat that may occasionally confuse some audience members.
But the show’s talented cast of experienced Broadway and TV actors really are able to convey how Gander’s warmhearted hospitality eventually permeates the awful stress of people who at first are not allowed off a plane even though they’ve landed, can’t communicate easily with family back home and are leery of how their views, fears and needs may be regarded by strangers.
The band is excellent and on stage, sometimes as part of the action.
Award-winning conductor/keyboardist Cynthia Kortman Westphal also does the accordion and harmonium. Isaac Alderson plays the Irish flute and Uilleann pipes. Kiana June Weber is a skillful fiddler. Adam Stoler is on the electric and acoustic guitars. In addtion, Matt Wong is on acoustic guitar and mandolins, Max Calkin plays the electric and acoustic bass, Steve Holloway and Ben Morrow handle percussion.
My only problem with the current, touring show is that it was hard to catch all the spoken and sung words. When asked, others there said they liked the show but also had the same problem.
However, the show’s mood and message comes across well. “Come From Away” is a feel-good musical that is worth seeing for its story about how Gander not only coped but altered their visitors’ views of themselves and others.
DETAILS: “Come From Away” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through Aug. 18, 2019. Running time: 100 minutes, no intermission. For tickets and other information call ( 800) 775-2000) or visit Broadway In Chicago.
Experienced theater goers know that not all memorable plays are on stage in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters also put on Jeff award-winning productions. To be sure to catch a show you want to see, copy it and save or mark those productions on the calendar. (Note: Some companies spell their work and space “theater,” others use “theatre.” Both are correct.) A look at the coming suburban theater season is the last round-up in Chicago Theater and Arts’ Sneak Peek Series.
The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.
Citadel is doing “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Sept. 18-Oct. 20 followed by “Annie,” Nov. 20-Dec. 22. “The Fantasticks” start out 2020 Feb. 5-Mar. 8, followed by “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Apr. 22-May 24.
For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
The theatre does musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.
“Darling Grenadine” continues through Aug. 18 followed by “ Something Rotten,” Aug. 28-Oct. 20 and “Oliver” Oct 30-Dec. 29, 2019. “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.
Marriott’s shows for young audiences feature “Junie B. Jones,” now through Aug. 11 and “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” Oct. 4-Dec. 29.
For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.
Metropolis Performing Arts Center
The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Aug. 31, then “Anything Goes” Sept. 19-Nov. 2., 2019. The new year begins with “Noises Off” Jan 20-Mar. 14, followed by “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” May 14-June 27 and “Mama Mia! July 16 -Aug. 29.
The theatre is in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Skokie
Northlight is doing the Midwest premiere of “Mother of the Maid” Sept. 12-Oct. 20 and the world premiere of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov.7-Dec. 15, 2019. The season continues in the new year with the world premiere of “How a Boy Falls” Jan. 23-Mar. 1 followed by “Intimate Apparel” Mar. 12-Apr. 19 and “Songs for Nobodies” May 7-June 14. 2020.
For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 and visit Northlight.
A theatre workshop/school at 927 Noyes St., Evanston, that also presents productions in co-operation with other groups. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre presents“The Black Ballerina” in partnership with Piven, Dear Evanston and Dance Center Evanston, Aug. 10-25.
For Piven tickets and other information call (947) 866-8049 and visit Piven Theatre.
The theatre is in a small, historic, movie theater building at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie
Skokie Theatre is doing “The Fantasticks” Sept. 6-Oct. 6 followed by “Marjorie Prime: Nov. 8-24, 2019. The season continues in 2020 with “Veronica’s Room” Feb. 7-Mar. 1.
For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.
Designed by architect Jeanne Gang and her Studio Gang, WT has two stages in an award-winning building at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre and the The Gillian Theatre.
The 2019-20 season opens with “Into the Woods” Aug. 14-Sept. 22, followed by “A Doll’s House” Sept. 25-Dec. 15, 2019. :The Niceties” is Nov. 6-Dec. 15. It continues in 2020 with “Stick Fly” Feb. 5-Mar. 15. and “The Last Match” Mar. 18-June 7. And “Mementos Mori” ay 6-June 14. .
For tickets and other information call (847) 242-6000 and visit Writers Theatre.
Drury Lane Theatre
The theatre is at the Drury Lane Resort, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.
Drury Lane Theatre continues “And then There Were None” through Aug. 26 then is doing “The Color Purple” Sept. 13-Nov. 3. 2019 goes into 2020 with Mary Poppins” Nov. 15 –Jan. 19. “An American in Paris” is on stage Jan. 31-Mar. 29.
The theatre uses the rooms and grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate at 1717 W. 31st St. Oak Brook.
First Folio is doing “Henry V” through Aug. 18. Then, “Sherlock’s Last Case” Oct. 2-Nov. 3, 2019. Shows continue in 2020 with “Jeeves Saves the Day” Jan. 29-Mar.1 followed by “Louisa May Alcott’s Little women.” Mar. 25-Apr. 26.
Fir tickets and other information call(630) 986-8067 and visit First Folio.
Jedlicka Performing Arts Center
The Center at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero., is doing “In the Heights” with Vision Latino Theatre Company, fall of 2019. Dates TBA. For tickets and other information call (708) 656-1800 and visit Jpac Theatre.
Madison Street Theatre
The theatre, at 1010 Madison St. Oak Park, is a multi-venue building. For information call (312) 282-1750 and visit MSTOakPark.
Oak Park Festival Theater
The theater, 157 Forest Ave., has is doing “Much Ado About Nothing” through Aug. 31. Followed by “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story” Oct. 24-Nov. 17, 2019.
The theatre is in a historic movie palace at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
Paramount is doing “Newsies” Sept. 4-Oct. 20, then “Beauty and the Beast” Nov. 13-Jan. 19, followed by “The Secret of My Success” Feb. 12-Mar. 29. “Kinky Boots” ends the season Apr. 29-June 14.
For tickets and other information call (630) 896-6666 and visit Paramount Aurora.
Sixteenth Street Theatre
The theatre, 6420 16th Street, Berwyn, is doing “His Shadow” Sept. 5-Oct. 12, 2019 and “Small Jokes About Monsters” Jan. 10-Feb. 16, then, “Good Enough” Mar. 14-Apr. 20, 2020. For tickets and other information call (708) 795-6704 and visit 16th Street Theater.
Theatre of Western Springs
The theatre is at 4383 Hampton Ave., Western Springs.
It is doing “Murder in the Studio” Sept. 5-15 followed by “Accomplice” Oct. 17-27. The new year starts with “The Nerd” Hab, 16-26. Then, “The Great Gatsby” is Feb. 27-Mar. 8 and “TheGame’s Afoot” May 28-June 7.
Art fairs are a chance to see a Chicago neighborhood or a suburb while trying to get in your “fitbit” goal for the day. They also are a way to find the perfect painting or sculpture for your abode or a terrific piece of pottery or pair of earrings for yourself or a gift.
3- 4 Glenview
Art at the Glen features 175 artists in the Glen Tower Center, 2030 Tower Drive, Glenview. Hours: 10 am – 5 pm. For more info see Amdur Productions.
More than 100 artists participate in the annual Lincolnshire Art Festival held on the Village Green just east of Milwaukee Avenue at Old Half Day Road in north suburban Lincolnshire. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm. For more info see Amdur Productions.
24- 25 Oak Park
On the western edge of Chicago look for more than 130 exhibitors at the annual Oak Park Avenue-Lake Arts & Crafts Show in Scoville Park at Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street. Hours: Saturday 11 am – 7 p.m. Sunday 9 am – 5 p.m. For more info see American Society of Artists.
24-25 Highland Park
The Port Clinton Art Festival, among the Midwest’s best art fairs, spreads across downtown Highland Park from its center at 600 Central Ave. to feature about 260 artists from across the globe. Hours are 10 a.,. to 6 p.m.For more info see Amdur Productions.
About 200 artists exhibit their works at the annual Bucktown Arts Fest held in Holstein Park 22-2200 N. Oakley Ave at 2300 W. Lyndale St. Hours: 11 am – 7 pm. For more info see Bucktownh Arts Fest.
1-2 Lake Forest
Sponsored by the Deer Path Art League, the Annual Art Fair on the Square fills the town’s Historic Market Square and Western Avenue with 180 artists on Sunday and Monday of Labor Day Weekend. Hours: 10 am –5 pm. For more info see Deer Path Art League.
The shopping center’s Fine Arts Festival is 100 Oakbrook Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For information visit Amdur Productions.
About 150 exhibitors will be at the Lakeview East Festival of the Arts at Broadway From Belmont to Hawthorne. Hours: Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more info see Lakeview East Festival of the Arts.
West suburban Naperville features 140 artists at its Riverwalk Fine Art Fair held downtown along the Dupage River and at Eagle Street and Jackson Avenue. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm. For more info see Riverwalk Fine Art Fair.
14-15 Park Forest
Sponsored by Tall Grass Arts Assn., the Park Forest Art Fair is held downtown and has 90 exhibitors. For more info see Tallgrass Arts.
20-22 Glencoe (ACE at Chicago Botanic Garden)
Among the best shows in the country, the American Craft Exposition (ACE) takes over the Regenstein Center at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd.,in Glencoe just east of Edens Expressway. Hours: Friday & Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, Sunday 10 am – 5 pm. For more info see American Craft Expo.
The Arboretum of South Barrington Art Festival is at the Arboretum, 100 W Higgins Rd
South Barrington from 10 a.,. to 5 p.m.. For more information vist Amdur Productions.
28- 29 Barrington
Art in the Barn brings 166 exhibitors to the grounds of Good Shepherd Hospital, 450 W IL Highway 22. Hours: 10 am – 5 pm. For more info see Art in the Barn.
The Edgewater Arts Festival, a neighborhood fair that welcomes the whole city is at 1040-1190 W. Granville Ave. The fair features more than 100 exhibitors and several bands. Hours 11 am – 6 pm. A $5 donation is suggested. For more info see Edgewater Artists.
“You Can’t Fake the Funk (A Journey Through Funk Music)” presented by Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater works hard to “turn this mutha out.”
“There’s a whole lot of rhythm goin’ round” in this energetic performance written and directed by the company’s own producing and managing director, Daryl D. Brooks.
The journey through the history of funk is hosted by Dwight Neal as Dr. Funk and takes place aboard the “Mothership,” an allusion to George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 platinum album “Mothership Connection.”
Clinton actually incorporated a spaceship as part of the scenery into his concerts but BET’s homage does not do it justice and Denise Karczewski’s lighting didn’t do too much to help, particularly if you consider the lighting effects prominent in the disco style shows of this time.
Ten strangers of varying ages and occupations arrive at an island mansion off the coast of Devon, England. Their host, who has beckoned them on one pretense or another, is delayed.
In this late 1930s setting, the houseguests start dying–one by one, and by violent means. The island is otherwise uninhabited, and the only boat back to the mainland is thwarted by a storm.
They realize they are stranded with a murderer in their midst. Who is it, and who will be the next victim?
The production, now playing at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, is based on the book by renowned English writer Agatha Christie. One of the best-selling murder mysteries of all time, it was first published in 1939 under a name that today is considered highly racist and will not be repeated here.
A stellar ensemble cast is artfully directed by Jessica Fisch. Cher Álvarez plays former governess Vera Claythorne with great style and composure. Matt DeCaro lends leadership skills and authority to the retired Justice Wargrave, and Marilyn Dodds Frank injects just the right amount of haughtiness into Emily Brent, the judgmental spinster.
Paul-Jordan Jansen, who in real life looks mighty fine wearing a kilt, portrays dual-identity William Blore with boldness and a touch of comic relief.
The houseguests’ British accents can be difficult to translate into modern-day American vernacular. Or maybe it’s the acoustics that muddle voices on the sideline seats. But the players’ fears and suspicions of each other ring clearly.
The entire performance takes place in the mansion’s expansive living room as created by scenic designer Andrew Boyce. With its parquet floors, lavish mill work, velvet fringed sofas and panoramic ocean view, the set is worthy of a photo shoot for “Architectural Digest” magazine.
The period-perfect apparel, particularly as worn by the female actors, by costume designer Jessica Pabst, is equally lovely to behold.
Other members of the creative team include Driscoll Otto as lighting designer and Ray Nardelli as sound designer.
“And Then There Were None” weaves a clever, captivating tale that keeps its secrets until the very end.
DETAILS: “And Then There Were None” is at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook (639) 530-0111 or visit DruryLaneTheatre.
Celebrate summer while it’s here. This weekend, art booths fill downtown Glencoe and Renee Fleming is doing Stoppard’s “Penelope” at Ravinia. Next week the Oriental Institute in Hyde Park has Hieroglyphics for kids and the Edgewater neighborhood celebrates summer with food,beverages and music
What: Festival of Art
When: July 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Where: Center point is 700 Vernon Ave. near Park Avenue west of Green Bay Road in north suburban Glencoe.
You arrive at the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel to be greeted by a bevy of smiling faces, all of whom are there to happily launch your theatrical experience.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, you’ll understand what awaits you. At the far end of the theatre lobby there’s a huge bar, where all manner of beverages await your order, including a complimentary glass of champagne.
Then, with a fanfare, the company of waitstaff announce that the 300+ seat Spiegeltent is now open and ready for your entertainment and dining pleasure. And with that, you’re off and running for three hours of nonstop munching, merriment and mayhem.
Seated at one of the linen-covered tables arranged in-the-round on various levels, the audience is waited upon by cheerful, exuberant waitpersons. The delicious, four-course dinner, developed and overseen by “The Goddess,” Debbie Sharpe, begins with an appetizer, that already waits at your table.
Your waiter takes your order of entree you prefer (braised beef short ribs, a pasta dish, vegetarian Thai curry, roasted chicken breast or herb roasted salmon); he also records a credit card, in the event you decide to order additional drinks. While you’re enjoying your first course, you start to take in your gorgeous surroundings.