It’s that time of year again when shirt-sleeve weather encourages folks who want something interesting or fun for the abode to check out area art fairs and festivals.
June 17-18, 2017
For Father’s Day weekend, two really big fairs may tempt Dad or at least get people strolling around Grant Park and downtown Evanston.
The mega Gold Coast Art Fair takes over Grant Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Operated by Amdur Productions, it is among the top fairs in the country attracting about 300 juried-in artists. For other information visit Amdur.
Also this weekend the Annual Custer’s Last Stand sprawls across Evanston’s Main Street-Chicago Avenue area with about 375 artists. Sponsored by the Evanston Festival Theatre and the Illinois Arts Council, it goes from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For other information call visit CusterFair or call (847) 328-2204.
June 24-25, 2017
If this weekend doesn’t work or more exercise is desired, the Randolph Street market is at 1340 W. Washington St but spills over surrounding streets with about 300 vendors. It goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next market is the last weekend of July. For other info visit Randolph Street Market.
Back in the northern burbs, the Art Center of Highland Park holds its annual Festival of Fine Arts at the northeastern end of the suburb’s downtown on Sheridan Road south of Central Avenue. the fair goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See Festival of the Fine Arts.
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.
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,”
If you go see ‘Ragtime,’ a Griffin production now at the Den Theatre through July 16, 2017, you won’t be viewing a Broadway spectacle (if you haven’t put it on your must see schedule do yourself a favor and take care of it now).
Griffin’s ‘Ragtime’ is a minimalist production intimately performed in nearly a theater-in-the-round setting with just two pianos and a wind instrument and new orchestrations by music director Matt Deitchman.
It’s Director Scott Weinstein’s way of focusing on the issues of racism, women’s roles, immigration, wages and society in New York City in early 20th century that writer E.L. Doctorow did in his 1975 historical novel and were translated into a 1996 musical by lyricist Lynn Ahrens, composer Stephen Flaherty with book by Terrence McNally.
‘Ragtime’ does not need to be a spectacle. There is enough meat in the story and music,” Weinstein said in a recent interview.
“This production strips away the visuals. We made it about the people. It’s very intimate,” he said.
A similar feeling of intimacy is achieved by Writers Theatre’s powerful production of ‘Parade.’ Directed by Gary Griffin, the musical poignantly reflects the prejudices of a South that had not recovered from the Civil War.
Interestingly, Weinstein directed ‘Parade’ as a college senior when it was Northwestern University’s 2010 Dolphin Show. “It is one of the best scores for musical theatre,” he said. “There hasn’t been a revival until recently. Now there is a smaller version.”
He added, “It’s the same with ‘Ragtime.’ It was big. I wanted it stripped down.”
As to how he and his collaborators chose the show, Weinstein said, “It stands the test of time.”
After noting that the musical was written in the 1990s based on a book from the 1970s about the early 1900s, Weinstein said, “It’s even more relevant now. It’s so easy to go on line and see that these issues are still in the news.”
Asked if he thought Doctorow would be surprised, he said,” “Yes, and disappointed.”
Weinstein will be directing “Rock of Ages” at Drury Lane theatre this fall, beginning Aug. 24, 2017 and had directed its Childrens Theatre’s James & the Giant Peach in May.
A very successful director (“I’ve been lucky”) he has a long list of credits that includes (though not limited to) other Griffin shows, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre’s Garage Rep Series and Adirondack Theatre Festival. He is also the Associate Director for the National tour, Las Vegas and Chicago productions of “Million Dollar Quartet.”
“I like musicals. I like how music tells a story,” he said.
But he also likes shows that are not predictable. “I feel that we have preconceived ideas. There are our assumptions. The challenge is to do something other than expected,” Weinstein said.
It may be no surprise, that he likes Stephen Sondheim. Asked what show he would like to do, Weinstein immediately said, “Merrily We Roll along.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is nothing ragged about this Griffin Theatre version of Tony Award-winning ‘RAGTIME.’
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.
Lincoln Hall, Metro, Park West, Schubas, Subterranean and The Vic are some of the 16 venues hosting the Lollapalooza Aftershows. Show tickets go on sale June 2, 2017 at 10 a.m. CT.
Here is the Aftershow list of entertainers and venues. For more information visit Lollaaftershows.
Aug. 1 – Jon Bellion with MAX and Anthony Pavel are at Metro.
Aug. 2 – Suicideboy$ are at Bottom Lounge, Kaytranada with Kweku Collins and Lou Phelps are at Concord, the Drums with Stef Chura are at Empty Bottle, the Temples with Declan McKenna are at Lincoln Hall, Spoon with CRX is at Metro, Liam Gallagher with Blossoms is at Park West, Hippo Campus with Remo Drive is at Reggies, Mondo Cozmo with Billy Raffoul is at Schubas, Atlas Genius with Stanaj is at Subterranean and Foster the People with Home are at The Vic.
Aug. 3 – Pretty Reckless with Slothtrust appears at Bottom Lounge, Little Dragon with Xavier Omar is at Concord, Pup with Deeper is at Empty Bottle, Phantogram with Flint Eastwood comes to House of Blues, Crystal Castles with Pham is at Lincoln Hall, Jai Wolf with Gryffin appears at Logan Square, Porter Robinson with Intermodal is at Mid, Tegan and Sara with Frenship are at Park West, Cloud Nothings with Oozing Wound are at Reggies, Skott with Flor comes to Schubas, Paper Diamond with Golf Clap at Soundbar, Highly Suspect with the Frights are at Subterranean, Whitney with Kevin Devine is at Thalia Hall and Ryan Adams with the Districts appear at The Vic.
Aug. 4 – Andrew McMahon with Missio at Bottom Lounge, Mac Demarco with Middle Kids at Concord, San Fermin with Ron Gallo at Empty Bottle, Vance Joy with Cobi at House of Blues, Royal Blood with White Reaper at Lincoln Hall, Slushi with Young Bombs at Logan Square, Gramatik with K?D at Mid, Live with the Shelters at Park West, Taylor Bennet at Reggies, Lemon Twigs with Bunny at Schubas, Warpaint at Subterranean, Sylvan Esso with Flock of Dimes at Thalia Hall, Banks with the Japanese House at Vic.
Aug. 5 – Mura Masa with Saint JHN is at Bottom Lounge, G-Jones with EPROM is at Chop Shop, Zane Lowe Presents Towkio plus Amine plus Jidenna spear at Concord, Alvvays is at Empty Bottle, Milky Chance with Arizona comes to the House of Blues, Car Seat Headrest with Gold Connection appear at Lincoln Hall, NGHTMRE with Moksi is at Logan Square, Alison Wonderland with Ephwurd is at Mid, Grouplove with 888 is at Park West, 6lack with Michael Christmas is at Reggies, Barns Courtney with Luke Henry is at Schubas, Joyryde is at Soundbar, Moose Blood with Vant is at Subterranean, Kaleo with Colony House is at Thalia Hall and the Shins with Mt. Joy appear at The Vic.
Aug. 6: – Zeds Dead with Wax Motif is at Concord, the Head and the Heart with the Walters are at Metro, Borgore with Dirty Audio is at Mid and Slander is at Soundbar.
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.”
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.
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
There’s another place to put on the must see list when visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.
Tourists and regular Art Institute goers often have a must see stop when visiting the famed museum.
Some visitors head to the French Impressionist galleries while others go to the Modern Wing. The Thorne Miniature Rooms are also a draw as are such works as Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” in the Modern American galleries that lead to Regenstein Hall’s special exhibitions.
But now, the museum has redone a space for its armored horseback figures, swords and such altarpiece panels as Bernat Martorell’s “Saint George and the Dragon.”
Opened this spring, it’s the Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms and Armor, a gorgeous, Gothic-style space for nearly 700 items from the years 1200 to 1600. The museum has titled these displays “Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe.”
Up on Level 2, a darkly mysterious archway sets a “Game of Thrones” tone as visitors step back in time in Galleries 235-239. Vaulted ceilings are reminiscent of chapels and great halls that once held the objects.
“Ayala Altarpiece,” a 24-foot funerary chapel altarpiece from 1396 dominates the first room. “Saint George and the Dragon” is further along in another vaulted gallery.
The great hall at the end of the space beckons with its impressive armored horseback riders but the galleries leading up to it are worth perusing. They offer clues on how some people lived from jewelry to art and dining.
After first walking through an arms-filled rotunda, patience is rewarded as visitors ooh and ah when stepping into the great arms and armor hall.
An armored horseback figure is ready to battle but look behind him. Another rider is dressed for sport. Snap the photos then gaze around and up. Two figures are battling on foot. More arms are displayed high above the figures.
There is one more gallery. It features fine firearms and hunt equipment.
Visitors who don’t go through too quickly will see digital labels that are there for an interesting, interactive experience.
The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For hours, admission and other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC.
The City of Chicago is stirring some more exotic, well, at least, international and trendy, flavors into Taste of Chicago but is not neglecting comfort food or desserts or forgetting long-time faves.
Settling in along Columbus Drive (closed for the event) in Grant Park will be 67 vendors that include these 17 new-to-Taste places: American Glory, Aztec Dave’s Food truck, Ben’s Bar Be Cue, Bob Bar Truck, Brightwok Kitchen, Broken English, Cheesie’s Pub and Grub, Doom Street Eats, El Patron, Hakka Bakka Indian Kati Rolls, Just Salad, Lawrence’s Fish & Shrimp, the Little Beet table, Seoul Taco, The Cajun Connoisseur, Ukai Japanese Restaurant and Warm Belly Bakery.
Just hearing the names of these “fooderies” is mouth-watering enough to put stars on the calendar for July 5-9, 2017. But Taste aficionados can still count on getting their ribs at Robsinson’s, a slice of pizza at Lou Malnati’s and dessert fix at Eli’s Cheescake’s booths.
Yes, the event has been billed as the world’s largest free food festival but that just means no gate charge shape shifting into a crumb-snatching pigeon. Food and beverages are gotten by handing over the number of tickets required for each item the booths. Since a strip of 14 tickets cost $10, visitors would do well to purchase more than one strip.
However, checking out some of Chicago’s wonderful culinary choices is just part of Taste. There are good bands, excellent celebrity chef dinners, wine and beer gardens, dance and art events and cooking demonstrations.
Tickets starting at $19 can be purchased now for concerts at the park’s Petrillo Music Shell by Alessia Cara, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The O’Jays, Café Tacvba and Passion Pit. There will also be local bands playing on the Bud Light Stage.
A different celebrity chef will do a three-course, sit-down dinner in an air conditioned tent each night. Tickets are $45 and must be purchased in advance.
For more Celebrity Chef dinner information and tickets and concert tickets visit Taste of Chicago.
Taste of Chicago, July 5-9, 2017, is in Grant Park on Columbus Drive from Monroe to Balbo. Hours are 11am–9pm Wednesday through Friday and 10am–9pm on Saturday and Sunday.