Two different Halloween celebrations


Halloween Parade on State Street
Halloween Parade on State Street

This year get into the Halloween spirit with an unusual parade and event downtown Chicago Saturday, Oct. 20. Follow up tasty  treats the following Saturday, Oct. 27 and Wednesday Oct. 31 at Navy Pier.



First, get thyself and friends down to State Street between Lake and Van Buren Streets between 6 and 8 p.m. for “Arts in the Dark” to see floats, dancers, lantern carriers and a weird assortment of performers parade by. The fun procession is co hosted by the Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Loop Alliance.

Then , from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. be at the ”Bean” (Cloud Gate Plaza) in Millennial Park for music, circus-style side-show characters, magicians, video projections, fortune tellers and even a kids station for the younger crowd hosted by DCASE. Best stairway into the park is at the east end of Washington Street and Michigan Avenue.

Continue the fun in Maggie Daley Park east of Millennial Park  (337 E. Randolph St.). Here, the Chicago Park District is passing out candy and showing the movie “Beetlejuice. For more exercise try Mini Golf at $11 or the Skating Ribbon and Climbing Wall with a $20 package price.

For more info visit Arts in the Dark.

Trick or Treat at Navy Pier (Photo by James Richards IV)
Trick or Treat at Navy Pier (Photo by James Richards IV)


Navy Pier

Next Saturday bring a treat bag to Navy Pier, receive a candy passport at Guest Services Desk at the main entrance for list of treat stations and participating businesses from 1 to 5 p.m. Then liten listen to music by different bands in “Sequence Chicago’s free fall/winter performance series.

The Halloween celebration ends at the Pier Oct. 31 with more candy handouts from 3 to 7 p.m. and bands. (Registration for the free Centennial  Wheel ride is full)

Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. For more info visit Navy Pier.

Jodie Jacobs

Theater costumes sale

Costumes at Goodman Theatre.
Costumes at Goodman Theatre.

Heads up community theater companies, anyone interested in gorgeous costumes, wigs or planning on dressing for a costume ball, the costume shop at the Goodman Theatre is holding a “yard” sale Oct. 20, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its building, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago.

Some noted items on sale are headwear from “Crowns,” uniforms from “King Lear,” pageant costumes from “Another Word For Beauty” and flag costumes from “Father Comes Home From the Wars.”

Admission is free. All sales are final and proceeds help support the Goodman. Items range from $1 to more than $300 and must be picked up the same day.

Jodie Jacobs

‘WaistWatchers – The Musical’ a woeful tale

Somewhat Recommended

 Waistwatchers the Musical is at the Royal George Theatre

Waistwatchers the Musical is at the Royal George TheatreNo subject in “Waistwatchers – The Musical,” premiering now at the Royal George Theatre, is taboo

Take a talented group of ladies who belt out a powerhouse of hits about the traumas of growing older, getting heavier, and feeling somewhat invisible and you have the basics of a very funny show.  You’ll find yourself laughing hysterically and nodding in agreement with their tales of universal woe.

The musical romp stars two-time Grammy nominee vocalist Martha Wash, the queen of disco and half of the Weather Girls, known for their hit single, “It’s Raining Men.”

While the three women commiserate at “Miss Cook’s Women’s Gym,” they sing the praises of younger owner Carla who does her best to keep her favorite customers motivated and on track. Yes, that anthem is an adaptation of “YMCA” and the audience is invited to sing along.

Lighthearted and full of high-energy dancing and non-stop fun, the musical features more than 20 numbers that focus on women’s relationship to food, friendship, loss, sex, Botox and working out.  And candy. Lots of candy.

Wash is Connie through October 28. The show also stars Kiley McDonald as Carla, Sarah Godwin as Cindy, Krissy Johnson as Cheryl, and Katherine S. Barnes as the MC.

Walsh knocks it out of the park with her powerful vocals and she simply commands the show every time she’s on the stage. She was a joy to watch.

Produced by Dana Matthow, the creative team includes Matthew E. Silva (Director), Alan Jacobson (Creator, Book and Lyrics), Vince Di Mura (Music) and Dani Tucci-Jurraga (Choreography).

The audience included several groups with a few men who were picked on for fun. In the end, the show empowers women to band together, relax and just be who they are.

DETAILS:  “WaistWatchers the Musical” is at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago, through Dec. 30, 2018. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 988-9000 or visit Waist Watchers the Musical.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago


Lyric Opera back in business

Michael Fabiano (Rodolfo) and Maria Agresta (Mimi) meet when she comes to his garret in La boheme. (Todd Rosenberg photo)
Michael Fabiano (Rodolfo) and Maria Agresta (Mimi) meet when she comes to his garret in La boheme. (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Opera lovers expecting to see the second performance of Puccini’s “La boheme” and the opening of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” last week found that they had to reschedule because the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local #10-208 (CFM) went out on strike last Tuesday. The notes of contention were salary and number of performances.

But after a short week of back and forth negotiations, CFM and the Lyric Opera of Chicago have reached a contract agreement that goes through the 2020-2021 season.

As a result of the compromise, the Lyric Orchestra receives a 5.6 percent weekly salary increase over three years, the orchestra will be reduced by four instead of five musicians beginning next season, the main portion of the opera season will be 22 weeks, instead of 24 and Wagner’s “Ring Cycle will include five additional weeks.

Lyric has added gwo performances of La Boheme in January 2019 to make up for the canceled performances. They are Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

Ticket holders to cancelled performances can exchange them this week. New tickets to the added performance go on sale to the public Oct. 19.
But tickets for Puccini’s “La Boheme” Wednesday performance and the opening of Mozart’s “Idomeneo”  Thursday are now on sale as are other operas. For tickets and more information call (312)827-5600 and visit Lyric Opera.

Jodie Jacobs



Seeking true ecstasy


Donterrio Johnson (Leading Player) and Koray Tarhan (Pippin); (Photo by Brett Beiner)
Donterrio Johnson (Leading Player) and Koray Tarhan (Pippin);
(Photo by Brett Beiner)

Young Prince Pippin, played by Koray Tarhan, is searching for many things to help him fulfill his happiness.

From his glory of the battlefield to his political aptitude and his sensual seductions, not only does he come closer to finding his jubilation, but the audience gets to know Prince Pippin increasingly better by the minute.

Pippin’s imaginative journey is at the heart of Broadway legend Stephen Schwartz’s classic musical ‘Pippin’ which won four Tony Awards in 2013.

The new Chicago production at Mercury Theater’s Venus Cabaret Theater is delightful. Its captivating tunes “Corner of the Sky” and “Magic to Do” are beautifully played by musicians Courtney Anne McNally, Andrew Milliken, and Diego Salcedo.

At the end of the play, Pippin finally discovers where his happiness lies. His message is a worldwide, all-embracing theme.

Cast of Pippin at Mercury Theater Chicago (Photo by Brett Beiner)
Cast of Pippin at Mercury Theater Chicago
(Photo by Brett Beiner)

A fabulous cast keeps the delighted audience at the edge of their seats as they watch with amazement as each member displays proficient, multiple skills. The  singing is beautiful and the dancing is incredible.

Leading Player is performed by Donterrio Johnson who brings Pippin together with the following characters: King Charlemagne the Great—aka Charles—Pippin’s father played by Don Forston; his half-brother, Lewis, played by Adam Fane and his grandmother, Berthe, played by Iris Lieberman.

The cast also includes  Nicole Armold, Kayla Boye, Michael Rawls, Gabriel Robert and Sawyer Smith.

“Pippin” is directed by L. Walter Stearns with music direction by Eugene Dizon and choreography by Brenda Didier.

DETAILS: “Pippin” is at the Venus Cabaret Theater of Mercury Theater Chicago, 3741 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, through Dec. 16, 2018. Running time: 2 hours. For tickets and other information, call 7(73) 325-1700 or visit Mercury Theater Chicago.

Francine Pappadis Friedman

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago


Have a night ‘On the Town’ at Northbrook Theatre



Cast of On the Town at Northbrook Theatre (Zach Dalir Photography)
Cast of On the Town at Northbrook Theatre (Zach Dalin Photography)

Catch “On The Town,” a high-energy wartime musical about three sailors on a 24-hour leave who are looking for love and adventure in New York City. Performed by the Highland Park Players through October 28, this Tony Award-nominated musical features thrilling music by Leonard Bernstein with playful lyrics and book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

What makes this show so unique (and challenging) is the blending of musical comedy with ballet, just as the young Bernstein envisioned and would go to recreate in “West Side Story” as well. If you listen carefully, you can hear some of the same musical arrangements made famous in “West Side Story,” yet Bernstein was only 26. The Highland Park Players pull it off with amazing choreography, beautiful singing and impressive costumes.

Based on the 1944 Broadway show and 1949 film starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munchin, On the Town captures a time when anything and everything was possible. While humor runs throughout the show, it leaves the audience with an uncertain, but hopeful ending.

“On The Town” is directed and choreographed by Dina DiCostanzo. The production stars Aaron Stash as Ozzie, Christopher Johnson as Gabey, Steven Schur as Chip, Brittny Goon as Claire, Justine Klein as Hildy, Ariana Cappuccitti as Ivy, Naomi Hershman as Madame Dilly and Geoff Isaac as Pitkin.

Aaron Stash, Brittny Goon, Christopher Johnson, Justine Klein and Steve Schur in On The Town (Zach Dalin Photography)
Aaron Stash, Brittny Goon, Christopher Johnson, Justine Klein and Steve Schur in On The Town (Zach Dalin Photography)

Cast standouts include Goon who has an amazing powerful voice and Hershman is hysterical as the drunken Madame Dilly. Mention must be made of Cappuccitti who oozes charm and innocence as “Miss Turnstyle of the Month.”

Music Director/Conductor Aaron Kaplan leads a dazzling 22-piece orchestra that has never sounded better.  Also, kudos to scenic designer Brett Baleskie for his imaginative subways cars used throughout the show and to Rachel Parent for her authentic costume designs that reflect the times.

DETAILS: “On the Town” is at Northbrook Theatre, 3323 Walters Ave., Northbrook. Running time: Approximately 2.5 hours with intermission. For tickets and other information, call the Northbrook Theatre at (847) 291-2995 or visit Highland Park Players.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

‘Shrek is more than a simple tale


Cast of Shrek the Musical at Marriott Theatre
Cast of Shrek the Musical at Marriott Theatre

There are many reasons to see “Shrek the Musical,”   now playing in Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences’ series.

As has come to be expected of Marriott shows whether for adult, general or young audiences, the singing, choreography and costumes are first rate.

Directed by Scott Weinstein, with musical direction by Matt Deitchman and choreography by William Carlos Angulo, “Shrek” has a cast actors known to Chicago audiences. Shea Coffman is Shrek, Jacquelyn Jones plays Fiona, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis is Donkey and Steven Strafford portrays Farquaad.

Then there is Marriott’s understanding that a show for young audiences shouldn’t be more than an hour and that scary creatures such as dragons should be shown as merely clever representations actually moved by actors they can see yet still ferocious enough to interest older children.

But what these shows really come down to for parents and grandparents of grade-school youngsters are talking points for discussions on the way home.

Adapted by Jeanie Tesori and David Lindsay Abaire form DreamWorks’ Oscar-winning movie, “Shrek the Musical,” the show revolves around fairy-tale characters sent to ogre Shrek’s swamp because they have no place to go after being ousted from Farquaad’s kingdom. Farquaad considers them weird and he wants what he considers to be an ideal realm.

Families who think this theme is similar to what is going on now and in the past across the globe or merely want to ask their youngsters what they think about Farquaad and his ideas have a strong basis for discussion in “Shrek.”

Shea Coffman, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, and Jacquelyne Jones in Shrek the Musical.
Shea Coffman, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, and Jacquelyne Jones in Shrek the Musical.

However, the ending also  leaves a lot open to discussion. Shrek accedes to Farquaad’s wishes to bring him a princess in order to become a king and have a queen . Shrek does so because his reward is to have total ownership and control of the swamp.

The proposed match doesn’t work out. The ogre and the princess realize they’re in love . Shrek welcomes the princess and fairy tale characters to his swamp and everyone is supposedly happy.

So first, there is the argument that love’s first kiss can reveal one’s true self which is what the princess was told when a spell was cast upon her. In the musical  the princess and Shrek find out they are alike.  And there is the question of do princesses still need rescuing?

Then, there is the talking point, not made in the show, of why should characters who are unlike those in a kingdom, country or area have to reside outside it even if they are welcome elsewhere, such as the show’s swamp.

DETAILS; “Shrek the Musical” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, through Dec. 30, 2018. Running time: One hour. For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 or visit Marriott Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago


Four freakishly fun Halloween happenings

Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)
Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)


Party in the Haunted Hotel

Some Chicago hotels are reputedly haunted such as the Congress Plaza on Michigan Avenue. But seeing ghostly figures there is not guaranteed. Thus, to be sure to come across spooky guest rooms, visit the Godfrey on West Huron, Oct. 27, 2018 when it holds its annual Haunted Hotel. The fourth floor rooftop lounge will be serving bewitched potions. Daring guests are welcome to explore the 20 haunted rooms on the fifth floor. The event goes from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets start at $45 per person. For ticket and other information visit Godfrey events.  The Godfrey Hotel Chicago is at 127 W. Huron St.

Or party with the real Frankenstein

Before the Court Theatre holds Manual Cinema’s world premiere of its version of “Frankenstein” on Nov. 1, it is opening the show’s final dress rehearsal to a limited number of ticket holders who are ready to party Oct. 31, 2018.  Attendees should come dressed ghoulishly creepy or creatively spooky to compete in a costume contest and hungry enough to wolf down strange hors (or is it horror) d’oeuvres and cocktails. Tickets are $75 and cover the pre-show party at 6:30 p.m., performance and then a post-show artists’ mingle. Purchases of two or more tickets drop the price by $5. The Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. at the west end of the University of Chicago Hyde Park campus. For tickets or other information visit the box office, call (773) 753-4472, or visit Court Theatre.

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Four Chicago theatres receive special Jeff recognition


Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)
Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)

When the Joseph Jefferson Awards holds its annual ceremony and dinner on Oct. 22, 2018 to recognize the best acting and production components of last season’s Equity shows, there will be four additional awards.

To mark the Jeff Awards 50th anniversary, Goodman Theatre, started in 1925, Drury Lane Theatre, begun in 1949, Court Theatre founded in 1955 and The Second City, dating back to 1959, will be honored for enriching the Chicago theatre scene for more than 50 years. Over the past 50 years, the four theatres have racked up more than 1,400 nominations and 350 awards.Read More

Enrico David works get recognition



Enrico David, "Tools and Toys III"2014 on view at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Photo)
Enrico David, “Tools and Toys III”2014 on view at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Photo)

When seeing a picture of “Tools and Toys III, 2014, an eye-sculpture sculpture by Italian-born, London-based artist Enrico David, I imagined it was life-sized.  But upon going through the David exhibit, now up at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, I found it to be 23 ¼ in. by 20 1/3 in. by 3 in., thus small compared to several other works in the gallery. But it was definitely significant.

“Tools and Toys III” is a human figure of jesmonite and graphite that is slightly a tilt, but with copper prongs radiating out in all directions as a field of energy.

As seen by the figures that filled the exhibition, David found a variety of choices for artistic and emotional expression in the human body, sometimes elongated, sometimes partnering with other humans and sometimes as unusual variations of the head. But in “Tools” the figure appears mystical.

Enrico David “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, wool on canvas. (J Jacobs photo)
Enrico David “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, wool on canvas. (J Jacobs photo)

The large wool on canvas work, “Untitled” Ombre Rosse), 2017, appears to also have either mystical or primeval figures.

Indeed, many of David’s works seem to be either tortured figures or antiquities found in caves or dug in ruins such as “Fortress Shadow” 2014 of jesmonite and patinated steel.

In some cases they may be one figure that has been replicated as if rising such as “The Assuumption of Weee” 2014 or “Ploud Mary”2014 whose figure of celotex, jesomonite, glass fiber and copper has been divided into multiple parts and turned on its side.

Enrico David, "Fortress Shadow" 2014 at MCA Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Enrico David, “Fortress Shadow” 2014 at MCA Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)

“I’ve been following his career for years,” said MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling. “I felt it was the time to do a survey of his work. This is the first large survey of Enrico David in the United States,” Darling said.

I agree. His works are in the collections of the Tate Modern, Hirshorn Museujm and sculpture Garden, Hammer Museum and the MCA but deserve to be more widely known.

DETAILS:  “Enrico David, Gradations of Slow Realease” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave. through March 10, 2019. For museum hours and admission  call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCAChicago.

Jodie Jacobs