“Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” revival is a delightfully good time

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

“Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding,” one of Chicago’s longest-running hit shows, has returned after a seven-year hiatus, and it hasn’t aged a bit. The boisterous Italian nuptial farce and interactive dinner-theater engages its “guests” with servings of outrageous humor, heart-warming good cheer and just the right bit of naughtiness.

Hannah-Aaron-Brown (Tina), Billy Minshall (Father Mark) and Mitchell Conti (Tony)
Hannah-Aaron-Brown (Tina), Billy Minshall (Father Mark) and Mitchell Conti (Tony)

New this time around is the two-venue staging within the Belmont Theatre District. The production begins with the wedding ceremony at real-life Resurrection Church and moves for the reception to nearby Vinny Black’s Coliseum AKA Chicago Theater Works.

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Das Rheingold combines dramatic theater with golden voices

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has opened its 2016-17 season with a remarkable Das Rheingold. Surrealistic set design and creative direction has produced an introduction to Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle (The Ring of the Nibelung) that is as much a theater experience as it is opera. But glorious voices and Wagner’s stirring music remind audiences that Wagner’s combination of German and Norse myths-based epic tales of gold, greed and gods is indeed, exciting, dramatic opera.

Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold now at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Todd Rosenberg Photography
Richard Wagner’s ‘Das Rheingold’ now at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Todd Rosenberg Photography

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Six free and discounted museum visits to ease the budget

Listen up if looking for a weekend activity that won’t empty the pocketbook. Think outer space, mummies or A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat’s famed painting.  With the apple picking season beginning to wind down, the coming weekends are a good time to visit one of Chicago’s world class museums whether interested in art, history or science. Fortunately, free and Illinois discount days offset the necessary fees the museums have to charge to make up for cuts in state and other government subsidies. Here are six free and discounted museum ideas.

The Field is among Chicago museums participating in Illinois Free Days and Illinois Resident discount days.
The Field is among Chicago museums participating in Illinois Free Days and Illinois Resident discount days.

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  This Weekend: Art, Festivals and Music

Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival… If looking for a fun festival atmosphere with lots of local dishes, beer and wine plus bands plus art to see or buy go downtown Evanston, Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, 2016. The event is a chance to shop for gifts ahead of the holiday crush and try some of the suburb’s restaurant’ fare. The festival center is at 800 Church Street. Hours: Art Fair – Fri. 4 a.m. –dusk, Sat. 10 a.m.-dusk, Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Food and Music – Fri. 4-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For other information visit Art&Fork.

Evanston's Art & Big Fork Festival. Photo Amdur Productions
Evanston’s Art & Big Fork Festival. Photo Amdur Productions

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‘Visiting Edna’ delves into adult son to parent relationship as death looms

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The power of ‘Visiting Edna,” Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe’s play premiering at Steppenwolf Theatre, is the utter normalcy of the conversations that take place when a married son visits his terminally ill mother.

Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in 'Visiting Edna' at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in ‘Visiting Edna’ at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Rabe’s brilliance, projected in the superb acting of Debra Monk as Edna and Ian Barford as son Andrew, is that the drama is subtle enough to apply to almost any family and be understood and appreciated by any audience.

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‘City of Conversation’ reflects country of contentious politics

Natalie West (Jean Swift) l, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood
Natalie West (Jean Swift) L, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood

RECOMMENDED

Old-timers remember when political positions were argued during the day and set aside or amicably dealt with in tradeoffs agreed to during dinners at night.

That the convivial era’s respect for each other changed to vitriolic attacks after President Carter’s term and continues today is told through one politically connected Georgetown family in Anthony Giardina’s ‘The City of Conversation’ now at Northlight Theatre.

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This Weekend: Three important art shows

Expo Chicago

The fifth International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art at Chicago’s Navy Pier, known as Expo Chicago, opens Sept. 22 with VIP parties and is open to the public Sept.23-25. More than a mere showing of works from 140 galleries across the globe, the fair showcases special exhibitions from art institutions and organizations and has panel discussions. There are also unusual suspended installations as part of IN/SITU.

Navy Pier, always a fun destination, adds art appeal this weekend as it hosts EXPO Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Navy Pier, always a fun destination, adds art appeal this weekend as it hosts EXPO Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Details: EXPO Chicago is at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL. Hours are Fri-Sat. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 one day, $30 3-day pass. For  more information visit EXPO Chicago. For Navy Pier information call (312) 595-7437.

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Set design, music, choreography and cast make ‘Wonderful Town’ a terrific revival

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

It doesn’t matter that the only memorable songs you take away from Wonderful Town, a musical about two Ohio sisters seeking success in New York, is Ohio (why did I ever leave..) and It’s Love. Leonard Bernstein’s jazz and swing music is enough to have audiences leave Goodman Theatre’s season opener with a smile.

BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in 'Wonderful Town' at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in ‘Wonderful Town’ at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

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Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ converted to a conversation piece

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In Lookingglass Theatre’s show bill, Aaron Posner explains that ‘Life Sucks” is his updated version of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya.’

Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in 'Life Sucks' at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in ‘Life Sucks’ at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

Chekhov’s classic tale, published in 1897 and premiered in 1899, is about life on a rural estate where inhabitants work hard but are bored and their thoughts are a mix of wishes and woes.

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