Ladies and gentlemen, step right up to a funny sideshow with a great contortionist, thrilling main acts of accomplished aerialist and high-wire performances, terrific juggler, fine acrobats and a ringmaster who beguiles kids and adults with patter that is both charming and insightful.
Viewed in its purist form, ‘The Hard Problem,’ Tom Stoppard’s newest cerebral play, has members of a brain science institute arguing about Darwinism, matter, biology and neuroscience versus the influence of consciousness and psychology.
It’s a mind-body question and equation that might be tempered by computer intelligence and statistics.
Religion and philosophy are not supposed to enter into their discussions.
A complicating factor is that venture capital and hedge funds pay for the institute’s existence.
However, Hilary, a psychologist who works there, believes in God and prays for the well-being of a daughter she had when a teenager and gave up for adoption.
But after seeing the play, now at Court Theatre, and thinking about how it ends with Hillary, beautifully interpreted by Chaon Cross, leaves the institute and has her prayers answered, there is another way to view the story.
The question may legitimately be asked if after years of academic-style arguments, is Stoppard now asking intellectuals to not take themselves too seriously and loosen-up to see and acknowledge other views and influences?
Director Charles Newell and scenic designer John Culbert encourage the play’s dichotomy by having the arguments play out in an uncluttered white box -type setting where an important prop is the candle Hillary uses when she prays.
Vary appropriately produced in a theater on the University of Chicago’s north campus, the play should be seen with someone who enjoys the type of arguments and balancing behaviors Stoppard puts forth in this play.
Details: ‘The Hard Problem’ by Tom Stoppard is at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL, now through April 9, 2017. For tickets and other information call (773) 753-4472 and visit Court Theatre.
If ‘Destiny of Desire’ sounds like the title of a soap opera you would be very close to right.
On stage at Goodman Theatre now through April 16, the “soap” that audiences sit in on as it is supposedly being televised in an empty Chicago theater (note the lighting props), is a Latino “telenovela.”
It has all the overemphasized drama of the Latino mini TV series that has even made the format the show of choice in Eastern Europe and Asia. Read More
The atmosphere inside the PrivateBank Theatre was electric March 15 as hundreds of Chicago high school students filed in to watch their peers perform on the “Hamilton” stage.
It was the third of what would be 10 student performances during 2017.
By the end of a special education program tying “Hamilton’” to their American History studies, 20,000 Chicago high school students will have seen their peers perform in the morning followed by a regular Hamilton matinee.
Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps has taken a riviting script about parent-child relationships by playwright Laura Schellhardt (think ‘Auctioning the Ainsleys’) and placed it in the intelligent hands of Jeff award winning director Scott Weinstein.
But to really pull off multiple messages on growing up, fulfilling dreams and responsibilities, Citadel cast the play with Chicago area veterans who ought to be up for Jeff nominations in their “Upright Grand” roles.
The father, a talented pianist called Pops who tells personal stories while playing at the Broken Man’s Bar is Mark Ulrich.
Charlotte Mae Ellison as his daughter, Kiddo, is perfect as a 12–year-old with all the angst of a teenager who is suspended for writing “School is crap” on her academy’s wall, later, as the sophisticated accomplished 21-year-old who is on a concert circuit and at the end when she comes home and…. OK, won’t put in spoiler alert here.
The third figure is Matt Edmonds who literally plays as the Accompanist. He is a shadowy figure for father and daughter, a piano tuner who compares people to pianos that are out of tune or in tune. Later he is Todd, son of Pops’ friend Toady from the bar.
Premiered at Theatre Works in Pal Alto, CA at its 2012 New Works Festival, the play examines how one’s parental role and responsibility or lack, influences the next generation and how sometimes those actions are not understood until years later.
Pops goes through life as an absentminded professor who doesn’t know how old his daughter is at different stages but “retires’ from the bar to encourage her to focus on piano when he learns she is gifted. He sees his own dad as far from encouraging him with his musicianship.
By the play’s end, a successful Kiddo understand what her father went through and voices what probably many adults think when she says “I’d go back if I could.”
A charming part of the play is that throughout the different stages, Kiddo asks her father for one of his stories and audiences get to hear snatches from classical and popular music.
Something to think about is how to characterize a person or family. Pops’ family were farmers. He plays an upright piano. His wife’s family are wealthy and have endowed a musical academy. They have a grand piano.
A phrase to think about that is said during the show is “We’re more upright than grand.”
Unfortunately, “Upright Grand” is only at Citadel through March 26, 2017.
Details: Citadel is at 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, IL. For tickets and other info call (847-) 735-8554 and visit Citadel.
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
Maybe Clarence Darrow’s ghost will appear. But even if you don’t see him, you will hear how his view of populism differs from what is being expressed by today’s politicians when the Annual Clarence Darrow Symposium takes place March 13, 2017.
Titled “Robber Barons & Populists: Would Clarence Darrow recognize today’s Populism,” the event begins with a commemorative ceremony at 10 a.m. near the Clarence Darrow Bridge behind the Museum of Science and Industry (where you might see the ghost). Darrow died March 13, 1938.
Ceremony guests include Ald. Leslie Hairston, activist Bernardine Dohrn, ACLU of Illinois Associate Legislative Director Khadine Bennett and Gene Winkler, adjunct faculty at the Divinity School, University of Chicago.
John A. Farrell, author of “Clarence Darrow: Attorney For The Damned,” will speak in the Museum of of Science and Industry’s Rosenwald Room beginning at 10:45. Refreshments will be served.
It’s not too late to get over to a terrific jazz event. The 8th Annual Chi-Town Jazz Festival Supporting Hunger Relief ends this weekend. Tickets are only $20.
Tonight, Friday March 10, the Typhanie Monique Group with the Sarah Marie Young Quartet and Aaron McEvers Quntet are performing at Winter’s Jazz club, 465 N. McClurg Ct.
Also tonight, Erwin Helfer is at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn.
Tomorrow, Saturday March 11, Tammy McCann and Jeremy Kahn are at PianoForte, 1335 S, Michigan Ave. and the Ron Perrillo Quartet plus Bakerzmillion and Jon Deitemyer are at the Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway.
For more info check ChiTown Jazz Festival’s facebook page.
“Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life,” takes Field Museum visitors behind the scenes in a new exhibit.
What any scientist knows that few Field visitors grasp as they try to see everything in the museum, is that what’s out there is less than one percent of millions of collection items.
But few Field guests get to see some of those items where they are stored or where the curators work.
Therefore, some of those objects, such as a giant clamshell, a very long sawfish snout (rostrum), a few dinosaur bones and some extinct species have been temporarily moved into a main floor exhibit hall accompanied by videos and interactive tables so visitors get to see some of what the Field collects and why.
“Lots of people don’t realize that we have collections behind the scenes, let alone collections numbering over 30 million objects,” says Director of Exhibitions Jaap Hoogstraten.
The exhibit’s videos and a reconstructed curator’s office with maps showing locations of water beetles, remind visitors that the Field is way more than a place to see interesting items.
“…the Museum is an active research institution where scientists work and make discoveries based upon these collections,” Hoogstraten said.
Some of the specimens reveal chemical and other changes in their environment such as the mercury levels in oceans over time.
Another display shows creatures and plants that lived millions of years ago. It includes fossils from Mason Creek such as the Tully Monster. The area is an exceptional site south of Chicago that was an inland sea about 300 million years ago.
“Museum collections are a way to preserve the past so that we can learn from it in the future,” Hoogstraten said.
Details: “Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life” is at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, March 10, 2017 through Jan. 8, 2018. For admission and other information visit Field or call (312) 922-9410.
It is hard to appreciate ‘The Scene,’ Thersea Rebeck’s darkly satirical play set against New York’s hyper TV and acting professions, on stage at Writers Theatre.
Chicago stage and TV actor Deanna Myers is so good at playing the obnoxious Clea, an ambitious, amoral, vacuous young woman who recently moved to New York, that it is difficult to understand how she can attract the play’s two male characters.