Dinner and a show from a theater reviewer

Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

Theater critics tend to return to the same places before covering a show. They are not usually the upscale places gone to for a special occasion or the newest eatery with a gourmet menu or “in” vibe.  They have good food and are convenient to the venues.

Here are my recommendations based on experience for two downtown theaters ( I use theater spelled er) and two places in the northern suburbs. More areas later.

Downtown-Loop

When going to the Goodman Theatre  170 N Dearborn St. or James M  Nederlander Theatre, a Broadway in Chicago venue at  24 W. Randolph St., I reserve a table in the bar at Petterinos (312-422-0150, 150 N. Dearborn St.) at the corner of Dearborn and Randolph Streets.

The bartenders here are terrific. They serve their patrons quickly when they know they have a show. And I like the fried calamari when looking for something light and the amazing chicken pot pie when cold weather calls for a dish to warm the insides.

The restaurant is literally next door to Goodman and just a few steps across Dearborn to the Nederlander (former Oriental). I take public transportation but Petterinos has a valet service for customers who want to park there and see a show.

Downtown – Mag Mile

There are lots of places to dine on and near the Magnificent Mile. But when reviewing a show at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N Michigan Ave. in the historic Water Tower Water Works  on the east side of the Water Tower campus or at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., I reserve a table at Mity-Nice Grill on the Mezzanine Level of Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave., 312.335.4745).

I like their veggie burger and their salads and that they bring tiny Yorkshire pudding bites to start the meal.

North Suburbs – Lincolnshire

I look forward to dining at the Three Embers Restaurant in the Marriott Resort, 10 Marriott Dr., when reviewing a show at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

Executive Chef Pierre Daval and Chef de Cuisine Jesus (Chuy) Medina are currently showcasing their Harvest Dinner. At Three Embers, diners get honey butter for their rolls that is a taste treat made with honey from Daval’s beehives on the property. I also love the Honey BBQ Brisket with smoked grits. But I’m thinking of trying the Sea Scallops dish with butternut squash and a maple glace when I go for the next show because squash and maple are too seasonal to pass up.

North Suburbs – Skokie

Across the road from Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, is a small strip mall that contains the popular Bonefish Grill at 9310 Skokie Blvd. Yes, you need a reservation and tell the waitperson you are going to a show.

I like the restaurant’s bread and dipping oil, its Caesar Salad and any shrimp dish with a variety of sauces.

Feel free to leave your own recommendations.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Open a book and oneself to a new adventure

 

David Payne as C.S. Lewis at Broadway Playhouse. (Production photos from Aneesa Muhammad (MKI)
David Payne as C.S. Lewis at Broadway Playhouse. (Production photos from Aneesa Muhammad (MKI)

 

4 stars

In the 1960s, C.S. Lewis was a well-known British author whose collected works made him one of the most famous literary writers of the 20th century. Lewis died over 50 years ago.

David Payne, another Brit was an actor and playwright who hoped he would get a minor role in a previous play about C.S. Lewis. Instead, Payne got the lead role of C.S. Lewis, launching a terrific acting career.

When many audience members saw David Payne playing that lead role, they felt that they had discovered the real C.S. Lewis!

David Payne had read quite a lot of C.S. Lewis’s writing—even Lewis’s personal diary. And Payne was always asked many questions about Lewis. One day, Payne decided it would be fun if he could be Lewis himself and could answer these questions. That’s why Payne wrote, directed, and stars in “An Evening with C.S. Lewis,” a wonderful play which is now being shown at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse.

In Act I, Payne plays the author sitting in Lewis’s living room and hosting a group of American writers in his home near Oxford. Lewis recalls the many events that affect his life and his large number of close friends, including J.R.R. Tolkien, an English author and poet.

In Act II, Payne playing Lewis says he eventually believes in Christianity. He also tells how he just met a divorced woman by the name of Joy who decides to come from the United States and live in London.

It reminds her so much of New York City where she had lived with her previous husband and family. Although Lewis describes London as “noise and chaos.”

He marries Joy who eventually lives with him in his house. Lewis goes on to say how their relationship turned his life upside down.

DETAILS: “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” is at the Broadway Playhouse at 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, through Nov. 3, 2019.  Running time: 90 minutes, with one intermission. For tickets and other information, call (800) 775-2000, or visit BroadwayInChicago.

Francine Pappadis Friedman

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

‘Oslo’ reveals story behind groundbreaking peace accords

 

L to R Norwegians Jan Egeland (Bernard Balbot) .Johan Jørgen Holst (David Parkes), Mona Juul (Bri Sudia) and Terje Rød-Larsen (Scott Parkinson), strategize how to keep secret the negotiations they are helping to facilitate. (Brett Beiner photography)
L to R Norwegians Jan Egeland (Bernard Balbot) .Johan Jørgen Holst (David Parkes), Mona Juul (Bri Sudia) and Terje Rød-Larsen (Scott Parkinson), strategize how to keep secret the negotiations they are helping to facilitate. (Brett Beiner photography)

4 stars

TV viewers saw Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shake hands with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat in 1993. The momentous event took place on the White House lawn in Washington D.C. But what led to that famous meeting were the previous, mostly off-the record, mostly unofficial negotiations taking place earlier that year in Oslo, Norway.

What “Oslo,” the multi-award-winning play by J. T. Rogers does is take audiences  into the apartment of husband-wife Mona Juul, a diplomat, and Terje Rod Larsen, a university institute’s social scientist, who together initiated the process, and into Juul’s phone conversations with Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorgen Holst and Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Egeland.

Through somewhat fictionalized conversations of actual meetings, Rogers builds suspense as the process moves from one level to the next with the action continuing in behind-the scenes discussions at an out-of-the public eye Norwegian manor.

 

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Music dissolves cultural differences

‘The Band’s Visit’

 

Company of The Bands Visit at Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
Company of The Bands Visit at Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

4 stars

The curtain at the Cadillac Palace Theatre reads “Turn off your cell phone” in English and in Arabic and in Hebrew.

And so begins “The Band’s Visit,” the multi-Tony Award winning musical that stunned Broadway and premiered off-Broadway in 2016.

Based on an Israeli film in 2007, the show quietly but beautifully depicts what happens when the eight-man Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel from Egypt then takes a bus from the airport to a town whose name sounds similar to Petah Tikva, where they are supposed to be playing a concert, but turns out to be Beit Hatikva, small, fictional, somewhat desolate place in the Negev Desert.

Having recently seen “Come From Away” that showed how the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, took care of hundreds of passengers from different countries stranded by the closing of U.S. airspace on 9-11, I expected to see more cultural differences such as food, show up during the band’s overnight stay. (They were able to take another bus out to their destination the next day.)

But this show,  a comedy-drama with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Itamar Moses  is more how music is an international language that speaks to many different situations from soothing a crying baby to bringing lonely people together.

The band is led by Tewfiq, interpreted with careful reserve that later dissolves by Sasson Gabay, a leading Israeli actor who starred in the movie. Opposite him is Dina, a lovely café owner who feels stranded in Beit Hatikva, played with superb emotional vibes by Chilina Kennedy who starred as Carol King in “Beautiful.,” on Broadway.

The rest of the cast is also terrific. It is easy to fall in love with the band members as they skillfully play their instruments. But a special shout-out has to go to Joe Joseph who as Haled, is the band member who brings people together often asking if they like the song, “My Funny Valentine.”

DETAILS: “The Band’s Visit” is presented by Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, through Sept. 15, 2019. Running time: 90 minutes. For tickets and other information visit Broadway in Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

‘Six’ returns to Chicago next summer

 

Chicago cast of 'Six' (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Chicago cast of ‘Six’ (Photo by Liz Lauren)

If you tried but couldn’t get tickets to “Six” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater before it recently closed, you will have another chance to see the show. However, it will be at a different Chicago venue as part of the Broadway in Chicago series.

Yes, that means it is on its way to Broadway.

How the six wives of Henry VIII, Aaragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard and Parr, viewed him and themselves is the unlikely story behind a British concert-style musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

First opening in Edinburgh and England, it just left its North American premiere in Chicago to visit other towns before its debut on Broadway. “Six” will be at the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, Aug. 21 – Sept. 7, Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, AB Canada, ‪Nov. 2-24 and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, MN, Nov. 29 – Dec. 22.

it will be in previews in February and open at New York City’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, March 12, 2020.

As with other shows that have pre-Broadway Chicago premieres, the tour form of the show will return as part of the Broadway in Chicago series. But in the case of ‘Six,’ a sell-out at Chicago Shakespeare, the hit musical will be back within a year instead of the usual two or three years.

According to Broadway in Chicago folks, “Six” will open at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton July 8, 2020. Also unlike most other tour shows it is currently scheduled to stay through Oct. 25, 2020.

“We would like to thank Chicago Shakespeare Theater for their overwhelming support of our North American premiere over the past few months,” said producers Wendy and Andy Barnes.  “It was such a thrill to watch American audiences lose their heads for SIX.  We cannot wait to return to Chicago next summer, where our US journey began.”

Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Broadway in Chicago will be opening subscription and single ticket sales this fall. .

To see what else Broadway in Chicago has in store visit “Looking ahead to the next theater season.”

Jodie Jacobs

Four tickets to get now

 

Cast of ‘Miracle’ at Royal George.

Three shows leave and a hit returns

Instead of saying “oops” after “Miracle,” “Manet” and “Head Over Heels” have left Chicago, fit in the one you really hoped to see. Then, if good at planning ahead, look for tickets to “Six.”

 

“ Miracle”

Tickets are available just through Sept. 29, 2019 for this fun show that ties the life of a Wrigleyville bar-owning family to the Chicago Cubs. “Miracle,” whose full title adds on “A musical 108 years in the making,” is at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. For Tickets and other information call (312) 988-9000 or visit MiracletheMusical. For the review visit Wrigleyville and Cubs story make great theater.  For the backstory see Miracle Musical.

 

“Manet and Modern Beauty”

At the Art Institute of Chicago, this extensive exhibit on Manet’s later works and transitions of style leaves Sept. 8, 2019. This is a ticketed, dated exhibition. For tickets and more information visit ARTIC/manetand modernbeauty.  For a review see Art Institute turns the spotlight on Edouard Manet.

 

“Head Over Heels”

Two weeks have been added to Kokandy Productions’ hit musical comedy but after Sept. 8, 2019 it will be gone. The show is at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets call (773) 975-8150) or visit KokandyProductions or stop by Theater Wit. For the review please see Head over Heels has got the beat.

 

“Six”

The sold-out concert-style show about Henry VIII’s wives just closed at Chicago Shakespeare but even though it is headed to Broadway it will return to Chicago in 2020. The touring production will open July 8 at the Broadway Playhouse next to Water Tower Place and the Ritz-Carlton through the Broadway in Chicago series. Groups of 10 or more can get tickets now. Watch for the Broadway in Chicago single tickets this fall. For group tickets visit GroupSales@BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information and single tickets visit BroadwayInChicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

‘Come From Away’ transforms strangers

 

Touring cast of 'Come From Away' now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Matthew Murphy photo)
Touring cast of ‘Come From Away’ now at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Matthew Murphy photo)

3 ½ stars

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.

L to R, Megan McGinnis, Emily Walton, Becky Gulsvig, Christine Toy Johnson,Julie Johnson and Daniele K. Thomas on 'Come From Away' touri. (Matthew Murphy photo)
L to R, Megan McGinnis, Emily Walton, Becky Gulsvig, Christine Toy Johnson,Julie Johnson and Daniele K. Thomas on ‘Come From Away’ touri. (Matthew Murphy photo)

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.  

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

 

Around Town has three exceptional theater events to put on the calendar

 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)

Think “The Music Man.” Then add such shows as “Come From Away,” “Frozen” and “Hamilton.” But as the guy on TV says, “Wait, there’s more.” Add in opera star Maria Callas to make three spectacular evenings – one in July, another in August and the third one in early September.

 

  “The Music Man”

Goodman Theatre and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has a double bill of a short performance by “The Music Man” cast members followed by a screening of the movie featuring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

When: July 23, 6:30 p.m. remarks, 6:34 p.m. performance and 6:45 p.m. film.

Where: The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and The Great Lawn at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue.

Admission: Free

For park information visit Millennium Park For the film series visit Choose Chicago/Millennium Park/Summer films.  For Goodman Theatre’s “The Music Man” visit GoodmanTheatre.

 

Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert (Coming shows peek)

Co-sponsored by DCASE and ABC 7, several shows from Broadway In Chicago’s 2019-2020 season will be live in concert including “The Phantom of the Opera, The Band’s visit, Summer: the Donna summer Musical, “Once on this Island, “My Fair Lady”, “Mean Girls,” Hamilton” Fronzen, “Dear Evan Hansen and “Come from Away.”

When: Aug. 12 at 6:15 p.m

Where: Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 201 E. randolphg st.

Admission: Free.

Visit www.millenniumpark.org For more information on the Summer Concert and Broadway In Chicago, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

 

Diva Maria Callas

Some of Callas’ greatest performances have been digitally re-mastered using state-of-the-art 3D hologram technology by Base Hologram Productions. They will be backed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Elmear Noone.

When: Sept 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive.

Co-presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Live Nation.

Admission by tickets. Visit  Lyric Opera/Callas

 

Jodie Jacobs

‘Les Miserables’ still magnificent

Josh Davis (Javert) and Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean) in US tour of 'Les Miserables.' (Matthew Murphy photo)
Josh Davis (Javert) and Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean) in US tour of ‘Les Miserables.’ (Matthew Murphy photo)

4 stars

Don’t worry If you missed “Les Miserables’” revival on the Oct. 2017, Chicago tour stop.

The Cameron Mackintosh production now in town at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through July 27, 2019, is still composer Claude Michel Schönberg and lyricists Alain Boubil and Herbert Kretzmer’s stirring musical. (Original French text by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material is by James Fenton and was adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird.)

Also don’t worry if some of the scenes in your mind’s eye from earlier productions have changed. What is important is that directors Laurence Connor and James Powell bring the conditions that spawned Victor Hugo’s famed 1862 novel, to life.

Read More

Looking ahead to the next theater season

 

If taking in some of the shows in Chicago now, you know the theaters put on amazing productions. The problem is that with 250 theater companies it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what and when. So we’ll look at the 2019-2020 season according to location for you beginning with Broadway in Chicago because it has four main downtown venues.  That will be followed by other theaters in what is loosely called downtown and includes the Mag Mile. Then, the series continues with theater companies in Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

 

'"Hamilton" leaves January 2020. (Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago and 'Hamilton.')
“Hamilton” leaves January 2020. (Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago and ‘Hamilton.’)

Broadway In Chicago

New York’s Broadway shows appear as touring productions in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace, CIBC, Nederlander, Broadway Playhouse and sometimes the Auditorium Theatre, all presented by Broadway in Chicago. These are historic venues so are worth seeing no matter what is playing but here is the lineup known so far for the 2019-20 season starting this summer.

 

Broadway Playhouse

Oslo” is coming to the Playhouse Sept. 10-Oct. 20, 2019. Then “An Evening With C S Lewis” is Oct. 22-Nov. 3, 2019 followed by “Potted Potter” Dec. 5, 2019-Feb. 2, 2020. The Playhouse is at 175 E. Chestnut St. next to Water Tower Place.

 

 Cadillac Palace Theatre

Les Miserables” is at the Cadillac July 9-27, 2019 followed by “Come From Away” July 30-Aug. 18. Then “The Band’s Visit” is there Sept.3-15, followed by ” The Simon – Garfunkel Story,” Nov. 19-Dec. 1. For the holidays there’s “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” Dec. 10-15, 2019. Going into the new years is “The Phantom of the Opera,” Dec. 18,2019 –Jan. 5, 2020. Winter is brightened with “Once On This Island.” The blockbuster spring show is arguably “My Fair Lady” Mar. 24-April 2, 2020. The biggie for the following season is likely to be “Disney’s Frozen,” Oct. 21, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021. Cadillac Palace is at 151 W. Randolph St.

 

CIBC Theatre

Hamilton” stays through Jan. 5, 2020. Then “Dear Evan Hansen” returns to Chicago in this venue July 7-Sept. 27, 2020. CIBC is at 18 W. Monroe St.

 

James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly Ford Oriental Theatre)

Cats” is here July 16-Aug. 4. Located at 24 W. Randolph St., the theatre has Cats” July 16-Aug. 4. For fall is  “Once Upon A One More Time,”  Oct 29 – Dec 1, 2019. Next is “Mean Girls,”  Dec. 25, 2019-Jan. 26, 2020 followed by “Summer the Donna Summer Musical,” Feb. 12-Feb. 23, 2020.

 

For subscriptions, tickets and other information visit Broadway in Chicago or call (800) 775-2000.

Jodie Jacobs