A lesson in love and experience

Fantasticks at Skokie Theatre. (Photo by Graham Todd)
Fantasticks at Skokie Theatre. (Photo by Graham Todd)

‘The Fantasticks’

3 stars

 

The second offering of a four-show series by  MadKap Productions at the Skokie Theatre is “The Fantasticks,” a theatrical classic that holds the record as the longest running off-Broadway musical when it closed in 2002 after 17,162 performances over 42 years.

The story is about innocence and experience. Matt (Graham Todd) and Luisa (Jessica Surprenant) learn that life can be messy and cruel but as the song goes “without a hurt the heart is hollow.”

At the beginning the young lovers revel in the danger of their forbidden romance but come to learn that their fathers had actually erected a wall between their two properties to draw the two together.

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Around town this weekend and next

 

Chicago Riverwalk (Photo courtesy of City of chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)
Chicago Riverwalk
(Photo courtesy of City of Chicago and Dept. of cultural Affairs and special Events)

Of course you know the Chicago Air and Water Show haappens across the city’s near-north lake front Aug. 16 (practice) then Aug. 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

But there is also a yummy food fest throughout Chicago from Aug. 14 through Sept. 1 and an interesting theater festival up in Skokie Aug. 16 to 18.

 

If your attention span stops you from seeing plays that are three hours long, Skokie Theatre has the answer in its Fifth Annual Short Play Festival.  Six,15-minute plays take the stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. The low ticket price of $15 shouldn’t dent the culture budget.

They run the gamut from a woman who makes a strange request while planning her father’s funeral in “A Funeral Home in Brooklyn” to What happens in an antiquities gallery stays in an antiquities gallery in “Museum Piece.”

Skokie theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL. For tickets visit OvationTix.

 

If you count yourself a foodie and also like the idea of meeting different chefs, trying different cuisines and giving back to the community check out the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl. It takes place at restaurants throughout the city, Aug. 14-Sept.1, 2019.

Then, if you like to see how the Riverwalk has developed with restaurants, bars and pop-up places, go down and over to the area from 201 West to 305 West Riverwalk South where you see Art on theMART at the Confluence and the Jetty for the Food Bowl Night Market, Aug. 23-25. (Franklin/Orleans Streets to Wells Street).

For more information visit Food Bowl events/calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

Next season for Chicago Suburban theaters

 

 

Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)
Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)

Experienced theater goers know that not all memorable plays are on stage in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters also put on Jeff award-winning productions. To be sure to catch a show you want to see, copy it and save or mark those productions on the calendar. (Note: Some companies spell their work and space “theater,” others use “theatre.” Both are correct.)  A look at the coming suburban theater season is the last round-up in Chicago Theater and Arts’ Sneak Peek Series.

 

North

 

Citadel Theatre

The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.

Citadel is doing “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Sept. 18-Oct. 20 followed by “Annie,” Nov. 20-Dec. 22.  “The Fantasticks” start out 2020 Feb. 5-Mar. 8, followed by “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Apr. 22-May 24.

For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

 

Marriott Theatre

The theatre does musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.

“Darling Grenadine” continues through Aug. 18 followed by “ Something Rotten,”  Aug. 28-Oct. 20 and “Oliver” Oct 30-Dec. 29, 2019. “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.

Marriott’s shows for young audiences feature “Junie B. Jones,” now through Aug. 11 and  “Madagascar:  A Musical Adventure” Oct. 4-Dec. 29.

For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.

 

Metropolis Performing Arts Center

The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing   “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Aug. 31, then “Anything Goes” Sept. 19-Nov. 2., 2019. The new year begins with “Noises Off” Jan 20-Mar. 14, followed by “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” May 14-June 27 and “Mama Mia! July 16 -Aug. 29.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston but are occasionally at Nichols Hall.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is Aug. 17-25, then “Lerner and Loewe’s Greatest Hits” Oct. 4-14  (Nichols Concert Hall) followed by “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Dec.21-31, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

 

Northlight  Theatre

The theatre is in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Skokie

Northlight is doing the Midwest premiere of “Mother of the Maid” Sept. 12-Oct. 20 and the world premiere of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov.7-Dec. 15, 2019. The season continues in the new year with the world premiere of “How a Boy Falls” Jan. 23-Mar. 1 followed by “Intimate Apparel” Mar. 12-Apr. 19 and “Songs for Nobodies” May 7-June 14. 2020.

For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 and visit Northlight.

 

Piven Theatre

A theatre workshop/school at 927 Noyes St., Evanston, that also presents productions in co-operation with other groups. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre presents“The Black Ballerina” in partnership with Piven, Dear Evanston and Dance Center Evanston, Aug. 10-25.

For Piven tickets and other information call (947) 866-8049 and visit Piven Theatre.

 

Skokie Theatre

The theatre is in a small, historic, movie theater building at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie

Skokie Theatre is doing “The Fantasticks” Sept. 6-Oct. 6 followed by “Marjorie Prime: Nov. 8-24, 2019. The season continues in 2020 with “Veronica’s Room” Feb. 7-Mar. 1.

For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.

 

Writers Theatre

Designed by architect Jeanne Gang and her Studio Gang, WT has two stages in an award-winning building at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre and the The Gillian Theatre.

The 2019-20 season opens with “Into the Woods” Aug. 14-Sept. 22, followed by “A Doll’s House” Sept. 25-Dec. 15, 2019. :The Niceties” is Nov. 6-Dec. 15. It continues in 2020 with “Stick Fly” Feb. 5-Mar. 15. and  “The Last Match” Mar. 18-June 7. And “Mementos Mori” ay 6-June 14. .

For tickets and other information call (847) 242-6000 and visit Writers Theatre.

 

 

West

Drury Lane Theatre

The theatre is at the Drury Lane Resort, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.

Drury Lane Theatre continues “And then There Were None” through Aug. 26 then is doing “The Color Purple”  Sept. 13-Nov. 3. 2019 goes into 2020 with Mary Poppins” Nov. 15 –Jan. 19. “An American in Paris” is on stage Jan. 31-Mar. 29.

For tickets and other information call (630) 530-0111 and visit Drury Lane Theatre.

 

First Folio Theatre

The theatre uses the rooms and grounds of the Mayslake Peabody  Estate at 1717 W. 31st St. Oak Brook.

First Folio is doing “Henry V” through Aug. 18. Then, “Sherlock’s Last Case” Oct. 2-Nov. 3, 2019. Shows continue in 2020 with “Jeeves Saves the Day” Jan. 29-Mar.1 followed by “Louisa May Alcott’s Little women.” Mar. 25-Apr. 26.

Fir tickets and other information call(630) 986-8067 and visit First Folio.

 

Jedlicka Performing Arts Center

The Center at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero., is doing “In the Heights” with Vision Latino Theatre Company, fall of 2019. Dates TBA. For tickets and other information call (708) 656-1800 and visit Jpac Theatre.

 

Madison Street Theatre

The theatre, at 1010 Madison St. Oak Park, is a multi-venue building. For information call (312) 282-1750 and visit MSTOakPark.

 

Oak Park Festival Theater

The theater, 157 Forest Ave., has is doing “Much Ado About Nothing” through Aug. 31. Followed by “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story” Oct. 24-Nov. 17, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (708) 445-4440 and visit Oak Park Festival.

 

Overshadowed Productions

The theater, 900 Foster Ave., Medinah, continues “Newsies” through Aug. 3 followed by “I Remember Pop” Sept. 15-Oct. 5, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (630) 250-7518 and visit Overshadowed Productions.

 

Paramount Theatre

The theatre is in a historic movie palace at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

Paramount is doing “Newsies”  Sept. 4-Oct. 20, then “Beauty and the Beast” Nov. 13-Jan. 19, followed by “The Secret of My Success”  Feb. 12-Mar. 29. “Kinky Boots” ends the season Apr. 29-June 14.

For tickets and other information call (630) 896-6666 and visit Paramount Aurora.

 

Sixteenth Street Theatre

The theatre,  6420 16th Street, Berwyn, is doing “His Shadow” Sept. 5-Oct. 12, 2019 and “Small Jokes About Monsters” Jan. 10-Feb. 16, then, “Good Enough” Mar. 14-Apr. 20, 2020. For tickets and other information call  (708) 795-6704 and visit 16th Street Theater.

 

Theatre of Western Springs

The theatre is at 4383 Hampton Ave., Western Springs.

It is doing “Murder in the Studio” Sept. 5-15 followed by “Accomplice”  Oct. 17-27. The new year starts with “The Nerd” Hab, 16-26. Then, “The Great Gatsby” is  Feb. 27-Mar. 8 and “TheGame’s Afoot” May 28-June 7.

For tickets and other information call (708) 246-4043  and visit Theatre of Western Springs.

 

South

Theatre at the Center is at 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, IN.

“Over the Tavern” throughAug. 11 followed by “The Pajama Game” Sept. 12-Oct. 13 and “White Christmas” Nov. 14-Dec. 22. For tickets and information call (219) 835-3255 and visit Theatre At the Center.

 

Jodie Jacobs

A perfect musical for July

Franklin ( Edward Kuffert) Adams (Sean Michael Barrett)) and Jefferson (Justin Smith) sing about the birth of the United States of America in 'The Egg. ' (Photo courtesy of MadKap Produection
Franklin ( Edward Kuffert) Adams (Sean Michael Barrett) and Jefferson (Justin Smith) sing about the birth of the United States of America in ‘The Egg.’ (Photo courtesy of MadKap Productions))

3 stars

A fun way to renew acquaintance with the founding of the United States of America and learn more about the significance of July 4 is to see “1776” at Skokie Theatre.

The musical with book by Peter Stone is a fictionalized account of the goings on that led the delegates of the Second Continental Congress to eventually, unanimously vote for Independence on July 2 and approve the Declaration of Independence document on July 4, 1776. Just don’t expect a fast-paced “Hamilton” style musical.

While “1776” also boasts the Tony Award for Best Musical (1969), the music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards paint the dithering and arguing by the delegates with a brush dipped in sarcastic-toned ink.

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Sneak Peek Part Six: Chicago suburban theater scene

Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
Writers Theatre in Glencoe is interesting outside and on stage. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Not all memorable theater is in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters put on Jeff award-winning productions. But whether looking to the city or suburbs or both, one way to not miss a show you want to see is to save this Sneak Peek Series and mark productions for tickets or theaters for subscriptions. Enjoy! (Note: Some companies spell their work and space theater but others use theatre. Both are correct.)

North

 

Citadel Theatre

The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.

Citadel is doing “The Little Foxes, Sept. 28-Oct. 28 followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”  Nov. 16-Dec. 23.  An early 2019 show is TBA but then “Sentimental Journey” is Apr. 26-May 26.

For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.

 

Marriott Theatre

The theatre does professional musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.

The season continues with “Murder for Two” through Aug. 26 followed by Sweet Charity” Sept. 5-Oct. 28, “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.

In addition to the shows, the theatre is hosting  a fundraising concert in memory of director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell Sept. 17 called “We Three” featuring the stars of Marriott’s “Mama Mia,” Meghan Murphy, Cassie Slater and Danni Smith.

For show tickets call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.  To get tickets to “We Three” call the Marriott or order on line tickets at  Ticket Master.

 

Metropolis Performing Arts Center

The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing   “Beehine” through Aug. 25, then “Chorus Line” Sept. 20-Nov. 3 and “James and the Giant Peach Jr. Nov. 8-10. In 2019, productions continue with “Mouse Trap” Jan. 31-March 16 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” May 16-June 29 and “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” July 18-Aug. 24.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston.

Currently “Anything Goes” continues through Aug. 25 then it’s “Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine” Oct. 5-14 and “Into the Woods” Dec. 22-31 .

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

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Warm our blustery April weather with glorious music

When February weather sticks around for early April then warm up with good music. Go to the Lyric to hear some of the Ryan Opera Center members who sang this season. Or let Rogers and Hammerstein’s lyrical Broadway hits bring back memories. Or turn to Haydn and Beethoven to forget that Mother Nature’s Ap[ril Fool’s day joke has continued through the weekend.

Rising Stars in Concert

Singers with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center Ensemble perform works by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Puccini and other masters, April 7, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. The program is backed by a pianist and members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Edwin Outwater. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is at 20 N. Wacker Drive.

The Sound of Their Music: 75 Years of Rogers and Hammerstein on Stage

Hosted by Daryl Nitz and Laura Freeman with music direction by Andrew Blendermann, the program is at the Skokie Theatre April 7 and April 8 at 7:30 p.m. It features artists Ken Baker, Cynthia Clarey, Sophie Grimm, and Tom Olickal performing songs from eight shows. Tickets are $35. For tickets and other information visit Skokie Theatre.   Skokie Theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie.

MASTERWORKS 4: Haydn and Beethoven

The Lake Forest Symphony with Conductor Vladimir Kulenovic are doing Haydn’s Symphony No. 4, Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 featuring Cellist Jay Campbell and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 April 7 at 8 p.m. and April 8 at 2 p.m. The Saturday concert is at the Cressey center for the Arts at Lake forest Academy. 1500 West Kennedy Road
Lake Forest. Sunday’s concert is at the James Lumber Center of the college of Lake County19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake. For tickets and other information visit Lake Forest Symphony.

 

Roaring Twenties musical parody works as a comedy within a show

RECOMMENDED

 

Audiences know that when the lights go off the show will start after actors take their places on stage. But in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ a multi-Tony Award winning musical at Skokie Theatre, the lights stay off while a voice is heard moving closer to the stage.

Cast of 'The Drowsy Chaperone' at Skokie Theatre. MadKap Productions photo
Cast of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at Skokie Theatre.
MadKap Productions photo

“I hate theater,” says a man’s voice. As he approaches the stage he explains that what he wants is a short show of about two hours. “Three hours is too much,” he says.

He notes that he wants the show to take him to another place so he can escape from the horrors of the real world. He wants to be entertained.

After the stage lights come on and he sits down in an old chair next to a record player, he asks the audience if they mind if he puts on one of his favorite musicals, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ Of course, the audience agrees.

And so, James Spangler who is perfect as The Man in the Chair, has broken down that fourth wall of the stage as he addresses the audience throughout the show.

And yes, the musical that he asks the audience to imagine coming to life while he plays his record, is short. Running time is two hours, including a 15 minute intermission. But as The Man in the Chair requested, the show entertains.

A spoof of 1920s musicals populated by predictable characters, it has a Broadway producer and his ditsy girlfriend, gangsters, a talented musical star who will leave show business for love, her wealthy boyfriend, a Latin lover, an alcoholic dame and an aviatrix.

Across his sparse, care-worn flat, the first characters to appear are Mrs. Tottendale (Debby Shellard), owner of the mansion where the action takes place and Underling (Mark Anderson), a butler who caters to her whims. After wondering why she has on a fancy dress, he explains they are hosting a wedding.

Groom Robert Martin (Christopher Johnson) enters saying he may be getting “cold feet.” When followed by best man, George (Joe Lewis) the two do a terrific “Cold Feet” tap dance number.

The plot, as is appropriate for spoofs, thickens. Broadway producer Feldzieg (Bob Sandders) is confronted by The Tall Brothers gangsters (Zeke Dolezalek and Connor Hernandez), who pose as bakers and say their boss, a backer, seriously doesn’t want the show‘s star to wed and leave the production.

Feldzieg’s girlfriend, Kitty (Abby Boegh), says she’s ready to step in with a different kind of act when the star and bride-to-be, Janet Van De Graff (Rachel Whyte) leaves to marry.

Asked if she is serious bout leaving show business, Whyte brings down the house with her “Show Off” song and dance, full-company number. While showing off everything she can do including splits  she insists she doesn’t want to “show off” anymore.

Beautifully choreographed by Julie Salk and performed with acrobatic agility by Whyte, the surprise it that the number can be performed on the Skokie Theatre’s small stage.

Convinced his star does mean what she says, Feldzieg plots to change her mind by bringing in Adolpho, nicely overacted with the right amount of flamboyancy and vanity by Sean Barett.

Adolpho is sent to the bride’s room where he finds The Drowsy Chaperone, interpreted with zestful fun and sophistication by Mani Corrao.

Meanwhile, the bride tests the groom to see if he really loves her.

Act II brings resolution. It also brngs Trix the Aviatrix, played with pizzazz by the Sabrina Edwards, down to ground to perform a quadruple wedding.

As The Man in the Chair says, “Everything always works out in musical.”

Along the way, the audience is reminded that they are merely seeing a musical as explained by the Man in the Chair when he pauses the record player needle and the actors stop mid-movement, or when he has to correct the needle when it sticks. Yep, picture it.

Patty Halajian’s costumes add nostalgic charm. Directed by Stephen M. Genovese with musical direction by Aaron Kaplan, the Skokie Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone, offers a delightful, high-quality, tongue-in-cheek view of 1920s musicals.

First shown in 1998 in Toronto, then opening on Broadway in 2006, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a musical comedy with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg  Morrison

DETAILS: ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a MadKap Productions show at Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, now through Oct 7, 2017. For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.

 

Great shows make up an exciting season north of Chicago

 

Chicago theatres and entertainment venues have a terrific line-up of shows for the 2017-18 season. Now is a good time to plan what to see with season tickets or dropping hints for birthday or holiday presents.

Genesee Theatre north of Chicago in Waukegan features name entertainers. Photo courtesy of Genesee Theatre
Genesee Theatre north of Chicago in Waukegan features name entertainers. Photo courtesy of Genesee Theatre

Don’t just consider plays. There’s also one-and two-nighters of top entertainers at a couple of venues. With so many places to go for a night out the Chicago theatre scene has to be broken into different areas. Not everything to see is downtown or Near North. So, try some of the theatres and other venues north of the city.

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This weekend on the entertainment scene

Chicago Tap Theatre presents "Tidings of Tap"
Chicago Tap Theatre presents “Tidings of Tap”

 

Sometimes we forget how vast the Chicago entertainment scene is. We know about some of the traditional holiday productions but there are many more venues that deserve to be added to the “I wonder what’s at the….” list.

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Theater: Fall shows to put on the calendar

'Wonderful Life ' revival comes to Goodman Theatre this fall
‘Wonderful Town ‘ revival comes to Goodman Theatre this fall

With more than 200 theater companies in Metropolitan Chicago there’s no lack of choices in all price ranges, genres and locations. Here is a small sampling of a half-dozen shows that will be in area theaters this fall. Of course you know that ‘Hamilton,’ the mega Tony-Award winning rap musical, opens Sept. 27. But it’s an open run so you might want to check availability later in the year or 2017.

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