There is a wide selection of winter shows, some of which you might miss in 2022, depending on your usual theater subscriptions and play going habits, So, here are a half-dozen to add to your list with some theaters in Chicago and some in the suburbs.
“Groundhog Day: The Musical” opens at Paramount Theatre at 23 E. Galena Blvd, Aurora on Jan. 26. Visit Paramount Theatre. Based on the Bill Murray comedy, the book was written by Danny Rubin with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
“Agatha Christie’s Secret Council, a world premiere by David Rice featuring Christie’s sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence,” opens Jan. 29. at First Folio at the Mayslake Peabody Estate 31st St. & Rt. 83, Oakbrook.
“Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson, opened Jan.22 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Chicago.
“West Side Story” opens at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, Feb. 2.
“When There Are Nine,” a play featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, opens at Pride Arts’ Broadway Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago Feb. 10.
“Outside Mullingar,” by John Patrick Shanley opens at Citadel theatre 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, Feb. 11. Citadel Theatre
COVID protocols are making it possible to hold events at the Lyric Opera, Symphony Center and North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. So, when winter needs a mood changer, try Verdi, jazz, Debussy or Music of the Baroque.
“Verdi Voices” brings joins soprano Tamara Wilson and tenor Russell Thomas with conductor Enrique Mazzola and the Lyric Opera Orchestra to perform favorites from La Traviata, Aida, Otello and some less familiar arias and duets on Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and more information visit Verdi Voices or 2021|22 Season | Lyric Opera of Chicago.
From jazz and the CSO At the Movies (Casablanca) and from Prokofiev to Rachmaninov, there is a lot going on in different musical genres at the CSO”s Orchestra Hall in February, 2022. Check out the calendar at Symphony Center concert listings.
Music of the Baroque
“The Chevalier,” a concert drama about the first major Black classical composer, Joseph Bologne, (Chevalier de Saint-Georges), will be at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Written and directed by Bill Barclasy with music by Joseph Bologne, the concert drama was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2018. For tickets and mor information visit North Shore Center/event.
For a while, 2021 did look like Chicago’s vibrant theater scene could pick up where it stopped or went to zoom after the first COVID outbreak. Footlights were back on at several venues from Goodman Theatre to the Lyric Opera.
Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire performers expressed the general feeling of optimism in their first fall show “The World Goes Round,” a terrific presentation of the “Songs of Kander & Ebb,” when they said, “We’re back.”
But as COVID variances spread, shows such as Goodman Theatre’s delightful “A Christmas Carol,” closed early. Notices from some venues went out that said shows supposed to open early in 2022 are re-scheduled.
Now the good news. Several theaters that have COVID protocols regarding masks and vaccinations to protect audiences and performers will have the lights on.
Among them are several Broadway in Chicago offerings.
“The Play that Goes Wrong,” the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, is being extended through April 3, 2022. On stage at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., tickets are available at Broadway in Chicago.
“I’m thrilled this cast of talented Chicago actors is bringing so much laughter and delight to our audience members,” said Broadway In Chicago President Lou Raizin. “Extending the run gives more Chicagoans a chance to enjoy this hilarious show and others a chance to see it again and again!”
“Frozen” will also continue in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through Jan. 22, followed by “Come From Away” Feb 22 through March 6 2022. “Oklahoma” will be at the CIBC Theatre for a short run Jan. 11-23, followed by “Hairspray” Feb. 1-13 2022. For tickets and more information visit Broadway in Chicago.
Mercury Theater will be doing “Women of Soul – With a special tribute to Aretha” Jan. 28 through March 6, 2022. Originally premiering at the Black Ensemble Theater in 2018, the show is written and directed by Daryl D. Brooks. It also pays tribute to Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Donna Summer and Janet Jackson.
“This feel-good revue is being given an exciting new life and the chance to be seen by new audiences at Mercury Theater Chicago,” said Brooks. The Mercury Theater is at 3745 N. Southport Ave. For tickets and more information visit Mercury Theater Chicago.
Goodman Theatre will be back with “Gem of the Ocean,” by one of Chicago’s favorite playwrights, August Wilson. Playgoers familiar with Wilson know he often takes them to Pittsburgh’s Hill District. “Gem” is set in the difficult times of 1904 when a spiritual journey is needed. Directed by Chuck Smith, the play runs Jan. 22- Feb. 27, 2022 in Goodman’s Albert Theatre
In addition, “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, will be in Goodman’s Owen Theatre, Feb. 11 – March 20, 2022. For tickets and more information visit Goodman Theatre.
Porchlight Music Theatre has rescheduled “Blues in the Night” for Feb. 9-March 13 due to COVID concerns. Dates for its stage reading of “Clear” by Paul Oakley Stoval and the show, “Passing Strange,” will be announced. For more information visit Porchlight Music Theatre.
The year 2021 looked weird on the event calendar. Fun events and show openings were penciled in and then many were crossed out, erased or footnoted with wear a mask and bring the vax card.
It’s hard to predict if 2022 will be an echo but we can ruminate on these five annual happenings that may be experienced in person, on zoom, on TV or ordered and delivered.
Martin Luther King Jr Day
January is kind of quiet but the third weekend typically offers community service opportunities in honor and memory of Martin Luther King Jr. The official recognition day, a federal holiday, is Jan. 17. For more information visit MLK Day | AmeriCorps.
Chinese New Year
You have another chance to celebrate a new year. Food, dragon parades and most traditional observances start Feb. 1 in 2022 to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. They continue through Feb. 15 with the Lantern Festival. For more information visit Chinese New Year.
Groundhog Day If you want to know how many more weeks of winter are ahead, ask a groundhog. A long time European folklore tradition of predicting the weather by watching animal behavior, the practice moved to the Pennsylvania area where it became a full-blown celebration in Punxsutawney known as Groundhog Day; observed on Feb. 2. Translated into a popular romcom written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and directed by Ramis the movie was filmed in Woodstock, IL starring Bill Murray and Andie Macdowell. For Punxsutawaney info see Visit Punxsutawney. For the movie visit Groundhog Day 1993.
Super Bowl LVI
If traveling to southern California you need to know the Super Bowl and crowds will be hanging out Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium, the Rams and chargers home opened in fall of 2020. If watching on TV for the commercials and half time the show starts at 6:30 p.m. ET and is on NBC. Visit Super Bowl Sunday NFL.
Feb. 14, known by some cynics as a Hallmark celebration because of all the cards sent, the day is a chance to say thank you with flowers, candy and dinner out. Some historic notes say the day is really St. Valentine’s Day for a Christian martyr and other sources say it dates to the Roman holiday Lupercalia.. Either way, the day is a chance to express affection. Visit Valentine’s Day/History.
Closed for two years due to COIVD-19, Writers Theatre has reopened its 2021/2022 season with “Dishwasher Dreams.” A one-man show written and performed by Alaudin Ullah, it highlights the immigrant experience through the eyes of a father and son.
The show opens with and is accompanied by tabla percussionist Avirodh Sharma who adds a sense of cultural authenticity to the performance. Sharma is considered one of today’s leading exponents of the tabla, carrying on the tradition of percussion rhythm that originated in India.
Ullah is a stand-up comedian whose family came from a very small town in Bangladesh. He grew up in New York City but is in L.A. auditioning for a major film role that could change the course of his career. Unfortunately, a family crisis hurls him back to New York and puts his own dreams on hold.
He takes the audience on a hilarious journey through his family’s history from colonial India in the 1930s to Spanish Harlem in the 1970s to present-day Hollywood.
This exhilarating trek will have you laughing and crying at the same time as Ullah shares his experiences of immigration, the Yankees and the pursuit of the American Dream.
At heart, Ullah is a storyteller dedicated to changing the misperceptions of South Asians and Muslims in our society. His performance covers a range of emotions dealing with prejudice and racism on stage as he tries to become a successful American.
For both father and son, there is more to life than being an undocumented worker with little opportunity for advancement. Ullah shows us with humor and commitment how he overcame this!
A playwright and performer with several TV and film acting credits, Ullah was one of the first South Asian comedians featured nationally on HBO, MTV, BET, PBS and Comedy Central. He is currently working on a documentary of his book, “Bengali Harlem,” to be out next year.
The show is directed by Chay Yew, (formerly of Victory Gardens Theater) in association with Hartford Stage. Writers Theatre which recently changed leadership, is helmed by Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma and Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy.
DETAILS: Dishwasher Dreams is at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, through January 16, 2022. Run Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and more information, visit writerstheatre.org. (Visitors must show a valid Covid vaccination card and must be masked through the entire presentation.)
Lots of places from theaters and entertainment venues to zoos stay open on Dec. 31. Some are for kids, some for adults and some are for the whole family. Just know that reserved tickets and COVID protocols are in place.
See the zoo aglow with lights during Holiday Magic. A blaze with more than 2 million lights that includes, illuminated animal shapes and a tunnel of lights, Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic includes New Year’s Eve. The gates open at 3 p.m. and close at 9 p.m., Dolphins play from 4 to 6 p.m. (x fees). Brookfield Zoo South Gate is at 3300 Golf Rd. North Gate is at 8400 31st Street, Brookfield. For more information visit Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.
Deck the Hallmark
If you second guess the endings to Hallmark’s movies you’ll laugh with the Second City crew’s Deck the Hallmark” parody. A two-0hour show with a 15 minute intermission, the New Year’s Eve productions are at 7 and 10 p.m. Packages can be general admission, drinks and food. The venue is at at the Up Comedy Club, 230 W, North Ave. For tickets and more information visit Second City Deck the Hallmark.
Disney’s Frozen, a critically acclaimed musical for its special effects, costumes, storyline and songs has two performances, 1 and 6:30 p.m. in Chicago on Dec. 31, 2021. Hosted by Broadway in Chicago, the production is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago. For tickets and more information visit Disney’s Frozen | Broadway in Chicago
Make it a magical night with the Magic Lounge’s Signature Show at 7 p.m. or at 10 p.m. that adds an NYE celebration. Either way there’s magic at your table and on stage. The Magic Lounge is back of a storefront at 5050 N. Clark Street in the Blackstone Cabaret Theater. Patrons must be 21 to enter or age 16 with legal guardian. For more information and tickets visit Signature show at Chicago Magic Lounge and Calendar.
Celebrate NYE with an unusual combo of circus, cabaret entertainment and food. It all happens in a jeweled, mirrored tent in the Cambria Hotel downtown Chicago at 32 W. Randolph St. For tickets and more information visit Teatro ZinZanni Chicago.
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” continues to delight audiences.
Can an off-Broadway musical based on cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s well-loved “Peanuts” comic strip characters that is more than 50 years old still be relevant?
The answer is Yes!
With music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, the musical opened off-Broadway in 1967 and ran for almost four years.
Popular with regional theaters, a new version directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening and Thoroughly Modern Millie) featuring additional songs by Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) ran on Broadway in 1999. It won the Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Revival of a Musical.”
Citadel Theatre, in Lake Forest s playing this updated, fast-paced and high-energy award-winning version, now through Dec. 23, 2021.
The play features a series of vignettes, almost like a cartoon strip, that chronicles the trials and tribulations of childhood.
Fifty years later, the characters have the same insecurities, the same issues about friendship, sports and their own failures.
Charlie Brown continues to have a crush on sweet little red-headed girl whom he discovers chews her pencil, too.
He is the eternal optimist, but he never gets a break. He is still the same blockhead.
In this updated production, the audience will encounter some references to present-day items such as “bit coin.”
Directed by Joe Lehman and choreographed by Jake Ganzer with music direction by David Zizic, memorable music includes the title song, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “Happiness,” a piece that highlights enjoying the little things in life.
The cast, top-rated with hapless Charlie Brown played by Neil Stratman and Lucy played by Actor Equity member Sierra White, also includes Jimmy Hogan (from Citadel’s “Annie) as Schroeder; Marcellus Burt (of Griffin’s Ragtime) as Linus and Alley Ellis as Sally. Tuesdai B. Perry is Snoopy. It’s hard enough to play a role, much more so, that of a pup.
Kudos to Sally and Schroeder whose tap dance knocks it out of the park.
Mention must be made of the incredible, colorful lighting design by Samuel Stephen that almost takes on a role by itself. Flashing emotions help showcase the feelings of the cast.
Also, the props design by Jonathan Berg Einhorn are larger-than-life, adorable and infinitely better than using the real things.
DETAILS: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Dec. 23, 2021. Run Time: approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission. For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre.
State COVID restrictions in effect at the time will be enforced at Citadel’s 144-seat performing space. The show is suitable for general audiences aged 5 and older.
Ice skate amid van Gogh’s swirling colors. Down a mug of mulled wine or snack on a warm pretzel. Browse artisan goods. The holiday season is back with delightful choices for all ages.
Tis the season for millions of twinkling lights to transform paths from the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum to Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos. But if looking for something different to do this year skate against a Chicago cityscape. Mask wearing is encouraged as well as social distancing.
Downtown Chicago area
Look below the “Bean” at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue where skaters move to music and can take lessons at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Skating is free and available now through March 6. To avoid overcrowding, reservation tickets are needed. Visit City of Chicago :: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Just east of the McCormick Rink is the quarter-mile Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon where visitors can skate a top of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” thanks to a partnership of the Chicago Park district and “Immersive Van Gogh.” Open now thru March 13, 2022, reservation tickets are needed. Admission with your own skates is free Monday through Thursday and $5 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Admission with skate rental is $16 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Maggie Daley Park and Skating ribbon is at 337 E. Randolph St. Visit Gogh skating for more information and reservations. Maggie Daley Park
A bit further north and east (600 E. Grand Ave.), skaters will find indoor ice at Navy Pier’s Alpine Rink in Festival Hall. It’s part of the Pier’s Light Up the Lake Festival that features a beer garden and shopping through Jan. 2, 2022. https://navypier.org/
The Rink at Gallagher Way, a large community patch of lawn abutting the Chicago Cubs stadium, is frozen over for ice events such as bumper cars and curling but its main use during the annual Winterland at Gallagher Way is for ice skating and skate lessons now through Feb. 20, 2022.
Admission is free for skaters 12 years and younger and $6 for skaters 13 years and older. Visitors can bring skates or rent them there for $12. Bags can be checked for $2. For hours and more information visit Winterland at Gallagher Way
Parkway Bank Park, Rosemont’s fun entertainment district and the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink, hosts Skating in the Park now through Feb. 27,2022. Bring skates or rent them for $8. For hours and more information visit Parkway Bank Park – It’s all here in Rosemont
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone leaving holiday shoppers with time to search for something different for themselves and others.
To find interesting fashion and home décor items and yummy food, go to the Chicago Artisan Market at Fulton Market West Loop on Dec. 12. For more information and ticket reservations visit About – Chicago Artisan Market.
Chicago a cappella, a versatile, talented vocal ensemble of professional singers, is back doing concerts across the Chicago area. “Holidays a cappella,” a program of beautiful Christmas and Chanukah music, runs Dec. 3 through Dec. 12, 2021.
Founded in 1993, Chicago a cappella has a subscription series and does live and broadcast-media musical content plus educational outreach programming. The group gives performances on tour and in special engagements.
Check the following schedule for a concert near you:
Friday, December 3 (8 PM): St Josaphat Church, 2311 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Saturday, December 4 (8 PM): Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park
Sunday, December 5 (4 PM): Community UMC, 20 Center St., Naperville
Friday, December 10 (8 PM): Fourth Presbyterian Church (Buchanan Chapel), 115 E. Delaware Pl., Chicago
Saturday, December 11 (8 PM): Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Sunday, December 12, (4 PM): Pilgrim Congregational, 460 Lake St., Oak Park
In a season overflowing with feel-good holiday fare, the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has chosen to balance the offerings with the controversial “Kiss Me Kate.”
Go for this production’s superb vocals, comedic moments and excellent dance numbers. But beware, the 1948 musical written by Bella and Samuel Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, is based on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
What you see is a show within a show presented by a traveling troupe as its stars battle on stage and off in a mirror image of the plot.
No matter how good the production is of the Shakespearean version (and I have seen good ones, including at Chicago Shakespeare), it still is misogynistic.
So, if bothered by the theme, blame Shakespeare.
If out for a night at the theater, sit back and enjoy director Johanna McKenzie Miller’s clever staging, Alex Sanchez’s choreography and the outstanding voices of Susan Moniz as leading lady Lilli Vanessi who plays Katharine (supposedly as a shrew) and Larry Adams, Lilli”s ex-husband, Fred Graham, who plays Petruchio (shrew tamer) and who is also directing the troupe.
Also dance shout-outs to Alexandra Palkovic who is Lois Lane, Kate’s overly-sweet little sister, Bianca, and to Jonathan Butler-Duplessis who leads the showstopping “Too Darn Hot” number.
You get to hear such familiar songs as “Wunderbar,” So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” and “From this Moment On.” To audiences who have missed the theater due to COVID, the opening number “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” offers a hopeful note.
DETAILS: “Kiss Me Kate” at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, is on now through Jan 16, 2022. Run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. For tickets and more information visit Marriott Theare. (Check Covid safety protocols.)