Last opportunities to pick up orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden: Market Place \Weekend with venders is March 25-26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Post Orchid Show Sale filled with plants from the show is March 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid show is through March 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, just east of Edens Exp. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden Orchids Magnified. Related: Up close with orchids.
Unusual opera opportunity
A chance to see a groundbreaking multi-course opera at the Lyric opens March 24 but ends April 8. “Proximity,” a 2 and 1/4 hour production that presents three short operas together, “The Walkers, “Four Portraits” and “Night,” are at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on only four dates from March 24 to April 8, 2023. “Walkers” deals with gun violence while “Four Portraits” connects to technological impacts and “Night” looks at the natural world’s fragility. For tickets and information, call 312.827.5600 or go to lyricopera.org/proximity.
Now is a great time to visit the Shedd Aquarium because the Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins are in their annual nest-building season. Viksit Penguins | Shedd Aquarium. Shedd Aquarium is at 1200 S. DuSable/Lake Shore Drive on Chicago’s Museum campus.
Yes, Spring is finally here which means fine arts groups are beginning to talk about their line-up of April and May shows and events.
Northlight Theatre in Skokie presents what it calls “an old play with new music.” It’s “The Porch on Windy Hill,” conceived and directedby Sherry Lutken and co-written with fellow actors/musicians Lisa Helmi Johanson, David M. Lutken and Morgan Morse who co-star in the show.
Running April 13 through May 14, 2023, it follows a classical violinist and her boyfriend who loves folk songs from their Brooklyn home to North Carolina’s mountains where the violinist reconnects with an estranged grandfather. Along the way to discoveries, they overcome family prejudice and find bluegrass, foot-stomping roots.
Artistic Director BJ Jones called it a “story that needed o be told” because it unveiled how cultural differences and race could lead to family estrangement. “The thought that music or art would be the balm and the bridge to reconciliation convinced me that the story would touch our audience as it did me,” said Jones.
Also in April, Chicago a cappella is doing “American Songbook.” Put together by Artistic Director John William Trotter with music direction by Paul Langford, it features songs favored by such balladeers as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
The performances will be in four different towns respectively: Chicago, Evanston, Naperville and Oak Park, April 22, April 23, April 28, and April 30. To find the venue and date convenient to you and get tickets go to American Songbook – Chicago a cappella.
About the first venue, Ganz Hall in the South Loop on Wabash, Executive Director Matt Greenberg said, “April 22 will be Chicago a cappella’s first concert appearance at Ganz Hall. “It’s a true gem of the golden age of Chicago architecture…, “and we’re singing music from the golden age of American popular music. It’s a perfect fit.”
Theater Wit will be asking what might happen if you told the truth and nothing but the truth, when it presents the Midwest Premiere of “The Whistleblower.
A comedy by Tony-Award winner Itamar Moses, author of “The Band’s Visit,” audiences can find an answer or two when the show runs May 5 through June 17, 2023. For tickets and information, visit theaterwit.org or call (773) 975-8150.
In addition, the 27th Annual Blues on the Fox Festival combines blues legends and rising stars on the banks of the Fox River, June 16 and 17 at Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park 360 N. Broadway, downtown Aurora. For tickets and more information, visitriveredgeaurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by RiverEdge’s satellite box office, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. More information will be included in the summer concert roundup.
Carmen, George Bizet’s brazen break with opera traditions when it debuted in Paris in 1875, is the perfect vehicle to introduce high school students to the genre. Indeed, I saw two student groups when at the Wednesday matinee March 15.
An opera that portrays a colorful, independent female who makes her own life and lover choices and that is filled with beautiful duets, solos and powerful musical themes, Carmen changed minds from its originally negative reviews to become among the most popular operas of all time.
Few listeners, even non-opera goers could disagree that Act 1’s “Habanera” “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle “ (Love is a rebellious bird), a song with a Cuban beat explaining Carmen’s temperament, and Act 2’s “Toreador Song” sung by the bullfighter Escamillo who would become Carmen’s lover, are easily identifiable as from Carmen.
In addition, the voices are superb. Lyric’s former Ryan Opera Center star, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, is the sultry Carmen. Famed tenor Charles Castronovo is Don José who drops his home-town girlfriend, Micaëla, and his regiment when seduced by Carmen.
Although audiences are familiar with most of Act 1’s music, the duet of Castronovo and soprano Golda Schultz as Micaëla about a letter and kiss from his mother (“Parle-moi de ma mère!”), drew applause from those listeners who appreciated Schultz’s voice. (She was definitely appreciated in Act 3 when singing her aria, “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” as she gathered courage to try to pull José away).
Baritone Andrei Kymach is fine and appropriately confident as bullfighter Escamillo.
The set design nicely evoked a Spanish square and I still liked the mountains and moon I saw in an earlier Carmen at the Lyric. Of course, Bizet’s music dramatically tells the story. So why did the production feel that something was missing?
The voices were excellent, but except with Schultz, there seemed to be a gauze screen between the singers. I remember when years ago they stood still to sing their arias. Now, opera stars are expected to act their roles so I was looking for more intensity.
Maybe it was the music’s tempo. It’s not supposed to overpower the singers but it wasn’t strong enough in parts.
Or maybe Bridges, who is gorgeous, could up the sultry moves and maybe Castronovo could seem reluctant to leave Micaëla as Carmen tries to pull him in with her teasing.
I definitely recommend this Carmen because the voices are excellent but I left feeling something was missing.
Details: Carmen is at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., now through April 7, 2023. It’s in French with projected English titles. Running Time: 3 hours 25 minutes with 2 intermissions. For more information call (312) 827-5600 or visit lyricopera.org/carmen.
Based on all the awards ceremonies that have already taken place this year “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is expected to walk off with the most awards. But tune in any way when the 956th Academy Awards are announced March 12, 2023 for movies released in 2022 to see the gowns and tuxes, hear the best songs performed and guess the other awards.
As an example, In the 1929 Oscars Frank Borzage won Best Directing for Dramatic Picture with “7th Heaven” and “Wings” took the first Oscar ever for Best Picture.
The site also lists this year’s Dikrecting nominees as Martin Mcdonagh for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Known as the two Daniels) for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans,” Todd Field for “Tar” and Ruben Östlund for “Triangle of Sadness.”
No matter who wins what film makers are hoping for is full recovery at theaters so audiences are back after the Pandemic.
Writers Theatre in Glencoe is celebrating March with “Once” a wonderfully performed musical about hope and love wrapped in Irish tunes.
Grocery stores such as Sunset Foods in the northern and northwest suburbs are celebrating with pots of four-leaf clovers.
Many bakeries throughout the Chicago area are celebrating March with cakes, cookies and cupcakes topped with green frosting.
And luck is wished to everyone because the Chicago area loves to celebrate all things Irish during St. Patrick’s month of March.
So, get out the calendar to pencil in top events. But first know that you will be welcomed with the word Fáilte, toasted with the word sláinte pronounced slahn-che (to good health) and will hear the lovely phrase, Céad Míle Fáilte: A hundred thousand welcomes.
Thanks to the Plumbers’ Union, the Chicago River turns green the morning of March 11 at 10 a.m. followed by the Plumbers’ Union sponsored parade at 12:30 p.m. Go early to see the river dying between State Street and Columbus Drive on Wacker or along the Riverwalk. Hang out downtown until the parade steps off from Balboa at Grant Park and heads north along Columbus Drive to Monroe. Among the largest in the country, it’s three hours of bagpipers, floats and Irish Step Dancers. (And politicians)
Two good parades are also held March 12 in Chicago neighborhoods: Southside Irish and Northwest Side Irish.
The Southside Irish Parade is noon to 3 p.m. along Western Avenue starting at 103rd Street going south to
to 115th. It’s a family friendly parade that started in 1981 with a couple of families and has grown to where it attracts people from all over the city. It does not tolerate drinking but neighborhood pubs are open after the parade.
The Northwest Side Irish Parade, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is the same day, same time. Find official parade and after party info at Northside Irish. The parade goes along Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue as it winds through the Norwood Park neighborhood.
Pubs throughout the Chicago area are ready to party. Most will have specials on Irish beer. Some pubs will feature entertainment by talented Irish Step Dancers and soulful musicians.
Among the most popular pubs celebrating St. Patrick’s Day isChief O’Neills, 3471 N. Elston, Chicago. It will be open from 8 a.m March 11 through 2 a.m. Msrch 12 with a cover charge of $10 from noon on. But more festiviies will be on March 12 with no cover charge. O’Neills will feature traditional Irish dishes and entertainment on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 with a cover charge at 4 p.m. See more about O’Neills festivities. at St Patrick’s Festival 2023.
In Beverly, the Southside Irish Parade neighborhood, the Cork and Kerry at 10614 S, Western Ave., is popular.
In the northern suburbs, Hackney’s on Lake, a longtime favorite restaurant and bar in Glenview with Irish roots, celebrates with good Irish beer and an extensive menu. The original Hackneyh’s on Harmes (more than 80 years old) is also still around as an intimate dining spot known by word of mouth.
Where to go after the Downtown Parade March 11. (Both require tickets)
Wear green and celebrate the Irish way at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N Knox Ave. Chicago. Its St. Patrick’s Day Festival is perfect for all ages with Irish food, music, dance, children’s activities and Irish gifts on sale from 1 to 11 p.m. Also, its Fifth Province Pub is a traditional Irish pub.
Shamrock’n the Block at Old St. Patrick’s Church on DesPlaines Street between Monroe & Adams (700 W. Adams) in Chicago’s West Loop, does an annual Irish pub pop-up with a heated beer garden tent, food and entertainment plus shamrock craft packs for kids. from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Go celebrate and remember the popular Irish toast: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.”
A perfect introduction to children’s theatre, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” is a one-hour production in the Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences series.
It’s amazing how timeless this musical, written in 1967, continues to be as it highlights the anxieties and insecurities of children in every generation.
Based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles M. Schultz in his comic strip, Peanuts, the play remains delightful in its simplicity and poignancy.
Charlie Brown and his rag-tag group of friends create a series of vignettes that explore life’s great questions and their relationships with one another. Through it, they play baseball, struggle with sibling rivalry, sing and celebrate their own happiness.
The production stars Patrick Michael Tierney who is a perfect Charlie Brown. Tafadzwa Diener is Lucy who is not only bossy but delivers wonderful vocals as well. Matthew Bettencourt plays Schroeder. Jackson Evans is Linus and Amanda Walker is Sally.
The star of the show really is Andres Enriquez who, as Snoopy, must convey a variety of “doggie” emotions. Hysterical.
One of the lyrics to the final song, “Happiness,” is “Happiness Is anyone or anything that is loved by you.” Could there be anything sweeter?
This production is directed and choreographed by Linda Fortunato, with musical director/conductor Rick Bertone and musical supervisor Ryan T. Nelson.
The show includes additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and dialogue by Michael Mayer from the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival.
This is the first show in the 2023 Young Audience season. Next up is “Elephant and Piggies: We Are in a Play” from July 14 to August 1.
I fell in love with “Once,” a musical based on a John Carney 2007 film, when it first played in Chicago in 2013 and again in 2015.
But the word, “musical,” may erroneously bring images to mind of such full-stage touring shows as “Chicago and “Les Miserable.”
Appearing now at Writers Theatre where it can intimately be performed almost in-the-round, the audience’s focus is on its main characters beautifully portrayed by two popular regional theater actors: Dana Saleh Omar (national tour of “The Band’s Visit) as Girl, and Matt Mueller (“The Play that Goes Wrong” tour) as Guy.
Girl is a sympathetic but stubborn musician who pulls Irish musician/song writer Guy away from severe mental despondency when the person he wrote and sang about leaves him for New York City.
Her vehicle to getting through to him is, surprisingly enough, a Hoover Vac that he can fix for her in his father’s shop where he lives above the store and works when not writing and performing.
The dialogue, a creative play on words often infused in the script, is something like: “It (the Hoover) doesn’t suck,” she tells him. “Are you serious,” he asks. “I’m always serious. I’m Czech,” she says.
On the way to bringing Guy back to a mental state where he wants to live and perform, the audience meets her Czech family, Guy’s father, Da, the Irish bartender and band members.
They all make up the show’s musician/performing cast. And they all, including Girl’s 8-year-old daughter, Ivonka, played by Kajsa Allen, are terrific. (She alternates with 11-year old Viva Boresi.)
As with the national tour production, they also (except for Ivonka) stay on stage, usually seated when not performing. The staging is simple.
The main differences I found were that the focal point is an upright piano instead of a stocked bar and the musicians/performers had more choreographed stage time that included pre-curtain Irish music.
Kudos to the talented supporting cast: Elisa Carlson (Reza), Yuchi Chiu (Bank Manager), Matt Deitchman (Band music director/ Eamon), Elleon Dobiaa (Ex Girlfriend), Matt Edmonds (Billy), Jordan Golding (Emcee), Lucas Looch Johnson (Svec), Liam Oh (Andre), Ron E Rains (Da) and Bethany Thomas (Baruska).
The show is well directed and choreographed by Katie Spelman with excellent music direction by Deitchman.
Music and lyrics are by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova with book by Enda Walsh.
“Once” picked up 11 Tony Award nominations in 2012, winning eight awards that included Best Actor, Book and Musical. It had also won the Academy Award for best song “Falling Slowly.”
Details: “Once is at Writers theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe now through April 2, 2023. Running time 2 hrs, 20 min. with one intermission. For more information and tickets visit. Writers Theatre.
You survived the Chicago area’s recent torrential downpour and downed tree limbs but the weather weaves back and forth between icy and OK. Not bad. However, you are still talking about seeing your baseball team in action. So, go. MLB has 15 teams playing in Arizona’s Cactus League beginning Feb. 24 and continuing to March 28, 2023.
That means even if you can’t get your tickets from the Cubs or White Sox in their home park you can see them play in one of the other parks. None are farther than 40 minutes away in the Phoenix- Scottsdale- Glendala-Mesa area.
Spring training tickets are less expensive than during regular season and the players are good about autographs. Plus, the atmosphere is fun and casual.
Speaking of fun, see Visit Phoenix/Things to do where you can scroll down to a map titled “Explore Greater Phoenix.” Find the town where your team plays and tap on it for places to stay, restaurants and what to do.
As an example, when clicking on Mesa in greater Phoenix’s Southeast Valley, you see it has the Cub’s spring training base of Sloan Park. The Cubs begin at Sloan, Feb 25, against the San Francisco Giants.
Mesa is also home to Hohokum, the Oakland Athletics Stadium, several art galleries and such fun restaurants as Worth Takeaway and Jalapeño Bucks (known for its brisket).
By tapping Glendale, an area northwest of downtown Phoenix, you find Camelback Ranch, the spring home of the Chicago White Sox and the LA Dodgers.
Glendale has historic Main Street, an area of turn-of-century homes and lots of restaurants. Visit Cactus League at Camelback Ranch for good ideas on where to stay and what to do.
Which brings us to when and where to go: the Spring Training teams and schedule. MLB has 15 teams that play in the Cactus League from Feb. 24 to March 28, 2023. Find when and where your team is playing.
*Warning: When looking for info and tickets the websites that appear are primarily resale and other sites. Be safe by going to an official MLB site for tickets. Type in your team and MLB.com.
Even though the weather has been wavering between what has been balmy for February and normal chilliness, maple trees at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods, IL have been ready to be tapped.
Which means the Lake County Forest Preserves’ maple season starts now with a festival Feb. 25 at Ryerson followed by maple syrup family hikes the first three weekends in March. In addition are a program for seniors and then a Spring Break program the last week in March.
Why tap now?
“You need days above freezing and nights below freezing. The sap was stored in the tree over the winter. Now you get a big rush as the pressure moves it up the tree,” said LCFPD Environmental Educator Jennifer Berlinghof, maple syrup programming coordinator.
Berlinghof explained that the sap travels up the xylem (plant’s vascular tissue that moves the sap of water and dissolved minerals up from the roots).
She noted that even though the current period for the maple syrup temperature change was “anything but typical,” the forest preserves’ staff were able to tap enough to have small tastings for families who sign up for Maple Syrup Hikes.
How much sap?
Berlinghof estimated that 40 gallons of sap are needed to produce one gallon of syrup. To bring home the point, she said that Ryerson has several containers stacked around the district’s evaporator where they boil out the sap’s water content to produce the syrup.
What to expect?
Families who register for the hour-long hikes go past sugar maple trees hear about the process and learn about drilling a hole to get sap. “The trees have already been tapped,” Berlinghof said, but she added that participants could see what it is like by drilling on the logs.
The hikes go to the where the sap is boiled down to syrup and, of course, participants get a taste of the final product.
Maple Syrup Festival
First is the free Maple Syrup Festival at Ryerson Woods, 21950 North Riverwoods Rd, Riverwoods, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. Running from 9 -11 a.m., no registration is needed. Activities are inside the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center and outside on the trails. Daisy from WTTW Nature Cat will be there.
Maple Syrup Family Hikes
Hikes are Saturdays and Sundays, March 4 to March 19. They start every half-hour from noon to 2 p.m. from the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center and are led by Lake County Forest Preserves educators. Open to all ages, tickets are $6 per person. Children ages 3 and under are free. Spaces fill quickly. To register and obtain a ticket go to lcfpd maple syrup and scroll to the date you want or call (847) 968-3321. Scout and other groups can make special arrangements.
Spring Break Syruping
Learn about the collecting and making of maple syrup March 28, 11 a.m. to noon at Ryerson Woods. Register at Spring Break Maple Syruping. Limited attendance. Tickets $6, ages 3 and under free.
Senior Maple Syrup Hike
A hike for seniors age 62 and older is March 30 from 11 a.m. to Noon. Free to Lake County residents, tickets are $3 for nonresidents. Register at Senior Series.