Called “Stateville Voices,” three short plays directed by Sydney Chatman, former Goodman Theatre’s Michael Maggio Fellow, can be watched live at no charge Friday, July 3 at 5 p.m. on Facebook, YouTube and GoodmanTheatre.org/Stateville.
A virtual premier of “Parameters of Closeness” by André Patterson, “Ain’t Nothing like Quality Time” by Taurean Decatur and ” Comic Books and Candy” by Antonio McDowell, the plays are products of a Spring 2019 playwriting course taught by playwright and Goodman Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman as part of the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP).
The performances will be followed at 6 p.m. with a discussion about the plays and life at the Stateville Correctional Facility during COVID-19. Panelists include Antonio McDowell (Stateville Voices playwright who was recently granted clemency by Governor JB Pritzker) and his attorney, Josh Tepfer; Patrick Pursley (NPEP participant and former Stateville inmate); and Jennifer Lackey (Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program and the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University).
(Note: prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, live performances of the Stateville Voices plays were planned for Goodman Theatre, Kennedy-King College and Stateville Correctional Center. The Goodman intends to facilitate the live presentation when safe to do so.)
It doesn’t matter that some of the memorable concerts conducted by Pierre Boulez or Sir Georg Solti were during the 1990s. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has pulled some of their programs from the Rosenthal Archives so that music aficionados still have great music to enjoy while Orchestra Hall is dark.
Calling the initiative “Gems From the Vault,” the online program lists historic broadcasts available with a click on a free subscribe link.
Among the offerings is Boulez conducting a 1999 concert that starts with Stravinsky’s The Song of the Nightingale followed by CSO principal harpist Sarah Bullen with Debussy’s Sacred and Profane Dances then concluding with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Another CSO initiative brings its musicians and guests from their homes to yours.
Ravinia Festival has joined the growing list of arts organizations presenting special programs while their in-person venues are shuttered. Dubbed RaviniaTV, the program is a 20-minute weekly variety show that can be found on YouTube and Facebook. Fridays at 7 p.m. CDT.
The series starts with Ramsey Lewis performing from home on July 3 and with Chicago performances recorded last year.
Future episodes will include CSO concertmaster Robert Chen, pianist Kevin cole, vocalist Sylvia McNair, and other performers.
“It broke our hearts when the Covid pandemic forced Ravinia to cancel a season for the first time since the Great Depression, so the whole team got together to create ways to stay connected to the Ravinia Family, our artists, and audiences in what would otherwise be our silent summer,” said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman.
“So many of the longtime legends, as well as nascent stars, associated with Ravinia shared the same sense of urgency to keep the music playing as we all struggle with the hardships of this strange new reality. The solution was a show that not only shares music but offers a casual, conversational feeling like you would have on the Lawn at Ravinia,” Kauffman said.
The series, the brain child of Ravinia Communications Director Nick Pullia, is a mix of new, past, home and in-house (on Ravinia’s stage) concerts.
Episodes also have interviews with such guests as Ravinia Chief Conductor and Curator Marin Alsop and such topics as how civil unrest and the pandemic and its economic fallout might affect the art produced in this era, or how to help your kids keep sane while social distancing.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lots of towns’ and parks’ Fourth of July celebrations in the Chicago area with most fireworks canceled including those at Navy Pier.
But many restaurants, particularly those with outdoor seating are open, cruises are going on area waterways, music is lifting spirits at some bars and eateries and you can tune into two concerts with live fireworks at Capitol Fourth from Washington D.C. and at CNN’s The Fourth in America streaming live from New York and Washington D.C. for subscribers on CNN.com’s homepage and via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android. It can also be viewed on CNNgo.
Try something different this Fourth of July weekend. Take a lunch or dinner cruise on the Odyssey on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.
Navy Pier Restaurants and Music
Go over to Navy Pier, open 10 a.m. to midnight to eat outdoors at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and other outdoor spots. Find a seat at the Miller Lite Beer Garden for its “Live on the Lake” from 2-11 July 3 and all day on July 4. Stop at the Wave, Wall, Wax platform to hear DJs from 5pm to 7pm. Face coverings required. Visit Updates Navy Pier .
For great celebrity performances, meaningful tributes to heroes and spectacular fireworks go to your PBS station or online for Capitol Fourth. This year, the annual program has taped performances from 7 to 8:30 p.m. CT followed by live fireworks.
“For four decades “A Capitol Fourth” has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”
Aired from 7 to 11 p.m. CT, T the program will be hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon from New York and CNN’s Dana Bash from Washington, DC.
Performers include Jewel, Barry Manilow, Martina McBride, Kenny Loggins, Andy Grammer, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, CeCe Winans, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, The O’Jays, Don McLean, Jesse Colin Young and Little Kids Rock, Billy Ray Cyrus, Burt Bacharach & Musicians from the Berklee College of Music, Harlem Gospel Choir.
In addition, there will be the original Broadway cast of Girl From the North Country, inspired by the Bob Dylan’s songs and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations.
Orchestral numbers are performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the US Navy Band and the US Army Field Band, the new York Philharmonic and youth symphonies from San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Chicago and New York.
Fireworks highlights from New York, Washington Houston, Jacksonville and Nashville will be shown throughout the program which will be available to subscribers on CNN.colm’s homepage and CNN’s apps for iOS and Android.
So much has moved to virtual experiences that it is arguably easy to miss another fundraising concert. However, Ravinia fans who miss their picnic on the lawn this summer have a chance to create a unique, virtual experience, this Saturday.
Ravinia is holding “Living Room Lawn Party” at 8 p.m. CDT on June 27, 2020 that features Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth as the emcee.
A pre-show slideshow starts at 7:45 followed by performances from Chenoweth, soprano Patricia Racette, pianist Kevin Cole and Jazz artist Ramsey Lewis with Ravinia Jazz scholars, plus other entertainers.
Sponsored by Allstate, BMO, The Dancing Skies Foundation, and the Ravinia Women’s Board, Living Room Lawn Party will benefit the non-for-profit festival and its mission, especially its efforts to bring music back into schools through its Reach Teach Play education programs serving more than 85,000 community members across Lake and Cook Counties. Even though those programs are virtual now, Ravinia is ensuring music education remains accessible and alive (and fun) for all students, according to a Ravinia Festival statement.
“Music is a vital part of our students’ lives, and although they are not meeting with teachers and peers in person right now, it has not stopped us from providing the support and guidance to continue to musically enrich them,” said Ravinia Festival President and CEO Welz Kauffman.
“From moving our in-person programs to a virtual setting, to providing easy access to sessions and lessons on YouTube to our students, parents and educators and to mobilizing the entire Ravinia Family to assemble and deliver musical care packages, we continue to keep music alive for all,” said Kauffman. Listeners tune in to the Living Room Lawn Party at Ravinia.org/LawnParty.
Following Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcement Monday that Chicago is on track to move to Phase 4 beginning Friday, June 26, Chicago’s popular zoo and museum destinations are making plans to reopen. They all are following timed-ticket reservations and the face covering, social distancing and look-but-don’t-touch protocols.
The free,easily walkable zoo in Lincoln Park, opens with a preview weekend June 26-28. It opens to the public June 29. Expect grounds to be open but buildings are closed. The zoo is at 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago. For reservations and other information visit LPZoo/welcome.
For a virtual tour of the zoo with Mayor Lightfoot, go to HitPlayChicago. Released last week, the tour is Mayor Lightfoot’s latest field trip to Chicago destinations during the city’s and state’s “stay home” orders for staying safe.
Brookfield Zoo, operated in suburban Brookfield, IL by the Chicago Zoological Society, opens to members July 1 and the public July 8 using reserve-ahead, timed tickets. No tickets available at entrance.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS.
Admission includes access to Dinos Everywhere! and is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15. Check protocols at CZS/Know. Indoor spaces are closed. Food carts and gift shop carts will be on walkways.
Brookfield Zoo entrances: North Gate is at 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue and 31st Street) and South Gate is at 3300 Golf Rd.
Because Chicago museums are basically indoor facilities, most of them will be opening at different times in July with timed-tickets.
Shedd Aquarium, the middle building at the Chicago Museum Campus on Lake Shore Drive, will reopen July 3. Member pre sale is June 24, public presale is June 25. Visit Tickets are for reserved time.
Other museums have said announcements will come in July. The Art Institute of Chicago is still encouraging people to visit the museum online until it reopens.
Because theaters have been shuttered during the COVID-19 crisis for the safety of artists and audiences they have been putting some of their productions online. One such production was a Neo-Futurists “Wrench” production mentioned here in CTAA a few weeks ago.
Also, Citadel in Lake Forest just successfully held a live production that was a round-up of past musicals. It was held sitting in cars in the parking lot of the local community center.
However, sometimes it is worthwhile to go back to productions that have become extraordinarily relevant today during our (hopefully) history-changing 2020.
One such production is “The Talk” done in Durham and Chapel Hill, NC in 2019. Presented by StreetSigns and Bulldog Ensemble Theater in cooperation with the Department of Communication at UNC Chapel Hill, it has been brought back on video for a short time only by Bulldog and PlayMakers Repertory Company with permission from the artists and unions.
Written and performed by Sonny Kelly and directed by Joseph Megel, “The Talk” is a one-person show where a young black father talks to his son about his own experiences and what the son may experience growing up in the United States of America.
The script and acting is intelligent, poignant and heartbreakingly informative. Kelly wrote it while working on his Ph.D at UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Communication a few years ago. He has since attained his doctorate.
The show takes a little over an hour to watch but its messages are deep and lasting. Be mindful that the video introduction says not to copy the video or use it for commercial purposes.
The production companies involved hope more people will be able to see a show that sold out in 2019 and speaks to what is still confronting Americans today.
Most of the events that bring thousands of residents and tourists downtown Chicago such as Lollapalooza and the Air and Water Show have been canceled for what will be remembered as the summer of COVID-19.
But with summer there also comes farmers markets, a different way to enjoy Taste of Chicago and where to find entertainment options.
Concert Week Special
The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra is playing this week with the last concert Friday, June 12. Tune in at 6 p.m. to hear this talented group. Find them on facebook at FacebookCYSO even if you don’t have an account. Or watch and find more information at Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra/week.
In Chicago, a few are expected to open in June and July. However, most have curb-side or other pickup arrangements through a What’sGood app. For farmers market news visit Chicago City Markets.
Green City Market opens its Lincoln Park location June 13 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market will only be open on Saturdays. The 7-8 a.m. time is for COVID vulnerable populations. GCM in the West Loop opens in Mary Bartelme Park on June 20 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
See Shopper guidelines because they will ensure the markets can stay open. They include how to move swiftly through the market, wearing face coverings, keeping social distances and not touching items.
Taste of Chicago is in to-go mode July-8-12, 2020. How to support the restaurants and how to find chef demonstrations online visit Taste of Chicago To-Go
Online arts programs
Under the title Do Stuff at Home, the Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events suggests watching local online programs that range from “The Quarantine Concerts that can be seen today, June 11 through June 30 and First Folio’s “Cymbeline: A Folk Musical” available through June 14 to “Keeping Pride Alive” on June 28. To see the schedule go to DO312.
The outdoors beckons now that Chicago and Illinois has entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 fighting strategies. Just know that restrictions such as social distancing and face coverings are still part of the experience.
Also note where reservations and permits are still required.
The Pier at the eastern end of both Illinois Road and Grand Avenue, among Chicago’s most popular destinations, is opening its outdoor spaces excluding rides on June 10, 2020
Parking garages will have free access during the opening phase. Polk Bros Park across from the entrance and the Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion will open and some boat tours will be operating. There will be access to North and South Docks.
Several restaurants and retailers will have outdoor spaces such as Harry Caray’s Tavern, McDonald’s, Margaritaville Chicago, Billy Goat Tavern, Rainbow Bone and the large Offshore Rooftop & Bar. For updated information
The Morton Arboretum, a 1,700 acre park and outdoor plant and research museum, is open now on timed visit, reserve-ahead tickets through Jujne 14. Visits will be available to nonmembers on a restricted basis beginning June 15.
Located at 4100 IL Hwy 53 in west suburban Lisle, IL, the park is interlaced with walkway and hiking and biking trails. For membership, admission fees and hours visit Know/visit/information.
Lake County Forest Preserves dog park
Off-leash dog exercise areas begin opening second week of June, 2020 to annual permit holders. Dog Exercise Areas using COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.
“Once reopened, modified use practices will be in place for the health and safety of Forest Preserve staff, dog owners and their pets,” said Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully.
“Access will be limited to annual permit holders only. To help prevent overcrowding, daily permits will not be sold at this time. Additional signage will remind permit holders to do their part and abide by safety rules and protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Tully.
Chicago’s theater companies have been inviting audiences to watch productions on line as a way to raise needed funds to stay in business while COVID-19 has shuttered stages and in-person experiences. Citadel Theatre has found a different, fun way (sort of like a movie drive in) to enjoy a program.
Museums and other Chicago destinations have also suffered financial losses from closed doors. Youngsters and their families have also been deprived of popular places to visit. To help with the latter issue, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is journeying out to some of the city’s museums in virtual field trips geared to the whole family. They have been fun and enlightening. So go on, take a virtual field trip with her.
Citadel Theatre, a Lake Forest-based equity production company, has found a new way to put on a theater experience in line with Sate and national guidelines. Audiences are invited to watch and hear one-hour matinee performances at the suburb’s Gorton Community Center Parking lot while sitting comfortably and safely in their cars.
Cabaret dates are June 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 1 and 3 p.m. at 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest.
Tickets are considered donations and must be bought in advance because of limited parking space. Entrance is on Illinois Road, exit is at McKinley Road. Community Center facilities (washrooms) will not be available.
The world renown museum is the next stop on the city field trip series that visited the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History.
It’s a chance to visit (or revisit) a famous painting, hear about an upcoming block-buster exhibition and see works that might become favorites.
Visit HitPlayChicago to see the video that went live on Wednesday and will be replayed on WTTW on Friday and Monday. Scroll down to visit past field trip destinations.