Grab a seat. Enjoy summer outdoors listening to talented singers and musicians perform nearly 60 classic and cherished songs from the 1950s to the 1960s. Music Theater Works, the North Shore’s famed musical production company typically performing from Evanston venues, is doing Legends Of The 50s and 60s: Greatest Hitsoutside Skokie’s North Shore Center For The Performing Arts, June of 2021.
While it is often a challenge to get audiences engaged, the performers and band faced no difficulty in doing so. Anyone who watches this show will undoubtedly want to join along in song and dance due to both the pure talent of the performers.
Co-directed by Music Works Producing Artistic Director Kyle A. Dougan and Martin L. woods, the performers’ strong and vibrant voices made the entire show come alive as they moved through the hit songs of such talents as Buddy Holly, Doris Day, The Supremes, Elvis, The Temptations, George Harrison, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan.
Additionally, the performance was heightened by the performers’ pure professionalism. The show flew smoothly from high energy number to number without missing a beat.
This show is an excellent choice for music lovers and a great escape to share with family and friends. Though the music might appeal more to older generations, younger people will definitely find enjoyment as they are introduced to less familiar classics. It is a must-see for anyone in the Chicagoland area looking for a talent-filled fun event.
Details: Music Theater Works’ Legends Of The 50s and 60s: Greatest Hits is outside the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60076 from June 18th through June 27, 2021. Run time: Two hrs. 20 minutes, plus a 15-minute intermission. For more show information and tickets visit MusicTheaterWorks.com/BoxOffice or call (847) 673-6300.
Yes, the City of Chicago has reopened. However, look for your favorite festivals at different times in different formats and at different places. There are more events and new celebrations across the city’s many neighborhoods in 2021.
Don’t be Blue
Because some noted annual fests as Blues, Jazz and Gospel are arranged way ahead of performance dates but COVID interfered, plan on attending each of them in a three-hour, early-evening version this fall. As part of the city’s new “In Tune” program, they all will be free and run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in September 2021.
Gospel is Sept. 3. Hosted by Jonathan McReynolds and Inspiration 1390’s Sonya Blakely and Deandre Paterson, it will include La Shon Brown, the Carson Sisters, Nicole Harris, Illiana Torres and the Tommies Reunion Choir.
Jazz is Sept. 4. Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, it features Ari Brown, Marquis Hill and Lizz Wright.
House celebration is Sept. 11 featuring “Sanitize Your Soul,” a debut Gospel House Choir collaboration between Mark Hubbard and DJ Terry Hunter.
Blues is Sept. 18. The evening will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Alligator Records with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials and the Nick Moss Band . Also hear Dennis Gruenling, Cash Box Kings, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks.
Work off the Taste of Chicago treats after July 11. The celebration of Chicago dishes and restaurants starts July 7 but instead of everything happening in Grant Park it will be a week of pop-up food from nearly 40 eateries and take place in neighborhood markets. Plus there are cooking demos, music and community meals with local nonprofit organizations.
Pop ups are July 7, 2 -7 p.m. at Pullman City Market, July 8 from 1-7 p.m. at Austin Town Hall City Market, July 9, at 4-8 p.m. at iWEPA Mercado del Pueblo, and also at 5 -8 p.m. for Taste on Tap at Goose Island Brewery.
They continue July 10 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. at The Hatchery, and from 10 a.m. -4 p.m. at Eli’s Cheesecake Company and from 1-8 p.m. on 63rd street in the West Englewood neighborhood.
The event culminates July 11 from noon to 3 p.m. with women restaurateurs in Millennium Park.
The city’s new programs include “Chicago Presents” community events; a nine-part House City series in the neighborhoods that helped create the music genre; two Latinx and World Music celebrations; two films and more just-announced special events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion; and a mash-up of public art and dance at Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.
he Lyric Opera of Chicago has come up with an amazing substitute for the large-scale musical it produces on its large-scale stage at the end of its operatic season.
Titled “the New Classics-Songs from the New Golden Age of Music Theater,” it is about a 70-minute-long mix of dramatic, sad, wistful and powerful show numbers that some listeners will know but others may not find familiar.
And instead of coming from the Lyric’s grand stage, the production was mostly recorded back stage in an intimate, former Civic Opera space.
Hosted by David Chase who also accompanies the singers along with members of the Lyric Orchestra, the program reintroduces some notable musical theater by notable composers.
Vocalist Gavin Creel opens the program with the obscure Stephen Sondheim “What More Do I Need” from Saturday Night followed by Nikkie Renée Daniels’ wistful rendering of the well-known “The Heather on the Hill” from Brigadoon. Norm Lewis then wows with “Stars” from Les Miserables.
Jenn Gambatese changes the mood with “Gimme Gimme” (Love) from Thoroughly Modern Millie and Heath Saunders offers a moving “Something Wonderful” from The King and I.
Jo Lampert puts the best interpretation I’ve heard on “Omar Sharif” from The Band’s Visit and Amanda Castro “flamingo” taps the way to the top of her building with “Raise the Roof” from The Wild Party.
Chase segues to historic references between numbers to the Civic Opera and more show tunes sung by the cast (introduced above) that also include “Love Changes Everything” “I Will Never Leave You,” “Dear Theodosia,” ”Way Back to Paradise,” “I’d Rather be Sailing,” “Popular,” “If Only” and “Rain.”
Guess which shows those songs came from or better yet, click on the production. It premiere this Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m. CT on Lyric’s Facebook and YouTube channels. For more information visit The New Classics.
Certainly, the Covid pandemic dramatically changed the arts and entertainment world including that of film festivals. But it also taught us we could work from home and enjoy plays and movies on line at home.
Some popular film festivals have been postponed yet another year to 2022. However, the New York’s Tribecca Festival is going ahead with its culturally and politically focused films in hybrid – at home and in-person – mode, June 9-20, 2021.
The festival includes Talks such as from storytellers John Legend and Mike Jackson, Games, Comedy and Films.
In person films range from “In the Heights” to “Johnny Mnemonic.” See In the Boroughs.
Stacey Flaster and Liz Fauntleroy, founders of Highwood, IL-based The Performer’s School, had their 40-member cast set for Les Miserables and 26-member cast for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. when Covid-19 shut down stages and venues everywhere including Ravinia Festival where they put on one of their shows.
“We didn’t know how long the quarantine would last but the kids had signed on,” said Flaster.
In addition, their staff orchestrator, editor, costumer and props people were still working on the shows and still hoped to do Les Mis and Beauty.
“So, we had to do something,” said Fauntleroy.
The something was to ask Peter Marston Sullivan, associate artistic director of Marriott Theatre and founder with wife Elizabeth Telford of the new, digital production company Marston McCoy Media, to turn the two musicals into digital productions where everyone looked as if they were performing at one time on the same stage.
The kicker was that everyone couldn’t be filmed at once. CDC and Illinois Covid protocols meant keeping everyone safe with separate rehearsals, separate costuming, separate dance moves and separate singing, but it all had to look like one show, one backdrop, one taping.
Sullivan had already been working with them on workshops and knew they needed a way to present the musicals.
In 2020 Elizabeth and I sat in our basement to experiment. We didn’t want something as bland as zoom. Then Elizabeth, sang “One Day More” for a demo to show what is possible,” said Sullivan explaining that his wife, Elizabeth Telford, was a musical theater performer who had done several shows Marriott and around Chicago.
“I sent to The Performer’s School. They said they were thinking of doing Les Mis. So we all took a risk,” he said.
“Peter came to us and said he had this idea on how to make it happen,” said Flaster. She added, “We were willing to take a chance. So we all just dived in.
“We presented it to the students. They all said yes!” said Fauntleroy.
The students involved are 26 fourth and fifth graders in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. and 40 sixth through eighth graders in the school edition of Les Miserables.
What comes across when watching either of the completed productions is that the youngsters could easily go on to post college or academy careers in musical theater. Past Performer’s School students have performed on Broadway, in regional theaters and commercials.
Flaster and Fauntleroy, explained that talent agencies, casting directors and local theaters often ask the school to suggest students for particular shows and roles.
The two school founders are themselves, veterans of Chicago area musical theater who then went on to teach workshops before founding their school eight years ago.
They noted that some of the students just enjoy performing while others are very talented, have agents already and often go on to related fields in college.
The back story is that after a few months of experimentation and six months of multiple takes of each cast member in front of the type of screen similar to one used by TV weather forecasters, the results were two astounding productions.
“It’s not like zoom. It’s a cinematic experience,” said Flaster.
Sullivan explained the process as “long” “complicated” and “layering.”
“We record the performers individually in front of a green screen then edit that so they appear to be together,” he said. “There are multiple takes with each kid, then they are cut out and all put together so then when we animate it feels like a movie.”
He added, “My wife had the great idea to have them looking where they would in a scene. So, in one take Jean Valjean would be looking left toward Marius (Pontmercy) who would be looking right in his take.”
He then edits the tapes and stacks them one behind or in front of another. “It’s hard. ‘One Day More’ took two weeks to edit,” he said. Then added, “The battle scene is amazing. It’s really layered editing, like animation.”
Sullivan said kudos had to go to TPS Music Director/editor Jeff Poindextor, “The orchestral track was all done at Marriott’s large rehearsal warehouse,” and to other staff of The Performer’s School who worked on the project.
“It’s hard, but what you see is cool. People will see what is possible,” said Sullivan. “And what was done with the students is amazing. They learned a whole different medium. The shows were perfect for film and the kids see themselves as movie stars. They’re glowing.”
PTSD is a very difficult subject for many people to fully understand. Therefore, it is an even more difficult topic to make into a film. However, Bastards’ Road does an excellent job of representing this condition through clever cinematographic choices.
Bastards’ Road is a 96 minute documentary that focuses on veteran Jon Hancock, an American who served in the Iraq War. After returning home the horrendous things he had both seen and done followed him, resulting in chaos in his personal life and mental health.
Ranging from alcohol abuse to suicidal tendencies, Jon had come home as a different man and found it difficult to get help.
To heal himself, he journeys across the United States on foot, visiting his friends from the Marines along the way, as he contemplates both the war and his life.
One amazing aspect of this film is the cinematographic choices that are used. For example, in the film, we see many shots of Jon walking past beautiful, relaxing landscapes. In these shots, he is often shadowed and silhouetted while the nature is colored in soft, pastel colors.
In a sense, this represents Jon’s dark, internal struggles, but also the fact that there will always be hope for him, which is shown by the light and color in the background.
Here, the audience is able to visually see and understand how disconnected Jon is from the world and the extent to what he is going through. By casting him in shadows, the audience can understand the emotional darkness that the shadows symbolize.
Additionally, the film includes actual footage from the Iraq War that we see while Jon and his friends discuss the horrors of war. While this footage is not always pleasant to watch, it heightens the overall stories and allows the viewer to better understand war and PTSD and therefore relate to the veterans.
When the audience is able to see actual footage of the events that, years later, still haunt these men, it is easier to understand where Jon and his friends are coming from. This footage is utilized perfectly, as it is weaved within the veterans’ personal stories.
Bastards’ Road is an incredibly heartfelt narrative that shows the difficulties of war and overcoming your past. Through cinematic techniques, the quality of the film is increased, resulting in a superb film without a dull moment.
Whether you like or dislike documentaries or movies about war, this film’s uniqueness and beauty makes it a must-see for everyone, due in part to its importance and educational value.
“The Sound Inside,” by Adam Rapp, the Jefferson Award winning and Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright of “Red Light Winter,” is a perfect choice for Goodman Theatre’s first live performance on its Owen Theatre stage.
A 90-minute drama that will have audiences wondering what happens next, the play follows the high intensity interaction between a Yale professor who teaches a writing class and a student.
The difference in watching this play from last year’s pre-pancemic, in-person shows and the streaming plays mounted in 2020 and still going on, is that the audience is not filling Owen’s seats and that the action is not pre-taped.
Viewers are at home watching the action as it happens. (Camera angles are important and included in the photos)
Because some scenes seem to be wordy and others might make audiences who think too much information might want to fast forward, which of course, they can’t, the fact that this is live is actually good.
What may sound like background information is crucial to the psychological buildup behind each character’s behavior, responses and the play’s conclusion.
The characters are Bella Lee Baird, interpreted brilliantly by Mary Beth Fisher as a 50-something creative writing professor who is struggling with a recent diagnosis of stage 2 cancer, and Christopher Dunn, superbly played by John Drea as an antisocial, anti- technology freshman in her Reading Fiction for Craft course.
Christopher sees Twitter as an outlet for those people “scared of loneliness.” Bella who somewhat narrates the actions, describes herself as unremarkable and the equivalent of a “collectible plate on the wall.”
Not so incidentally, Rapp’s mother’s maiden name was Mary Lee Baird. She died in 1997.
Director Robert Falls cloaks the opening scenes.in darkness mirroring Bella’s mood as first she describes the dark park where she comes as night when she can’t sleep as filled with trees that look arthritic.”
She then recalls her mother’s illness and death and wonders what she could have done wrong to bring on cancer because she eats healthfully and doesn’t overdo anything..
The scenes between the two characters contain a minimal number of props and lighting so that the audience can focus on Bella’s and Christopher’s changing relationship and the information slowly released about a book he is writing and about a book Bella wrote.
Among the worrisome and telling features of “The Sound Inside” is that both books are tragic and that Christopher believes good, successful authors commit suicide. He names several.
Another telling point is Christopher’s response to Bella’s use of Dostoyevsekyh’s “Crime and Punishment” to discuss antiheros as in the murder of the pawnbroker and his sister. Christopher cries, “Someday, I’m going to write a moment like that.”
“The Sound Inside,” is streaming live from May 13 –16. Running time: 90 Minutes.
“Ohio state Murders’ streams live June 17-20. “I Hate It Here streams live July 15-18, 2021. Individual tickets are $30. Three p;roductions tickets with a Live Membership is $60..
Music will again be heard in the Pritzker Pavilion, across the road at Orchestra Hall and north of the city at Ravinia in Highland Park. The openings this summer come as Chicago and Illinois allow more public gatherings because of the reduction in COVID cases and increase in vaccinations.
What will be different is ticketing and number of people allowed so check their websites.
Opening night is 8 p.m., July 9, 2021.with conductor Marin Alsop, pianist Jorge Frederico Osorio and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Pavilion. The program is composer Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7. .Tickets are $35-$145 Pavilion and $15 on the Lawn.
What you need to know
The season contains 64 concerts from June through September with the earliest programs free streaming live with no park admittance and a free July 3 “thank-you” concert to invitees. Then the schedule continues with a diverse program.
Tickets are divided into two parts with the first half from July to Aug. 15 going on sale to the public beginning June 15 at Ravinia.org. Donors can buy tickets beginning May 13 depending on level of contribution. The second half concerts are on sale July 21. Check Ravinia Festival Calendar and Tickets for more information. For Donor ticket times visit Ravinia/DonationLevels. Scroll down to donor timelines.
Ravinia Festival is just north of Lake cook Road betgween Green Bay Road and sheridan Road in Highland Park. Attendees are encourage to take the Metra which stops at the Ravinia’s main gate.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is welcoming audiences back to Orchestra Hall with the opening concert on May 27, 2021 with a special tribute to healthcare workers from Rush University System for Health.
According to a CSOA statement, three distinct programs created with artistic guidance by Music Director Riccardo Muti, will be presented May 27 through June 13. Featuring music for brass and percussion, string ensembles and orchestra, they will be led respectively by conductors Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima and Edo de Waart on consecutive weekends. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
What you need to know
Ticket availability is limited due to current restrictions on audience capacities for performance venues. Tickets for the CSO’s May and June concerts go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. CDT on May 11, 2021, and will be available at cso.org or by calling 312-294-3000. For protocol and more ticketing information visit CSO.org/SafeandSound.
The concerts are in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Grant Park Music Festival
The music festival opens Fourth of July weekend in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with Independence Day Salute programs beginning July 2 at 6:30 p.m. The opening concert features the Grant Park Orchestra and conductors Carlos Kalmar and Christopher Bell.
The program includes
John Williams: Summon the Heroes Scott Joplin: Overture to Treemonisha
Arr. Robert Lowden: Armed Forces Salute Florence Price:Dances in the Canebrakes Leonard Bernstein: Selections from West Side Story, George Walker: Lyric for Strings, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
John Philip Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever. For whole program and season visit 2021 Season :: Grant Park Music Festival. For more information visit Grant Park Festival.
What you need to know
Seats are free but due to crowd restrictions, reservations are required for the Seating Bowl and on the Great Lawn. Reservations may be made online or by phone. Passes will be touch-free and issued with a barcode to be printed at home or displayed on smartphone. Health & Safety protocols—masks are mandatory—in order to gain entry to the Pavilion.
The Chicago Auto Show, North America’s largest and longest running auto show, begun in 1901, returns to McCormick Place this summer as a Special Edition, July 15-19, 2021.
Announced earlier today by Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and other officials, the auto show’s announcement comes on the heels of Navy Pier’s recent re-opening the end of April and Ravinia Festival’s announcement that concerts return in early July.
Show goers can expect to see production vehicles such as the Alfa Romeo 4 C, concept vehicles such as Toyota’s GR Hyperspeed Edition and debut vehicles such as the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.
However, as a special edition that is observing COVID protocols, don’t look for them in the usual places. The show will be held in Mccormick Place’s West Building and it’s outdoor surroundings.
The move not only takes in pandemic concerns but also allows for outdoor test drives and more test tracks and technology demonstrations.
“With strong public health protocols in place, the Chicago Auto Show will be the first large convention to take place in Illinois since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come,” said Gov. Pritzker.
After reminding everyone that the venue was an alternate care facility for COVID-19 cases about this time last year, Mayor Lightfoot said that the change in the pandemic numbers in Illinois made the auto show announcement even “more special.”
She added, “In the same spirit of collaboration between government, healthcare, community, and corporate partners, we are now able to bring conventions back to our beloved convention center in a way that is safe and reflective of our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of this virus. I look forward to seeing the McCormick Place reopen its doors for the Chicago Auto Show this July and further enhance our city’s ongoing Open Chicago initiative.”
The Auto Show website details the following mitigation and safety measures:
a move to Hall F in West Building with 470,000 sq ft of indoor space and 100,000 sq ft of outdoor space;
• timed entrance windows and staggered entry to prevent congestion on the show floor and at arrival;
requirement to wear face masks at all times sanitization stations throughout the event;
contactless delivery for tickets;
temperatures will be scanned,
a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entry is allowed into the event.
The Chicago Auto Show general information line is (630) 495-2282. More show information visit Chicago Auto Show. exposition on the continent. This year marks the 113th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.
If you go
Date and hours: July 15-18, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. and July 19, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Location: McCormick Place, West Building, 2301 S. King Drive, Chicago.
Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.
Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.
Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.
Stroll Lincoln Park with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.
Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.
Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.
Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.
Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.
Ooh la la
Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.
For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.
Or go to Long Grove Confectionary in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda and Chicago. Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.