Treat yourself to a joyous experience with ‘The Sound of Music’

 

Addie Morales leads the von Trapp children in "Do Re Mi" in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theater Lincolnshire (Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren and Marriott Theatre)
Addie Morales leads the von Trapp children in “Do Re Mi” in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theater Lincolnshire (Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren and Marriott Theatre)

4 Stars

Wow! “How (do) you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” It’s what I felt I learned walking out of Marriott Theatre Linconshire’s “The Sound of Music.”

It’s been a while since I have left a show thinking it was perfect. With so many factors to consider from vocals, acting and dance to script and music, some elements tend to outshine or are weaker than others.

But upon leaving opening night of Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire’s “The Sound of Music,” April 20, 2022, the word that came to mind was “perfect.”

Of course, given the show’s emotion-packed music by Richard Rogers and the on-point, memorable lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the “Sounds” of music set the perfect tone.

Addie Morales, L, and Daniella Dalli in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theatre
Addie Morales, L, and Daniella Dalli in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theatre

Add to that there is the clever dialogue of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse who wrote the show’s book based on “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp,

But good as the basics are, there still are a production’s many elements. When going into a show that has been famously portrayed in movies and on soundtracks, audiences can be excused from recalling how in the 1965 movie, Julie Andrews portrayed Maria.

In her debut Marriott role, Addie Morales created her own version of Maria.

Morales who played Eva in Drury Lane’s “Evita” and Maria in “West Side Story” on stages across the country, was exactly what some of us would expect a young girl to look and act like who thinks she want to be a nun. But her star turns are when she joyously leads the van Trapp children in songs.

Which brings us to the seven children, each with their own personality.

They are amazing from Campbell Krausen as Lisel, Brody Tyner as Friedich, and Milia Liss as Louisa to Archer Geye as Kurt, Omi Lichtenstein as Brigitta, Olivia O’Sullivan as Marta and Reese Bella as Gretl. Mention must also be made of Emmet Smith, Lisel’s love interest. He is just right at the bicycle-riding telegram delivery boy, Rolf Gruber.

Daniella Dalli who has performed in national tours of “The Phantom of the Opera” and regional tours of “Les Miserables” has the vocal chops to get “bravo” and long applause in her Marriott debut as The Mother Abbess.

Erik Hellman and Addie Morales in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theatre
Erik Hellman and Addie Morales in The Sound of Music at Marriott Theatre

The rest of the cast are strong actors. Erik Hellman, a Steppenwolf and Court Theatre regular, makes his Marriott debut as Captain Georg  von Trapp and Heidi Kettenring, a familiar name to local audiences (23 Marriott shows) plus Goodman, Shakespeare and other Chicago stages, portrays Elsa Schrader who hopes to capture Captain von Trapp.

Rob Linley who has done national tours of “Phantom” is Max Detweiler, the show arranger who brings the van Trapp Singers to an important festival.

Insightfully directed by Nick Bowling with artistic lead Peter Marston Sullivan, set design by Collette Pollard, charming choreography by William Carlos Angula,  period costume design by Sally Dolembo, lighting design by Jesse Klug, and music led by Patti Garwood, the production team also worked its “perfect” magic.

There are so many memorable songs but the one audiences are humming after intermission and at the end of the show is The Mother Abbess and nuns” “Climb Every Mountain.”

DETAILS: “The Sound of Music” is at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire now thru June 5, 2022. Run time: 2 1/2 hours. For tickets and more information visit The Sound of Music | Show (marriotttheatre.com)

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

Earth Day celebration ideas

 

NASA Earth Day poster 2022 (Photo and poster courtesy of NASA)
NASA Earth Day poster 2022 (Photo and poster courtesy of NASA)

 

Earth Day is April 22, 2022. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate our Planet Earth, but also check with your local park district and forest preserve location.

On the national scene

Join NASA in its live chats with experts or with its virtual trivia games and at the @NASAEarth Twitter Space. See all the activities at Earth Day 2022 | NASA.

In Chicago

The Chicago Park District is doing a cleanup at more than 80 parks including the North Park Nature Center on April 23. To see which park is near you or where you would like to volunteer visit Chicago Park District/EarthDay..

In the burbs

At the Morton Arboretum,  run in the Champion of Trees 10 K on April 23. For more info and to register visit The Champion of Trees 10K | The Morton Arboretum. Then, celebrate Arbor Day with the Arboretum’s giant plant sale April  29-May 1. Ticket still available at Arbor Day Plant Sale | The Morton Arboretum .

At the Chicago Botanic Garden Look for and enjoy the garden’s budding plants or go online April 22 to Budburst which celebrates Earth Day with a webinar about climate change’s impact visit ChicagoBotanic/Budburst.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Find Spring Break ideas at Chicago museums

 

 

Adler Planetarium is back open with new inter-active and reconfigured spaces. (Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium)
Adler Planetarium is back open with new inter-active and reconfigured spaces. (Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium)

Chicago and some area schools are on Spring Vacation through April 17.  But even if your youngsters’ schools already had their break, terrific exhibits at Chicago’s museums are worth a weekend visit.

Fortunately, there are some free museums, free days and free to certain ages deals that can make a Spring Break outing less of a budget breaker. Most museum no longer require masks or vaccination proof but they do require advance tickets. However check the museum website for its current requirements.

For example of “free,” the National Museum of Mexican Art is always free. Located in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood at 1852 W. 19th St., the museum is currently featuring Freda Kahlo photos. But it is always filled with colorful and interesting galleries. Visit National Museum of Mexican Art for entry information. It is currently asking for masks and social distancing.

Also, the Illinois Holocaust Museum  at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie has a promo code “SPRING 22” that is good for free admission to children and students through April 17, 2022. The museum is also free to all the last Friday of each month.

Check out the following museums for more ideas and cost saving deals:

Chicago Museum Campus

After closing for two years due to covid, the Adler Planetarium at 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the east end of the Museum campus, recently reopened with more interactive exhibits and reconfigured spaces. The museum is free Wednesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Among the fun, family-friendly spaces is the Clark Family Welcome Gallery with video presentations, interactive motion-sensing displays and pop-up exhibitions. Chicago’s Night Sky is also worth experiencing.

The Field Museum, at 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the front end of the campus, has its free admission days May 14-15 and discounts the Discovery and all Access Pass those days so cost to Illinois residents would be $16 adult and $14 ages 3-11. Known for its dinosaur halls, The Field has gone further by going underwater to find giant species in its new temporary exhibit, Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep.  Up through Sept, 5, 2022, this special exhibit needs a Discovery Pass or All Access Pass but there is plenty to see with General Admission.

Shedd Aquarium, at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., sits in the center of the Museum campus. The museum had free days earlier in the year but if living in Chicago find reduced fares through the Chicago Public Library: Kids Museum Passport.

Hyde Park Neighborhood

Museum of Science and Industry at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. has free days coming April 21 and 25 and May 2, 4, 9, 17 and 18. MSI, as the museum is usually known, can fill a day without its special exhibits but it currently has the blockbuster Art of the Brick, an amazing  sculpture collection of LEGO Art that is up through Sept. 5, 2022. An extra ticket is needed but the display is worth the cost.

The DuSable Museum of African American History  at 740 E. 56th PL, is celebrating 61 years as the country’s oldest independent African American Museum currently has free admission for all every Wednesday. Masks are  required for ages 5 and older. Among the exhibits are “Freedom: Origin and Journey” which looks at several key periods in African American history and South Side Stories such as “The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, 1960–1980.” It looks at Burroughs’s “legacy as an artist, creator, activist and institution builder.”

 

Art Institute of Chicago main entrance. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Art Institute of Chicago main entrance. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Art Museums

Art Institute of Chicago, has a main entrances at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and around the corner at 159 W. Monroe St.  to its Modern Wing (connected to the main building). It is free to Chicago teens under 18 and all youngsters  under 14. Frequent AIC visitors have favorite galleries such as French Renaissance and the Thorne Rooms (miniature periods). The current exhibit is “Life and Afterlife in Egypt,” an impressive, recently re-done permanent display of items already held by the museum.

Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. is free to visitors under age 18 and Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday. Visitors who enjoy debating what is art and what does it illustrate should see “Based on a True Story.” Using items mostly owned by the museum, it puts together the works of 20 artists who “play with fact, fiction, and the grey areas between” that “wrestle with truth and belief by exploring fiction.”

Lincoln Park Neighborhood

Chicago History Museum at 1601 N. Clark St. is on the edge of the park. Check out its “Crossroads of America” which includes stepping aboard a fancy, old train car. Also up is an exhibit of women’s voting struggles and items from the museum’s Costume Collection. The museum is free is Illinois teens under age 18 and all children under age 12.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., is a Chicago Academy of Sciences museum that is also on the edge of the park. Come here to see, walk among and learn about butterflies. Exhibits also include climate change, weather and rivers.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expect more music and less talk from the GRAMMYs

 

Grammys 2022 Duncay April 3. (Grap;hic courtesy of Grammy Awards in conjunction with CBS)
Grammys 2022 April 3. (Grap;hic courtesy of Grammy Awards Recording Academy)

 

7 p.m.CT on cbs

See the CBS list of nominsee

With 85 categories the Recording Academy’s 64th Annual Grammys Awards that kick off at 7 p.m. CT, April 3, may be a long night. But hey, if looking at the list of nominees it should be a night of top-notch recording artists. The best list of nominees is at CBS which is doing the broadcast. Visit THE GRAMMYs®️ News on CBS.

After its January spot and LA’s Cryp;to.com Arena was canceled due to COVID concerns, the ceremony will now be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Nominations of eligible artists, recordings and compositions from Sept. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 were announced on virtual livestream Nov. 23, 2021.  and 30, 2022.

The 2021 Grammys host, comedian  Trevor Noah, will host the 2022 ceremony. Expect him to have a lot to say about who received the most nominations. Jon Batiste led with eleven, followed by Doja CatH.E.R., and Justin Bieber each with eight each, then Billie eillish and Oivia Rodrigo, each received seven nominations.

Ellish who has another record of the year, song of the year and pop solo performance is among the night’s performers. But also listen for songs by the late Stephen Sondheim.

What to watch for:  Tony Bennet at 95 who has taken home 19 Grammys may be recognized for his album with Lady Gaga, ” Love for Sale” or for their pop duo piece “I Get a Kick out of You.”

Get ready with food and drinks and enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around town: From food to film and crafts to contemporary art April beckons

eateries participating in Chicago Restaurant Week. Photo courtesy of Avec River North
Avec River North, a popular upscale restaurant, is participating in Chicago Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of Avec River North)

After surviving a winter of ordering out and shopping and seeing shows virtually, it’s nice to find a few fun, in-person options filling the April calendar.

Chicago Restaurant Week

Now through April 10, diners have a chance to try a new on the city’s food scene or popular but pricey upscale eatery at a more pocket-friendly level.

Menus are multi-course, prix fixe at $25 for lunch or brunch and $29 and/or $55 for dinner. Experience can be dine-in or takeout/delivery. (Price excludes beverages, tax, gratuity, and delivery fees). Find restaurants and menus at Chicago Restaurant Week Participating Restaurants | Choose Chicago

 

Rhino Fest returns in April 2022 (Photo courtesy of Pride Arts)
Rhino Fest returns in April 2022 (Photo courtesy of Pride Arts)

Pride Arts and Rhinofest

After missing 2021 due to COVID, Hint of Rhino: Rhinoceros Theater Festival 2022 , will be April 1 through May 7, 2022. Presented by The Curious Theatre Branch in association with the Pride Arts Center and Jimmy Beans Cabaret, Prop Thtr and Labyrinth Arts, shows will run Thursday through Sunday at Jimmy Beans Coffee (2553 W. Fullerton Ave, second floor) in Logan Square and at the Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center (4139 N Broadway Ave) in Uptown.

Tickets to all events are $20 or pay-what-you-can. Proof of vaccination will be required at the door, and audience members and crew will remain masked inside venues. For ticket, show and other information visit  rhinofest.com.

Maxwell Street Market

Known for its crafts, clothes, music, street food and family fun, the historic Maxwell Street Market reopens April 3. Hours are Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For directions and more information visit City of Chicago :: Maxwell Street Market.

 

Maxwell Street Market reopens. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Maxwell Street Market reopens. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

 

Expo Chicago

Among the world’s leading art exhibition and programing, Expo Chicago will be at Navy Pier April 7 through April 10, 2022.

Expect to see more than 140 leading galleries from 25 countries ranging from Argentina, Ireland and Israel to Italy, Japan and Spain. For more information visit EXPO CHICAGO – Chicago’s International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art.

 

Latino Film Fest

Coming in the second half of April, the Latino film Fest runs April 21 through May 1, 2022. For locations and more information visit CLFF – Chicago Latino Film Festival.

One of a Kind Show

Also end of April the spring version of the popular holiday art, crats and food exhibition at The Mart will be April 29 through May 1, 2022. For information visit One of a Kind Show | Welcome (oneofakindshowchicago.com).

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Ravinia Festival lineup and tickets announced

 

Ravinia Festival's main entrance is seen from the train stop and West Parking lot. (J Jacobs photo)
Ravinia Festival’s main entrance is seen from the train stop and West Parking Lot. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Ravinia Festival, the famed Highland Park summer concert-in-the-park venue, announced its sterling line-up for the 2022 season March 24.

Check it out now because even though tickets go on sale to the public May 4, donors get to reserve their tickets March 30. Visit Ravinia Festival/Official Site.

The Festival opens May 20 and21 with the Ruth Page Civic Ballet and ends Sept. 17 with Pianist Einav Yarde and Queen with Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini and Garrett David and Sept 18 with Fiesta Ravinia: Kumbia Kings and Dos Santos.

In between are more than 100 concerts ranging from classic, pop  and folk to hip hop, rock and jazz. See Ravinia/Online Schedule/Calendar.

 

Ravinia Festival goers spread out near the Pavilion for a summer musical evening. (J Jacobs photo)
Ravinia Festival goers spread out near the Pavilion for a summer musical evening. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Still the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Chief Conductor Marin Alsop, the schedule has 17 CSO concerts including the First Annual “Breaking Barriers Festival.” Curated by Alsop, it celebrates women conductors.

Some of the highlights: Sting, Emmylou Harris, Béla Fleck, Common, Jackson Browne, Gipsy Kings, Sheryl Crow, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks and Esperanza Spalding.

About 50 artists will make their Ravinia debut including Pitbull, Erykah Badu, Grace Potter, Dispatch, The Black Crowes and Ziggy Marley.

Performer venue

Performances will mainly be on the main-stage Pavilion,  the indoor Martin Theatre and Bennett Gordon Hall. Plus, after its successful inaugural year in  2021, the outdoor Carousel stage will have casual concerts and  opening acts on the North Lawn that will be announced.

 

Ravinia Festival goers spread out near the Pavilion for a summer musical evening. (J Jacobs photo)
Most Ravinia Festival restaurants and the Market include a patio.(Photo courtesy of Ravinia Festival)

Dining

Bring a picnic basket or take advantage of the Ravinia Market and its mobile carts. Or dine (reservations strongly suggested) at Ravinia’s Park View, Tree Top and Lawn Bar in the Dining Pavilion.

Special Feature

The Ravinia Music Box. Free to park patrons, it features an immersive 4D  experience called Bernstei ‘s Answer. That celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s legacy.

Best is to take advantage of bus shuttles where you park at the Highland Park Metra train station or take the train directly to the Ravinia train stop. Union Pacific North line ill honor Ravinia tickets in lieu of train fares on date and time of concert.

Masks needed on trains and buses if the mask mandate is extended beyond April 18, 2022.

The main West Parking Lot is on Green Bay Road north of Lake Cook Road at 201 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park, IL

Jodie Jacobs

Oscars are back with star support

 

Oscars(R) night March 27. (Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
Oscars(R) night March 27. (Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

It’s Oscar® time.

Sunday March 27, 2022, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be handing out their awards for everything related to movies from acting and costuming to productions and special effects. But did you get out to a movie or did you stream a few? Do you know who and what films have been nominated?

No question that COVID worries changed our theater-going habits. Adding to pandemic concerns are questions about the Academy’s award process over the years, particularly regarding diversity and gender bias.

And what the Academy wonders is will you be watching the ceremony. The 94th Oscars will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

To up the audience rating and get some excitement going for the Academy Awards 2022, show producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan have been announcing in the weeks leading up to the event who will host, who will present, and lastly and maybe most importantly, who has now confirmed they will perform.

Performers of nominated songs

“Be Alive” from “King Richard” – Performed by Beyoncé, music and lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto” – Performed by Sebastián Yatra, music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die” – Performed by Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell.

“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days” – Performed by Reba McEntire, music and lyric by Diane Warren.

“Down To Joy” from “Belfast,” music and lyric by Van Morrison. (Van Morrison was invited to perform his nominated song but will not attend the Oscars due to his tour schedule. Therefore “Down To Joy” from “Belfast” will not be performed on the broadcast.

Who will present

The star-studded list of presenters who have confirmed cover range from past to present and from Ruth E. Carter and Lady Gaga to Anthony Hopkins and Bill Murray.

The list, so far, includes Halle Bailey, Stephanie Beatriz, Ruth E. Carter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Garner, H.E.R., Tiffany Haddish, Woody Harrelson, Tony Hawk, Anthony Hopkins, Samuel L. Jackson,  Lily James, Daniel Kaluuya, Zoë Kravitz, DJ Khaled, Mila Kunis, John Leguizamo, Simu Liu, Rami Malek, Shawn Mendes, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Elliot Page, Rosie Perez, Tyler Perry, Chris Rock, Tracee Ellis Ross, Naomi Scott, Kelly Slater, Wesley Snipes, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Shaun White, and Yuh-Jung Youn. * (Last minute presenters added)

Who will host

After not having any host last year, the producers have called on three first timers:  Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.

“This year’s show is all about uniting movie lovers.  It’s apropos that we’ve lined up three of the most dynamic, hilarious women with very different comedic styles,” said Packer.  “I know the fun Regina, Amy and Wanda will be having will translate to our audience as well.  Many surprises in store!  Expect the unexpected!”

Special musical performers

An All-Star Band featuring the show’s music director, Adam Blackstone, blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, percussionist and singer Sheila E. and genre-spanning pianist Robert Glasper, as well as DJ D-Nice who held virtual Club Quarantine parties and The Samples, a vocal group led by Jason White.

Crib Sheet: To know who and what check the 94th Oscars® Fact Sheet.

For more interesting facts and background visit  Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

*More presenters added March 23: Josh Brolin, Jacob Elordi, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Momoa, Jill Scott, J.K. Simmons, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Rachel Zegler.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Heads up Lollapalooza fans

 

Lolla is back in Grant Park July 28-31, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza)
Lolla is back in Grant Park July 28-31, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza)

You already know the mega music festival that brings headliners and up and commers to Chicago’s Grant Park is July 28-31, 2022.

So now, set a reminder for March 22,2022. No matter the rumors, the official lineup will be announced Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT.

Then, four-day tickets will go on sale that day at noon.

The 4-day tickets will start at $350 for general admission, $650 for GA+, $1,500 for VIP and $4,200 for VIP.

For more information visit Lollapalooza.

 

Fascinating Shakespeare authorship becomes historical fiction

 

There have been numerous takes on who wrote the plays and other works attributed to William Shakespeare.

None that I’ve seen have attributed them to a woman until Deena Lindstedt recently published her book, Lady of the Play.

Although listed as a “Historical Fiction Novel,” and not annotated with scholarly references, Lindstedt makes an interesting case that a well-educated, well-born, highly imaginative woman wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The seed for this striking deviation from standard thinking came when Lindstedt who had retired from a long-time career in workers’ compensation claims administration to develop writing and research skills at Marylhurst University, wrote a senior paper titled “Shakespeare, Perhaps a Woman.”

Lindstedt delivered the paper at the Shakespeare Authorship Symposium at Concordia University in Portland, OR in 2011. Extensive research of the era eventually led to Lady of the Play, published by Wings ePress Books, October 2021.

In Lady of the Play, readers are introduced to Elizabeth Trentham who become a maid of honor in the court of Queen Elizabeth I and married Edward deVere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford.

The book reveals how the couple may have merged two words to come up with the name Shakespeare as a pseudonym for the works they may have authored.

Interesting as the story of Elizabeth Trentham is, it is just half the tale developed by Lindstedt. She melds the Elizabethan time with the problems besetting current characters as they attempt to prove what may be an earthshattering discovery.

Together, the old and new tales are well-meshed into a fascinating, enjoyable read.

Note: Deena Lindstedt also wrote Deception Cove in 2010 and is working on Betrayal Bay as the second book in her Meredith Maxwell mystery series. For more information visit www.deenalindstedt.com. (Lady of the Play can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble).

Jodie Jacobs

La Cage Aux Folles a glorious spectacle of sight and sound

 

Ginger Minj and Jason Richards in Music Theater Works La Cage (Photo by Brett Beiner)
 Jason Richards and Ginger Minj in Music Theater Works La Cage (Photo by Brett Beiner)

Four Stars

Prepare for great music, lots of Laughs and gorgeous costumes as Music Theater Works takes you to the swanky nightclub of La Cage Aux Folles in St. Tropez.

Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, La Cage brings an outstanding night of musical theatre to the Performing Arts Center in Skokie with a few surprises throw in!

Based on the hit French farce that also inspired Hollywood’s “The Birdcage,” this Broadway smash features a hilarious book by Harvey Fierstein and a score by the king of show tunes, Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly! and Mame).

From the moment you enter the theatre, you’ll be immediately transported to La Cage’s elegant St Tropez nightclub, complete with “women” in cages welcoming you, an onstage bar and tables surrounding the stage.

Opening on Broadway in 1983, La Cage broke barriers by becoming the first hit Broadway musical centered on a gay relationship.

Society has come very far from the times when this play opened.  Today, gender roles have never been a more contemporary issue.

The plot centers around Georges, the owner of “La Cage,” and his long-time lover, “Zaza.” When their son, Jean- Michel, announces his engagement to Anne, the trouble begins, especially when they find out her father is a very conservative government official, running for office.

Ginger Minj as Zaza in Music Theater Works La Cage. (Photo by Brett Beiner)
Ginger Minj as Zaza in Music Theater Works La Cage. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

With plenty of audience interaction, the musical is filled with not one, but two show-stopping hits you’ll be humming as you leave the show.

“I Am What I Am” is the perfect anthem for everyone – live your own life and do not make excuses for being true to yourself. The cast belts it out loud and clear. “The Best of Times” is another powerful ballad that will leave you breathless.

The production stars RuPaul’s Drag Race headliner, Ginger Minj, as Albin, and he/she is beyond fabulous. She sings, acts and creates a great performance with a touch of whimsy.   And oh, those exquisite wigs designed by David Ian Grant!

Jason Richards makes his Music Theater Works debut as Georges. He’s got a great voice and excellent stage presence as both the emcee of his club and his role as husband to Zaza. He demonstrates a sense of vulnerability, afraid to hurt his lover.

Standouts also include Dane Strange as Jacob who keeps the audience in stitches with his antics and Caron Buinis, with her strong operatic voice.

(Top row, L to R) Daniel Hurst, Brian Selcik, Jordan Taylor and Gabe Kohlbeck (Photo by Brett Beiner)
(Top row, L to R) Daniel Hurst, Brian Selcik, Jordan Taylor and Gabe Kohlbeck (Photo by Brett Beiner)

Kudos to project runway designer Justin LeBlanc for his costumes that are over-the-top sparkly, flashy and gorgeous. And to choreographer, Christopher Carter, whose dance moves especially for male bodies, is fabulous. Artistic director Kyle Dougan directs the show with passion and purpose.

As with many shows of this type, the dancers are so graceful it’s hard to believe their gender.

This is the first show of the season for Music Theater Works. The rest of the season includes “The Little Mermaid (March 10 – April 3) Zorro (August 11 -21), Camelot (October 20 – November 13) and White Christmas (December 15 – January 1.)

DETAILS: “La Cage” is playing at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie through April 3, 2022. Runtime: 2 hours and 40 minutes with intermission. For Tickets, go to musictheaterworks.com/la-cage-aux-folles/.

Important Notice: All guests will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status and show their vaccination cards.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago