Dancing near the river

 

Riverdance cast at Cadillac P:alace Theatre in Chicago (Jack Hartin Photo)
Riverdance cast at Cadillac P:alace Theatre in Chicago
(Jack Hartin Photo)

4 stars

“Riverdance” has played for a quarter of a century. Now appearing in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, Riverdance’s folk-driven exciting sounds and steps have been loved by people of all ages.

In 1995, the show’s premiere was in Dublin with Irish and international music and dance. Then it went to London followed by a hugely successful tour begn in New York in 1996.

During the next two decades, “Riverdance” toured North America, Asia, Europe, Oceania, South Africa, and South America. It has been a favorite Grammy Award-winning show all over the world!

Trading taps at the Riverdance show in Chicago. (Jack Hartin Photo)
Trading taps at the Riverdance show in Chicago. (Jack Hartin Photo)

The Riverdance Irish troupe was 24 dancers, with the six principals being Will Bryant, Maggie Darlington, Anna Mai Fitzpatrick, Patrick O’Mahony, Jason O’Neill, and Gianna Petracic.

The Riverdance tappers were Lamont Brown and Tyler Knowlin. And there were also additional dancers in the Russian folk dance troupe.

Not only was the audience thrilled with the dancing, but the singers, drums, saxophone, fiddles and whistles made the music fabulous. And the background showed many places, beginning with the river and continuing through many areas with spectacular lighting and beautiful costume designs.

DETAILS: “Riverdance” is at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre at 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago through Feb. 9 2020/. Running time: 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and other information, call Broadway In Chicago at (800) 775-2000, or go visit Broadway in Chicago.

Francine Pappadis Friedman

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

From parades to performances Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

 

celebrates with its annual Argyle parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown Assoc.)
Uptown Chicago neighborhood celebrates with its annual Argyle parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown Assoc.)

Lanterns, dragons, colorful dances, art and instrumental music – there are Chinese New Year events in the next couple of weeks that will enrich our appreciation of Chinese culture.

But do you know your zodiac animal? If you go to any of the Chinese New Year programs in Chicago, you will likely hear that 2020 is the Year of the Rat. Because different elements also take turns, you might hear that it is the metal rat. A good, easy place to find out your animal sign and more about the Chinese Zodiac is the astronomy site of Time and Date.

Now you’re ready to check out the following events to see which fits into your calendar. They are free, open to the public and in Chicago unless otherwise noted.

Chinese Fine Arts Society Chinese New Year Kickoff

On Jan 24 at noon go to the Chicago Cultural Center during the lunch hour to see  lion dances, martial arts, traditional Chinese  dance and hear  China’s Zhejiang Shaoju Opera Theatre. The location is the Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor of the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit ChicagoCulturalCenter/events.

Continue reading “From parades to performances Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year”

Holiday Happenings Part One

Seeing A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre (2018 production)is a holiday tradition. (Goodman Theatre photo)
Seeing A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre (2018 production)is a holiday tradition. (Goodman Theatre photo)

Instead of going crazy trying to get to even a quarter of the all terrific festivals, shows and events in and around Chicago this holiday season, make a plan. Figure out which show and happening you and/or your family want to see most, put them on the calendar, then list the next couple of things you would like to do.

Because there are so many events, they are divided into two parts with shows (because they need tickets) and special events (because they may be one-time, date-specific)  in Part I which is a sampler and not a complete list.

Continue reading “Holiday Happenings Part One”

Around Town finds art events and Jane Eyre this week

2018 Arts in the Dark lit up State Street with costumed performers. (Arts in the Dark photo)

There is so much going on in and around Chicago that it is easy to miss something good.

Here are just a few of the fun things to do this week.

See “Jane Eyre,” The Joffrey Ballet’s production. It opens Oct. 16 at the Auditorium Theatre (at Roosevelt University) 50 E. Ida b wells drive (Former Congress parkway). For tickets and other information visit Joffrey.

Find art for you house while The Art Center holds its annual Recycled Art Sale. Works have been donated by private individuals and corporations so TAC can raise funds for its classes and exhibitions. The art work is offered at a fraction of its market cost. General Admission Benefit tickets for Oct. 18 are $85. The rest of the weekend is $5. But check TheArtCenter for more information. TAC is at 1957 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park.

Go downtown Oct. 19 to State Street for Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade. It runs from 6 to 8 p.m. starting at Lake Street on the north and continues south to Van Buren Street. It’s theme honors “Year of Chicago Theatre” so the parade features several theater companies and other groups such as The Joffrey Ballet. Visit Arts in the Dark.

Visit Intuit, the Outsider Art Museum Friday night from 6 to 9 p.m. because museum officials understand it is hard to fit in a visit during the day. The museum is at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.  For all extended hours see IntuitArt.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Around town end of June

A parade of trombones, a tap dance opera and a dog invite that includes you close out June with interesting, fun events.

 

Goodman Theatre os doing a revival of 'The Music Man.' (Goodman Theatre Photo)
Goodman Theatre os doing a revival of ‘The Music Man.’ (Goodman Theatre Photo)

76 Trombones

What: To celebrate the revival of “The Music Man” that starts Saturday in its Albert Theatre, Goodman Theatre will hold a parade of more than 76 Chicago area trombonists and percussionists performing the show’s famed tune.

When: Friday, June 28 beginning at 1 p.m.

Where: The parade tarts at Goodman theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, then continues to Daley Plaza (50 N. Washington St., then returns to Goodman about 1:15 to do an encore .

Who:  The parade is in partnership with Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles that includes LGBTQ members and friends.

 

Chicago Tap Company's new production ends the last weekend of June 2019. (Chicago Tap Company photo)
Chicago Tap Company’s new production ends the last weekend of June 2019. (Chicago Tap Company photo)

“Saving the World”

What:  Chicago Tap Theatre’s opera-style dramatic tale of disasters colored by greed and demagoguery.

When: June 28-30 is the last weekend of this production, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Where: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

Who: Chicago Tap Theatre is a non-profit organization of tap dance professionals who put on story-based shows.

 

The Patio at Cafe Brauer is a popular pace for drinks or food with a view. (J Jacobs photo)
The Patio at Cafe Brauer is a popular pace for drinks or food with a view. (J Jacobs photo)

The Dog Days of Summer

What: A dog-friendly brunch where they can play and get treats while their people show down.

Where: The Patio that is the rear end of the historic Brauer building in Lincoln Park Zoo at 2021 N. Stockton Dr.

When: June 30 from 9 to 11 a.m. Reservations needed. Call (312) 507-9053

Who: The Patio at Cafe Brauer at the back of a Prairie School-style landmark is a popular summer cocktail and lunch stop that overlooks the pond at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo  and its view of the Chicago skyline. Bentley’s Pets will have gift bags for the dogs.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

A beauty of a ballet

It was impressive that the young dancers onstage for A&A Ballet’s May 4th performance of“Sleeping Beauty” were not thrown off by a cell phone ringing throughout the first half.

A stage manager solved that problem after intermission by asking audience members to turn off their phones completely, not just set them to silent. That was because the cell phones were interfering with the wireless systems in the Studebaker Theater, he said.

Whether that was true or not, it resolved the issue of the rude audience member so the rest of us were able to fully focus on the beauty onstage.

The matinee performance of the A&A Ballet featured a multi-cultural and multi-generational cast of impressive ballerinas, including some tiny tots who couldn’t have been cuter in their sheep costumes.

Continue reading “A beauty of a ballet”

Chicago designates Water Tower area as arts district

 

Commissioner Mark Kelly is among Chicago dignaeries and arts organization representatives that launched the Water Tower Arts District March 12, 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)
Commissioner Mark Kelly is among Chicago dignaeries and arts organization representatives that launched the Water Tower Arts District March 12, 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)

 

Do you know Chicago’s WTA District?

Visitors and Chicago area residents are arguably familiar with the city’s Theatre District of show venues in the Loop and the Museum Campus next to Soldier Field.

Now add the Water Tower Arts District to Chicago’s cultural district scene.

Now, the city has officially designated an area both sides of North Michigan Avenue that stretches approximately from Streeterville to the Gold Coast as the WTAD.East of LaSalle Street from Illinois Street to North Avenue .

Launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago by Commissioner Mark Kelly of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on March 12, 2019, the new district includes these 15 cultural organizations: (1) The Arts Club of Chicago, (2) Broadway in Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, (3) City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, (4) Graham Foundation, (5) International Museum of Surgical Science, (6) Lookingglass Theatre Company, (7) Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), (8) Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), (9) the Newberry Library, (10) Poetry Foundation, (11) Porchlight Music Theatre, (12) Richard Gray Gallery, (13) the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, (14) the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and (15) the Society of Architectural Historians.

Water Tower Arts District map with 15 arts institutions (Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art)
Water Tower Arts District map with 15 arts institutions
(Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art)

Anyone old enough to recall “Bug House Square,” the once popular tag for Washington Square Park south of Newbery Library where people would debate social issues, will understand Kelly’s reference during the launch to the area as Bohemian.

Plus, he and Chicago historian Pamela Bannos noted that the area around the Water Tower, was once known as “Towertown,”  a Bohemian arts stronghold, so the new designation was really a return to its roots.

“This tightly knit group of arts organizations raises the same spirit of camaraderie and collaboration as they reclaim the District and invite visitors to experience a diverse array of cultural activities…,” Kelly said.

Lookingglass Theatre Company resides in the historic Chicago Water Works across from its sister, the historic Water Tower. (J Jacobs Photo)
Lookingglass Theatre Company resides in the historic Chicago Water Works across from its sister, the historic Water Tower. (J Jacobs Photo)

Lookingglass Executive Director Rachel Fink likes that the arts organizations are joining together to attract attention. “It felt a little isolated over here…,” said Fink. “The Mag Mile  has a different focus.”

The process of gathering together, which she recalled started about five months ago, has also introduced her to other arts organizations in the neighborhood.

“I like meeting our neighbors. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me” she said. “Now I know more the Driehaus Museum and I learned about the interesting (International) Museum of Surgical Science.”

She added, “It helps to do things as a community. Now we’re celebrating and  brainstorming together.

For more information and descriptions of the 15 organizations and activities, visit the website Watertowerarts.  The site and the graphic designation were created by Chicago designers Michael Savona, and Tobey Albright plus Mollie Edgar from Hour. Photographs of the institutions were done by Chicago artist Assaf Evron.

Jodie Jacobs

‘Anna Karenina’ impresses with new choreography and sets

 

Alberto Velazquez and Victoria Jaiani in The Joffrey Ballet’s 'Anna Karenina..' (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Alberto Velazquez and Victoria Jaiani in The Joffrey Ballet’s ‘Anna Karenina..’ (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

4 stars

The Joffrey Ballet has accomplished a a near impossible feat. With Yuri Possokhov’s choreography to Ilya Demutsky’s score and dramaturg Valeriy Pecheykin’s libretto, the Joffrey has turned Leo Tolstoy’s 800-page “Anna Karenina” into an extraordinary ballet only a little over two hours long that is both classic and contemporary.

A co-production with The Australian Ballet, “Anna Karenina” is an exciting new work commissioned by The Joffrey that opened Feb. 13. Unfortunately, it is only at the Auditorium Theatre through Feb. 24, 2019 before touring.

From the steamy, sensuous divan scene between the illicit lovers, Victoria Jaiani as Anna and Alberto Velazquez as Count Vronsky, and the gorgeous  Joffrey company’s dance scenes, to the fascinating,  evocation of cinema-like atmosphere by Tom Pye’s set designs, David Finn’s lighting and Finn Ross’ projections, this new work is destined to be in high demand.

Other notable performances during its opening week (I saw the Feb. 16 matinee) were Fabrice Calmels as Anna’s unhappy, aristocratic husband, Count Alexey Karenin, Anais Bueno as Princess Kitty Shcherbatsky and Yoshihisa Arai as her pursuer, Konstantin Levin.

Possokhov’s choreography, backed by Dtmustskhy’s score played by the Chicago Philharmonic, totally puts across the ardor, agony and expectations of the Russian aristocracy of Tolstoy’s “Anna.”

This is a ballet to see again and again.

DETAILS: The Joffrey Ballet production of “Anna Karenina” is at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells (Congress Expressway at Michigan Avenue)  through Feb. 24, 2019. Running time: about 2 hrs. 10 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Joffrey/Anna.

Jodie Jacobs

Related article: Joffrey to debut new ballet.

Chinese New Year food and shopping events

The Peninsula Chicago is ready for Chinese New Year. (Photo courtesy of Peninsula Chicago)
The Peninsula Chicago is ready for Chinese New Year. (Photo courtesy of Peninsula Chicago)

If you have a Chinese restaurant near you it is likely decorated for the Chinese New Year and offering a special menu. During  the Chinese New Year celebrations Feb. 4 through Feb. 17, 2019.

Go. Enjoy. And look at the paper placemat that might be at your place setting because it likely has the Chinese Zodiac on it or information that this is the Year of the Pig.

Then, if looking for something special to eat or do here are some suggestions.

 

Dining

 

The Furama Restaurant in the Uptown Argyle neighborhood is holding the Lunar New Year Celebration for the South-East Asia Center at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 9, 2019. The special event features entertainment and a 10-course traditional, Chinese-style banquet of seafood chowder, taro duck, roast chicken, walnut shrimp, mushrooms, vegetables, noodles with beef and broccoli, plus dessert. Cost $25.

Entertainment will be cross-cultural music and other performances representing Asian and non-Asian cultures because the South-East Asia Center strives to “Build Bridges” of understanding between all cultures. For reservations visit SE Asia Center New YearFurama Restaurant is at 4936 N. Broadway at Argyle.

 

Hing Kee Restaurant holds its annual New Year Dumpling Making Dinner at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 9 and Feb. 16, 2019. The event includes storytelling, Lion Dance, dumpling making and a 10-course, traditional Chinese meal. Cost is $40 adults, $35 children under age 12. Call (312) 842-1988 or visit Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner Eventbrite.

Hing Kee Restaurant is at 2140 S. Archer Ave., 2nd floor.  For more Chinese cultural information visit ChicagoCCI .

 

Celebrate the Year of the Pig with a Chinese New Year themed afternoon tea in The lobby at the Peninsula Chicago Feb . 4-10. There will be a Lion Dance show. For tea reservations  call (312) 573-6695 or visit Peninsula Chinese New Year. The Peninsula Chicago is at 108 E. Superior St. at Michigan Avenue.

 

Shopping

Two shopping centers, Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, and The Shops at Northbridge, Chicago, will be handing out Chinese New Year-style red envelopes with special store offers  Feb. 2-17, 2019.

At Fashion Outlets go to Concierge Services on Level 1 near Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH for an envelope containing : Year of the Pig Savings Pass that provides up to $800 in savings and a complimentary bag. For more information visit Fashion Outlets of Chicago . Fashion Outlets is at 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont.

At the Shops at North Bridge go to Concierge Servies on Level One near Nordstrom for the red envelope. In addition,  North Bridge visitors can see the Huaxing Arts Troupe and visit activity booths from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 3. The Shops at North Bridge is at 520 N. Michigan Ave. For more information visit Shops at North Bridge.

Jodie Jacobs

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Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

Chinatown New Year's Parade (Photo courtesy of Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation)
Chinatown New Year’s Parade (Photo courtesy of Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation)

If the new year that began Jan. 1, 2019 didn’t bring much luck so far or you really enjoy celebrating a new year, join in the fun and good luck of Chinese New Year  4717 that begins on Feb. 4.

Chicago celebrations kick off with a pre-New Year’s celebration Downtown Feb. 2, continue Feb. 5 and beyond until they end Feb. 16. However, Chinese New Year celebrations do go from Feb. 4 through Feb. 17 and end in some places with a Lantern Festival.

There is a lot going on in the city to celebrate the Chinese Zodiac’s lunar year sign – the Year of the Pig.

Also known as the Spring Festival, this Lunar Festival (there are others, particularly in Asia,) begins the eve before the first day and is often a time for families to get together.

Think “new moon” to know when it begins. The Chinese New Year begins on the new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, 2019.  This year, the new moon is Feb. 4, 2019.

Here are some events that honor the Chinese culture and arts. More information is at Choose Chicago Chinese New Year   and  Chinese Fine Arts Society. Unless otherwise noted, the events are free.

 

Art Institute of Chicago pre-New Year celebration followed by a Lantern Procession

Head over to the Art Institute at 111 S. Michigan Ave. on Feb. 2 for music, crafts, stories, games and some talks in English and Mandarin about the museum’s Chinese art collection from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Then, cross Monroe Street to Millennium Park and the Lurie Gardens for more activities. A Lantern Procession will line up about 5 p.m. and wind with a lion dance over to Maggie Daley Park about 5:30. Crafts and ice skating take place there until 7:30 p.m. The event is a partnership of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Park District and Choose Chicago.

 

Celebrate Chinese New Year at the Chicago Cultural Center Feb. 5,2019 (Photo courtesy of Chinese Fine Arts)
Celebrate Chinese New Year at the Chicago Cultural Center Feb. 5,2019 (Photo courtesy of Chinese Fine Arts)

Official City kickoff at Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center

Celebrate the Year of the Pig with the Chinese Fine Arts Society at noon Feb. 5 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Watch lion dancers, Silk Road pipa master Yang Wei, martial arts and the Flying Fairies dance troupe. A special feature will be the China National Peking Opera Company including a sneak peak of comedic and acrobatic “At the Crossroads,” a famous opera based on a story from Water Margin.

The event is co-sponsored with Choose Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Preston Bradley Hall is up the south stairs of the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E Washington St Chicago Find more information at  (773) 935-6169

 

Annual Argyle Lunar New Year Parade

Join Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood festivities Feb. 9 for the Chinese New Year parade of dragons, lions and floats. It starts at 1 p.m. at Argyle and Winthrop near the Argyle “L” stop then goes east on Argyle Street to Sheridan Road, south to Ainslie Street, west to Broadway and then back to Argyle.

Argle Chinese New Year Parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown organization and the Argyle Parade organization
Argle Chinese New Year Parade. (Photo courtesy of Uptown organization and the Argyle Parade organization)

 

Today at Apple

At the Apple store on north Michigan Avenue there will be Music Lab of Chinese Instruments with Yang Wei, artist-in-residence at Chinese fine arts society on Feb. 9. The event, running from 1 to 3:30 p.m. also includes hands-on GarageBand on the  iPad for the digital version and Sound-of- Wishes Ensemble. Plus, calligrapher Yijun Hu will draws to the music on an iPad. Apple is at 401 N. Michigan Ave.

 

Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade

Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade attracts thousands of folks from all over the Chicago area. The celebration takes place at Wentworth Avenue and 24th Street in the heart of Chinatown from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb 10. Cosponsors are the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

 

A concert at Symphony Center will feature Hubei Chime Bells. (Photo courtesy of CSO)
A concert at Symphony Center will feature Hubei Chime Bells. (Photo courtesy of CSO)

 

Chicago Symphony Center Fifth Annual Chinese New Year Concert

Celebrate the Chinese New Year at Symphony Center’s fifth annual concert at 3 p.m. Feb. 10. The event features the China National Peking Opera Company and the Hubei Chime Bells National Chinese Orchestra. This is a ticketed program.

A pre-concert performance is in Buntrock Hall at 1:30 p.m. featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts Association, Yellow River Performing Arts and the Chicago Chinese Qipao Association. These performances are free to ticket holders of the 3 p.m. concert. Orchestra Hall is at, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

 

Global Connections: Chinese New Year Celebration at Navy Pier

Navy Pier celebrates the Chinese New Year with colorful performances and crafts and food booths in its AON Grand Ballroom, Feb. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Performing are the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, pipa master Yang Wei, Mongolian throat singer Tamir Hargana, the Flying Fairies dance troupe, Beidou Kung Fu, Zhong Hua Kung Fu plus traditional Chinese music by the Eight Tones Chinese Instrument Ensemble, Cheng Da Drum Team and others from Chicago’s Chinese community.

The Chinese Marketplace opens at 12:30 p.m. Performances are at 1 P.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago.

 

Jodie Jacobs