Until the Chicago arts scene is back live on stage some of the companies have been streaming parts of their productions and others have been taking folks behind the scenes. The latest treasure find is The Joffrey Ballet
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, claim a little Irish blood. Wear something green. Say Sláinte for cheers and toast Éire go Brách! (Ireland forever). But you don’t have to wait until March 17, the commemorative date of St. Patrick’s death to celebrate his feast day.
Chicago celebrates this patron saint of Ireland with parades, multiple pub toasts, Irish dancing, music, special boat cruises and of course, the famed turning of the Chicago River green several days before the official date.
The festival, concert and river scene
Siamsa Na Ngael celebration at Symphony Center, 220 S.. Michigan Ave. brings Celtic music, dance and stories to the Chicago symphony’s home, March 11.
House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, features the famed Gaelic Storm on March 13-14.
March 13-15 Cruises take off from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue docks to the sounds of Irish music and tour the Chicago River or watch it turn green. For March 14’s river dyeing event check with Wendella for a 21 and older cruise and a kids cruise. Or visit Shoreline Sightseeing’s Architecture River Cruises that celebrate Saint Paddy’s weekend by also learning about Chicago’s buildings. Other cruise choices are to see what the Spirit of Chicago Lunch Cruise has on the menu for March 14 or consider the inaugural St. Patrick’s Day Clover Cruise to watch the river change color, March 14.
Irish American Heritage Festival is the annual popular place to head for food, drinks, good Irish dancers and good bands when the City of Chicago parade is over on Saturday. The Heritage Center is at 4626 N Knox Ave. Tickets are needed for the festival which goes from 1 to 11:59 p.m.
Shamrock on the Block is another popular post Saturday parade spot for food, drinks and entertainment. It’s like a large block party outside Old St. Pats Church at 700 W. Adams St.
River Dyeing happens at 9 a.m. March 14 along Wacker Drive between Columbus Drive and State Street. To watch from the Michigan Avenue Bridge or the walkways, get there early because the event normally attracts crowds.
City of Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade is considered the largest of its kind in the U.S. Beginning at noon, politicians, floats, bagpipers, dancers and bands take three hours to go north on Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe Drives.
Southside Irish Parade on March 15 is a neighborhood, family-friendly parade that draws from other areas. Once canceled because of drinking there is a strictly enforced no drinking policy in the neighborhood and along the parade route which goes along Western Avenue from 103 rd St. to 115th.St. The parade steps off at noon.
Northwest Side Irish Parade starts at noon at the William J. Onahan School then goes south on Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway then north to Harlem Avenue. Parade watchers often go to a post parade party at St. Thecla Falcon Hall, 6725 W. Devon Ave,. for food, drinks and entertainment from 1 to 5 p.m.
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.