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.
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..
It has taken COVID’s 2020 stay-close-to home mandate to bring out a different style side of artist Mark McMahon that his many fans likely won’t recognize.
Art lovers can see the ceramic tile mural of Chicago life done by McMahon, an internationally known Lake Forest artist, if they go to Van Buren and Federal Streets downtown. Folks who remember the ceramic pictures of local life that covered the walls of a Lake Forest McDonalds can find the extensive mural over at the town’s Gorton Community Center where they were moved when the McD property was developed into a shopping strip.
Abbotts’ employees know of his stylized interpretation of the international company’s various campuses as pictured first by his dad, the famed “artist- reporter, Franklin McMahon, last century, and twice now in this century by Mark McMahon. The commissioned pictures are in Abbott’s museum.
The Abbott works are part of McMahon’s “World Studio” category that also includes paintings done in Africa , London, France, Canada, Spain and Cuba.
They and other watercolors, many of which he has translated into giclee prints, note cards and mugs, have been commissioned by companies, cities and colleges. They have also ranged from sports venues and historic events such as a NASA space shuttle launch to scenic vistas on the Great Lakes such as Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Those are paintings that tell a story. Inspired by the way his dad worked on-site, McMahon calls them “editorials.”
However, anyone stopping by The Gallery, a Lake Forest restaurant cum art venue, will see not just a sampling of McMahan’s story-telling watercolors , but also his latest works in oils and acrylics.
Set in artistically designed steel frames created by son Drew McMahon, the paintings are so very different from the story-telling works on the opposite gallery wall that a visitor could be forgiven for asking who did those.
There are eye-popping flowers plus an unusual rendering of a lion fish.
When asked about his change in style, McMahon, sitting at home with a cup of tea for the interview, said, “Wait” as he disappeared. He brought back a large canvas done in oils on site at a Lake Forest Open Lands property about 30 years ago.
If divided into close-ups, it could foretell the direction he would take decades later. But the style is different.
Even though it was done on site because that is how McMahon works, the scene didn’t begin as a line drawing followed by color as in his characteristic painting mode. Instead, the canvas appeared as an experiment in textured layers and scenic effects.
I’ve always done these on the side,” said McMahon.
His newest works focus on pattern instead of a scenic tale.
Zooming in on the shape of the flora he captures, his irises tend to to take on a Matisse-type flow.
His thistles, as in the work hanging in his and wife Carolyn’s living room, create an impact with repeated pattern. They become even more important against a forceful background color. This one is a glowing orange.
“Carolyn said this one isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying here,” said McMahon. (Carolyn, an artist who works in a variety of media, has a two dimensional metal piece attached to another living room wall.)
Another change is that he now favors icon boards over the canvas he had been using. “You feel it pulling the paint off the brush,” he said.
What hasn’t changed is working on site where he does his line work and initial painting and then, finishing the work back in his studio. He still brings his tools: an easel and box of paints to the site. “I like that spontaneity,” said McMahon.
But he attributes his adding a new style, “not technique,” to the pandemic. “I’ve had more time now with COVID,” he said.
Instead of traveling far afield to capture a story playing out at a city or college, McMahon heads to his rock garden or around the corner to the wild plants such as thistle that grow along telephone, electric and cable lines.
I’ve been doing this (painting) for 50 years,” said McMahon, 70. “The art process takes, 30-40-50 years to develop. They have evolved. Once in a while there is a good one,” he said.
(To view Mark McMahon’s work visit The Gallery, check with the Deerpath Art League’s date for its May fundraiser and go on April 29, 2021 to the City of Lake Forest Shop in the downtown train station for an event to help local non-profit organizations.)
COVID cases are dwindling in Illinois and thus museums and many restaurants are re-opening but most of the news from Chicago’s theaters is what is still happening digitally.
Goodman Theatre started an Encore series of OnDemand video streaming free from March 15 through May 9. Pulled from Goodman’s video vault, they are “How to Catch Creation” by Christiana Anderson, Teatro Buendia’s “Pedro Paramo” by Raquel Carrio, “Smokefall” by Noah Haidle and “Measure for Measure” by the Bard, William Shakespeare.
All the productions were impressive but the one that really stuck in a corner of my obscure consciousness was “Smokefall”,presented in the fall of 2013.
A beautiful and though provoking play about life and love, it features Violet (Katherine Keberlein) as a wife whose husband is leaving and a mother whose daughter has problems. Violet is also about to birth twin boys whose thoughts on leaving the womb are astonishing and scary.
Her father, the Colonel, superbly portrayed by Mike Nussbaum (whom I admit is one of my favorite actors) is an elderly person whose mind is slipping, but has an important role in the life of this family.
Goodman is also continuing its stream of “Until the Flood” by Dael Orlandersmith, a powerful play that sheds light on Ferguson, MO from a variety of perspectives.
“Live theater is ephemeral; once a performance ends, it’s gone forever,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “But as we anticipate the day we can reopen our doors and resume in-person events, we are thrilled to offer this rare chance to watch a handful of signature Goodman productions—including world premieres, a re-imagined classic and a ground-breaking international collaborate—from our video archives.”
At Steppenwolf Theatre, Scout, a new play development program, is doing a free virtual reading of “Mosque4Mosue” by Omer Abbas Salem on March 28 at 2 p.m. CST. The play, comedy about how what might be considered an average 30something Arab American Muslim who is queer, handles a caring mother who wants the ideal man for him. To obtain a ticket call (312) 335-1650 or go to Steppenwolf Theatre/forms.
Watching Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway” on Youtube last night, made me realize how much I missed going to Chicago area venues for good musicals and plays.
Well-staged with superb instrumental back-up, the cast takes on the mammoth task of covering musicals through the decades from “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Hair” in the 1960s and “The Wiz” and “Promises Promises” in the 1970s to more recent shows such as “Kinky Boots,” “Waitress,” “Beautiful” and “Head over Heels.”
Past benefit concerts were, among others, covers from Disney, Stephen Sondheim, The Beatles and Motown.
Choosing a song or a couple of stanzas from each show, their theme this year is Rock and Roll but not all music chosen fall in that genre. So, if deciding to tune in to support local artists, Porchlight and, just as important, the theatre’s education arm to area youth, don’t worry if your ear prefers other musical genres.
The benefit is fun to watch and hear because the music ranges from standards to lesser- known songs. You are bound to find a favorite performance. Among mine was Sawyer Smith’s magnificent take on “Wig in a Box” from “Hedwig & the Angry Inch, (1998).
A virtual event that can be viewed through April 18, 2021, Chicago Sings is a fundraiser similar to the broadcasts that have aired since COVID shuttered arts and entertainment venues a year ago, except this event brings the cast and musicians together.
It also includes the presentation of the 2021 Guy Adkins award for “excellence in the advancement of music theatre” to Felicia P. Fields and greetings from several Broadway stars including E. Faye Butler and Sean Allan Krill.
Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway is on YouTube through April 18, 2021. Tickets are $25. Running time is about 90 minutes. For tickets see Porchlight and for information visit Porchlight Music Theatre.
Theatre in the Dark metaphorically sets sail to harpoon the quintessential fish story that is “Moby Dick.”
Maybe you read it in high school or enjoyed Gregory Peck in the screen adaptation proffered one Sunday afternoon by Frazier Thomas on Family Classics, or maybe you’ve missed the story all together.
This 90-minute version of the tale crafted by producing artistic director Corey Bradberry captures the essence of Herman Melville’s classic seafaring novel. It does so in a kind of CliffsNotes fashion that preserves the storyline while doing fair justice to the primary characters including vivid descriptions of the elusive and menacing great white whale, itself.
No need to keep your eyes peeled. Theatre in the Dark is a Chicago based company specializing in telling stories through sound so this production can be more accurately described as a live radio drama. In this case, it is broadcast via the Internet on Zoom.
The voice of Elizabeth McCoy as the narrator, Ishmael, has a fresh and active timbre. She provides a colorful tone that becomes the foundation of the aural composition.
However, her delivery, at times, is more reminiscent of a Saturday morning children’s librarian than that of an experienced youth intimately recounting details of a horrific, bone-chilling odyssey.
In his portrayal of third mate Stubb, Mack Gordon provides a grizzled gruff but kindly attitude that is imbued with a sense of camaraderie and discipline as well as a longing for home.
“Thar she blows!” He gives it the sweet taste of simple pleasures that have come to define the mental portrait of those hearty souls whose livelihood and willingness for adventure caused them to choose one of the most perilous vocations of all time.
The velvety basso tones of Robinson J. Cyprian as the vengefully obsessed and austere Captain Ahab offers the contrast needed to add aural dimension to the production while simultaneously suggesting the underlying foreboding of his true quest.
Augmented by original music of Nick Montopoli, the soundscape design of Bradberry and Gordon fully delivers the background auditory impressions required to set the stage. It puts the listener on the deck of the Pequod in the midst of the action.
Dim the lights. Don your foul weather gear. Then, settle down with your mug of grog to enjoy the recounting of this time-honored maritime adventure.
“Moby Dick” runs 90 minutes plus a 10 minute intermission. It is online through April 10, 2021. For tickets and information visit theatreinthedark..
Don’t even try to shoo Maurice Ravel’s famed “Boléro” out of your head after hearing and seeing it interpreted by The Joffrey Ballet’s Studio Series.
Streaming now through Mar. 2, 2021, the haunting beat returns over and over so instead of worrying about it, just go back to the YouTube channel to hear it again and re-watch how choreographer Yoshihisa Arai has fit dance moves to the compulsive rhythm.
The program, backed beautifully by the London Symphony Orchestra, is an exciting Joffrey world premiere featuring Anais Bueno and ensemble.
Costumes by Temur Suluashvili reflect Yoshihisa’s light and shadows theme. Masks are worn and fit the costuming and mood.
It is performed in the Gerald Arpino Black Box Theater at Joffrey tower. Running time is 16 minutes. To watch visit Boléro | Joffrey Ballet.
Creating an intimate face-to-face theatrical experience seems the primary objective of Theatre For One: Here We Are, a series of eight new microplays.
They are written and directed by black, indigenous, and women of color presented by Chicago’s Court Theatre under the leadership of Charles Newell, Artistic Director Marilyn F. Vitale and Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre.
Promoted as a live digital theatrical experience, the performances take place via an Internet based video platform similar to Zoom. Audience members are required to participate via a computer preferably using a Chrome browser with their camera, speakers, and microphone operational.
Right off the bat, I find this a little bit of overkill as I did not experience a substantial amount of interaction on my part with any of the actors I encountered.
I will say that the expectation of interaction did set up a sense of intimacy where I might otherwise have stayed a bit more aloof and thus participating as more of an observer than an active listener. So in this sense it works.
Interestingly there are a few minutes between each play where audience members are prompted to chat among themselves in the “lobby” by typing messages anonymously which was amusing, playful and interactive.
Theatre For One: Here We Are brings together one actor with one audience member to share a laugh, tell a story or create an imaginative moment.
Being certain that your audience is “with you” is indeed one of the challenges of online theater. After all, actors thrive on the energy from the audience and the lack of energy can be a drawback in digital theater.
Each audience member is randomly assigned four out of the eight plays in the package which are as follows:
Thank You For Coming. Take Care by Stacey Rose, directed by Miranda Gonzalez, featuring Sydney Charles
What Are The Things I Need To Remember* by Lynn Nottage, directed by Chris Anthony, featuring TayLar
Pandemic Fight by Carmelita Tropicana, directed by Miranda Gonzalez, featuring Melissa DuPrey
Here We Are by Nikkole Salter, directed by Monet Felton, featuring Xavier Edward King
Thank You Letter by Jaclyn Backhaus, directed by Lavina Jadhwani, featuring Adithi Chandrashekar
Before America Was America* by DeLanna Studi, directed by Chris Anthony, featuring Elizabeth Laidlaw
Whiterly negotiations* by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Monet Felton, featuring Deanna Reed-Foster.
Vote! (the black album)* written and directed by Regina Taylor, featuring Cheryl Lynn Bruce.
Each of the four “plays” I encountered (see asterisks) were well written, thought provoking, and well delivered. I would of course expect nothing less from this company.
However, I would describe these performances as monologues rather than “plays” as they are each about 10 minutes in length, delivered by one person and do not substantially evolve from their one simple premise.
They are not really “one-man-shows.” Neither are the” plays” part of a cohesive group as in “Spoon River Anthology.”
With that said I felt a bit like I was watching a series of auditions or “Moth” presentations. Of course in “The Moth” people are telling short stories derived from their own life experience which in itself has a great deal of intimacy.
This is what I felt was lacking here. Then again, isn’t that the challenge of an actor – – to take someone else’s words and make them their own? With maybe one exception generally I felt like I was being “talked at” rather than “spoken to.”
During this stay-at-home period over the past several months I have done a great deal of business online networking which has required me to have a number of spontaneous, intimate, face-to-face digital interactions with perhaps close to 100 strangers, so I understand spontaneous, authentic, digital communication.
The challenge with the Theatre for One concept is to recreate that feeling as a theatrical experience, to make me feel like this actor is sharing an intimate moment with me, personally.
If you have not had a similar online experience think of a fellow bus mate or airplane encounter where you developed a close bond with a stranger over a short period of time and where they were willing to let down their guard and share intimate details with a stranger because of the promise of anonymity. I believe this is what this company is aiming for. They get very close.
These are challenging times for actors and theater companies who need to push their creative bounds so this is a very good effort. I encourage you to check it out and experience it for yourself.
It’s about an hour long and an enjoyable way to extend your idea of what theater has been and what it can be. Grab a beverage, power up your communication portal and go with the flow. After all here we are so let’s make the best of it.
Details: Theatre for One, Feb. 21 through March 14, 2021. Performance Schedule: Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information visit CourtTheatre.
It’s sure to feel like spring is reawakening with glorious sunflowers when you visit the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, now showing through September 6.
This visually spectacular digital art exhibition invites audiences to “step inside” the iconic works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. It evokes his highly emotional and chaotic inner consciousness through art, light, music and movement.
With more than 50 projectors illuminating over 14,000 square-feet, visitors are surrounded by Van Gogh’s brushstrokes and colors, including animated details from Self Portrait with Felt Hat (1888), The Bedroom in Arles (1889), Irises (1889) and The Starry Night 1889).
Immersive Van Gogh is a glorious experience that will envelop the visual and audio senses. Classical music, Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets” and other French songs stimulate the mind.
Stand in one of the circles on the main floor, then step up to the balcony to get a higher perspective.
The 1-hour Van Gogh exhibit has been designed in accordance with the latest health and safety protocols. Capacity is limited and masks are required at all times. Digitally projected social distancing circles on the gallery floors ensure appropriate spacing.
Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults ($24.99 for children 16 or younger) with untimed and flexible ticket options available.
Immersive Van Gogh is at the Lighthouse Art Space, 108 Germania Place, Chicago. For more information, visit vangoghchicago.com or call 844-307-4644.