June art and crafts fairs

 

art fairs are a chance to visit other areas. (J Jacobs photo)
Art fairs are a chance to visit other areas. (J Jacobs photo)

Art festivals, almost back to pre-pandemic numbers in 2022, are a fun way to visit areas in and around Chicago. 

June 18 & 19

The biggie: the 64th Annual Gold Coast Art Fair with 300 exhibitors, is not on the Gold Coast but in Grant Park’s Butler Field at Lake Shore Drive and East Monroe St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info: www.amdurproductions.com

 

June 25 & 26, 2022

Hubbard Woods-Winnetka

For old timers used to Hubbard Woods being a small shopping and residential area between Winnetka and Glencoe, its current ID may be confusing But now Hubbard Woods is part of Winnetka. So if looking for the 9th Annual Art in the Village Fine Art Fair go to Hubbard Woods Park, 939 Green Bay Rd. in what Winnetka calls its “Desidgn and Dine District.” The fair, featuring more than 80 exhibitors, runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.  For more information visit North Shore Art League

Deer Park

The northwest bedroom-style suburb is holding its Deer Park Art Show with about 100 artists on an easy to find busy road. The show will be at 20530 N. Rand Rd. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info visit Amdur Productions. 

Naperville

A west suburban town with an excellent Children’s Museum is holding its 62nd Fine Art & Artisan Fair in another local attraction: the historic Naperville Settlement, 523 S. Webster St. Featuring 120 artists, the show is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info visit www.napervillewomansclub.org

 

July 4

Hinsdale

Along with a parade and other activities, Hinsdale will host the America Craft and Art show in Burlington park  this holiday weekend. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit Craft Productions/Hinsdale.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Long Grove Chocolate Fest is back

 

Chocolate charcuterie lesson at Long Grove Chocolate Fest
Chocolate charcuterie lesson at Long Grove Chocolate Fest

Chocolate Fest, a popular festival held by the historic town of Long Grove, IL, is back.

Visitors walk along cobblestone paths, snap photos of the town’s famous  covered bridge, and meander among historic structures and a watermill while noshing on chocolate everything from donuts, cupcakes and dipped fruit to cake pops and chocolate popcorn.

They can get tickets to a chocolate-wine pairing or find out how a charcuterie, now among the latest gourmet trends, can be done with chocolates.

Tickets for the fest are $5 through Ticketweb.com. Tickets for the chocolate  charcuterie are $30 and the same for the wine pairing.

The chocolate charcuteries is at Long Grove Confectionery Co: 114 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove May 20-21 from 3 to 3:45 p.m.

Wine and chocolate pairing is Saturday from 1:30 to 2 p.m. and Sunday from1 to 1:30 p.m. at Corked, 132 Old McHenry Rd., Long Grove.

There is also has a kids’ zone, live music and a carnival.

Details: Chocolate Fest is May 20, 21, 22, 2022 in dwntown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Rd. Hours are  Fri, noon– 11 p.m., Sat, 10 a.m.– 11 p.m. and Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The fest is very popular and there is a limited amount of complimentary parking in the public lots, downtown Long Grove so ride sharing is recommended.

A shuttle service will run from the Buffalo Grove Park District parking lot at 530 Bernard Dr. to Archer Road between Robert Parker Coffin and Old McHenry Rd. next to entrance to the Carnival Parking Lot, Sat. from 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. and Sunday from 10:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

For more music and other information or tickets visit Long Grove Chocolatefest.

Jodie Jacobs

The Cezanne you may not know

 

Paul Cezanne.
Paul Cezanne. The sea at L’Estaque behinf trees 1q78-79, Musee National Picasso-Pariss

Walking through Cezanne, an extensive exhibit now at the Art Institute of Chicago and co-curated with the Tate Modern in London, is like pulling back a curtain to really see and understand the French artist’s various approaches to portraitures, landscapes and figures.

Influenced by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne (1839–1906) was also admired by Pissarro, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

Indeed, “The Sea at L’Estaque Behind Trees” done by Cezanne, 1978-79 was owned by Picasso, and is in the Musee National Picasso-Paris collection on loan for this exhibit.

Works are on loan from several museums and private collections. Visitors should expect to spend close to two hours. The exhibit features 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two sketchbooks. Some will look familiar. Others will be less known and seldom viewed.

Still Life with Apples; Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 - 1906); 1893–1894; Oil on canvas; 65.4 × 81.6 cm (25 3/4 × 32 1/8 in.)
Still Life with Apples; Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 – 1906); 1893–1894; Oil on canvas; 65.4 × 81.6 cm (25 3/4 × 32 1/8 in.)

Beautifully curated, the exhibit places watercolors of the same or similar subjects close enough to compare. As with many artists, Cezanne’s works reflect different stages of life. Boards near each phase talk about those periods.

Called by some artists and art historians as the “Father of Post Impressionism,” Cezanne’s paintings are a bridge from Impressionism to Post Impressionism.

His early and middle years paintings also became his own bridge. Visitors who think they can identify a work as by Cezanne may be surprised .  His “Still Life with Apples,” 1893-94 oil painting, is quite different from “Still Life with Knife and Watermelon” a watercolor done later, about 1900.

Cezanne’s still life paintings of apples and fruit could easily fill an exhibit on their own. But you will see a still life series of another subject, skulls. They were done in his later years.

Paul Cezanne. The Three Skulls, 1902–6. The Art Institute of Chicago, Olivia Shaler Swan Memorial Collection.
Paul Cezanne. The Three Skulls, 1902–6. The Art Institute of Chicago, Olivia Shaler Swan Memorial Collection.

Part of his appeal to other artists was how his feelings about a subject were expressed by his brush strokes.

“Cezanne pursued an art distinct from his Impressionist colleagues,” explained Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe.

“Whether looking at the countryside around Paris or at a still life arrangement indoors, his was a laborious process and state of mind that involved finding the exact brushstroke to evoke his feelings, his sensations. The exhibition aims to deepen our understanding of this deliberate, singular process,” said Groom.

By the time a visitor exits the exhibit there should be a feeling that some  paintings seen in art galleries and art shows in the current century are not that different in technique from how Cezanne painted.

Paul Cezanne. Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), about 1894–1905. The National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)
Paul Cezanne. Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), about 1894–1905. The National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)

“While Cezanne himself was as interested in long traditions of painting as much as its modernist future, it’s simply not possible to envision twentieth-century avant-garde art without Cezanne’s influence,” said Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

“Cezanne approached painting as a technically rigorous yet deeply personal search for truth in art making. And in the process he upended the conventions of artifice in European painting, laying bare the components of color and brushwork used to compose images, and establishing the fundamentals of what would become Cubism, Fauvism, and non-objective art,” said Haskell.

(Note: If you go, get the Art Institute app (know your Apple store password) and go to the number accompanying some of the paintings to hear about Cezanne’s technique and aims. The museum hasn’t been using individual recorded devices since COVID began.)

The exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London. It is curated by Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe and Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago and Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern.

“Cezanne” is at the Art Institute of Chicago May 15 through Sept. 5, 2022. The museum has two entrances: 111 S Michigan Ave and 159 E. Monroe St. For more information including tickets and hours visit AIC.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around Town: Three very different art exhibits to see now

 

What is Contemporary Art? How about Modern? How do you value a work of art?

Two Chicago museums are opening retrospective exhibits of famous artists this weekend that will run through the summer of 2022. A suburban gallery specializing in contemporary American artists just opened an exhibit featuring two local artists.  All three exhibitions are worth perusing even though their styles are vastly different. All three feature artists who understand and treasure individual perspective.

 

Nick Cave. Speak Louder

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is celebrating renowned Chicago multi-media  artist Nick Cave in “Forothermore” from May 14 through Oct. 2, 2022.

What to expect: nature and fantasy-based installations sculptures, crafted and textural fashion, videos, performances and kinetic spinners hanging in the atrium and fourth-floor lobby..

The MCA is at 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL · (312) 280-2660. Visit MCA Chicago for hours, tickets and more information.

 

Paul Cezanne. Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), about 1894–1905. The National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)
Paul Cezanne. Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), about 1894–1905. The National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)

“Cezanne” opens at the Art Institute of Chicago May 15 and continues through Sept. 5, 2022.

The first Cezanne exhibition organized by the museum in more than 70 years and the first large retrospective of the artist in the United States in more than 25 years, the exhibit  features 90 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two sketchbooks and ranges from very well-known to rarer, seldom seen works.

Done in coordination with London’s Tate Modern, “Cezanne” includes,  impressionist landscapes, portraits, allegorical paintings, bathing scenes and paintings of Montagne Sainte Victoire.

The exhibition is curated by the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, and Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Tate Modern’s Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art.

The Art Institute of Chicago has two entrances: 111 S Michigan Ave and 159 E. Monroe St. For more information including tickets and hours visit AIC.

Mary Jo O’Gara. Gray Roofed Barn Green Hills. (Photo courtesy of the artist and Anne Loucks Gallery)
Mary Jo O’Gara. Gray Roofed Barn Green Hills. (Photo courtesy of the artist and Anne Loucks Gallery)

“Painted Short Stories” features works by award winning artists Rodgers Bechtold and Mary Jo O’Gara at the Anne Loucks Gallery in Glencoe. The exhibit opened April 29 and continues through June 20, 2022.

Rodgers Bechtold, Summer into Fall (Fall Begins) . Photo courtesy of the artist and Anne Loucks Gallery).

For more information visit Anne Loucks Gallery, 309 Park Ave., Glencoe, IL.

Three gift ideas for Mom

 

One of a Kind Show at The Mart features artists' works and gourmet foods. (J Jacobs photo)
One of a Kind Show at The Mart features artists’ works and gourmet foods. (J Jacobs photo)

Nothing wrong with sending flowers to celebrate Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022. but if looking for something different consider saying it with something unique.

Say it with an artistic gift from the Spring One of a Kind Show. It’s at TheMart this weekend, April 29-May 1. A fun show that has loads of gift ideas, even for yourself, items range from gourmet foods, paintings and jewelry to ceramics, leather, wood and glass sculpture. The show’s title means you and your mom are unlikely to find the gift elsewhere.

TheMart is a few blocks north of the METRA/Union Pacific train station on the Chicago River at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL Visit One of a Kind Show  or call (312) 527-4141 or (800) 677-6278.

 

Shop online for an artistic gift at the Art Institute of Chicago’s store. There are lots of choices and price points such as a 1000-piece William Morris Golden Lily Puzzle for $19.99 that reflects the current exhibition of “The Business of Beauty.”

See the  beautiful Tiffany Hartwell Memorial Window Scarf for $45 or the fun Barbara Kruger “Too Big To Fail” tote for $25. For these and more items visit  Museum Shop ARTIC.

 

The Orchid Show is among many reasons to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden ( J Jacobs photo)
The Orchid Show is among many reasons to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden ( J Jacobs photo)

Or say it with flowers and exhibits that go on all year long via a Chicago Botanic Garden membership. Having that means not having to pay for parking and getting a discount on store items and events. Chicago Botanic Garden

One year for one person is $109 (see other options). Member benefits include:  Admission for 1 adult each visit ($10-$25 savings each visit), free parking ($8 savings each visit), members-only Garden hours 8-10 a.m. daily, 20% discount on most classes, 10% Garden Shop discount, Cafe discount, advance sales and discounts on ticketed events such as Lightscape and Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns. Plus members get free admission to 300 botanic gardens and arboreta nationwide.

Yes, it’s hard to choose so go with more than one options. After all it’s for Mother’s Day

Love,

Jodie Jacobs

Einstein and Picasso view the world at Citadel Theatre

 

Acsione (Picasso), Dan Deuel (Gaston) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel theatre (Photo courtesy of CitadeNorth Shore Camera Club l Theatre.
Philip C. Matthews (Freddy), Travis Acsione (Picasso), Dan Deuel (Gaston) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre.

3 Stars

It may be hard to imagine what a conversation would be like between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso if the two 20th century geniuses met in a Parisian bar before they achieved international fame.

Comedic actor/screenwriter Steve Martin conceived just such a scenario taking place in 1904 in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Premiered at Steppenwolf in 1993, the play is once again delighting Chicago area audiences with witty dialogue at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.

Reprised 20 years after Citadel co-owner and director Scott Phelps first mounted the show, the dialogue is still meaningful, intellectual, insightful, philosophical and funny.

Mark Yacullo (Einstein) and Juliana Liscio (Einstein's friend, the Countess) Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel theatre.
Mark Yacullo (Einstein) and Juliana Liscio (Einstein’s friend, The Countess) Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera
Club and Citadel Theatre).

First to set the scene at the Lapin Agile, a real cabaret frequented by artists in the Montmartre district (18th arrondissement) of Paris, are bartender Freddy (Philip C. Matthews), barfly Gaston (Dan Deuel), waitress and Freddy’s lover, Germaine (Amy Stricker), and a young, yet to be discovered, Einstein.

He is waiting there for a female friend he told to meet him at a different bar but who knows him well enough to show up at the right location later in the play.

Einstein demonstrates his mathematical mind by answering Freddy’s out-loud musings about some supply costs. Meanwhile, Gaston admires a pastoral painting of sheep behind the bar but a small work by Matisse that was just brought in changes the discussion on what constitutes art.

Travis Ascione (Picasso) and Juliana Liscio (Suzanne) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile) at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club andCitadel Theatre)
Travis Ascione (Picasso) and Juliana Liscio (Suzanne) in Picasso at the Lapin Agile) at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)

Next on the scene is Suzanne (Juliana Liscio) who has a sketch Picasso gave her during one of their trysts and who wants to see him again. Also entering the bar is Sagot, (Tim Walsh), an art dealer who has already recognized that works by Picasso will eventually be worth many francs.

Eventually, Picasso (Travis Ascione) whom the theater audience seems to have been waiting for, saunters in. Full of himself, he stops at a mirror near the bar.

As different as the geniuses appeared to be, Picasso with an overblown personality and an Einstein who at the time was reserved, the two found each other to be kindred spirits in their vast observations of the world of tomorrow.

The entire cast is excellent but a shoutout also has to go to Jake Busse who pops in as Schmendiman, a crazy, turquois-top-hat wearing inventor of weird, unusable materials.  He points out he is the third man in their scenario.

Cummisford as A Visitor, Amy Stricker as Germaine, Philip C. Matthews as Freddy, Juliana Liscio as The Countess, Mark Yacullo as Einstein, Dan Deuel as Gaston, Travis Ascione as Picasso, and Jake Busse as Schmendiman (Front). (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)
Cast of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Citadel Theatre Ian Cummisford as A Visitor, Amy Stricker as Germaine, Philip C. Matthews as Freddy, Juliana Liscio as The Countess, Mark Yacullo as Einstein, Dan Deuel as Gaston, Travis Ascione as Picasso, and Jake Busse as Schmendiman (Front). (Photo courtesy of North Shore Camera Club and Citadel Theatre)

A fourth visitor shows up from the mid-1900’s to as his view of the world. But you have to see the show to find out who.

DETAILS: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is at Citadel Theater, 300 N. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, now through May 22, 2022. Runtime: 90 minutes, no intermission. For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre or call (847) 735-8554.

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

 

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

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

 

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