Black Ensemble presents a battle cry

 

Legends the Musical at Black Ensemble Theater
Legends the Musical at Black Ensemble Theater

‘Legends the Musical: A Civil Rights Movement Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’

3 stars

Jackie Taylor, the amiable creative heart and soul of Chicago’s beloved Black Ensemble Theater, has declared 2020 as the company’s Season of Change. She opens with this original, ambitious, musical battle cry, a movement against the injustice and bigotry that’s overtaking our country today thanks to an administration that has set our country back 200 years.

And this is just the beginning of Taylor’s aggressive theatrical approach to helping combat the racism that’s reared its ugly head in America.

Continue reading “Black Ensemble presents a battle cry”

Start spreading the news ‘Judy and Liza’ are fabulous!

 

Left to right, Alexa Castelvecchi and Nancy Hays star in Judy & Liza. (Photo by Tyler Core)
Left to right, Alexa Castelvecchi and Nancy Hays star in Judy & Liza. (Photo by Tyler Core)

4 stars

Imagine what it was like in 1964 when Judy Garland and her daughter, 18-year-old Liza Minnelli, performed together for the first time at The Palladium Theatre in London. This was the only time these two superstars performed in a live concert together and it was electrifying.

Now, Chicago theatre-goers can experience the thrill of “Judy & Liza — Once in a Lifetime: The London Palladium Concert – A Tribute” at the Greenhouse Theater Center. The show is co-produced by Greenhouse and Nancy Hays Entertainment, Inc.

Continue reading “Start spreading the news ‘Judy and Liza’ are fabulous!”

‘Middletown’ encapsulates the comedy and tragedy of life

 

left to right Adrian Zmed, Sandy Duncan, Kate Buddeke in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of GFrour Productions)
left to right Adrian Zmed, Sandy Duncan, Kate Buddeke in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of GFrour Productions)

3.5 stars

Be prepared to laugh and cry If you go to see “Middletown,” a GFour touring production now at the Apollo Theater.

Written by “Timekeepers” playwright, Dan Clancy, the play’s strength is how it captures some of life’s funny moments and extreme low points as they are experienced and shared by two couples.

Continue reading “‘Middletown’ encapsulates the comedy and tragedy of life”

‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ is no mystery

 

Left to right, Elaine Carlson, Tracey Greenwood in Mrs. Warren's Profession. (Photo by Tom McGrath)
Left to right, Elaine Carlson, Tracey Greenwood in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. (Photo by Tom McGrath)

3 stars

It is late summer 1905 and Mrs. Kitty Warren (Elaine Carlson), a seemingly wealthy woman with no known extended family, finally reveals to her curious adult daughter how she is able to support their comfortable lifestyle.

Continue reading “‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ is no mystery”

Around Town revisits orchid show

 

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show (J Jacobs photo)
Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show (J Jacobs photo)

A one-time walk-through at “Brilliance,” the Chicago Botanic Garden’s orchid show, had lifted the mood when the show opened on a cold, winter day. But going back for a second, more leisurely stroll meant finding delightful orchids clustered low under and along the garden’s regular greenhouse inhabitants and orchids seeminly glowing in the March sunlight.

How the orchids look in varying sunlight, but also the artificial light turned on during Orchids After Hours, (Thursdays March 5-19) is no accident. Called “Brilliance’ this year, the show is about color.

Bright bromeliad complements delicate orchids in entrance to the Chicago botanic garden show. (J Jacobs photo)
Bright bromeliad complements delicate orchids in entrance to the Chicago botanic garden show. (J Jacobs photo)

To complement the orchids’ hues, the garden has added bromelads in the entrance walkway, blue pipe-like glass forms in the center greenhouse’s shady walk, a bright magenta chandelier-like glass over that greenhouse’s water feature, hanging metal circular planters outside the greenhouses’ walkways and chrome-style reflecting ball-halves along a walkway.

The effect is stunning day or night. But a good way to see the show is to return at night when river-like blue stone is lit from below and the greenhouses’ lights pick up other colors and reflections.

Blue glass paths hardly noticed during the day light up at night as blue pipe like glass seems to drip down from above. ( J Jacobs photo)
Blue glass paths hardly noticed during the day light up at night as blue pipe like glass seems to drip down from above. ( J Jacobs photo)

To enjoy the orchid nightscape with special beverages, consider coming for Evening With Orchids March 11 that features beer and spirits tastings.

If you are a morning person, Tuesdays and Thursdays feature Morning Music in the Nichols Hall that range from guitar to jazz to classical.

For orchid advice and orchid displays visit on March 14-5 when the Illinois Orchid Society Show is at the garden.

The Chicago Botanic Garden features color and form in its 2020
The Chicago Botanic Garden features color and form in its 2020 orchid show. (J Jacobs photo)

However, if after seeing the gorgeous array of color inspires some home plant décor,  know that many of the orchids in the show are available to members and the public at reduced prices during the afternoon of the Post Show Sale March 26, four days after the show closes on March 22.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, just east of Edens Expressway. For Garden ticket and other information call (847) 835-6801 or 835-5440 or visit Chicago Botanic.

Jodie Jacobs

Good insight into teenage challenges

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”

(L to R) Karen Rodriguez (Julia) and Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller (Olga) at Steppenwolf. (photo by Michael Brosilow)
(L to R) Karen Rodriguez (Julia) and Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller (Olga) at Steppenwolf. (photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

Julia may or may not be the perfect Mexican daughter but Karen Rodriguez may be the perfect person to play her. Rodriguez commanded the Steppenwolf stage from the moment the lights came up and did not let go for the next 90 minutes.

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Black Lives Matter!

‘Kill Move Paradise’

Grif (Cage Sebastian Pierre, from left), Isa (Kai A. Ealy) and Daz (Charles Andrew Gardner) in TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “Kill Move Paradise.” ( (Lara Goetsch photo)
Grif (Cage Sebastian Pierre, from left), Isa (Kai A. Ealy) and Daz (Charles Andrew Gardner) in TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “Kill Move Paradise.” ( (Lara Goetsch photo)

4 stars

TimeLine Theatre is often the place in Chicago where we revisit those special individuals, real people or fictional representations, who’ve left a mark in history.

At times, these wonderful plays and musicals remind us of events from the past, taking a close look at another time and place. But once in a while this treasure of a theatre forces audiences to examine events from the present, and we are presented with history—good or bad—in the making. Continue reading “Black Lives Matter!”

‘Mlima’s Tale’

Mlima's Tale at Raven Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Mlima’s Tale at Raven Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

“Mlima’s Tale,” a Midwest Premiere by Griffin Theatre, is a sensitive and heartrending depiction of greed, and specifically, the corruption associated with the illegal sale of elephant ivory that results in the daily  slaughter of approximately 100 of these endangered animals.

The production follows the life and death of Mlima, a roughly 45-year-old male African elephant. Described as a “big tusker,” he is killed by poachers while living in a protected refuge in Kenya.

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‘Hit Her With The Skates’ at Royal George

 

Hit Her With The skates (Press conference photo)
Hit Her With The skates (Press conference photo)

 

We were invited to attend a kick-off event and sneak preview for “Hit Her WithThe Skates” a new regionally inspired musical that will have its world premiere March 18, 2020, at the Royal George Theatre on North Halsted Street in Chicago.

The show is produced by Mary Beidler Gearen with book and lyrics by Lansing native and co-producer Christine Rea. The two met while working with the Bailiwick Repertory Company where Gearen earned five Jeff nominations. Continue reading “‘Hit Her With The Skates’ at Royal George”

‘Almost Heaven’ in Munster

 

"Almost Heaven: John Denver's America" at Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN. ( Photo by Guy Rhodes0
“Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America” at Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN. ( Photo by Guy Rhodes0

3  stars

Seeing “Almost Heaven,” will bring recollections of John Denver’s backstory.

Denver’s music was considered to be more or less middle-of-the-road if not downright conservative in the wake of rising stars like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

This issue is confronted early in the latest jukebox boomer music revival, “Almost Heaven-John Denver’s America,” at The Theatre at the Center in Munster, IN..

The popular singer/songwriter eventually emerged as the nascent voice of the environmental movement with songs like “Calypso” that championed the work of Jacques Cousteau, as well as “Rocky Mountain High,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Wild Montana Skies” and “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” They unabashedly and exuberantly celebrated the magnificence and simple beauty of nature.

Continue reading “‘Almost Heaven’ in Munster”