Nine to Five: A Retro Romp or Cautionary Reminder?

RECOMMEND

Three overworked, underpaid and unappreciated 1970’s era office secretaries seize the opportunity to kidnap and blackmail their domineering misogynist male boss in an effort to change the power dynamic and improve their working environment.

“9 to 5: The Musical” playing at the Metropolis Theater in downtown Arlington Heights is a kind of women’s lib version of “How to Succeed in Business.” The story is based on the popular 20th Century Fox (non-musical) picture starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Dolly Parton is responsible for the music and lyrics including the perennial favorite 9 to 5 theme song from the movie. None of the songs for this production stray far from her introspective country style.

In this version, Doralee (Janelle Sanabria) firmly has her roots in the over-the-top persona of Dolly Parton featuring big boobs and big hair with a large dose of southern charm. Sanabria has captured the essence of this Parton inspired pivotal character who has been accused of sleeping with the boss and as a result is alienated from her coworkers.

Violet (Melissa Crabtree) is tired of being overlooked for her much deserved promotion, while new hire Judy (Savannah Sinclair) a recently divorced woman with no work experience is just trying to find her way in this strange new environment.

The tyrannical and chauvinist boss, Mr. Hart (David Gordon- Johnson) takes every opportunity to demean and make sexual advances towards virtually every woman within his domain in an effort to maintain his authority and the male dominated power structure.

While his wife is away on a four week cruise the trio of women manage to hog tie and subdue Hart in his home. Signing his name to numerous memos, they manage to dispatch his trusted administrative assistant Roz (Dani Goldberg) on an extended journey of her own while they commence making much appreciated changes and improvements to staff morale and office productivity.

Goldberg gets to enjoy the spotlight while professing love for the boss in a humorous campy (and very tame) striptease number.

Musical Director Harper Caruso and orchestra, though out of sight, keep the tempo upbeat and energetic. This is a fast-paced romp full of vintage technology allusions and office space humor. Director Landree Fleming and the entire cast does a great job of keeping the story moving forward through several full company musical numbers featuring choreography of Jenna Schoppe assisted by Quinn Simmons which is executed admirably.

The scenic design of Eleanor Kahn is minimal but effective. The very high backwall makes the workers feel small and insignificant in relation to the big corporation they represent. The array of LED fluorescent style fixtures suspended overhead were appreciated and did not go unnoticed further contributing to the sense of place.

Keep in mind that the premise of this show was conceived more than 30 years ago when the idea of a somewhat violent workplace takeover by disgruntled employees, involving a gun, might be considered so outlandish as to be humorous. It was a grim dark humor fantasy. In this case it all works out fine for everyone with little or no harm done.

The point being made is that women are an integral part of the workplace, capable of higher order thinking and not simply flesh and blood machinery. It may be difficult for some younger people today to consider how prevalent this thinking was prior to the 1980s and that the glass ceiling for women was very real.

This show on some level seems archaic and simply a retrospective romp but it also serves as a cautionary tale, a reminder that chauvinist and misogynist thinking still prevails in some circles and there are those who would love to turn back the clock.

DETAILS: “9 to 5: The Musical” is at the Metropolis, 111 W Campbell St., Arlington Heights, IL 60005 through May 26, 2024. Runtime is about 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and information visit metropolisarts.com or call (847)577-2121.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit  Theatre in Chicago

Evidence indicates ‘Judgement Day’ a hilarious success

 

Jason Alexander (left) is attorney Sammy Campo trying to get into heaven and Daniel Breaker, right, is the well-meaning Father Michaein, in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Judgment Day” by Rob Ulin. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Highly Recommended

Scurrilous self-serving scumbag attorney Sammy Campo (Jason Alexander) seeks redemption after an encounter with an angel (Candy Buckley) during a near-death experience, in “Judgment Day” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Hoping to earn enough points to offset his past indiscretions and avert the torments of Hell, Campo is aided by Father Michael (Daniel Breaker) an anguished, faith challenged, Catholic Priest.

While his skeptical secretary Della (Olivia D. Dawson) does her part to help find charity cases for him to represent, Campo himself attempts to make amends with his estranged wife (Maggie Bofill) and son (Ellis Myers).

Guided by the premise that he will be judged by his deeds rather than what he actually believes Campo and Father Michael begin to explore the essence of morality, what it means to be a good person, and the very fundamentals of faith.

This is what sets up the primary conflict in the story as both Campo and Father Michael, with guidance from local Monsignor (Michael Kostroff), struggle to accomplish their task to do good, but in a way that is not in conflict with their understanding of Catholic doctrine.

Playwright Rob Ulin has skillfully wrapped this rather weighty philosophical discussion inside a fast-paced scenario of virtually non-stop humor. The joke riddled dialogue belies Ulin’s more than 30-year career in the world of television sitcoms learning at the knee of legendary writer/producer Norman Lear.

Jason Alexander in spite of his impressive accomplishments is still best known for his role as the morally ambiguous George Castanza from TV’s “Seinfeld” which undoubtably informs this role. Campo on some level is everything George, who was always looking for an angle, hoped he would grow up to be.

Ulin’s potty mouth dialogue and off-color humor both implied and explicit tumble effortlessly from Alexander’s lips with a naturalness that is funny and acceptable in a way that actually endears you to a character that should be reviled.

Instead, we find ourselves rooting for the underdog and cheering on his success in spite of what are still some otherwise underhanded means to an end.

This world premiere comedy is a thought provoking but thoroughly entertaining production with several guaranteed laugh-out-loud moments from a very capable cast.

DETAILS: “Judgement Day” is at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier through May 26, 2024. Run time is 2 hours including an intermission. For tickets and more information visit chicagoshakes.com.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Oh Baby

 

Pam (Katie Engler), Arlene (Julie Bayer) and Lizzie (Madison Jaffe-Richter)  (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

 Highly Recommended

Combine perfect casting with the keen insight of director Scott Shallenbarger and you have the superb production of “Baby,” now on stage at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.

A high-energy musical that appeared on Broadway in 1983-84, “Baby” explores how three different-aged couples, one in college, one in their thirties, and one who are older with kids in college, react to news that their two-member family might become three.

Lizzie (Madison Jaffe-Richter) and Danny (Ben Ballmer) live together in a basement apartment on a college campus. Instead of suffering from the flu, Lizzie finds out she is pregnant.

Pam (Katie Engler) and Nick (Mark Yacullo) are desperate to have a baby. After missing her period she’s hopeful until she learns the pregnancy diagnosis is a mistake.

 Arlene (Julie Bayer) and Alan (Joe Lehman) are in their 40s and are ready to downsize from their large, older home when Arlene learns during a check-up she is pregnant.

With music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and a book by Sybille Pearson who developed the story with Susan Yankowitz, the show and songs reflect what the couples want from life.

The whole cast is excellent but kudos particularly go to Ballmer who totally fits his college-age musician role and to Engler who appears so physically fit that if she does get pregnant would undoubtedly give the sports ball baby present she received to her kid, a boy or girl.

Best of all, “Baby” likely will get at least a few members of the audience thinking about love and what they want from life.

DETAILS: “Baby” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 s. Waukegan Rd., Lake forest, IL, now through May 19,2024. Run time: 2 hours, 20 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and information visit Citadel Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

The Music Man delivers on his promise

Harold Hill (KJ Hippensteel) and Marian (Alexandra Silber)

Highly Recommended 

You may think you know Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.”

But it doesn’t matter how often you have seen this “feel-good” family show. Each time you go, you are likely to take away something different, something more than recognizing its popular, fun “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

 It might be a song that you didn’t know was from the show such as “Till there was You” or “Goodnight My Someone” or “Lida Rose.” 

For this reviewer, it was the “book ban” political philosophy mentioned by Marian Paroo, the River City librarian, beautifully portrayed by Alexandra Silber.

Harold Hill (Left center) Looks up and admires Marian (center) who talks and sings about books while a library patron (far left) watches.

 It shouldn’t have been a surprise given that an important theme is how the town changes once Professor Harold Hill arrives.

Played by the highly talented KJ Hippensteel as the fast talking, glib salesman, we watch Hill evolve while the town he had planned to scam, changes as he falls in love with its librarian.

The leads, KJ Hippensteel and Alexandra Silber are excellent but so is the entire cast. 

Kudos particularly go to Kai Edgar who is terrific as the young Winthrop Paroo, Marian’s little brother who suffers from a lisp and is painfully shy until Hill reaches him with a musical instrument. And to Janet Ulrich Brooks who returns to Marriott as Marian’s mother after doing “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical” and “The Cherry Orchard at Goodman Theatre.

Most of all, audiences will be treated to the outstanding choreography of director/choreographer Katie Spelman. Yes, the accompanying cast may have partially been chosen by their dance ability, but all their movements across the stage and interactions with others are innovatively thought out to express the town and characters personalities.   

So, sit back and enjoy or clap in time to “Seventy-Six Trombones” as “The Music Man” enhances your evening.

Details: “The Music Man” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Mariott Drive, Lincolnshire, now through June 2, 2024. Run time: 2 hrs., 40 minutes with one intermission. For more information and tickets visit Marriott Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

 For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

Felder reveals life of Chopin

 

Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin - A Play with Music

Pianist/ theater performer Hershey Felder as Chopin

Highly Recommended

Billed as “Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin – A play with music,” the title doesn’t even come close to offering clues on what to expect when you enter the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at Writers Theatre in Glencoe.

Composer Fryderyk Chopin did speak French and spent some happy times in Paris where he did have a salon. But he was Polish and longed for his country.

Hershey Felder, a highly skilled pianist and performer does become Chopin to take audiences through the composers’ short but momentous life. But to call what is on stage “a play with music” hardly does justice to Felder’s amazing dexterity at the piano and his ability to enthrall audiences with his interpretation of Chopin’ musical compositions and tragic life.

It’s a tale that bounces in both enacting Chopin’s life and playing his compositions from romantic moments to mental illness and from depression to exuberance.

Felder starts by addressing the audience as if they are music students at his salon, 9 Square d’Orleans, Paris on the afternoon of March 4, 1848.

The scenic design is by Felder who carefully researched the time, place and salon. But along with the elegant setting, audiences will also be watching the wall behind him where projections change to what is going on in Poland and Paris thanks to production manager Erik Carstensen’s excellent video Design. 

Directed by Joel Zwick, Chopin’s music and Felder’s “book” or “play” if you want to call it that, “Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin” provides an extraordinary glimpse into the life of a famous composer that is arguably little known beyond his compositions.

Felder is also known for his performances as other composers such as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Ludwig von Beethoven. 

Details: “Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin” is at  Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, IL April 10 through May 12, 2024. Running time: between 90 and 110 minutes (depends on questions from the audience) with no intermission. For tickets and more information visit Writers Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit  Theatre in Chicago

Tragic Tennessee Williams well told Streetcar

 

(Photo by Liz Lauren)

Highly recommended

Having seen Tennessee Williams “A Streetcar Named Desire” numerous times before, the wonder was how the Paramount Theatre’s “Bold Series” production could be interpreted any differently.

The answer came immediately as Blanche Dubois wandered shakily as she made her way across the small stage of the Copley Theatre, obviously having had one too many shots of the hard stuff.

In the Copley, an intimate secondary venue across the road from its parent Paramount building, the lighting design of Cat Wilson and the scenic design of Angela Weber Miller cast just the right mood for Williams’ hot and sweaty New Orleans. But the show is not really hot or sweaty. It is about a character shaped by a Southern culture. 

We might guess that when we see the almost, but not quite well-put-together Blanche as dressed by costumer designer Mara Blumenfeld, that this seemingly refined person would be the story’s tragic character.

As the long, nearly three-hour show, uncovers Blanche’s history, it no longer matters that the show is set in steamy New Orleans even though its title picks up on a real streetcar in the French Quarter that is named “Desire.”

Unlike many other productions, this interpretation is not particularly dripping with atmosphere. It is merely telling a story. And it is tells it well.

Perfectly portrayed by Amanda Drinkall, Blanche is another of Williams’ way to portray a dissolute South trying to hold on to its plantation culture.

Co-directed by Jim Corti and Elizabeth Swanson, the acting is superb. Along with Drinkall, kudos also go to Alina Taber who is believable as Blanche’s sister Stella, and to Stella’s husband, Stanley (well played by Casey Hoekstra).

Even if you have seen “Streetcar” before, see it again as a Paramount production.

Details: “A Streetcar Names Desire” is at the Copley Theatre, 8 East Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL through April 21, 2024. For tickets and more information call (630) 896-6666 or visit  Paramount Aurora.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Oh what a night with Jersey Boys

 

Jersey Boys

Highly Recommend

Seeing “Jersey Boys” is about having a great time watching a “jukebox” musical.

“Jersey Boys” must be the hardest working cast on stage in Chicago. This nearly three-hour production, now at the Mercury Theater, is a physical workout for the four primary characters. They perform over 30 musical numbers while walking us through the life and times of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

The Four Seasons were a Jersey-based rock and roll quartet that appealed nationwide to largely blue collar teens in the 1960s with songs like “Sherry” and “Walk Like A Man.”

Lead singer Frankie Valli with his distinctive falsetto transitioned successfully to the top of the pop charts as a single with “My Eyes Adored You” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” composed by his creative partner Bob Gaudio.

In this Chicago based production, the group’s founder, Tommy DiVito (Adrian Aguilar), starts the narration explaining the tumultuous beginnings of a few street-smart kids with a foggy vision of an exciting future. Tommy says their options were, “the military, the mob or music.”

As the story goes, Tommy became aware of a kid in the neighborhood, with “a voice like an angel.” It was Frankie Castelluccio or Frankie Valli (Michael Metcalf) as he came to be known.

With the help of another neighborhood friend, Joe Pesci (Grant Alexander Brown) – Yes the same guy who went on to become a famous actor – – they were introduced to Bob Gaudio (Andrew MacHaughton) a local musician and songwriter who had a recent hit with “Who Wears Short Shorts?”

The three struggled to find their sound. Ultimately, another old friend, Nick Massi (Jason Michael Evans), joined them and in a moment of inspiration they restructured themselves as the “Four Seasons.” Not inspired by Vivaldi but rather by the name of a bowling alley in New Jersey.

The final character in the puzzle is their record producer and lyricist Bob Crewe (Adam Fane) portrayed here with a good amount of humor as an over-the-top gay man with a great ear for music.

A theme running through the story is the group’s association with local mobster Gyp DeCarlo (Carl Herzog) and the fact that the boys can’t quite shake their Jersey roots.

This manifests as Tommy’s desire for largely undeserved respect, and a quest to find short cuts or easy money that he evidently felt was what led to the stature and apparent success of figures like Gyp.

The other side of the “Italian Jersey code” was a sense of honor which Valli took very seriously and is behind his arguably over developed sense of loyalty and an admirable adherence to his word.

Aguilar’s performance as Tommy carries the first act with his charming tough-guy persona. Grant Alexander Brown as Pesci and Adam Fane as Crewe interject much of the comic relief throughout the production.

MacHaughton as Gaudio lets his presence be known with an outstanding strong delivery of his first number, “Cry for Me,” and later on in “Oh What a Night.”

The weight of the production, of course, falls on the shoulders of Michael Metcalf as Frankie Valli who does an outstanding job on every level.

We see the character transition from a naïve young man to a global superstar with his own demons and life challenges. Valli’s well known falsetto is not easy, if not nearly impossible, to duplicate, but Metcalf manages it admirably.

The entire support ensemble does yeomen’s work keeping the high energy, fast-paced storyline going. Kudos specifically to Eric A. Lewis who plays Barry Belson and others who belts out a few high notes of his own.

One of the highlights of this production is the terrific orchestra led by Linda Medonia (keyboards) with Justin Kono (percussion), Jonathan Golko (bass), Samuel Shacker (guitar), Cara Strauss (reeds), and Greg Strauss (trumpet).

Jersey Boys seems as much like a great concert as it is a play with a substantial and interesting book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Whether you are coming to this as a nostalgic experience or you’re new to the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons you will be in for an entertaining event suitable for all ages (PG-17 for language).

Details: Jersey Boys at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago, IL, through May 19, 2024. Running time is about 3 hours with a 15-minute intermission. For tickets and information visit mercurytheaterchicago.com or call (773) 360-7365.\

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit TheatreinChicago

 

All Mozart Program at Lyric Opera

 

 

Lyric opera preprogram shot (J Jacobs)
Lyric opera preprogram shot (J Jacobs)

 

The Lyric Opera showcased their superb chorus and orchestra in an all Mozart program including two dramatic works, “Incidental Music from Thamos, King of Egypt” and the ever popular “Requiem.”

Conducted by Enrique Mazzola, performances were presented Friday March 22 and Sunday March 24, 2024,  with soloist Heidi Stober, soprano, Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano, Matthew Polenzani, tenor and Kyle Ketelsen, bass. Michael Black is the chorus director.

“Requiem” is arguably the most beautiful choral work ever written. It is purported that while creating the work Mozart had a premonition of his own death. The composer did indeed die before the work was fully completed causing Franz Xaver Süssmayr to be engaged to complete the task. According to program notes Süssmayr, orchestrated the Kyrie and completed the Lacrymosa.

We attended Sunday’s performance to a sold out and very appreciative audience.

Featuring the exceptional Lyric Opera chorus and orchestra the program is essentially an annual event that should not be missed.

Next year Lyric will conclude its regular season with Lyric in Concert: A Wondrous Sound, April 16 and 18, 2025. Maestro Mazzola will present an original program of some of opera’s choral favorites and most thrilling overtures, perfect for opera aficionados and newcomers alike.

The program will be designed to demonstrate the truly grand scale of the more than 100 artists of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Lyric Opera Chorus. In addition to the two performances at the Lyric Opera House, Lyric in Concert: A Wondrous Sound will also have a pair of performances presented at venues around the Chicagoland area, with more details to be announced soon.

This season tickets are available for the Rising Stars Concert April 13, 2024.

Details: Lyric Opera of Chicago is at 20 N. Wacker Dr. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera Chicago.

 

Reno Lovison

Love Jealousy War in Aida

 

Artistic designer Marquis Lewis, aka RETNA, brings a calligraphy motif to the sets of "Aida."

‘Aida’ at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Highly Recommended

 

“Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi has returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago after more than a decade. Under the direction of Francesca Zamnello and conducted by Enrique Mazzola, it is opera in the grand tradition but interpreted through a nontraditional lens. 

Military leader Radames (tenor Russell Thomas) is in love with the captive Aida (soprano Michelle Bradley) who is enslaved in the household of princess Amneris (mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton) who happens to be in love with Radames. Therein lies the love triangle and principal conflict of this epic tragedy.

Rather than opening with a traditional crowd scene with an explanation of where we are and what is to come, this opera has a cold start with Radames ruminating on his love for Aida while sitting in what is apparently the war room of the unnamed kingdom. The highlight of this scene is Radames singing of “Celeste Aida” arguably the most lyrical aria in this opera and a favorite solo piece of tenors.

Amneris passes through the room and inquires as to why Radames is so distracted. When Aida enters, Radames’ demeanor changes and Amneris begins to suspect there may be something going on between the two.

The first two acts of the four-act opera are concerned largely with the armed conflict between the kingdom in which Radames serves and the kingdom of Amonasro (baritone Reginald Smith, Jr) who, unbeknownst to everyone, is the father of Aida.

The roughly sixty-voice men’s ensemble performs a thrilling chorus of preparation for battle, and shortly thereafter, a celebration of victory with Radames as the conquering hero.

Likewise, six dramatic trumpets play an impressive, well known, Verdi fanfare that at the end of Act Two, culminates in an impressive surprise celebration with 200 cast members on stage.

The preparation for battle and victory are further punctuated by ballet scenes choreographed by Jessica Lang that feature dancer Anne O’Donnell Passero who seemingly floats across the stage with dramatic lifts and leaps in a flowing white gown with golden lining that is truly angelic.

Originally conceived as a conflict between ancient Egypt and the kingdom of Ethiopia this updated version has a dystopian post-modern and mid-century vibe.

The costumes by Anita Yavich are a kind of mixed bag with some colorful gowns and drab dresses. Military uniforms are reminiscent of the fascist regimes of WWII with some more decorative officers looking like part of the Russian Imperial Army and the priests seeming to be part of the Greek Orthodox or ancient Jewish pharisees.

The mostly monochromatic set design led by set-designer Michael Yeargan is primarily a steely gray with tone-on-tone impressions of cryptic symbols reminiscent of hieroglyphs or Chinese pictographs.

Creating a dramatic and assaulting pop of color that commands your attention, the symbols also appear painted in blood red during powerful moments and at the tops of the ceremonial staff carried by the high priest Ramfis (bass Önay Köse).

The production’s striking original concept is conceived by artistic designer RETNA, a celebrated street artist based in Los Angeles.

As Radames is celebrated, a tormented Aida admonishes herself for praying for his victory at the expense of her father and homeland.

Longing for her homeland, Aida sings the emotional aria “O patria mia.” She soon learns that her father is among the captives.

Meanwhile, the King (bass Wm. Clay Thompson) announces that he will give his daughter Amneris to Radames as reward for his victory and furthermore, will grant him any wish he desires.

In spite of his victory, Radames has pity on the countrymen of Aida for her sake and asks the King to grant the release of the prisoners of war. The King agrees to grant his wish with the caveat that Aida and her father must remain as ransom against any further reprisals.

Aida and her father conspire to persuade Radames to flee with them back to their home country. In doing so, they have him reveal further military plans. Aida is motivated by her sincere love for Radames and him for her and thus wins him over.

Almost immediately, Radames regrets his action from the point-of-view of his love of country that is in direct conflict with his love for Aida. He is shortly arrested and sentenced to death by the high priest.

The nature of Radames’ execution is to be entombed alive to suffer an agonizing death by suffocation and starvation. When his fate is sealed, he finds that Aida has hidden herself away and is entombed with him. Thus, the two are united in death while Amneris prays for the end of conflict, the peace of her lost love and peace for her grief-stricken self.

Unfortunately, this theme of conflict on a national level juxtaposed with the most intimate desires of individual lives has its roots in the ancient world and sadly no doubt is repeating itself in the world today.

Details: ‘Aida’ is performed in Italian with projected English titles at the Lyric Opera House, 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago through April 7, 2024. Running time is about 3 hours with one intermission. For tickets and information, call 312.827.5600 or go to lyricopera.org/aida.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit  Theatre in Chicago

Maple syrup time

Tapping a maple tree at Ryerson. (J Jacobs photo)
Tapping a maple tree at Ryerson. (J Jacobs photo)

That sweet gooey stuff you put on your pancakes starts with tapping maple trees. In Lake County, IL it starts with a hike through the maple trees of the Ryerson Conservation Area, 21950 N. Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods.

Operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves, the hike are going on right now, Saturdays and Sundays during the tapping season when the weather is changing and the sap is running. Most of the maple hikes have already filled up but there is still one open March 16.

“Starting a maple syrup hike is not just a journey into the woods; it’s a journey into learning about nature’s sugary secret,” said Director of Education Alyssa Firkus.

‘The temperature dictates what visitors will see along the trails’, said Environmental Educator Jen Berlinghof. “The timing for tapping maple trees comes down to temperature–above freezing during the day but still below freezing at night–plus precipitation and the hours of sunlight in a day,” Berlinghof said.

She explained that changing temperature causes the sap to surge upward from the roots toward the branches, where it helps the leaves grow and the buds bloom. Then in the summer, the leaves will produce more sap, which will settle back down in the roots by winter.

“Visitors can witness the science of turning sap from sugar maple trees into maple syrup. All registered participants can have a taste,” she said.

Tickets for Maple Syrup Hikes are required and hikes fill up quickly. Cost is $7 per person for residents and $9 for nonresidents. Children ages 3 and under are free. Purchase tickets online or call 847-968-3321. Special sessions designed for scouts or other large groups are also available. Call 847-968-3321 to register a group.

In addition, free, self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes are available March 18 through March 31. Explore the maple magic at your own pace as you stroll along a designated trail with a series of informational signs.

“Uncover the fascinating science behind the sap’s journey from tree to syrup, transforming your walk into an educational and delightful experience,” Berlinghof said.

Browse education programs and register online at LCFPD.org/calendar, or call 847-968-3321.

Other forest preserves in the Chicago area also hold maple syrup programs so check with your county’s forest preserves.

Jodie Jacobs