Where to get into the Halloween spirit

 

Pumpkins and scarecrows have taken over Highwood. (J Jacobs photo)
Pumpkins and scarecrows have taken over Highwood. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival

Go to downtown Highwood, a tiny, just over a square mile North Shore city known for its restaurants, to see skeletons dressed for the season, carve pumpkins, take carnival rides and find more pumpkins than you can count.

They’re all a part of the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, this weekend. 

The Fest already began on Thursday but events continue all weekend including pumpkin carving at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at three pumpkin carving stations.

Ghostly figures climb a distillery wall of glass downtown Highwood on Sheridan Road during the Great Highwood Pumpkin festival. (J Jacobs photo)
Ghostly figures climb a distillery wall of glass downtown Highwood on Sheridan Road during the Great Highwood Pumpkin festival. (J Jacobs photo)

Anyone can carve three pumpkins to help the festival’s goals to outdo past years’ total pumpkins carved. They are in Everts Park west of the Metra tracks, at City Hall Park on the east side of the track, and at Painters Park at 424 Sheridan Road across from Buffo’s where visitors can find Interactive Skeleton Displays that re-enact dance scenes from movies and pop culture.

There’s also a carnival, three stages of music, hayrides, food vendors and Sunday costume and pie-eating contests. Signups are still available for the Pet Costume noon contest, the  Kids Costume Contest at 1 p.m. and the Pumpkin Pie Eating contest at 2 p.m.

 

Lots of Howling photo spots to take photos at Boo at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological society.
Lots of Howling photo spots to take photos at Boo at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society.

Boo!

Brookfield Zoo’s famed Boo at the Zoo festival starts Saturday and Sunday Oct. 8-9 and continues weekends in October through Oct. 22-23, 2022. What to do: Take selfies at the zoo’s funny photo spots such as a Howl-O-Scenes at the Nature Stage or the photo frames and peek boards.

Also, find the “Crazed Maize” on the West Mall open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. But don’t get lost because there are Zoo chats at the Hamill Family Play Zoo at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and at the Australia House at 3:30 p.m.. Plus, there are pumpkins for animals feeding times and a “Creepy Carousel” to take.
Get a sweet treat upon exiting from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

No costume contests this year but youngsters age 13 and younger are encouraged to wear their Halloween costume.

For more zoo information, visit CZS.org/Boo or call (708) 688-8000.

Jodie Jacobs

 

A ‘Hart’ felt story of hidden love

 

From L: Sean M. G. Caron, Mandi Corrao, and Sean Michael Barrett (Photo MadKap Productions)
From L: Sean M. G. Caron, Mandi Corrao, and Sean Michael Barrett (Photo MadKap Productions)

Recommended

The duo of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were the genius songwriters behind several hit Broadway musicals with many of their numbers going on to become standards in the Great American Songbook.

This Madkap Production of “Falling for Make Believe” at the Skokie Theatre purports to be “The Real Story Behind the Music of Rodgers and Hart,” but might more accurately be called the real story behind the suffering of Lorenz Hart.

In recent years Hart has been widely known to be an alcoholic though this reality was skillfully avoided during his lifetime and at the time of his death, as alluded to in this version of events. His homosexuality was also a tabu topic in the mid-century “don’t ask don’t tell” era, but is front and center in this updated retelling of his life by Mark Saltzman.

It is notable to mention that Saltzman began his career writing for Muppets creator Jim Henson and in an interview caused a stir when he suggested that he had created the popular characters of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple. He has also written a number of successful movies, and he demonstrates in this well written production that he knows how to tell a story and handle dialog.

The story pivots around the character of a gay farm boy from Pennsylvania, Fletcher Mecklen (Nate Hall) and his on-again-off-again relationship with Lorenz Hart (Sean Michael Barrett), known as Larry to his friends.

: Sean Michael Barrett, Nate Hall, Mandi Corrao, and Donaldson Cardenas (Photo MadKap Productions)
: Sean Michael Barrett, Nate Hall, Mandi Corrao, and Donaldson Cardenas (Photo MadKap Productions)

I could not find any reference online to an actual Fletcher Mecklen and therefore assume he is a vehicle for representing the more private, and indeed, hidden side of Hart’s life.

The story suggests that this secret pressure and his inability to openly receive love is perhaps the seminal reason behind Hart’s psychological turmoil.

It is likely a potential factor in his alcoholism, as well as possible drug addiction which is suggested here through the character of Doc Bender (Donaldson Cardenas), a sometimes talent agent and former dentist who tells us that he keeps his license up to date in order to keep his prescription pad valid.

Sean Caron portrays the long-suffering business partner Richard Rodgers who works tirelessly to keep Larry on the straight and narrow in order to keep him working but also to protect his reputation and later his legacy.

Mandi Corrao as Vivienne Segal is basically their on-call chanteuse. Cheryl Szucsits rounds out the cast playing three minor roles but is given the honor of singing “Falling in Love with Love” which features the title lyric “Falling for make believe.”

The production features a number of notable Rodgers and Hart tunes such as” Bewitched” (a/k/a Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered), “The Lady is a Tramp, ” “I Could Write a Book” and “Where or When.”

DETAILS: “Falling for Make Believe” is at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave in Downtown Skokie through Oct 16, 2022. Running time is about 90 minutes including a short intermission. Tickets can be purchased online at SkokieTheatre.org or by calling (847) 677-7761.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

‘Fiddler’ goes grand at the Lyric Opera House

 

L Tevye (Steven Skybell,and young violinist (Drake Wunderlich) in “Fiddler on the Roof.” 9 Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography)
L Tevye (Steven Skybell and young violinist (Drake Wunderlich) in “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography)

3 stars (Recommended)

That the US premiere of Komische Oper Berlin’s “Fiddler on the Roof” that opened in 2017, is on stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago now through early October.

It does more than merely fit this productions’ large-scale scenery and cast. Judging by comments heard during intermission, audience members who had not attended an opera here were dazzled by the size and make-up of the hall and building. Maybe, they will return for an opera.

Lyric’s production, directed by Barrie Kosky, definitely takes advantage of an operatic stage with its large chorus of villagers, remarkable dancers, its many main cast members and enough other actors to fill the shtetl of Anatevka in the Pale of Settlement in Imperial Russia.

Of course, when talking as writer Sholem Aleichem (the pen name of Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich) did in stories about the challenges dairyman Tevye had with his many daughters and life in a Russian village (Tevye and his Daughters) what became ‘Fiddler on the Roof” could seem operatic in nature.

The voices of the main characters and chorus and the dances choreographed by Silvarno Marraffa, particularly the spectacular “Bottle Dance,” are worth the visit to the Lyric for the show.

“Fiddler on the Roof” at the Lyric Opera House. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)
“Fiddler on the Roof” at the Lyric Opera House. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

What bothered me was that by going grand, the production, at least for me, lost the small-scale, intimate, Dickens-like peeking in the window that gave “Fiddler” the folk-tale, dream sense Jewish Russian artist Marc Chagall pictured in his works about Jewish life and his painting of the “Green Violinist” used on the program’s cover.

But what brings “Fiddler” to life now is how it ends with the Jewish villagers forced to leave back in 1905. Consider how many of the residents of the region which later became part of Ukraine, are sadly part of a war-driven exodus in 2022.

What was meaningful to me and beautifully brought out in the musical’s book by Joseph Stein, music by Jetty Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick was the underlying theme of tradition vs change.  You hear it and think about it the song “Tradition” and “Sunrise Sunset” and in Tevye’s musings with G…d.

Note: I should explain that “Fiddler” is personal. My father’s family of several sons and daughters left that region for the United States. His father whom we called Zaidi, was a tailor and they were Orthodox Jews. My father talked about how horrible the Russian Cossacks were to the villagers.

Adam Kaplan and Austen Bohmer. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg.)
Adam Kaplan and Austen Bohmer. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg.)

The “Fiddler” family in the Lyric production are Steven Skybell who is a perfect Tevye, Debbie Gravitte who is excellent as his wife, Golde, and oldest daughters Maya Jacobson as Chava, Lauren Marcus as Tzeitel, Austen Bohmer as Hodel and younger daughters, Omi Lichtenstein as Bielke and Liliana Renteria as Shprintzel. It’s the older daughters who are changing the family’s traditions.

As to their chosen mates which definitely went against tradtion, they are Drew Redington as Mote), Adam Kaplan as Perchik and Michael Nigro as Fyedka.

Mention should also be made of Yente, the Matchmaker, nicely portrayed by Joy Hermalyn and the Fiddler, Drake Wunderflich, a fifth-grader who is a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. He starts out with a scooter he trades in the opening scene for a fiddle and is on the roof in most scenes, then appears again at the end.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, now  through Oct. 7, 2022. Running time: 3 hours, 15 min. with one intermission. For tickets and more information visit lyricopera.org or call (312) 827-5600.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit  Theatre in Chicago

Horror musical about greed and power

 

Trio of Skid Row girls above watch the action with Little Shop of Horrors ledes (Photo courtesy Citadel Theatre and North Shore Camera Club)
Trio of Skid Row girls above watch the action with Little Shop of Horrors ledes (Photo courtesy Citadel Theatre and North Shore Camera Club)

Recommended

October, when you are asked to believe in the supernatural, is the perfect month to see Little Shop of Horrors at Citadel Theatre.

Director Matthew Silar, production manager Ellen Phelps and scenic designer Eric Luchen have magically figured out how to innovatively cram scenery that includes a skid row tenement stairway, a flower shop, dentist’s office and a growing-by-the-minute voracious plant with evil intentions into Citadel’s miniscule space.

Balancing the evil of the plant are the fun combo of rock and roll /doo-wop dances and songs by a trio of young skid row residents: Chiffon (Ania Martin) Crystal (Isis Elizabeth) and Ronnette (Sabrina Edwards).

The trio also move the scenery, changing an outside wall into the shop and other places as needed.

Ledes are Sam Shankman who wears well the persona of the nebbish shop employee/plant cultivator Seymour and his love interest, fellow shop employee Audrey, nicely portrayed by Dani Pike.

Unseen stars are puppet designer Matt McGee, puppeteer of the plant, Michael Dias, and Audrey II’s voice, Aaron Reese Boseman. Seymour named his plant Audrey II in honor of the girl he works with and really likes.

Secondary characters and the people the audience figure out early on will become Audrey II’s plant food, are shop owner Mr. Mushnik (Alan Ball) and Orin Serivello, D.D.C (Philip C. Matthews).

A horror musical-comedy with music by Alan Menken and lyrics and book by Howard Ashman, the story is based originally on a 1960 film noir titled “The Little Shop of Horrors.”  It was later remade into a 1986 film directed by Frank Oz.

I did see a young child in the audience but wouldn’t suggest the show for children below preteens or maybe middle schoolers who really like haunted houses.

Since nothing tried seemed to destroy Audrey II, the show is less allegorical than a statement or warning about greed and power. The characters who are originally OK with the plant’s choices in Act I have second thoughts about the plant in Act II.

DETAILS: “The Little Shop of Horrors” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 Waukegan Rd, Lake Forest, IL. now through Oct. 16, 2022.  Running time: 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and more information visit Citadel Theatre or call (847) 735-8554.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

‘Hello Dolly’ still very funny and heartfelt

 

Heidi Kettenring as Dolly at Marriott Theatre. Photos courtesy of Liz Loren)
Heidi Kettenring as Dolly at Marriott Theatre. (Photos courtesy of Liz Loren)

4 Stars

Of course, you will be leaving the Marriott Theatre production of Hello Dolly singing its famed theme song but what you are likely to be talking about is the shows fabulous choreography and fine acting.

What audience members who already had tickets for Sept. 15 might not know is that after previews, that date was the show’s new opening night. It came two weeks after the original opening Aug. 31 was canceled due to Covid among some cast members.

Possibly they might have noticed that the production didn’t include a staircase that Dolly Levi typically comes down for a grand entrance into her favorite café, Harmonia Gardens. A note with the program said there was a hydraulic problem.

The delay and staircase absence just didn’t matter. The production and performances received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Superbly directed and choreographed by Denis Jones, this old crowd-pleaser, a musical based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. is filled with wonderfully comic and heartfelt moments.

Left Alex Goodrich as Cornelius Hackl and right Spencer Davis Milford as Barnaby Tucker. in Hello Dolly at Marriott Theatre
Left Alex Goodrich as Cornelius Hackl and right Spencer Davis Milford as Barnaby Tucker. in Hello Dolly at Marriott Theatre

There is the delightful Act One scene in widow Irene Molloy’s (Rebecca Hurd) hat shop where Cornelius Hackl (Alex Goodrich) and Barnaby Tucker (Spencer Davis Milford), two young Yonkers lads in New York for a night on the town, try to hide from their employer, widower Horace Vandergelder (David C. Girolmo). He left Yonkers to meet a prospective wife with help from matchmaker Dolly Levi (Heidi Kettenring).

And, there is the hysterical moment played to the hilt by Kettenring near the end of Act II when she prolongs a hearing of before a judge that involves the show’s main characters. As everyone waits and waits, Dolly thoroughly enjoys a dinner she had started back at Harmonia Gardens and brought to the courtroom.

As to heartfelt, there is Hurd beautifully singing “Ribbons Down My Back” as she puts on one of her hat creations for her sudden date with Hackl.

There is also Kettenring bringing audience members close to tears with her rendition of “Before the Parade Passes By.”

And speaking of parades, there is a wonderful scene of New York’s  14th Street Association Parade that includes people marching with placards and banners for women’s rights.  Although set in the late 1800s, the show proves it is still relevant.

Originally directed and choreographed by Gower Champion you can expect several strong dance scenes. Marriott’s Hello Dolly delivers with Jones’ brilliant interpretations of the sentiments expressed in this Tony Award-Winning Musical with its book by Michael Stewart and music by Jerry Herman.  

Shoutouts also have to go to the Marriott Orchestra conducted by Brad Haak, to Music Director Ryan Nelson, Costume Designer Theresa Ham and to Co-Scenic Designers Jeffrey D. Kmiec and Milo Bue. They nailed the musical’s rhythms and time period.

Even though Hello Dolly opened on Broadway in 1964, matchmaking hopes are still alive today with online dating and the desire to participate in life “before the parade passes by,” is still a strong motivator.

DETAILS: Hello Dolly is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, now through Oct. 16, 2022. Running time: about 2 ½ hours with one intermission. For tickets and more information visit Marriott Theatre

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

An intimate look at the life of a film festival and its director

 

 

Michael Kutza (Photo courtesy of Michael Kuzo and Lyna O'Oconnor)
Michael Kutza (Photo courtesy of Michael Kutza and Lyna O’Oconnor)

Read Starstruck, a tell-all memoir by Michael Kutza, a Chicagoan whom international movie stars and directors know personally and whose face and name would be known to theater critics but he would not be recognized by even regular movie goers.

You will pick up info and gossip they can drop during the next Academy Awards party or when out to dinner with friends who appreciate “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson.

For instance, if you have gone to the Museum of Science and Industry and on purpose or accidently wandered into a room with a doll-house-sized castle you have seen the results of Coleen Moore’s dream

But do you know who Colleen Moore was? The recent widow of Merrill Lynch founding partner Homer Hargrave, she was instrumental in helping Kutza realize his dream.

Already an award-winning film maker and a graphic artist, Kutza wanted to form and maintain an international film festival in Chicago before any film festival existed in the U.S. such as Sundance and before most film festivals such as Toronto popped up all over the world.

Irv Kupcinet who introduced the two of them and is mentioned several times in the book, is simply described as saying Colleen Moore as a “silent movie star.” Kutza describes her as a “real-life Auntie Mame.”

Mostly called Colleen in the book, she was that and much more. You learn that she knew the right people.

And because she loved film and its stars plus knew the movers and shakers – the men and women, who helped get things done in the arts, she adopted Kutza’s idea of having an international film festival in Chicago.

Starstruck by Michael Kutza ( Photo of cover by Jodie Jacobs)
Starstruck by Michael Kutza ( Photo of cover by Jodie Jacobs)

Now you get it. At the young age of 22, Kutza, a West Side (as he says) son of two doctors who expected him to go to medical school, had fallen in love with film and wanted to make more available to the public than standard Hollywood fare. He also wanted film directors, producers and actors to know Chicago.

You learn that Colleen’s friend, Joan Crawford gave Kutza a pair of glasses to make him look older than 22 so people would listen to him.

That was back in 1964, the birth year of the Chicago International Film Festival when things started to come together. The next year, 1965, was the Chicago International Film Festival’s first year of operation with screenings and awards.

Ten years later in 1975, the Chicago Festival held the world premier of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” attended by Jack Nicholson and cast. The film later won an Oscar as Best Picture.

Reading Starstruck, you understand that Kutza realized his dream. The list of premiers and directors who first showed their films in Chicago is long and ranges from Oliver Stone in the United States to Liv Ullman in Norway with dozens more from other countries in between.  

Kutza retired as director of the Chicago Festival in 2018 when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Cinema/Chicago, now the presenter of the Chicago International Film Festival with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Starstruck takes you on Kutza’s fascinating journey from the Chicago Festival’s inception to its many awards and film screenings without covering up mistakes, bumps, triumphs and bare bodies.

Reading it reminded me of interviews I’ve done with hotel concierges who spoke of celebrity requests from alcohol and drugs to sex partners.

Yes, star peccadillos are in there. But you also feel closer to the celebrities and film makers Kutza has worked with during his tenure including silent screen star Colleen Moore Hargrave.

You learn that the original “Star is Born” story was that of Colleen’s success and the downhill trajectory of her husband at the time, John McCormick, including his attempted suicide walking into the ocean.

Starstruck by Michael Kutza is published by BearManor Media, 2022.

(The Chicago International Film Festival this year is Oct. 12-23, 2022). 

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Festivals that celebrate fall

 

 

Brookfield Zoo is celebrating Fall Sept. 24 with German music and food. (Photo courtesy of Brookfield Zoo)
Brookfield Zoo is celebrating Fall Sept. 24 with German music and food. (Photo courtesy of Brookfield Zoo)

If leaves are beginning to cover your driveway, balcony or lawn it must be time for a Fall Fest. October will be about pumpkins and scarecrows but now let’s celebrate Fall in September in towns and fun destinations in and around Chicago

 

Sept. 9-11 Geneva Festival of the Vine

Hosted by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, the fest is at south Fourth and James Streets. Similar to the way Taste of Chicago was before the pandemic, wine, beer and food is by tickets. Admission is $40 for 20 tickets. Hours: Fri-Sat are noon-10 p.m. Sun. is noon-5 p.m. For more information visit Geneva Chamber Festival of the Vine or call (630-232-6060.

 

Sept. 10 Gurnee Fall Fest

Held at Hutchins Athletic Field in Grandwood Park, 36753 N. Hutchins Road, (Gurnee), there will be food trucks, games, music and fireworks. Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information visit Grandwood Park Fall Fest.

 

Sept 16-17 Highland Park Oktoberfest

The Lot at 523 Central Ave. is turned into a beer garden from 4 to 10 p.m. It’s an evening to eat, drink, relax and come together. For more information visit Enjoy Highland Park. or call 847-432-0800.

 

Sept 22-25 Huntley Fall Festival

Hosted by the town, park district and civic organizations, the festival features entertainment, food, and carnival activities. The event is at Deicke Park and the Huntley Park District Recreation Center Complex, 12015 Mill St. Admission is free. Hours: Thursday 6pm – 10 p.m., Friday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 11. p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 7.p.m. For more information visit Huntley fall fest. Or call 847-669-8935.

 

Sept. 24 Brookfield Zoo Oktoberfest

Sponsored  by Leinenkugel’s, the Oktoberfest will have German food and, of course, beer. Polka music will be going from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. The fest is on the East Mall. Brookfield Zoo is at 3300 Golf Rd. Brookfield. Admission is $17.95-$24.95 and parking is $15. For more information visit czs.org/Oktoberfest or call 708-688-8347.

 

Sept. 24-25 Libertyville Fall on the Farm

The festival is a chance to visit Lambs Farm, 14245 W. Rockland Road, to see its animals, take a barrel train ride and touch a tractor provided by the Lake County Farm Heritage Association.  There will also be craftgs, games and inflatables for kids. Hours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m

Admission is $8 adults, and $15 children.  However, no admission fee needed for the DJ, food and beer tent, and vendor fair or visit to the country Store. For more information visit lambsfarm.org/event/fall-on-the-farm-2.

Have a fun  fall

Jodie Jacobs

Find a rainbow of fun at the Color Factory

 

Inspired by the city’s St. Patricks’s Day traditions as well as notable sites and sights like Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, baseball fields and the oldest L line , our custom green ball pit is a joy whether you’re 2 or 200. (IPhoto courtesy of the Color Factory)

 

What is the Color Factory?  Is it an art museum, a place to learn, or an interactive experience? Actually, it’s all three. It’s experiential.

Located in downtown Chicago’s Willis Tower, the Color Factory is more than 25,000 sq. ft. of interactive rooms and activities designed to stimulate your imagination. 

The third permanent installation in the U.S., the company has other locations in New York and Houston.  Each Color Factory embraces its city with a unique color palette and provides a multi-sensory interactive art experience with multi-sensory installations, immersive rooms, and carefully curated moments.

This joy of color celebrates artists, art institutions, nonprofits, and brand partners to bring more art and color to the world.

Working in partnership with photographer and South Side native, Akilah Townsend, the palette celebrates some of Chicago’s most iconic elements and neighborhoods.

Colors from Chicago’s exclusive Rainbow Cone (think ice cream), the dyed Chicago River (St. Patrick’s Day celebration), Lake Michigan, and the beloved Chicago flag are the stars.

It’s called the 36Chicago Color Palette and you’ll find these colors infused throughout the museum. Mirrors create layers of images in multi-sensory rooms to get lost in.

 

At the color Factory in Willis Tower see Artist Camille Walala’s 1,500 square foot maze that with patterns inspired by Chicago architecture. ( Photo courtesy of the Color Factory)
At the Color Factory in Willis Tower see Artist Camille Walala’s 1,500 square foot maze with patterns inspired by Chicago architecture.  (Photo courtesy of the Color Factory)

 

If you go: 

Get your brain wired for a color explosion as you enter the multi-hued walkway.  Check out more than a dozen immersive spaces that tap into all five senses – taste, touch, sight, scent, and sound. Enjoy sweet treats along the way, like delicious (and colorful) macaroons revolving out of a conveyer belt or a green Kurimu honeydew ice cream cone.

 Taste and identify different flavors of “pop rocks.” Take lots of selfies, free with your QR code in each of the rooms. Touch the lightweight colorful balloons and watch them move through space. There was even a chance to quietly sit and draw the person sitting across from you.

The mint green ball pit was a fan- favorite!  The Color Factory is great for kids, teens, and adults. There are enough activities with more sophisticated options to keep everyone happy. Plan to spend around 90 minutes enjoying the Color Factory fully.

DETAILS: The Color Factory is at Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago as an open run.

 For more information, go to ColorFactory.  To receive further updates on Color Factory Chicago, sign up at ColorFactoryChicago.

Mira Temkin

Dracula

L-R Connor Brennan, Madeline Logan, Chris Jensen, Howard Raik. in Dracula at The Raven. (Photo: Joe Mazza)
L-R Connor Brennan, Madeline Logan, Chris Jensen, Howard Raik. in Dracula at The Raven. (Photo: Joe Mazza)

4 Stars

If your idea of summer fun included telling spooky tales around the campfire or listening to audiobooks during your cross-country road trip you might enjoy beginning the fall theater season with Brian McKnight’s “Dracula,” a Glass Apple Theatre production at the Raven. 

Based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, the production is an exciting world premiere stage adaptation of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio drama “Dracula.” And it is just in time to prepare your mind for Halloween.

Adapted and directed by McKnight, the show weaves an ominous adventure of suspense centered around the identity and mysterious intentions of the pale skinned Transylvanian Count Dracula portrayed by Andrew Bosworth.

The mystery drives Johnathan Harker played by Chris Jensen, nearly insane and sends his wife, Mina (Madeline Logan), to the edge of her grave.

Meanwhile, Dr. Seward (Connor Brennan) reaches out to the more experienced Dr. Van Helsing (Howard Raik) in a desperate attempt to understand what malady affects the fragile Lucy Westenra (Katie O’Neill), who was Mina’s best friend and in the original story probably was the Count’s first victim.

There’s an eerie old castle, a graveyard, an endangered ship at sea and a number of strange boxes with their curious contents that all have to be puzzled out to save the country from the bloody curse of the undead.

This World Premiere hybrid radio-drama is performed in evocative 19th century period costumes by designer Tina Haglund Spitza (with assistance of Cheryl Snodgrass).

To add dimension to this narrated drama, it is performed in front of projected back wall imagery by scenic designer Lauren Nichols (with Alyssa Mohn).

DETAILS: Orson Welles’ Dracula is onstage at the Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL through September 25, 2022. Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission.  Ticket information is available at glassappletheatre.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Around Town in July: Find fun musical show outdoors and interesting artworks indoors

 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's annual Shake Fest
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s annual Shake Fest

Check Chicago Park District neighborhood parks for pop, hip hop and blues takes on William Shakespeare’s words thanks to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Shakes Fest.  

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater has partnered with local music and dance groups to bring a musical revue of the Bard’s words to six CPD parks where their antics prove that the Bard isn’t boring. Shows are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in different Chicago neighborhoods. They all start at 6:30 p.m.

So bring a chair or blanket this week to West Pullman Park, 401 W. 123rd St. on July 14, to the West Town Ukranian Village’s Eckhart Park, 1330 W. Chicago Ave on July 15 or Little V neighborhood’s Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St. on July 16.

Or go next week to Austin’s neighborhood Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Ave. on July 21, Englewood’s Ogden Park, 6500 S. Racine Ave., July 22 or Chinatown’s
Ping Tom Memorial Park, 1700 S. Wentworth Ave., July 23.

For more information visit Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Shakes Fest.

 

 

American Framing at Wrightwood 659
American Framing at Wrightwood 659

Get to know Wrightwood 659 , an unusual exhibition space west of Clark Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Housed in what appears to be just a four or 5-story building outside, Wrightwood 659 has open spaces, stairwells and changeable exhibition spaces for art and architecture exhibits, inside.

Currently there are four very different exhibits on view that are up only through July 30, 2022: “American Framing,” “Rirkrit Tiravanija: Who’s afraid of yellow, red and green,” “Moga: Modern women and daughters in 1930’s Japan and “We shall defy: Shahidul Alam.”

For more information visit Wrightwood 659/exhibitions

 

Jodie Jacobs