t is easy to miss events when September ends on a Friday and October starts on a weekend. Plus, a COVID break of events for two years changed when some events are re-appearing.
American Craft Expo
Sept. 30 through Oct. 2
Usually held earlier in the year, ACE, as the art exposition is known, will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden again but runs this weekend on the cusp of September/October. A top-notch show of works from100 juried-in artisans, ACE is sponsored by the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem and is a fundraiser for NorthShore research and care.
Hours: Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden and American Craft Expo. Chicago Botanic Garden, CBG/ACE and American Craft Expo.
World Music Festival Chicago
Sept 30 through Oct. 9
The festival has free band concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and locations across the city from restaurants and bars to the University of Chicago. Its artists and ensembles represent 22 countries and areas. A special feature is Ragamala, the largest all-night long presentation of live Indian classical music in the United States. For more information visit World Music Festival Chicago. For the bands and locations visit Schedule.
Fiddler on the Roof
Oct. 2 through Oct. 7
Opera director Berrie Kosky premiered his “Fiddler on the Roof” at Komische Oper Berlin in 2017. Now it has been adapted by the Lyric Opera of Chicago for its US premiere, but it leaves soon.
Both Grand, with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus and powerful with fine acting and exceptional dances, “Fiddler” visits the village of Anatevka in 1905 in what became Ukraine (and in 2022 is a war zone.) Lectures on operas and shows are one hour before curtain time.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago is at 20 N. Wacker Dr. For tickets and more information visi. Lyric Opera and call (312) 332-2244.
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.
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.
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.
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 FrankOz.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Background: It all started with Ludwig I. Born in 1786 in Strasbourg, France on the border with Alsace, Germany, (becoming king in 1825), Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on Oct.12, 1810.
Thus, the Oktoberfest to beat all others today started in 1810 to celebrate their marriage. It takes place Sept. 17 through Oct. 3 on the Theresienwiese, a fairground that held the original fields where Ludwig had invited citizens to gather for the wedding celebration. But that is a long name, so the fairgrounds are also called d’Wiesn and the type of beer drunk at Oktoberfest there is also calaled Wiesn.
Or visit one of the following Oktoberfests in and near Chicago, beginning this weekend.
Sept 9-11 – German American Oktoberfest At Lincoln Square in Chicago, it is held by the United German-American Societies of Greater Chicago. A no fee event, it features entertainment, dancing and authentic German Gementuchkeit (food) in tents at Lincoln and Leland Avenues. Its annual Steuben Parade is Sept. 10, 2 p.m. at Lincoln and Irving Park Rd.
Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Sept 9, with opening ceremony at 8 p.m., noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 10 and noon to 10 Sept. 11.
The longtime German restaurant at 17 W. Adams St., Chicago, is celebrating Oktoberfest with German music and beer. See the menu (and get a pretzel) and full music schedule, Thursday-Saturday at Berghoff Oktoberfest.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Palatine as a fundraiser, the Oktoberfest is a free event but money raised supports local charities. The fest features German food, music, beer and wine.
Hours: Family Day with face painting and other activities is Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. German music is 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The event is under a large, heated tent downtown Palatine.
Rated among the 10 best Oktoberfests by USA today in 2015, the event is hosted by St. Alphonsus Church, 1429 Wellington Ave. in tghe West Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Admission is $10. It features food, beer tastings and music on two stages.
Hours: 5-10 Friday, noon – 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, for specific band times and other information visit Oktoberfest Chicago.
Held in Naperville west of Chicago, the event benefits the town’s Naperville Heritage Society/Naper Settlement, a large, walkable historic patch of “yesterday.” The event is in a large tent near the Naper settlement for food, dancing and entertainment by polka and classic rock bands. Admission is $20 adults and $15 children 4-12 . Find food choices and drinks at Oktoberfest Menu.. Hours: Sept. 30, 5-10 p.m., Oct. 1, 3-10 p.m.
You don’t have to go out of town to find something different to do Labor Day Weekend 2022. In Chicago go over to the United Center where the Bulls are generating excitement for their 2022-23 season with Bulls Fest. Or drive up to north suburban Highwood for the sounds and tastes of Nashville.
Go over to the United Center, 1901 Madison St. Sept. 3-4 for entertainment, street food, Bulls and basketball related art and memorabilia and a hoops tournament. Find schedule information here at NBS BullsFest.
The BEATS stage sponsored by Michelob Ultra features Da Brat, G Herbo, Sixteen candles, The Trippin’ Billies, Benny and the Luvabulls.
Food and drinks are sold outside the UC on Madison Street.
The event basically goes from 8 a.m to 10 p.m. both days. Admission is free.For more information visit Bulls Fest 2022.
Known as restaurant town, arguably for more restaurants within its slightly over square mile limits compared to any other small town in Illinois, Highwood is adding Nashville’s sounds to its streets, bars and restaurants Sept. 2-4, 2022.
Folks can where cowboy boots and hats, hear Country, Blues, Bluegrass and Southern Rock bands and singers. Along with Highwood’s regular restaurant choices there will be Southern-style food and drink specials.
Also, visitors can ride the Nashwood Hop On to do a loop to restaurants and bars. The event is free with no cover charges but tip jars will be out.
Nashwood will run Friday from 5 p.m. until-bar close, Saturday from noon to bar close. Sunday times vary according to venue. An All-Ages Stage will be at the Chicago Mike’s Ice Cream Co. and Tala Coffee Roasters parking lot/patios.
Move the bod or just sit back and charge up your mood at the free Chicago Jazz Festiva, downtown Thursday, Sept 1 through Sunday, Sept 4.
The annual event is produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) with programming by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
Today, Sept 1 go to Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Ave. between Randolph and Washington Streets then tonight, listen to jazz in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
During the day Sept 2, 3 and 4, head to the Harris Theater rooftop (enter on Randoph St.) or go over to the Von Freeman Pavilion (North Promenade). Then late afternoon and early evening meander over to the Pritzker Pavilion.
Note: outside alcohol not allowed but vendors will have driniks at the venues.
Go to an art fair in a suburb you may not have visited before or very often.
Fair on the Square, presented by the Deer Path Art League Sunday and Monday, Sept. 4-5, attracts local and nationally known artists.
Considered among the Chicago area’s oldest art fairs, it is held downtown Lake Forest on the west side of the METRA tracks.
The art fair is also a chance to see the suburb’s historic downtown which is listed among the country’s earliest outdoor shopping malls. Look up at the Square’s architecture to see some hidden niches and nooks.
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 36 –Chicago 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.
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.