Lights are out not just on New York’s famed Broadway. Because the Coronavirus is so contagious, most of the stages in Chicago, considered the most prolific theater production community in the U.S, have also temporarily dimmed their lights, according to League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp. (And yes, some spell theater as theatre).
The decision was made shortly after Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged that public gatherings of more than 250 people be suspended until possibly May 1. The mandated temporary suspension was for gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
“The safety and health of our audiences, artists and theatre staff remains our highest priority,” said Clapp. “As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, we will continue to share with our member organizations precautions they can take as outlined by federal health authorities and state and local officials to ensure that theatres are ready to welcome patrons back after this temporary shut-down.”
Capp noted that the League is working to support members with venues fewer than 250 as they decide the best course of action for their individual venues. She also suggested that theater patrons who already have tickets should contact those theaters for more information.
In a separate statement, Goodman Theatre announced its suspension of performances beginning March 13. The action affects the Chicago premiere of Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” directed by Lili-Anne Brown that was slated to open March 16.
The opening of Brian Friel’s “Molly Sweeney” directed by Robert Falls, has been postponed to April 20.
“Goodman Theatre prioritizes the health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff,” said a joint statement released by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer.
The statement went on to say, “We hope this action will help the nationwide endeavor to contain this devastating virus. We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds and communicate plans for the future. We are grateful for all that our artists and staff have invested in this production, and appreciate our audience and patrons’ understanding and support during these unprecedented times.”
Goodman options for ticket holders included a credit towards a future Goodman production or a tax deduction for the total value. Goodman Patron Services will be in touch to make arrangements, or patrons can email BoxOffice@GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.3800. Tickets to future productions continue to be available. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org for the latest updates.
Theater critics tend to return to the same places before covering a show. They are not usually the upscale places gone to for a special occasion or the newest eatery with a gourmet menu or “in” vibe. They have good food and are convenient to the venues.
Here are my recommendations based on experience for two downtown theaters ( I use theater spelled er) and two places in the northern suburbs. More areas later.
When going to the Goodman Theatre 170 N Dearborn St. or James M Nederlander Theatre, a Broadway in Chicago venue at 24 W. Randolph St., I reserve a table in the bar at Petterinos (312-422-0150, 150 N. Dearborn St.) at the corner of Dearborn and Randolph Streets.
The bartenders here are terrific. They serve their patrons quickly when they know they have a show. And I like the fried calamari when looking for something light and the amazing chicken pot pie when cold weather calls for a dish to warm the insides.
The restaurant is literally next door to Goodman and just a few steps across Dearborn to the Nederlander (former Oriental). I take public transportation but Petterinos has a valet service for customers who want to park there and see a show.
Downtown – Mag Mile
There are lots of places to dine on and near the Magnificent Mile. But when reviewing a show at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N Michigan Ave. in the historic Water Tower Water Works on the east side of the Water Tower campus or at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., I reserve a table at Mity-Nice Grill on the Mezzanine Level of Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave., 312.335.4745).
I like their veggie burger and their salads and that they bring tiny Yorkshire pudding bites to start the meal.
North Suburbs – Lincolnshire
I look forward to dining at the Three Embers Restaurant in the Marriott Resort, 10 Marriott Dr., when reviewing a show at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.
Executive Chef Pierre Daval and Chef de Cuisine Jesus (Chuy) Medina are currently showcasing their Harvest Dinner. At Three Embers, diners get honey butter for their rolls that is a taste treat made with honey from Daval’s beehives on the property. I also love the Honey BBQ Brisket with smoked grits. But I’m thinking of trying the Sea Scallops dish with butternut squash and a maple glace when I go for the next show because squash and maple are too seasonal to pass up.
North Suburbs – Skokie
Across the road from Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, is a small strip mall that contains the popular Bonefish Grill at 9310 Skokie Blvd. Yes, you need a reservation and tell the waitperson you are going to a show.
I like the restaurant’s bread and dipping oil, its Caesar Salad and any shrimp dish with a variety of sauces.
In “Bernhardt/Hamlet” now playing at Goodman Theatre, prolific playwright, screenwriter and novelist, Theresa Rebeck has pulled back the curtain on a real happening, populated by real people. She colors it with witty, fictionalized dialogue in the first act.
Rebeck’s heroine, the incomparable French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, born Henriette-Rosine Bernard in 1844, had played Dumas’ “La Dame Aux Camelias,” which is repeatedly mentioned in the play as no longer a suitable role for an aging actress.
And she was in “L’Aiglon,” written by her lover, Edmond Rostand, a main character in “Bernhardt/Hamlet” played by John Tufts.
Just as important, is that Bernhard really did play male parts including Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which she preferred to Ophelia and Gertrude, and she did have to argue about those choices with the critics. But, after all, she was Bernhardt. By the way, her “L’Aiglon” role was as the Duc.
Think “The Music Man.” Then add such shows as “Come From Away,” “Frozen” and “Hamilton.” But as the guy on TV says, “Wait, there’s more.” Add in opera star Maria Callas to make three spectacular evenings – one in July, another in August and the third one in early September.
“The Music Man”
Goodman Theatre and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has a double bill of a short performance by “The Music Man” cast members followed by a screening of the movie featuring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.
When: July 23, 6:30 p.m. remarks, 6:34 p.m. performance and 6:45 p.m. film.
Where: The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and The Great Lawn at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue.
Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert (Coming shows peek)
Co-sponsored by DCASE and ABC 7, several shows from Broadway In Chicago’s 2019-2020 season will be live in concert including “The Phantom of the Opera, The Band’s visit, Summer: the Donna summer Musical, “Once on this Island, “My Fair Lady”, “Mean Girls,” Hamilton” Fronzen, “Dear Evan Hansen and “Come from Away.”
When: Aug. 12 at 6:15 p.m
Where: Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 201 E. randolphg st.
Some of Callas’ greatest performances have been digitally re-mastered using state-of-the-art 3D hologram technology by Base Hologram Productions. They will be backed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Elmear Noone.
When: Sept 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive.
Co-presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Live Nation.
If old enough to have seen and loved the 1962 film “The Music Man” you’ll likely be expecting someone like Robert Preston to be portraying con man Harold Hill and someone like Shirley Jones as the reserved librarian/music teacher Marian Paroo in the production now playing at Goodman Theatre.
And maybe you would expect the townsfolk to be human beings rather than stereotyped small-town farm characters.
Helmed by the amazingly creative Mary Zimmerman, the Goodman show has several fun moments from the superb opening “Rock Island” salesmen (and woman) train scene and the “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” hen-clucking number to the delightful quartets by formerly bickering board members.
But the strong emotions of the lead characters and townsfolk found in the film, the Broadway revivals and some other Chicago and regional productions are missing.
Part of the problem may be that even though the dancers are excellent, the many dance numbers run too long in a show that really is about changing people’s attitudes.
That change was accorded a small nod at the end. However, I was disappointed that the band didn’t march onto the stage from the wings in a more stirring finale.
Broadway and national tour regular and Chicago stage veteran Geoff Packard does an OK impression of Harold Hill but something seems to be lacking in his interaction with Paroo played by Chicago and regional theater veteran Monica West. They have the credentials, (a request often asked of Hill by River city’s mayor) but their interaction seems more surface than substance.
Chicago actor Mary Ernster was delightful as usual as mom Mrs. Paroo. And a shout-out goes to the charming quartet of James Konicek, Christopher Kale Jones, Jeremy Peter Johnson and Jonathan Schwart.
The production is worth seeing for the fine book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, the excellent musical direction by Jermaine Hill (not related) and hearing the exciting “Seventy Six Trombones.”
DETAILS: “The Music Man” is at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, through Aug. 18, 2019. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3811 and visit Goodman Theatre.
Located on the city’s popular Navy Pier, CST is currently doing “Six” a fun, pop-concert-style musical about Henry VIII’s wives that has been so popular it’s been extended through Aug. 4. Also there is the family musical “The Wizard of Oz” which opens July 6 and continues through Aug. 25, 2019.
The theatre is on Dearborn Street at Randolph Street near downtown attractions such as Millennium Park and the city’s Piccasso. Shows are on stage in the Albert Theatre and smaller Owen Theatre.
Currently, Goodman is doing “The Music Man” helmed by famed director Mary Zimmerman, June 29-Aug. 11, 2019 (Albert). Then “Hanna H. is Sept. 6-Oct. 6 (Owen) and “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” Sept. 14- Oct. 20 (Albert). “A Christmas Carol,” a family holiday favorite, continues for its 42nd annual production Nov. 16 – Dec. 29, 2019 (Albert).
The Lyric Opera House. a historic building on north Wacker Drive at Madison Street, will resound with the sounds of Rossini and Verdi, Wagner and (Jake) HeggieL as the 2019-2020 season mixes the popular with the provocative.
Opening the season is Rossini’s popular “The Barber of Seville” Sept. 28-Oct. 27 followed by Verdi’s “Luisa Miller”Oct. 12-31. Then Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s unusual “Dead Man Walking” opera is Nov. 2-11. The series returns to the classics with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Nov. 14-Dec. 8 but offers a gorgeous vocal treat with Sondra Radvanovsky singing the finales of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux in a semi-staged performance of Donizetti “The Three Queens” Dec 1-7, 2019.
Now located in the Ruth Page Center, Porchlight will open the 2019-20 season with “Sings: 25 years of Porchlight,” a benefit concert Aug. 5 that celebrates its past 25 years on Chicago’s musical theater scene.
A leading lady of Chgo theater, Hollis Resnik, makes her Porchlight debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” Oct. 11- Nov. 24. However, there will also be a quick revisit to Irving Berlin’s “Cal Me Madam,” Nov. 20-21. Next is the Ruffians’ “Burning Bluebeard” Dec 13-27.
What: To celebrate the revival of “The Music Man” that starts Saturday in its Albert Theatre, Goodman Theatre will hold a parade of more than 76 Chicago area trombonists and percussionists performing the show’s famed tune.
When: Friday, June 28 beginning at 1 p.m.
Where: The parade tarts at Goodman theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, then continues to Daley Plaza (50 N. Washington St., then returns to Goodman about 1:15 to do an encore .
Who: The parade is in partnership with Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles that includes LGBTQ members and friends.
What: A dog-friendly brunch where they can play and get treats while their people show down.
Where: The Patio that is the rear end of the historic Brauer building in Lincoln Park Zoo at 2021 N. Stockton Dr.
When: June 30 from 9 to 11 a.m. Reservations needed. Call (312) 507-9053
Who: The Patio at Cafe Brauer at the back of a Prairie School-style landmark is a popular summer cocktail and lunch stop that overlooks the pond at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and its view of the Chicago skyline. Bentley’s Pets will have gift bags for the dogs.
How you react to “The Winter’s Tale” at Goodman Theatre depends on if you like an intensely acted, disturbing tragedy immediately followed by a whimsical, comedic romance that tries to make the tragedy all right in the end.
Among William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) late plays (published in the 1623 First Folio) is “The Winter’s Tale” which combines many of his themes such as murderous jealousy as in “Othello” with comedy and romance similar to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Expect to see unconscionable actions and reactions during the tragedy but Act I ends with a foretelling of funny things to come by a bleating shepherd and his son followed by the personification of a wildly announced “Time.” Continue reading “Two tales in one Shakespearean play”