Dinner and a show from a theater reviewer

Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

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.

Downtown-Loop

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.

Feel free to leave your own recommendations.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

An argument for women playing Shakespearean male leads

 

John Tufts (Edmond Rostand) and Terri McMahon (Sarah Bernhardt) in Bernhardt/Hamlet at Goodman theatre. (Liz Loren photo)
John Tufts (Edmond Rostand) and Terri McMahon (Sarah Bernhardt) in Bernhardt/Hamlet at Goodman Theatre. (Liz Loren photo)

3 stars

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.

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Around Town has three exceptional theater events to put on the calendar

 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Admission: Free

For park information visit Millennium Park For the film series visit Choose Chicago/Millennium Park/Summer films.  For Goodman Theatre’s “The Music Man” visit GoodmanTheatre.

 

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.

Admission: Free.

Visit www.millenniumpark.org For more information on the Summer Concert and Broadway In Chicago, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

 

Diva Maria Callas

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.

Admission by tickets. Visit  Lyric Opera/Callas

 

Jodie Jacobs

Interesting ‘Music Man’ production on Goodman stage

 

Geoff Packard (Harold Hill) and Monica West (Marian Paroo) in 'The Music Man at Goodman (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Geoff Packard (Harold Hill) and Monica West (Marian Paroo) in ‘The Music Man at Goodman (Photo by Liz Lauren)

 

3 stars

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.

Heidi Kettenring (Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Alma Hix), Bri Sudia (Maud Dunlop), Lillian Castillo (Ethel Toffelmier) and Danielle Davis (Mrs. Squires) (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Heidi Kettenring (Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Alma Hix), Bri Sudia (Maud Dunlop), Lillian Castillo (Ethel Toffelmier) and Danielle Davis (Mrs. Squires) (Photo by Liz Lauren)

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

What is coming to theaters downtown and on the Mag Mile

 

Chicago Theater and Arts has been looking at what area theater production companies have in store for the 2019-2020 season. The lineup is impressive.

Because Chicagoland has approximately 250 companies the coming season is divided into a series that starts downtown, then winds around  Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

The series started off with Broadway in Chicago’s coming shows and now moves to other downtown theater venues including a couple on and near North Michigan Avenue.

Shows often sell out as soon as they open so best plan is to print the series, circle what you want and pick up tickets in advance.

 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. (CST photo)
Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. (CST photo)

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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.

Coming this fall are “The King’s Speech” Sept 12-Oct. 20 , “A Man of Good Hope,”  Oct. 4-13 and “Romeo and Juliet” Oct. 31-Dec. 22, 201. After the new year “Emma” is Jan 28 -March 15, 2020 followed by the Royal Shakespeare Company with a production TBA, April 1-30. The season closes with “As You Like It” April 30-June 21

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is at 800 E. Grand Ave. on Navy Pier. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Shakes or call (312) 595-5600.

 

 

Goodman Theatre on Dearborn at Randolph (Goodman photo)
Goodman Theatre on Dearborn at Randolph (Goodman photo)

Goodman Theatre

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).

Into the new 2020 year “Roe” is Jan. 18-Feb 20, (Albert). “Graveyard Shift” Feb. 7-Mar. 8 (Owen) and “Molly Sweeney” is  Mar. 7-April 12  (Albert) followed by “School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play  Mar. 27-April 26 (Owen). “American Mariachi” is April 25-May 31 (Albert). Then “The Outsiders” completes the season June 19-Aug. 2 (Albert).

Goodman Theatre is at at 170 N. Dearborn Street. For tickets and other information visit Goodman Theatre  or call (312) 443-3800.

 

 

Lookingglass Theatre is in the Historic Water Works (J Jacobs photo)
Lookingglass Theatre is in the Historic Water Works (J Jacobs photo)

Lookingglass Theatre

Located in Chicago Water Works, Lookingglass is currently doing “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” through Aug. 4 then “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” Nov. 1, 2019-Jan. 26, 2020.

The season continues with “Her Honor Jane Byrne” Feb 26-April 12, 2020. Then the ever popular, landmark production, “Lookingglass Alice,” returns May 13-Aug. 16, 2020.

Lookkingglass Theatre is at 821 N. Michigan Ave. For tickets and more information visit Lookingglass Theatre and call (312) 337-0665.

 

 

 

Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)
Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)

Lyric Opera of Chicago

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 BolenaMaria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux in a semi-staged performance of Donizetti  “The Three Queens” Dec 1-7, 2019.

The second half opens 2020 with an all-time favorite, Puccini’s  “Madam Butterfly” Feb. 6-Mar. 8. Then Tchaikovsky’s eerie “The Queen of Spades” is Feb. 15-Mar. 1 . Wagner”s Götterdämmerung” closes the Lyrics Ring cycle  April 4 & 11, 2020.

However, the lyric ends each season with a Broadway musical. In 2019 it was “West Side Story. ” For 2020 it will be “42nd Street” May 29 – June 21, 2020.

The Lyric Opera House is at 20 N.  Wacker Dr. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera/Contact or call (312) 332-2244.

 

 

Porchlight is in the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts. (J Jacobs and Ruth Page Center photo)
Porchlight is in the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts. (J Jacobs and Ruth Page Center photo)

Porchlight

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.

The year 2020 opens with Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies” Jan 24- Mar. 6. The season with the Chicago premiere of Disney’s “Freaky Friday” April 10-May 24.

Porchlight Music Theatre moved last year to the Ruth Page Center For the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Pkwy.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around town end of June

A parade of trombones, a tap dance opera and a dog invite that includes you close out June with interesting, fun events.

 

Goodman Theatre os doing a revival of 'The Music Man.' (Goodman Theatre Photo)
Goodman Theatre os doing a revival of ‘The Music Man.’ (Goodman Theatre Photo)

76 Trombones

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.

 

Chicago Tap Company's new production ends the last weekend of June 2019. (Chicago Tap Company photo)
Chicago Tap Company’s new production ends the last weekend of June 2019. (Chicago Tap Company photo)

“Saving the World”

What:  Chicago Tap Theatre’s opera-style dramatic tale of disasters colored by greed and demagoguery.

When: June 28-30 is the last weekend of this production, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Where: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

Who: Chicago Tap Theatre is a non-profit organization of tap dance professionals who put on story-based shows.

 

The Patio at Cafe Brauer is a popular pace for drinks or food with a view. (J Jacobs photo)
The Patio at Cafe Brauer is a popular pace for drinks or food with a view. (J Jacobs photo)

The Dog Days of Summer

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.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Two tales in one Shakespearean play

Kate Fry (Hermione), Dan Donohue (Leontes) and Nathan Hosner (Polixenes) in The Winter’s Tale at Goodman Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)
Kate Fry (Hermione), Dan Donohue (Leontes) and Nathan Hosner (Polixenes) in The Winter’s Tale at Goodman Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)

3 stars

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.”Read More