Chicago’s famed Gospel , Blues and Jazz festivals won’t happen until this fall (hey, it takes time to bring back their featured performers). To see who what and when visit Chicago festivals reimagined.
But the Chicago area will still be swinging, rocking and keyboarding the classics outdoors, this summer.
Check out Aurora for rock, the Grant Park Music Festival for classics and a 4th of July salute, the Windy City Smokeout bands and Ravinia Festival for all of that from rock to pop and classics.
Just west of Chicago, Aurora has a terrific rock concert line up this summer. There are a few tickets left for REO Speedwagon, July 1, 8 p.m. at the River Ridge Park. Then, on July 16 there is Tribute to Fleetwood Mac. For tickets and more concert schedule info visit Aurora Pop/Rock.
Windy City Smokeout
The popular eat, drink and good band festival takes over Parking Lot C at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, July 8-11, 2021. Headliners include Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Brett Eldredge and Darius Rucker. For more info visit Windy City Smokeout.
Grant Park Music Festival
Held in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, the longtime Chicago summer concert series starts July 2-3 with a mix of crowd pleasers from John Williams’ Summon the Heroes, Scott Joplin’s Overture to Treemonisha and a Robert Lowden arrangement of the Armed Forces Salute to pieces from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s1812 Overture and John Philip Sousa’sStars and Stripes Forever. The Festival continues with such classics as Rossini’s Overture to Willian Tell on July 7 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 on July 9-10. For complete schedule and other information visit Grant Park Music Festival
Located at the south east end of Highland Park, the historic music festival brings in world renown artists in classic, folk, pop and jazz genres, plus it is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The July schedule features pianist Jorge Frederico Osorio playing Mozart on July 9 with Marin Alsop conducting the CSO, jazz/pop singer Kurt Elling July 13 and Rock band Counting Crows, Aug. 19. For tickets, complete schedule and other information visit Ravinia.org.
Yes, the City of Chicago has reopened. However, look for your favorite festivals at different times in different formats and at different places. There are more events and new celebrations across the city’s many neighborhoods in 2021.
Don’t be Blue
Because some noted annual fests as Blues, Jazz and Gospel are arranged way ahead of performance dates but COVID interfered, plan on attending each of them in a three-hour, early-evening version this fall. As part of the city’s new “In Tune” program, they all will be free and run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in September 2021.
Gospel is Sept. 3. Hosted by Jonathan McReynolds and Inspiration 1390’s Sonya Blakely and Deandre Paterson, it will include La Shon Brown, the Carson Sisters, Nicole Harris, Illiana Torres and the Tommies Reunion Choir.
Jazz is Sept. 4. Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, it features Ari Brown, Marquis Hill and Lizz Wright.
House celebration is Sept. 11 featuring “Sanitize Your Soul,” a debut Gospel House Choir collaboration between Mark Hubbard and DJ Terry Hunter.
Blues is Sept. 18. The evening will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Alligator Records with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials and the Nick Moss Band . Also hear Dennis Gruenling, Cash Box Kings, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks.
Work off the Taste of Chicago treats after July 11. The celebration of Chicago dishes and restaurants starts July 7 but instead of everything happening in Grant Park it will be a week of pop-up food from nearly 40 eateries and take place in neighborhood markets. Plus there are cooking demos, music and community meals with local nonprofit organizations.
Pop ups are July 7, 2 -7 p.m. at Pullman City Market, July 8 from 1-7 p.m. at Austin Town Hall City Market, July 9, at 4-8 p.m. at iWEPA Mercado del Pueblo, and also at 5 -8 p.m. for Taste on Tap at Goose Island Brewery.
They continue July 10 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. at The Hatchery, and from 10 a.m. -4 p.m. at Eli’s Cheesecake Company and from 1-8 p.m. on 63rd street in the West Englewood neighborhood.
The event culminates July 11 from noon to 3 p.m. with women restaurateurs in Millennium Park.
The city’s new programs include “Chicago Presents” community events; a nine-part House City series in the neighborhoods that helped create the music genre; two Latinx and World Music celebrations; two films and more just-announced special events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion; and a mash-up of public art and dance at Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.
he Lyric Opera of Chicago has come up with an amazing substitute for the large-scale musical it produces on its large-scale stage at the end of its operatic season.
Titled “the New Classics-Songs from the New Golden Age of Music Theater,” it is about a 70-minute-long mix of dramatic, sad, wistful and powerful show numbers that some listeners will know but others may not find familiar.
And instead of coming from the Lyric’s grand stage, the production was mostly recorded back stage in an intimate, former Civic Opera space.
Hosted by David Chase who also accompanies the singers along with members of the Lyric Orchestra, the program reintroduces some notable musical theater by notable composers.
Vocalist Gavin Creel opens the program with the obscure Stephen Sondheim “What More Do I Need” from Saturday Night followed by Nikkie Renée Daniels’ wistful rendering of the well-known “The Heather on the Hill” from Brigadoon. Norm Lewis then wows with “Stars” from Les Miserables.
Jenn Gambatese changes the mood with “Gimme Gimme” (Love) from Thoroughly Modern Millie and Heath Saunders offers a moving “Something Wonderful” from The King and I.
Jo Lampert puts the best interpretation I’ve heard on “Omar Sharif” from The Band’s Visit and Amanda Castro “flamingo” taps the way to the top of her building with “Raise the Roof” from The Wild Party.
Chase segues to historic references between numbers to the Civic Opera and more show tunes sung by the cast (introduced above) that also include “Love Changes Everything” “I Will Never Leave You,” “Dear Theodosia,” ”Way Back to Paradise,” “I’d Rather be Sailing,” “Popular,” “If Only” and “Rain.”
Guess which shows those songs came from or better yet, click on the production. It premiere this Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m. CT on Lyric’s Facebook and YouTube channels. For more information visit The New Classics.
Stacey Flaster and Liz Fauntleroy, founders of Highwood, IL-based The Performer’s School, had their 40-member cast set for Les Miserables and 26-member cast for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. when Covid-19 shut down stages and venues everywhere including Ravinia Festival where they put on one of their shows.
“We didn’t know how long the quarantine would last but the kids had signed on,” said Flaster.
In addition, their staff orchestrator, editor, costumer and props people were still working on the shows and still hoped to do Les Mis and Beauty.
“So, we had to do something,” said Fauntleroy.
The something was to ask Peter Marston Sullivan, associate artistic director of Marriott Theatre and founder with wife Elizabeth Telford of the new, digital production company Marston McCoy Media, to turn the two musicals into digital productions where everyone looked as if they were performing at one time on the same stage.
The kicker was that everyone couldn’t be filmed at once. CDC and Illinois Covid protocols meant keeping everyone safe with separate rehearsals, separate costuming, separate dance moves and separate singing, but it all had to look like one show, one backdrop, one taping.
Sullivan had already been working with them on workshops and knew they needed a way to present the musicals.
In 2020 Elizabeth and I sat in our basement to experiment. We didn’t want something as bland as zoom. Then Elizabeth, sang “One Day More” for a demo to show what is possible,” said Sullivan explaining that his wife, Elizabeth Telford, was a musical theater performer who had done several shows Marriott and around Chicago.
“I sent to The Performer’s School. They said they were thinking of doing Les Mis. So we all took a risk,” he said.
“Peter came to us and said he had this idea on how to make it happen,” said Flaster. She added, “We were willing to take a chance. So we all just dived in.
“We presented it to the students. They all said yes!” said Fauntleroy.
The students involved are 26 fourth and fifth graders in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. and 40 sixth through eighth graders in the school edition of Les Miserables.
What comes across when watching either of the completed productions is that the youngsters could easily go on to post college or academy careers in musical theater. Past Performer’s School students have performed on Broadway, in regional theaters and commercials.
Flaster and Fauntleroy, explained that talent agencies, casting directors and local theaters often ask the school to suggest students for particular shows and roles.
The two school founders are themselves, veterans of Chicago area musical theater who then went on to teach workshops before founding their school eight years ago.
They noted that some of the students just enjoy performing while others are very talented, have agents already and often go on to related fields in college.
The back story is that after a few months of experimentation and six months of multiple takes of each cast member in front of the type of screen similar to one used by TV weather forecasters, the results were two astounding productions.
“It’s not like zoom. It’s a cinematic experience,” said Flaster.
Sullivan explained the process as “long” “complicated” and “layering.”
“We record the performers individually in front of a green screen then edit that so they appear to be together,” he said. “There are multiple takes with each kid, then they are cut out and all put together so then when we animate it feels like a movie.”
He added, “My wife had the great idea to have them looking where they would in a scene. So, in one take Jean Valjean would be looking left toward Marius (Pontmercy) who would be looking right in his take.”
He then edits the tapes and stacks them one behind or in front of another. “It’s hard. ‘One Day More’ took two weeks to edit,” he said. Then added, “The battle scene is amazing. It’s really layered editing, like animation.”
Sullivan said kudos had to go to TPS Music Director/editor Jeff Poindextor, “The orchestral track was all done at Marriott’s large rehearsal warehouse,” and to other staff of The Performer’s School who worked on the project.
“It’s hard, but what you see is cool. People will see what is possible,” said Sullivan. “And what was done with the students is amazing. They learned a whole different medium. The shows were perfect for film and the kids see themselves as movie stars. They’re glowing.”
“The Sound Inside,” by Adam Rapp, the Jefferson Award winning and Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright of “Red Light Winter,” is a perfect choice for Goodman Theatre’s first live performance on its Owen Theatre stage.
A 90-minute drama that will have audiences wondering what happens next, the play follows the high intensity interaction between a Yale professor who teaches a writing class and a student.
The difference in watching this play from last year’s pre-pandemic, in-person shows and the streaming plays mounted in 2020 and still going on, is that the audience is not filling Owen’s seats and that the action is not pre-taped.
Viewers are at home watching the action as it happens. (Camera angles are important and included in the photos)
Because some scenes seem to be wordy and others might make audiences who think too much information might want to fast forward, which of course, they can’t, the fact that this is live is actually good.
What may sound like background information is crucial to the psychological buildup behind each character’s behavior, responses and the play’s conclusion.
The characters are Bella Lee Baird, interpreted brilliantly by Mary Beth Fisher as a 50-something creative writing professor who is struggling with a recent diagnosis of stage 2 cancer, and Christopher Dunn, superbly played by John Drea as an antisocial, anti- technology freshman in her Reading Fiction for Craft course.
Christopher sees Twitter as an outlet for those people “scared of loneliness.” Bella who somewhat narrates the actions, describes herself as unremarkable and the equivalent of a “collectible plate on the wall.”
Not so incidentally, Rapp’s mother’s maiden name was Mary Lee Baird. She died in 1997.
Director Robert Falls cloaks the opening scenes in darkness. They mirror Bella’s mood as she describes the dark park where she comes at night when she can’t sleep. She says the park is “filled with trees that look arthritic.”
Bella then recalls her mother’s illness and death and wonders what she could have done wrong to bring on cancer because she eats healthfully and doesn’t overdo anything.
The scenes between the two characters contain a minimal number of props and lighting so that the audience can focus on Bella’s and Christopher’s changing relationship and the information slowly released about a book he is writing and about a book Bella wrote.
Among the worrisome and telling features of “The Sound Inside” is that both books are tragic and that Christopher believes good, successful authors commit suicide. He names several.
Another telling point is Christopher’s response to Bella’s use of Dostoyevsekyh’s “Crime and Punishment” to discuss antiheros as in the murder of the pawnbroker and his sister. Christopher cries, “Someday, I’m going to write a moment like that.”
“The Sound Inside,” is streaming live from May 13 –16. Running time: 90 minutes.
“Ohio state Murders’ streams live June 17-20. “I Hate It Here streams live July 15-18, 2021. Individual tickets are $30. Three productions tickets with a Live Membership is $60..
A half century ago, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson pushed for a national day that would jump start legislation and events stopping industrial pollution and remind earth’s residents of the importance of their planet’s health.
First held and celebrated in the United States with marches and programs in April 1970, Earth Day was then established as April 22 by an executive order given in July that year.
It was followed by the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation and led to the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
Earth Day is now celebrated by towns and institutions around the world. Here are some ways to celebrate and/or participate.
Check your community for cleanup and other activities.
Join the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff League of Women Voters and Lake Forest Open Lands Association to clean up the lakefront April 17 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.. Capacity if 50 people. For tickets needed to meet state protocols and more information visit Earth Day Beach Clean-up. Face mask required. Parking is at lower south beach near boat launch.
The Andersonville neighborhood invites everyone to visit the shops for special promotions during Andersonville in Bloom, April 22-25.
The EarthDay Organization
Earthday.org has three days of activities beginning April 20 and culminating in workshops and speakers on April 22. Among the topics covered are emerging green technologies, climate restoration technologies and reforestation efforts.
Art Institute of Chicago
Celebrate Earth Day with the museum’s virtual programs, live performances, conversations and art activities. Registration is needed for conversations beginning April 21, art activities beginning April 23, and performances beginning April 30. For registration and more information visit AICEarthDay Highlights.
Chicago Botanic Garden
See Earth Day/Chicago botanic Garden for loads of ideas from “Be a citizen scientist” and “Eco-friendly gardening” to “Understanding bio-diversity” and “Conservation and restoration.”
It has taken COVID’s 2020 stay-close-to home mandate to bring out a different style side of artist Mark McMahon that his many fans likely won’t recognize.
Art lovers can see the ceramic tile mural of Chicago life done by McMahon, an internationally known Lake Forest artist, if they go to Van Buren and Federal Streets downtown. Folks who remember the ceramic pictures of local life that covered the walls of a Lake Forest McDonalds can find the extensive mural over at the town’s Gorton Community Center where they were moved when the McD property was developed into a shopping strip.
Abbotts’ employees know of his stylized interpretation of the international company’s various campuses as pictured first by his dad, the famed “artist- reporter, Franklin McMahon, last century, and twice now in this century by Mark McMahon. The commissioned pictures are in Abbott’s museum.
The Abbott works are part of McMahon’s “World Studio” category that also includes paintings done in Africa , London, France, Canada, Spain and Cuba.
They and other watercolors, many of which he has translated into giclee prints, note cards and mugs, have been commissioned by companies, cities and colleges. They have also ranged from sports venues and historic events such as a NASA space shuttle launch to scenic vistas on the Great Lakes such as Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Those are paintings that tell a story. Inspired by the way his dad worked on-site, McMahon calls them “editorials.”
However, anyone stopping by The Gallery, a Lake Forest restaurant cum art venue, will see not just a sampling of McMahan’s story-telling watercolors , but also his latest works in oils and acrylics.
Set in artistically designed steel frames created by son Drew McMahon, the paintings are so very different from the story-telling works on the opposite gallery wall that a visitor could be forgiven for asking who did those.
There are eye-popping flowers plus an unusual rendering of a lion fish.
When asked about his change in style, McMahon, sitting at home with a cup of tea for the interview, said, “Wait” as he disappeared. He brought back a large canvas done in oils on site at a Lake Forest Open Lands property about 30 years ago.
If divided into close-ups, it could foretell the direction he would take decades later. But the style is different.
Even though it was done on site because that is how McMahon works, the scene didn’t begin as a line drawing followed by color as in his characteristic painting mode. Instead, the canvas appeared as an experiment in textured layers and scenic effects.
I’ve always done these on the side,” said McMahon.
His newest works focus on pattern instead of a scenic tale.
Zooming in on the shape of the flora he captures, his irises tend to to take on a Matisse-type flow.
His thistles, as in the work hanging in his and wife Carolyn’s living room, create an impact with repeated pattern. They become even more important against a forceful background color. This one is a glowing orange.
“Carolyn said this one isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying here,” said McMahon. (Carolyn, an artist who works in a variety of media, has a two dimensional metal piece attached to another living room wall.)
Another change is that he now favors icon boards over the canvas he had been using. “You feel it pulling the paint off the brush,” he said.
What hasn’t changed is working on site where he does his line work and initial painting and then, finishing the work back in his studio. He still brings his tools: an easel and box of paints to the site. “I like that spontaneity,” said McMahon.
But he attributes his adding a new style, “not technique,” to the pandemic. “I’ve had more time now with COVID,” he said.
Instead of traveling far afield to capture a story playing out at a city or college, McMahon heads to his rock garden or around the corner to the wild plants such as thistle that grow along telephone, electric and cable lines.
I’ve been doing this (painting) for 50 years,” said McMahon, 70. “The art process takes, 30-40-50 years to develop. They have evolved. Once in a while there is a good one,” he said.
(To view Mark McMahon’s work visit The Gallery, check with the Deerpath Art League’s date for its May fundraiser and go on April 29, 2021 to the City of Lake Forest Shop in the downtown train station for an event to help local non-profit organizations.)
The path back to normal begins to look more like the yellow brick road as an insightful Comics exhibition gets set to open at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago is happily welcoming more and more visitors to its Monet exhibit and the Adler Planetarium reminds folks they can explore the museum and space online by putting space projections on theMart. Plus, over in Pennsylvania the Philadelphia Museum of Art gets ready to show off the major renovation of its 1928 building by architect Frank Gehry.
Art on theMart
April . No fooling. Projections on theMart at the Chicago River and Merchandise Mart Plaza promise to fascinate drivers and walkers as they move from the Adler Planetarium’s Astrographics about how we viewed the Earth, Other Worlds, the Stars and the Beyond April 1 through July 4.
In addition, the Art Institute’s Monet and Bisa Butler’s works simultanesously go from April 1 to May 19 followed by CPS class of 2021 projects May 20 to June 26.
The timing works because the Adler’s projections are about 16 minutes so the remaining time is filled by the other partners. Projections start at 8:30 p.m. CT and continue for about 30 minutes. Then, they begin again at 9 p.m. For more information visit Art on theMart and Spring art on theMart 2021.
Also in April but online is a curated digital exposition of contemporary and modern art put together by EXPO Chicago, the organization that has annually held its highly regarded show at Navy Pier pre-COVID. It runs APRIL 8-12, 2021 and includes gallery works plus knowledgeable art sessions. For information and registration visit EXPO Chicago.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
May, With travel returning as more people get their second vaccine, visiting museums outside the Midwest sounds enticing and doable. Among the places to visit is the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see how architect Frank Gehry (designer of Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion renovated the museum’s 1928 building. The unveiling is May 7, 2021. For more information visit Philamuseum/renovation.
Museum of Contemporary Art
June brings “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now” at the MCA. “From radical newspapers to literary graphic novels, encompassing autobiography, satire, absurdism, science fiction, horror, and fiction, the exhibition foregrounds comics and cartooning as a democratic medium that allows artists to grapple with the issues of their time,” says an MCA statement about “Chicago Comics”
Running June 19 through Oct. 3, 2021, the exhibit reveals Chicago as a center for comics and cartooning. For more information visit MCA Chicago Comics.
Normally, the works of fifty-one year old American composer/arranger James Stephenson, Lake Forest, IL, are played by such orchestras as the Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the LA Philharmonic and the National Symphony.
However, on Jan. 20, 2021 in front of 40 million people watching the Biden-Harris inauguration (Nielsen ratings), his “Fanfare for Democracy” led off the three fanfares played by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.
Directed by Col. Jason K. Fettig, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band plays for inauguration ceremonies, state dinners and other White House functions. (Note: Thomas Jefferson is credited with the nickname “The President’s Own.”)
How Stephenson’s fanfare, and indeed, the theme of the US Marine Band’s music prelude to the swearing-in ceremony came to be, offers some insight into the tension surrounding the 59th quadrennial presidential election and inauguration.
“The week after the Nov.3 election had been a week of turmoil. So, on Saturday when we finally heard that Biden was confirmed, my wife (Sally) and I went for a walk with the dog. It was warm, 70 degrees, and people were out. People were feeling relieved that the democratic process had been gone through. It was energizing,” Stephenson recalled.
“I started hearing music in my head. Then, while we were having drinks and a meal with friends I couldn’t focus on that. I kept hearing the music. I went home and wrote it in five hours. It felt good. I had done my duty. It was my response,” he said.
“What I had remembered was the image of Biden and wife Jill standing on a stage in Delaware while fireworks went off in celebration of the moment. I wanted to capture that feeling,” said Stephenson.
Because the composer had previously worked with Col. Fettig, including writing a symphony that Fettig commissioned and that won the prestigious Sousa/Ostwald Competition, the idea of sending the fanfare to the U. S. Marine Band was foremost on Stephenson’s mind.
As a result, a musical fanfare program was developed.
“He said I can move some things around. Your fanfare has given me some ideas. This can be composers’ responses to American democracy,” said Stephenson.
When asked about Stephenson’s contribution to the inauguration, Col. Fettig said, “Jim and I have had a very fruitful and long-standing creative collaboration, and his music really speaks to me as an interpreter of new music. I find myself returning time and again to his music; he is such a versatile and virtuosic composer, and he has the rare ability to write for absolutely any occasion and ensemble, and hit just the right mark.”
Fettig added, “When I first heard Jim’s new fanfare inspired by the symbol of Democracy inherent in the Presidential Inauguration, it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that we would perform it live for the occasion. Jim’s music is always deeply moving, and this brief fanfare immediately and brilliantly captures the indomitable spirit of the nation for the listener.
“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to give it a featured place in the special soundtrack we crafted for this historic moment. The reception for his piece and all of the music that Marine Band performed on Wednesday has been incredible, and far beyond anything I could have imagined,” he said.
Two other composers’ fanfares completed that part of the Marine Band’s program: “Fanfare for Tomorrow.” by Altadena, CA composer Peter Boyer and “Fanfare Politeria” by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville composition professor Kimberly K Archer.
They only had 12 days to compose and send their fanfares due to the uncertainty of how and where the inauguration ceremony would take place.
Stephenson explained: “The Colonel didn’t know if the band would be playing because of what happened on Jan 6 and whether Biden would be inside or what would still take place. He did find out Sunday that the Marine Band would be playing.”
A weekend after the inauguration, Stephenson has had time to take in how everything came together.
“At the moment, I wasn’t really allowed time for reflection or celebration because both my wife and I were running around the house checking various stations on various TVs to find the one that didn’t have talking-heads constantly overcoming the music. So it ended up with me in one room and her in another trying to take in what we saw on the station we each independently found,” said Stephenson.
“Now, that I’ve found more time to go back and take it in, I’m especially excited at hearing my name spoken and announcing the world premiere in the same space of where so much history and pageantry has occurred. That was pretty cool, and I’m going to go ahead and allow myself to be a bit proud of that,” he said.
“I also think a shout-out is deserved for the Colonel, of course, but also for the members of the band. They awake at 1:30 a.m. to be there, and go through so much ritual and sitting/waiting. Then, to perform so well in such cold weather, is no small feat. They are a true testament to professionalism and talent.”
(Ed note: James Stephenson’s current project is writing a new ballet for the San Francisco Ballet called “Wooden Dimes.” A period ballet piece, it is set to premier in March on film instead of live because of the pandemic.)
Those Hanukkah candles may be just a melted memory until next year but a fun story about the celebration is still going on at Strawdog Theatre Company.
A few more performances of its yearly story: “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” continues through Dec. 20, 2020. They can be seen live on zoom at 1 and 4 p.m. this weekend.
Now a Strawdog holiday tradition, “Hershel and the Hanukkah Ggoblins” is an interactive production based on the award-winning book by Eric Kimmel and adapted by ensemble member Michael Dailey.
Even though this really is a show for young children, adults will likely get caught up in the clever ways that Hershel tricks the goblins who have infested a small village and its old synagogue.
By the eight night the Hanukkah lights can once again be lit and the holiday celebrated. Along the way, viewers learn the Hebrew letters on the Hanukkah dreidel and the blessings said over the candles.