There is a wide selection of winter shows, some of which you might miss in 2022, depending on your usual theater subscriptions and play going habits, So, here are a half-dozen to add to your list with some theaters in Chicago and some in the suburbs.
“Groundhog Day: The Musical” opens at Paramount Theatre at 23 E. Galena Blvd, Aurora on Jan. 26. Visit Paramount Theatre. Based on the Bill Murray comedy, the book was written by Danny Rubin with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
“Agatha Christie’s Secret Council, a world premiere by David Rice featuring Christie’s sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence,” opens Jan. 29. at First Folio at the Mayslake Peabody Estate 31st St. & Rt. 83, Oakbrook.
“Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson, opened Jan.22 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Chicago.
“West Side Story” opens at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, Feb. 2.
“When There Are Nine,” a play featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, opens at Pride Arts’ Broadway Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago Feb. 10.
“Outside Mullingar,” by John Patrick Shanley opens at Citadel theatre 300 Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, Feb. 11. Citadel Theatre
When you need a break from working at home, catching up with spring cleaning because you’re at home, or dashing to the grocery store for comfort food, go to a portal to one of Chicago’s arts organization.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Marriott Theatre and Second City are among those places reaching out with fascinating info, lively videos and home classes.
The cast of “Kiss Me, Kate, Marriott Theatre’s next show in Lincolnshire, has taped interviews and videos. Visit this youtube channel to see and hear from the artists but also go to the videos on the site that have segments from such recent shows as”Grease.”
Maybe you know that past students of The Second City Training Center include Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. But even if you don’t aspire to the national comedy limelight, a Second City class would liven up the stay at home experience.
Starting today, March 23, 2020, the Training Center has online classes at different price points and lengths.
“As social distancing separates us physically, we’ve had to improvise the ways we hang out and remain connected. The Second City Training Center immediately rose to the challenge in pioneering new ways, andsays Second City Hollywood Artistic Director Joshua Funk.
Joshua Funk, Second City’s Hollywood Artistic Director, announced that the entire curriculum has been adapted for online compatibility. “Turns out, improv works online! If we all need to hunker down for a while, it’s essential that we are still able to spend time together and laugh,” Funk said.
The faculty in Chicago, Toronto, and Hollywood and over 100 students beta tested the new classes over the last week, according to Abby Wagner, Training Center Vice President. “They’ve proven to be both educational and a true lifeline of communication in these strange and isolating times,” Wagner said.
Classes require Internet and web camera access. Pajamas are optional. Classes ranges from one-time drop-in to 4 weeks and 8 weeks and are for all ages. For more information visit Second City From Your Couch.
Director Scott Weinstein has chosen a cast that works together beautifully in Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s hit musical, “Grease,” a two-hour snapshot of late 1950’s Chicago-area (William Howard Taft High School) teenagers dealing with peer pressure, physical attraction and values.
Named after youth who called themselves greasers, the musical looks in on the lives of two groups at fictional Rydell High School, the Burger Palace Boys who sport leather jackets and their girl friends, the Pink Ladies. Nerds, cheerleaders and teachers also put in appearances.
Marriott Theatre’s “Oliver!” is among the best productions of a Charles Dickens-based show that, unlike “A Christmas Carol,” has few redeeming factors.
Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist, an 1838-39 novel revealing England’s brutal underbelly at the time, contains the excellent “Where is Love?” “As Long as He Needs Me” and “Consider Yourself (one of us)” musical numbers.
The story features Fagin, an aging thief characterized by Dickens as a Jew who teaches youngsters how to pick pockets. However, Marriott has dropped stereotyping the character which is well-portrayed by William Brown as an elderly, caring person who now depends on his possessions and on others to take care of him in his old age.
But its sub-theme of domestic violence has Bill Sikes (Dan Waller), a dangerous adult thief, beating (later murdering) his girlfriend, Nancy, a sympathetic character delightfully interpreted by Lucy Godinez.
It also portrays how Oliver, the son of a high-born, unwed mother fares in an unforgiving society.
The star/s of Marriott’s production are the two young boys who alternately portray Oliver, Kai Edgar and Kayden Koshelev. It doesn’t matter whom you see when you go, they are both outstanding.
A fine, atmospheric mist and Sally Dolembo’s period costumes transports audiences to mid-19th century London.
Directed by Nick Bowling, the acting is on the mark. My problem is not the cast but the musical, itself.
“Oliver!” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, IL, through Dec. 29, 2019. Running time: 2 hrs, 20 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Marriott 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.
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.
if you were an animal in a zoo, what would you would wish for as you blew out candles on your birthday cake?
Marty the zebra, charmingly portrayed by Ron King, wanted to leave New York’s Central Park Zoo to return to the wild. But he wasn’t the only one. A handful of like-minded penguins also pined for their icy climes.
And so, Marty, accompanied by his friends who don’t want him to go alone, Alex the lion, Gloria the hippo and Melman, a hypochondriac giraffe, head out of Manhattan to find paradise in the Marriott’ Children’s Theatre production of “Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.”
The penguins also seem to end up there.
Based on DreamWorks’ animated film, Marriott’s stage version zips along in an easy-for- youngsters, sit-through hour filled with zany, fantasy fun.
The show’s sub-theme, that friends stick together, is enhanced by George Noriega and Joel Somellian’s score for the stage musical.
Liam Quealy as Alex, king of the zoo, is terrific as he hungers for steak but his roar also comes in handy as he scares away dangerous creatures where they land on Lemur King Julien’s side of Madagascar.
Directed by Johanna McKenzie Miller, the Marriott show features Jesus Perez’ wonderfully creative costumes and Sarah E. Ross’ terrific puppets.
However, I wish the actors moving the penguins would remember they need to fade more into their puppets instead of the penguins fading into the actors. After all, kids love penguins.
Also, if ordering tickets, try not to sit where I did in the low number area of Section 2 because many of the characters will have their backs to you.
DETAILS: “Madagascar – A Musical Adventure” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, through Dec. 19, 2019. Running time: one hour. For tickets and other information visit Marriott Theatre.
It’s “Something Rotten,” the 2015 Tony nominated musical with witty lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and unusual book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell that is now making its regional debut at Marriott Theatre.
In 1595 England, show manager/ director Nick Bottom and his brother, playwright/poet Nigel, aren’t worried that something is rotten in Denmark. As their acting troupe fails to put on a successful show, they worry about financing, finding an original play idea and their inability to compete with William Shakespeare.
To set the character of the era, the opening number has the Minstrel (Jonathan Butler Duplessis) gloriously sing out, “Welcome to the Renaissance,” joined by a large company of dancers and singers. The era is also well set by Theresa Ham’s costumes
In her Junie B Jones stories, children’s author Barbara Park found interesting solutions to problems youngsters face at school. Which means that “Junie B. Jones, The Musical,” put together by the “Dear Edwina” team of Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, is perfect for youngsters to see right before school starts this fall.
Now at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire just through Aug. 11, 2019, the show is for all elementary-middle school youngsters.
On the first day of school, Junie B encounters problems right away on the bus when her best friend from last year now has two other best friends so won’t sit with her.
Once at school, Junie B doesn’t understand why she can’t read words on the board. She’ll have to wear glasses but what will her classmates think and say.
And the problems keep happening.
Elizabeth Telfore is a terrific Junie B. Adam LaSalle is great as her piano-playing day (and teacher Mr. Scary and others). Rashada Dawan is perfect as mom, (and the cafeteria cook and others).
Marriott shows, whether for a general or young audience, always have excellent voices and choreography. “Junie B” is no exception.
But the reason to take youngsters to the show is for them to see that there are ways to work through things that sometimes go wrong at school.
DETAILS: “Junie b. Jones, the Musical,” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Running time: 1 hour. For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 or visit Marriott Theatre.
Experienced theater goers know that not all memorable plays are on stage in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters also put on Jeff award-winning productions. To be sure to catch a show you want to see, copy it and save or mark those productions on the calendar. (Note: Some companies spell their work and space “theater,” others use “theatre.” Both are correct.) A look at the coming suburban theater season is the last round-up in Chicago Theater and Arts’ Sneak Peek Series.
The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.
Citadel is doing “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Sept. 18-Oct. 20 followed by “Annie,” Nov. 20-Dec. 22. “The Fantasticks” start out 2020 Feb. 5-Mar. 8, followed by “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Apr. 22-May 24.
For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
The theatre does musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.
“Darling Grenadine” continues through Aug. 18 followed by “ Something Rotten,” Aug. 28-Oct. 20 and “Oliver” Oct 30-Dec. 29, 2019. “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.
Marriott’s shows for young audiences feature “Junie B. Jones,” now through Aug. 11 and “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” Oct. 4-Dec. 29.
For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.
Metropolis Performing Arts Center
The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Aug. 31, then “Anything Goes” Sept. 19-Nov. 2., 2019. The new year begins with “Noises Off” Jan 20-Mar. 14, followed by “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” May 14-June 27 and “Mama Mia! July 16 -Aug. 29.
The theatre is in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Skokie
Northlight is doing the Midwest premiere of “Mother of the Maid” Sept. 12-Oct. 20 and the world premiere of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov.7-Dec. 15, 2019. The season continues in the new year with the world premiere of “How a Boy Falls” Jan. 23-Mar. 1 followed by “Intimate Apparel” Mar. 12-Apr. 19 and “Songs for Nobodies” May 7-June 14. 2020.
For tickets and other information call (847) 673-6300 and visit Northlight.
A theatre workshop/school at 927 Noyes St., Evanston, that also presents productions in co-operation with other groups. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre presents“The Black Ballerina” in partnership with Piven, Dear Evanston and Dance Center Evanston, Aug. 10-25.
For Piven tickets and other information call (947) 866-8049 and visit Piven Theatre.
The theatre is in a small, historic, movie theater building at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie
Skokie Theatre is doing “The Fantasticks” Sept. 6-Oct. 6 followed by “Marjorie Prime: Nov. 8-24, 2019. The season continues in 2020 with “Veronica’s Room” Feb. 7-Mar. 1.
For tickets and other information call (847) 677-7761 and visit Skokie Theatre.
Designed by architect Jeanne Gang and her Studio Gang, WT has two stages in an award-winning building at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre and the The Gillian Theatre.
The 2019-20 season opens with “Into the Woods” Aug. 14-Sept. 22, followed by “A Doll’s House” Sept. 25-Dec. 15, 2019. :The Niceties” is Nov. 6-Dec. 15. It continues in 2020 with “Stick Fly” Feb. 5-Mar. 15. and “The Last Match” Mar. 18-June 7. And “Mementos Mori” ay 6-June 14. .
For tickets and other information call (847) 242-6000 and visit Writers Theatre.
Drury Lane Theatre
The theatre is at the Drury Lane Resort, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.
Drury Lane Theatre continues “And then There Were None” through Aug. 26 then is doing “The Color Purple” Sept. 13-Nov. 3. 2019 goes into 2020 with Mary Poppins” Nov. 15 –Jan. 19. “An American in Paris” is on stage Jan. 31-Mar. 29.
The theatre uses the rooms and grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate at 1717 W. 31st St. Oak Brook.
First Folio is doing “Henry V” through Aug. 18. Then, “Sherlock’s Last Case” Oct. 2-Nov. 3, 2019. Shows continue in 2020 with “Jeeves Saves the Day” Jan. 29-Mar.1 followed by “Louisa May Alcott’s Little women.” Mar. 25-Apr. 26.
Fir tickets and other information call(630) 986-8067 and visit First Folio.
Jedlicka Performing Arts Center
The Center at 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero., is doing “In the Heights” with Vision Latino Theatre Company, fall of 2019. Dates TBA. For tickets and other information call (708) 656-1800 and visit Jpac Theatre.
Madison Street Theatre
The theatre, at 1010 Madison St. Oak Park, is a multi-venue building. For information call (312) 282-1750 and visit MSTOakPark.
Oak Park Festival Theater
The theater, 157 Forest Ave., has is doing “Much Ado About Nothing” through Aug. 31. Followed by “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story” Oct. 24-Nov. 17, 2019.
The theatre is in a historic movie palace at 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
Paramount is doing “Newsies” Sept. 4-Oct. 20, then “Beauty and the Beast” Nov. 13-Jan. 19, followed by “The Secret of My Success” Feb. 12-Mar. 29. “Kinky Boots” ends the season Apr. 29-June 14.
For tickets and other information call (630) 896-6666 and visit Paramount Aurora.
Sixteenth Street Theatre
The theatre, 6420 16th Street, Berwyn, is doing “His Shadow” Sept. 5-Oct. 12, 2019 and “Small Jokes About Monsters” Jan. 10-Feb. 16, then, “Good Enough” Mar. 14-Apr. 20, 2020. For tickets and other information call (708) 795-6704 and visit 16th Street Theater.
Theatre of Western Springs
The theatre is at 4383 Hampton Ave., Western Springs.
It is doing “Murder in the Studio” Sept. 5-15 followed by “Accomplice” Oct. 17-27. The new year starts with “The Nerd” Hab, 16-26. Then, “The Great Gatsby” is Feb. 27-Mar. 8 and “TheGame’s Afoot” May 28-June 7.
When the music is good, the songs are good, the voices are good and the staging is good, the show, in this case, “Darling Grenadine,” deserves to be seen and appreciated even if the subject is not at the top of theater-goers’ list of musicals must-do.
Conceived and written by Daniel Zaitchick about stress leading to alcohol addiction that is often experienced by musicians and others in the entertainment industry , the show is more in line with the personal battles of “Next to Normal” than Marriott’s next play, “Something Rotten,” that is a comedic musical about trying to write a hit show.
Whereas “Something Rotten,” was a full-fledged, 2015 Broadway musical comedy hit, “Darling Grenadine” is more an intimate, chamber musical that is making its way from its concert form at LA;s Rockwell Table & Stage and continued its fleshing out at Johnny Mercer Writers Colony of Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, CT before presented by Marriott in what is labeled a Midwest premiere.