Three places to visit while staying at home

 

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.

 

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1577–79. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague. (Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago)

 

Art Institute of Chicago

Whether you made it to the famed museum before its temporary c-virus closure or not, you still can see and get inside information on some special art works.

Visit Inside Features to learn the backstory on El Greco’s “The Assumption of the Virgin” which is the current exhibition.

Also while at Inside Features go to the West African headdress  to see it from another angle.

Also, check out an ancient Grecian vase that became known as Chicago Painter’s vase.

Before leaving the site learn about conserving a carousel from the Golden Age of Carousels and the story behind an antislavery medallion.

 

Marriott Theatre

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.”

 

Second City Training Center 

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.

Jodie Jacobs

‘Grease’ returns to the not so golden high school days

 

The Burger Palace Boys and car in 'Grease' at Marriott Theatre. (Liz Loren photo)
The Burger Palace Boys and car in ‘Grease’ at Marriott Theatre. (Liz Loren photo)

3 1/2 stars

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.

Continue reading “‘Grease’ returns to the not so golden high school days”

A Dickens of a tale

 

William Brown (center) stars as aging pickpocket Fagin in “Oliver!” at the Marriott Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)
William Brown (center) stars as aging pickpocket Fagin in “Oliver!” at the Marriott Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)

‘Oliver!’

3 stars

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.

L to R Kayden Koshelev, (Oliver) and Patrick Scott McDermott (The Artful Dodger). (Liz Loren photo)
L to R Kayden Koshelev, (Oliver) and Patrick Scott McDermott (The Artful Dodger). (Liz Loren photo)

 

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.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

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

 

 

 

 

Zoo animals take over Marriott stage in a musical Madagascar adventure

A zebra, giraffe, hippo and lion escape from a NYC zoo in Madagascar A Musical Adventure at Marriott Theatre. (Photos courtesy of Marriott theatre)
A zebra, giraffe, hippo and lion escape from a NYC zoo in Madagascar A Musical Adventure at Marriott Theatre. (Photos courtesy of Marriott Theatre)

3 stars

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.”

Penguins and a lion escape a zoo in Madagascar A Musical Adventure at Marriott Theatre
Penguins and a lion escape a zoo in Madagascar A Musical Adventure at Marriott Theatre

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.

The lemur king and his subjects live in Madagascar.

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.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

‘Something Rotten’ turns Shakespeare Bottoms up

 

High-kicking, high-energy cast of Something Rotten at Marriott Theatre. (Liz Loren photo)
High-kicking, high-energy cast of Something Rotten at Marriott Theatre. (Liz Loren photo)

3 stars

It’s silly, It’s clever. It’s creative. It’s laugh-out-loud absurd

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

Something Rotten” moves from one fun musical number “God, I Hate Shakespeare” sung by the brothers and their troupe, to another – “Will Power” sung rock-concert style by Shakespeare and his ensemble of fans. Continue reading “‘Something Rotten’ turns Shakespeare Bottoms up”

Perfect Junie B Jones timing: How to overcome school problems

Cast of Junie B Jones at Marriott Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Cast of Junie B Jones at Marriott Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

3 stars

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.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

 

Next season for Chicago Suburban theaters

 

 

Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)
Check out shows coming up in the suburbs such as at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. (Photo courtesy of Metropolis Performing Arts Center)

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.

 

North

 

Citadel Theatre

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.

 

Marriott 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.

For tickets and other information call (847) 577-2121 and visit Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

 

Music Theater Works

Productions are usually in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern University’s campus at 600 Emerson St. at Sheridan Road, Evanston but are occasionally at Nichols Hall.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is Aug. 17-25, then “Lerner and Loewe’s Greatest Hits” Oct. 4-14  (Nichols Concert Hall) followed by “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Dec.21-31, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (847) 920-5360 and visit Music Theater Works.

 

Northlight  Theatre

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.

 

Piven Theatre

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.

 

Skokie 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.

 

Writers 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.

 

 

West

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.

For tickets and other information call (630) 530-0111 and visit Drury Lane Theatre.

 

First Folio Theatre

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.

For tickets and other information call (708) 445-4440 and visit Oak Park Festival.

 

Overshadowed Productions

The theater, 900 Foster Ave., Medinah, continues “Newsies” through Aug. 3 followed by “I Remember Pop” Sept. 15-Oct. 5, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (630) 250-7518 and visit Overshadowed Productions.

 

Paramount Theatre

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.

For tickets and other information call (708) 246-4043  and visit Theatre of Western Springs.

 

South

Theatre at the Center is at 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, IN.

“Over the Tavern” throughAug. 11 followed by “The Pajama Game” Sept. 12-Oct. 13 and “White Christmas” Nov. 14-Dec. 22. For tickets and information call (219) 835-3255 and visit Theatre At the Center.

 

Jodie Jacobs

New Marriott musical is spellbinding

 

Katherine Thomas and Heath Saunders in 'Darling Grenadine' at Marriott Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)
Katherine Thomas and Heath Saunders in ‘Darling Grenadine’ at Marriott Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

3 ½ stars

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.

Continue reading “New Marriott musical is spellbinding”

Cut loose with ‘Footloose’

Aiden Wharton as Ren McCormack (center). (Liz Lauren photo)
Cast of ‘Footloose’ at Marriott Theatre. led by Aiden Wharton as Ren McCormack (center). (Liz Lauren photo)

3 stars

If you bring the family (middle-school age and up) to see “Footloose” at Marriott Theatre, you will likely have interesting talking points after the show. This is a high energy musical that is perfect for adolescent audiences tired of rules, curfews and their town or suburb.

Based on the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon, the story’s roots are the ideology and actions of a small, rural town in Oklahoma that had banned dancing for almost a century.

In the musical, originally written for the film by Dean Pitchford, with music by Tom Snow, Jim Steinman, Kenny Loggins and Pitchford, (additional music by Sammy Hagar and Eric Carmen and others) Chicago teenager Ren McCormack moves to Bomont, Utah with his mom, Ethel, after their dad leaves home. Continue reading “Cut loose with ‘Footloose’”