Go to Downtown Chicago to Millenium Park for the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-11, 2023.
It celebrates Chicago contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock and hip hop. And it’s free. Visitors can bring a chair or spread out but lots of folks stand to watch because others are standing.
Hours: Thurs: 5:30-9 p.m., Friday-Sunday: noon – 9 p.m. Enter from Michigan Ave. at Washington St. or Madison St., Randolph St. or Monroe St. Millenium Park is free and has a Welcome Center on Randolph Street that is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but open later on performance nights. For Blues Festival information visit City of Chicago :: Chicago Blues Festival
Or go to Skokie for MadKap Productions’ 2023 Short Play Festival June 10 at 7:30 p.m. and June 11 at 2 p.m. It’s just $15.
Plays are each about 10 minutes and written include pieces by David Alex, DC Cathro, Eric Coble, Eva Schultz and Judy Schindler
For more information visit Skokie Theatre. The theater is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., downtown Skokie near the S.W. corner of Lincoln and Oakton Avenues.
In addition, there is Chi-Soul Fest, a free, two-day music/comedy festival throughout Navy Pier.
The “Rumors” Are True…Skokie Theatre’s Neil Simon Farce is a Smash Hit!
In the years before social media was a “thing,” local gossip was the way to go. How else could people gauge the real social order? Who was cheating on whom? What was true and what was just a rumor?
Add in that when several people are also politically involved with something to lose if the truth gets out you’ve got real mayhem – or “Rumors,” a hilarious farce from the master of American comedy, Neil Simon.
Welcome to an upscale dinner party hosted by a wealthy New York couple who are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, the party goes terribly wrong.
Guests arrive to discover the host has been shot, the hostess is missing, and the servants have quit.
Produced in 1988, “Rumors” still holds the same caustic bite as when it first came out. The brilliant, fast-paced dialog gives all the actors a chance to shine.
The play stars Erin Renee Baumrucker, Landon Cally, Luke Coleman, Peter Goldsmith, Julie Peterson, Maddy Shilts, Nathan Dale Short, SarahAnn Sutter, Katherine Wettermann, and Lee Wichman.
Standouts include Peterson as Claire Ganz who recently appeared as Ethel Merman in the “Book of Merman” at Skokie Theatre. She is a bubblehead with lots of great lines that keep the audience in stitches
Cally as Lenny Ganz plays a range of emotions. In his final monologue. he makes up an entire story of what really happened to the hosts, Charley and Myra and his performance is stellar.
Kudos to Police Officer Welch, played by Shilts, as no-nonsense in law enforcement as they come.
Directed by Wayne Mell and produced by Wendy Kaplan of MadKap Productions, “Rumors” takes the audience on a hysterical romp through a case of mistaken identity, the constant opening and closing of doors, and a little bit of slapstick thrown in.
The women’s costumes, headed by custom designer Wendy Kaplan and wardrobe mistress Patti Halajian, are exquisite and elegant. How lucky, the actresses get to wear them all night long.
Details: Rumors is playing at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue in Downtown Skokie through April 23. Running time: 2 and a half hours with one 15-minute intermission. For tickets, go to skokietheatre.org or call 847-677-7761. The 2023-24 season starts in June with “Hair.”
Fans of the late, great Ms. Ethel Merman will love this spoof on the Broadway Diva as it comes to life at Skokie Theatre. The show has everything – memorable music, high-energy dancing, gorgeous costumes, and a heartfelt message about being true to yourself. It’s no wonder the performance was sold out the night we went.
Two Mormon missionaries who are down on their luck in selling souls ring the doorbell of the brash and brassy Ethel Merman. Misunderstandings of all kinds take place and hilarity ensues.
The audience gets the benefits of fabulous show-stopping numbers belted out by the trio. But listen carefully as the lively songs with music and lyrics by Leo Schwartz and book by DC Cathro play off Merman’s greatest hits; some subtle, others not so subtle, because you’ll recognize this legend’s most beloved music among Broadway’s best.
The two Mormon missionaries are played by Alex Iacobucci as Elder Braithwaite and Danny Ferenczi as Elder Shumway who are funny and talented. They will sing and dance their way into your heart. Perhaps if start singing as soon as they ring the doorbell they will get better results!
Julie Peterson is the soul of the show as Ethel Merman. She has the same loud, booming belter voice that was Merman’s trademark.
No wonder. Peterson was the understudy and performer in the role when it launched off-Broadway in 2018. She perfectly captures the mannerisms, intonations, and sassiness of the star.
Produced by Wendy Kaplan of MadKap Productions with Wayne Mell as associate producer, the show is directed and choreographed by Ty Perry. Musical direction is by pianist Jeremy Ramey and percussionist Craig Buckner who sit behind the stage.
Set design is by Scott Richardson, lighting design is by Pat Henderson and kudos once again, to costume designer Patti Halajian whose dresses for Ethel are simply dazzling.
In Act 2, the show changes and real identities step forward giving the audience new appreciation for the characters and the show.
Concluding the season for Skokie Theatre is Neil Simon’s hilarious farce, “Rumors,” March 31 to April 25, 2023.
Details: “Book of Merman” is at Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave in downtown Skokie, IL through Feb 26, 2023. Run time: 2 hours with one intermission. For information and tickets visit SkokieTheatre.org or call (847) 677-7761.
The duo of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were the genius songwriters behind several hit Broadway musicals with many of their numbers going on to become standards in the Great American Songbook.
This Madkap Production of “Falling for Make Believe” at the Skokie Theatre purports to be “The Real Story Behind the Music of Rodgers and Hart,” but might more accurately be called the real story behind the suffering of Lorenz Hart.
In recent years Hart has been widely known to be an alcoholic though this reality was skillfully avoided during his lifetime and at the time of his death, as alluded to in this version of events. His homosexuality was also a tabu topic in the mid-century “don’t ask don’t tell” era, but is front and center in this updated retelling of his life by Mark Saltzman.
It is notable to mention that Saltzman began his career writing for Muppets creator Jim Henson and in an interview caused a stir when he suggested that he had created the popular characters of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple. He has also written a number of successful movies, and he demonstrates in this well written production that he knows how to tell a story and handle dialog.
The story pivots around the character of a gay farm boy from Pennsylvania, Fletcher Mecklen (Nate Hall) and his on-again-off-again relationship with Lorenz Hart (Sean Michael Barrett), known as Larry to his friends.
I could not find any reference online to an actual Fletcher Mecklen and therefore assume he is a vehicle for representing the more private, and indeed, hidden side of Hart’s life.
The story suggests that this secret pressure and his inability to openly receive love is perhaps the seminal reason behind Hart’s psychological turmoil.
It is likely a potential factor in his alcoholism, as well as possible drug addiction which is suggested here through the character of Doc Bender (Donaldson Cardenas), a sometimes talent agent and former dentist who tells us that he keeps his license up to date in order to keep his prescription pad valid.
Sean Caron portrays the long-suffering business partner Richard Rodgers who works tirelessly to keep Larry on the straight and narrow in order to keep him working but also to protect his reputation and later his legacy.
Mandi Corrao as Vivienne Segal is basically their on-call chanteuse. Cheryl Szucsits rounds out the cast playing three minor roles but is given the honor of singing “Falling in Love with Love” which features the title lyric “Falling for make believe.”
The production features a number of notable Rodgers and Hart tunes such as” Bewitched” (a/k/a Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered), “The Lady is a Tramp, ” “I Could Write a Book” and “Where or When.”
DETAILS: “Falling for Make Believe” is at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave in Downtown Skokie through Oct 16, 2022. Running time is about 90 minutes including a short intermission. Tickets can be purchased online at SkokieTheatre.org or by calling (847) 677-7761.
The second offering of a four-show series by MadKap Productions at the Skokie Theatre is “The Fantasticks,” a theatrical classic that holds the record as the longest running off-Broadway musical when it closed in 2002 after 17,162 performances over 42 years.
The story is about innocence and experience. Matt (Graham Todd) and Luisa (Jessica Surprenant) learn that life can be messy and cruel but as the song goes “without a hurt the heart is hollow.”
At the beginning the young lovers revel in the danger of their forbidden romance but come to learn that their fathers had actually erected a wall between their two properties to draw the two together.
Of course you know the Chicago Air and Water Show haappens across the city’s near-north lake front Aug. 16 (practice) then Aug. 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
But there is also a yummy food fest throughout Chicago from Aug. 14 through Sept. 1 and an interesting theater festival up in Skokie Aug. 16 to 18.
If your attention span stops you from seeing plays that are three hours long, Skokie Theatre has the answer in its Fifth Annual Short Play Festival. Six,15-minute plays take the stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. The low ticket price of $15 shouldn’t dent the culture budget.
They run the gamut from a woman who makes a strange request while planning her father’s funeral in “A Funeral Home in Brooklyn” to What happens in an antiquities gallery stays in an antiquities gallery in “Museum Piece.”
Skokie theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL. For tickets visit OvationTix.
If you count yourself a foodie and also like the idea of meeting different chefs, trying different cuisines and giving back to the community check out the Chicago Tribune Food Bowl. It takes place at restaurants throughout the city, Aug. 14-Sept.1, 2019.
Then, if you like to see how the Riverwalk has developed with restaurants, bars and pop-up places, go down and over to the area from 201 West to 305 West Riverwalk South where you see Art on theMART at the Confluence and the Jetty for the Food Bowl Night Market, Aug. 23-25. (Franklin/Orleans Streets to Wells Street).
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.
A fun way to renew acquaintance with the founding of the United States of America and learn more about the significance of July 4 is to see “1776” at Skokie Theatre.
The musical with book by Peter Stone is a fictionalized account of the goings on that led the delegates of the Second Continental Congress to eventually, unanimously vote for Independence on July 2 and approve the Declaration of Independence document on July 4, 1776. Just don’t expect a fast-paced “Hamilton” style musical.
While “1776” also boasts the Tony Award for Best Musical (1969), the music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards paint the dithering and arguing by the delegates with a brush dipped in sarcastic-toned ink.
Not all memorable theater is in the city. Chicago’s suburban theaters put on Jeff award-winning productions. But whether looking to the city or suburbs or both, one way to not miss a show you want to see is to save this Sneak Peek Series and mark productions for tickets or theaters for subscriptions. Enjoy! (Note: Some companies spell their work and space theater but others use theatre. Both are correct.)
The theatre is in a school building at 300 S. Waukegan Rd. Lake Forest.
Citadel is doing “The Little Foxes, Sept. 28-Oct. 28 followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Nov. 16-Dec. 23. An early 2019 show is TBA but then “Sentimental Journey” is Apr. 26-May 26.
For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
The theatre does professional musical productions in the Marriott Resort at 10 Marriott Dr,. Lincohnshire.
The season continues with “Murder for Two” through Aug. 26 followed by Sweet Charity” Sept. 5-Oct. 28, “Shrek the Musical” (children’s show) Oct. 5-Dec 30 and concludes with “Holiday Inn” Nov. 7-Jan. 6.
In addition to the shows, the theatre is hosting a fundraising concert in memory of director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell Sept. 17 called “We Three” featuring the stars of Marriott’s “Mama Mia,” Meghan Murphy, Cassie Slater and Danni Smith.
For show tickets call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre. To get tickets to “We Three” call the Marriott or order on line tickets at Ticket Master.
Metropolis Performing Arts Center
The Center, at 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, is currently doing “Beehine” through Aug. 25, then “Chorus Line” Sept. 20-Nov. 3 and “James and the Giant Peach Jr. Nov. 8-10. In 2019, productions continue with “Mouse Trap” Jan. 31-March 16 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” May 16-June 29 and “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story” July 18-Aug. 24.
When February weather sticks around for early April then warm up with good music. Go to the Lyric to hear some of the Ryan Opera Center members who sang this season. Or let Rogers and Hammerstein’s lyrical Broadway hits bring back memories. Or turn to Haydn and Beethoven to forget that Mother Nature’s Ap[ril Fool’s day joke has continued through the weekend.
Singers with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center Ensemble perform works by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Puccini and other masters, April 7, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. The program is backed by a pianist and members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Edwin Outwater. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is at 20 N. Wacker Drive.
Hosted by Daryl Nitz and Laura Freeman with music direction by Andrew Blendermann, the program is at the Skokie Theatre April 7 and April 8 at 7:30 p.m. It features artists Ken Baker, Cynthia Clarey, Sophie Grimm, and Tom Olickal performing songs from eight shows. Tickets are $35. For tickets and other information visit Skokie Theatre. Skokie Theatre is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie.
The Lake Forest Symphony with Conductor Vladimir Kulenovic are doing Haydn’s Symphony No. 4, Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 featuring Cellist Jay Campbell and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 April 7 at 8 p.m. and April 8 at 2 p.m. The Saturday concert is at the Cressey center for the Arts at Lake forest Academy. 1500 West Kennedy Road
Lake Forest. Sunday’s concert is at the James Lumber Center of the college of Lake County19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake. For tickets and other information visit Lake Forest Symphony.