Around Town Happenings


Photo courtesy of the North Shore Center for Performing Arts.
Northlight Theater is in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie

Yes, Spring is finally here which means fine arts groups are beginning to talk about their line-up of April and May shows and events.

Northlight Theatre in Skokie presents what it calls “an old play with new music.”  It’s “The Porch on Windy Hill,” conceived and directed by Sherry Lutken and co-written with fellow actors/musicians Lisa Helmi Johanson, David M. Lutken and Morgan Morse who co-star in the show.

 Running April 13 through May 14, 2023, it follows a classical violinist and her boyfriend who loves folk songs from their Brooklyn home to North Carolina’s mountains where the violinist reconnects with an estranged grandfather. Along the way to discoveries, they overcome family prejudice and find bluegrass, foot-stomping roots.

 Artistic Director BJ Jones called it a “story that needed o be told” because it unveiled how cultural differences and race could lead to family estrangement.  “The thought that music or art would be the balm and the bridge to reconciliation convinced me that the story would touch our audience as it did me,” said Jones.

Northlight is at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. For tickets and more information call (847) 673-6300 or visit Northlight Theatre | The Porch on Windy HIll.


Chicago a cappellaPhoto courtesy of Chicago a-cappella
Chicago a cappella
Photo courtesy of Chicago a-cappella

Also in April, Chicago a cappella is doing “American Songbook.” Put together by Artistic Director John William Trotter with music direction by Paul Langford, it features songs favored by such balladeers as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

The performances will be in four different towns respectively: Chicago, Evanston, Naperville and Oak Park, April 22, April 23, April 28, and April 30. To find the venue and date convenient to you and get tickets go to American Songbook – Chicago a cappella.

About the first venue, Ganz Hall in the South Loop on Wabash, Executive Director Matt Greenberg said, “April 22 will be Chicago a cappella’s first concert appearance at Ganz Hall. “It’s a true gem of the golden age of Chicago architecture…, “and we’re singing music from the golden age of American popular music. It’s a perfect fit.”


Theater Wit will be asking what might happen if you told the truth and nothing but the truth, when it presents the Midwest Premiere of “The Whistleblower.

A comedy by Tony-Award winner Itamar Moses, author of “The Band’s Visit,” audiences can find an answer or two when the show runs May 5 through June 17, 2023. For tickets and information, visit or call (773) 975-8150.

 In addition, the 27th Annual Blues on the Fox Festival combines blues legends and rising stars on the banks of the Fox River, June 16 and 17 at Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park 360 N. Broadway, downtown Aurora. For tickets and more information, visit, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by RiverEdge’s satellite box office, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. More information will be included in the summer concert roundup.

 Jodie Jacobs

Sneak Peek at next season in Mid-North neighborhoods


Lobby of the Athenaeum Theatre on Southport Ave., Chicago. (Photo courtesy of the Athenaeum Theatre )
Lobby of the Athenaeum Theatre on Southport Ave., Chicago. (Photo courtesy of the Athenaeum Theatre )

Chicago Theater and Arts “Sneak Peek” series looks at what will be on stage at a venue you like and also lets you know about some shows you might want to put on the calendar that you didn’t know were coming to Chicagoland.. Part Four searches the area from Athenaeum to Wit.

Part One was Looking ahead to the next theater season starting with Broadway in Chicago. Part Two was Theaters Downtown and on the Mag Mile.) Part three  was what will be on stage in the Lincoln Park and Near North areas. When this series is over, the next will break shows down by category as Halloween, Christmas, world premier, classic.

Enjoy the new season

For more details, tickets and subscriptions click on each theater’s link. Theater is not a typo. Some production companies use theatre others theater.


Athenaeum Theatre

A multi venue operation, the building is at 2936 N. Southport Ave. This summer, Eclipse Theatre Company is doing “Beyond Therapy” through Aug. 18, 2019 on Stage Three.

This fall The Right Brain Project presents “(Non) Fiction” Aug. 22-Sept 15, in Studio One. This winter Eclipse Theatre Company  will do “Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them as the last part of the 2019 Christopher Durang series.

For tickets and other information call (773) 935-6875 and visit Athenaeum Theatre.


Mercury Theater

The building is at 3745 N. Southport Ave.  Monty Python’s “Spamalot” is there Aug. 30 to Nov. 3, 2019. For tickets and future shows call (773) 325-1700 and visit Mercury Theater.


Stage 773

A multi-theater venue, Stage 773 is at 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

American Blues Theater is currently doing a revival of “Spitfire Grill – The Musical” through  Aug. 17 in the Pro Theater, Black Button Eyes has “Ghost Quartet” through Aug. 17 in the Box Theater and Fearless Fiction Productions is doing “Murdering Macbeth,” Aug. 29 to Sept. 8 in the Thrust Theater.

In addition, David Gosz & Leo Fotos are presenting their musical about living with mental health, “Tru,”   Nov. 1 to Nov. 24 on the Thrust Stage. Her Story Theater is doing “Invisible” Oct. 3  to Nov. 3 in the Box Theater and American Blues Theater is doing a revival of “Five Presidents’ Sept. 6 to Oct. 19 in the Pro Theater, followed by its annual holiday show, “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”  Nov. 14, 2019 to Jan 4, 2020, also in the Pro theater.

Stage 773 also hosts cabarets and one-night shows. To see those listings visit Stage 773/All Shows.  For tickets and other information call (773) 327-5252 and visit Stage 773.


Strawdog Theatre Company

The theatre is at 1802 W. Berenice. Strawdog is doing “The Effect” Oct. 13 to Nov. 23 and “ Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” Saturdays and Sundays in December, 2019. TBA is the winter of 2020 show. “Welcome to Keene, New Hampshire” is April 16 to May 30, 2020. For tickets and other information call (773) 528-9696 and visit Strawdog.


Theater Wit

A shared venue, Theatre Wit is at 1229 W Belmont Ave.

Currently on stage is Kokandy Productions’ “Head Over Heels – The Musical” through Aug. 25, 2019.  Remy Bumppo Theatre, a resident Theater Wit company, presents “Howard’s End” Aug. 29 to Oct. 5, then “Top Girls” comes Jan 16 to Feb. 22, 2020 followed by “The Agitators” April 30 to June 6. In addition,  The Gift Theatre is doing “Kentucky” Oct 17-Nov. 16.

To see Theater Wit’s 2019 Summer Opera productions visit Theater Wit/Box Office. For tickets and other information call (773) 975-8150 and visit Theater Wit.


TimeLine Theatre Company

TimeLine, located at  615 W. Wellington Ave. chose shows for 2019-20 on the theme of Exploring today’s issues through the lens of the past” starting with “Oslo,” Sept. 18  to Oct. 20 followed by “Rutherford and Son,” Nov. 14 2019 to Jan. 12, 2020. Then, “Kill Move Paradise” is Feb. 20 to April 5 and “Relentless” is May 14 to June 27, 2020. For tickets and other information call  (773) 281-8463 and visit TimeLine.


Windy City Playhouse

The main location is 3014 W. Irving Park Rd. A second site in in the South Loop’s Motor Row.  Currently on stage is “Southern Gothic” through Sept. 1 and “The Recommendation”  through Sept. 22, 2019. Check location when ordering tickets.

Next, “Every Brilliant Thing” opens Sept. 18, 2019. “The Boys in the Band” begins Jan. 29, 2020. For tickets and other information call  (773) 891-8985 and visit Windy City Playhouse.

Jodie Jacobs

‘The Realistic Joneses’ rings true

From left, Joseph Wiens, Cortney McKenna, H.B. Ward and Linda Reiter in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit's "The Realistic Joneses." (Evan Hanover photo)
From left, Joseph Wiens, Cortney McKenna, H.B. Ward and Linda Reiter in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit’s “The Realistic Joneses.” (Evan Hanover photo)

3.5 Stars

Bob (H.B. Ward) and Jennifer (Linda Reiter) Jones are surprised to meet their new neighbors who also share the same last name.

The second Jones couple, Pony (Cortney McKenna), and John (Joseph Wiens) are a quirky duo. Pony is a bit scatter brained, maybe even clueless while John is prone to outlandish non-sequiturs and pseudo philosophical profundities.

We learn that Bob, who prefers to communicate in one word sentences, is suffering from a mortal neurological illness that he is dealing with by trying to ignore it and which is causing Jennifer and him a good deal of stress. Continue reading “‘The Realistic Joneses’ rings true”

Theater Sneak Peak: Part Three Belmont/Lakeview/Wrigleyville


Sometimes it’s nice to know what a theater company you like is doing for its next season and the dates to put on your calendar. The “Sneak Peak” series does just that, listing the companies by area .

Descriptions of shows will follow in the next series which will be by category such as world premier, classic, Halloween and holiday.

Meanwhile click on the venues in “Sneak Peak” for the theaters’ own details. BTW, some companies use theater and others use theatre, thus the differences written here are deliberate and not typos.


Anthenaeum Theatre

The venue is at 2936 N. Southport Ave. Black Button Eye Productions is doing “Nightmares and Nightcaps: The Stories of John Collier” here, Aug. 17 – Sep 15 in Studio Two. and Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop is doing “Alice and Wonderland Jr. Aug. 17- 18 on the Main Stage.

Studio One has “Bliss (Or Emily Post is Dead)” through Aug 25 and Studio Three has “Bus Stop” through Aug. 19, 2018.

“The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” is in Studio Three Nov. 22-Dec. 16 and  “The Elder Son” is in Studio Two, Nov. 15-Dec. 22.

For tickets and other information call (773) 935-6875 and visit Athenaeum Theatre.

The Proscenium (Pro) at Stage 773. (A Stage 773 photo)
The Proscenium (Pro) at Stage 773. (A Stage 773 photo)


Mercury Theater

The theater is at 3745 N. Southport Ave. Currently, “Avenue Q” has been extended through Nov. 4, then “Pippin” is in the  Venus Cabaret Theater, opening TBA followed by its annual “The Christmas Schooner, date also TBA.

For tickets and other information call (773) 325-1700and visit Mercury Theater.


Stage 773

A multi-theater venue, Stage 773 is at 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

American Blues Theater is doing  “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” through Sept. 15, then “Flyin’ West” Oct. 5-Nov. 3 and its annual holiday show, “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago”  Nov. 15, 2018-Jan 5, 2019.

Hell in a Handbag has “The Artificial Jungle” Sept. 23-Oct. 28. and “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes” Oct. 13-Nov. 3.

The Degenerates are doing “Potty Talk”  Sept. 3- Oct. 29.

For tickets and other information call (773) 327-5252 and visit Stage 773, American Blues Theater, Hell in a Handbag Productions and The Degenerates Theatre

Continue reading “Theater Sneak Peak: Part Three Belmont/Lakeview/Wrigleyville”

Popular ‘Haymarket’ extends run and moves to new venue

Haymarket at the Den moves to theater Wit. (Michael Brosilow photo)
Haymarket at the Den moves to theater Wit. (Michael Brosilow photo)

Underscore Theatre Company in association with Theater Wit is moving “Haymarket” from the Den Theatre to Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago to extend the run from Aug. 3 to Sept. 2, 2018.

Performances of the show which tells the story of the infamous Haymarket riot will continue at
The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago through July 22. For tickets and more information and tickets call (773) 975-8150 and visit Underscoretheatre.

Related:  Blue collar history and bluegrass music.

Love and Lawlessness


‘Bonnie & Clyde,’ a Kokandy Productions musical now at the Wit Theater, is based on real outlaw lovers. They found nationwide fame during the 1930’s depression for their crime spree across the southwestern U.S. and lower Midwest.

[Spoiler Alert] The couple famously met their end in a police ambush that resulted in perhaps one of the most salacious news photos of all time showing their bullet riddled bodies and car that ironically provided the duo with the notoriety they both craved.

In the second song, “Picture Show,” Young Clyde (Jeff Pierpoint) a psychopathic boy idolizes the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid, introducing himself with his main theme of “Bang Bang You’re Dead.”

Young Bonnie (Tia L. Pinson) sweetly sings of being an “It Girl” like screen star Clara Bow and plans to be a movie star, singer and poet.

In an age progression Clyde Barrow (Max DeTogne) and Bonnie Parker (Desiree Gonzalez) find love,  linked by a mutual goal of fame and fortune that leads to their ultimate destruction.

Desiree Gaonzalez (Bonnie) and Max De Togne (Clyde). Evan Hanover photo
Desiree Gaonzalez (Bonnie) and Max DeTogne (Clyde). Evan Hanover photo

In the context of today’s news cycle these themes of violence are all too familiar and have the potential to make this death-wish love story somewhat uncomfortable. But it does make for good theater, particularly when combined with the music of Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) with lyrics by Don Black (Billy, Sunset Boulevard) and book by Ivan Menchell, performed by an outstanding cast of singers accompanied by a superb four piece orchestra.

Originally presented at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and transferred to Broadway in 2011 this Chicago premiere production happens in a now familiar hodgepodge set by Ashley Ann Woods. In this case, it’s designed to represent a farm house, jail, café, bank, church and boudoir. The automobile where the two meet their end is skillfully handled.

The storyline unfolds through a series of songs written in the “modern pop” genre with blues, gospel and rockabilly accents. This does a lot to keep the tension high and action moving but has a negative effect of seeming like it is constantly speeding. This, of course, mimics the fast paced life of the main duo racing through life.

Clyde’s sister-in-law Blanche (Missy Wise) is the voice of reason who provides a welcome respite from the chaos with her tender ballad “That’s What You Call a Dream” and the humorous number “You’re Goin’ Back to Jail” with husband Buck (Justin Tepper) and the Salon Girls.

Max Detogne who appeared in Theo Ubique’s production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has a voice tailor-made for this genre and infuses Clyde with all of the requisite humor and charm necessary for us to care about the character.

Desiree Gonzalez understands the complexities of Bonnie Parker who establishes early on that she is Clyde’s equal as she manages the character’s vulnerability and ruthlessness

“How ‘Bout a Dance” shows Bonnie’s softer side while the disturbing “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” reveals Bonnie’s other side and her commitment to live fast and die young.

Tia L. Pinson is a potential scene stealer (in a good way). She is an “It Girl” who has a charming presence onstage and is someone to keep an eye on.

Kokandy Productions, a Theater Wit resident company, has put together a tight package effectively led by Spencer Neiman (Director) and John Cockerill (Musical Director).

This is an instance where the subject matter on the surface is unsettling. It has the potential to make heroes of criminals and minimize the death and destruction they perpetrated. “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” comes dangerously close to romanticizing what is essentially a suicide pact between young lovers.

In the end Bonnie and Clyde is a theatrical performance that explores the need for recognition and love. It explores romantic love, parental love, spiritual love, self-love,  lost love and unrequited love.

Played out in a depression era where many people felt unseen, unvalued and desperate Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow decided to reject the society who rejected them and in so doing became sort of perverted ‘Robin Hood’ folk-heroes acting out what others were feeling, thus fulfilling Clyde’s objective, “This World Will Remember Me.”

The mission of Theater Wit is to promote humorous, challenging and intelligent plays. Check, check and check.

DETAILS; Bonnie & Clyde’ is at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, now through Oct. 15, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Theater Wit.

Reno Lovison (