Monday, January 24, 2011

Carpe weekend and March: Lots of Sex, a homicidally bent Pippi Longstocking wannabe among AE highlights

Disregard date above. Today is March 31, 2011
Dear, Dear Readers,

A few highlights in this post: Good buddy Mojo of Mojo & the Bayou Gypsies, the hottest authentic Zydeco band from down in Looziana, has a great show coming upMarch 4 at the Montrose Room in the Intercontinental O'Hare. See more in the listings, but your best bet is to check out the band's website at where you also can check out the Mojo sounds. Yes, Mojo (center, wild hat) looks tame but wait till you see him on stage!
Want to bypass the classic 20th century musicals in favor of serious drama that's not downtown, a Theatre at the Center in Munster has just the production for you. The monstrously phenomenal Sleuth, not a musical but a riveting mystery a la Agatha Christie and stars Larry Yando and Lance Baker. This production will grab your attention, pull you to the edge of your seat and not let go until the "last page." TAC is an easy ride. Take Interstate 80 to Calumet Avenue and go South. Turn left at Ridge Road (there's a huge Jewel on the SW corner) and in a few blocks, TAC will be on your right. See the listings.

Now for those who have not checked the blog lately, here is an update vis-a-vis my arts and entertainment coverage. As of late last month, my weekly A&E highlights roundup, SouthScene, now covers  Tinley, Orland, Palos, Mokena, Frankfort, New Lenox, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Homewood-Flossmoor, Chicago Heights.
Not yet introduced to the wonders of, then here's the scoop. is a rapidly growing chain of daily community online news sites in many states. If you go to, you will see a list of all the states, and if you click on Illinois, you will get see all the towns covered. Naturally, much local news applies to more than one village or city and consequently, editors do share news.

This is community journalism at its best!

It's all free, all online and you can subscribe to the morning headlines -- again, free. If you look at a site, you'll see all the bells and whistles of a top flight, 21st century news sites. I'm excited to be freelancing for this a growing operation.

I hope you'll check it out if you have not done so yet.

All that said, local events and venues covered in SouthScene are no longer included in this blog.

Please continue to send me A&E listings as most of them will either be in the Friday SouthScene or the blog, which is now monthly.





"Sixty miles outside Las Vegas today, sex is for sale in state licensed bordellos where almost any fantasy can be accommodated for the right price." So begins the first sentence of a press release for the first play of the year for CHICAGO DRAMATISTS, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. Alas Bordello, which runs through March 6, has received very mixed reviews. Tickets are $32 at

DRURY LANE THEATRE, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, goes for the laugh-yourself-out-of-your-seat Broadway hit, Spamalot, through March 6. The riotous musical spoofs another spoof, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Directed by William Osetek, the show is a total gas, wacky and true to the Monty Python one-of-its-kind genre. There are no weak performances and the cast blends well. If you loved Monty Python, this for you, this show rocks! Tickets are $35-$40 and dinner packages are available; (800) 745-3000 and at and Ticketmaster. Parking is free.

FOX VALLEY REPERTORY (formerly Noble Fool Theatricals), Pheasant Run Mainstage, 4015 E. Main St. St. Charles, (630) 443-0438, kicks off the year with Leaving Iowa, now through March 13. Written by well-known Chicago funny-witty guys Tim Clue and Spike Manton, the plays focuses on a middle-aged writer, Dan Browning, who is searching for the perfect place to scatter his father's ashes. Fox Valley Rep. has a full lineup of theater in March including Seussical Jr., Flanagan's Wake, Heartache Tonight (Eagles tribute concert) and Always Patsy Cline. Dinner packages are available for some shows. Check theater website as playdates for all the shows are not ongoing but go back and forth, date-wise, in March. In addition to box office number above, tickets are at Ticketmaster and online at

MARRIOTT THEATRE in Lincolnshire, 10 Marriott Drive, brings to life the Broadway' high stakes musical classic with its "fabled world of high rollers, loveable lowlifes and Salvation Army soul savers," Frank Loesser's Tony Award-winning Guys and Dolls. The Marriott production garnered rave reviews and with musical treasures including "Luck Be a Lady" and "If I Were a Bell," the 1950 classic will continue to thrill audiences of all ages, now through March 27. Tickets are at (847) 634-0200 and at

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, presents the musical Meet John Doe, March 4 through April 17, based on the 1941 film directed by the legendary Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck whom many blog readers may not recall. Anyway, all three were superstars of big screen in the late 1930s through the early '50s. This play has touches of CSI as a young female hotshot reporter gets fired during the depression so she sends the paper a phony anonymous letter (remember, no e-mail then) from a John Doe who says he's disgusted with society and is going to jump off a the Brooklyn Bridge on Christmas Eve. Newspaper sales go through the roof and this anonymous character begins to write for the paper, of course under the pseudonym. Sounds intriguing, huh? Tickets are $38 at (773)327-5252 and

RED TAPE THEATRE, 621 Belmont, Chicago, presents a double bill through March 5. Church is billed as a celebration designed to play with expectations of the religious and non religious as well as uplifting and inspirational. Pullman,WA, focuses on three characters who cannot quite succeed at life. Tickets are $25, $15 students and industry, and at box office.

STEEL BEAM THEATRE, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles, at continues its run of The Au Pair Man through March 13. The plot revolves around a, uhm, somewhat older woman (Donna Steele) and "her roughhewn boytoy," (boy toy) the release says. Billed as a "witty comedy of Anglo-Irish manners," the play also has a touch of Pygmalion in it, the release says. Tickets are $25, $23 students and seniors, $22 for groups of 10 or more and available on the website above or at (630) 587-8521. The play features Robin Childress (left) and Nicole Dizen.

STEPPENWOLF FOR YOUNG ADULTS, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago, presents the Midwest premiere of Samuel J. and K. Set in the Chicago suburbs, sometime right around now, the production follows two brothers, one black and one white. "In honor of Samuel K's (left, Samuel G. Roberson Jr.) college graduation, Samuel J (Cliff Chamberlain) surprises his adopted brother with two round-trip tickets to his birthplace in Africa to explore his roots," the press release states. "As the brothers set out on a life changing journey, they confront long-buried issues of identity, race and family secrets. (312) 335-1650. The production runs through March 13. Tickets are $20-$75 at the box office number above and at

If a lot of f-bombs bother you, read no further. If they don't, read on because this is a very witty, funny and intelligent play that focuses on a hot young male writer whose online journals of 'sexcapades' are the buzz of the blogosphere. If we are to believe him, women want to hit the hay with him just to have their names in his blog (go figure). Olivia, who is not on his blog, is an attractive 30-year-old whose own writing career is at standstill. Ethan and Olivia hook up and ... Got your attention? STEPPENWOLF'S UPSTAIRS THEATRE (same address as above) presents Sex with Strangers, directed by Jessica Thebus, Steppenwolf associate artist and starring Stephen Louis Grush  and Sally Murphy (left) both phenomenal actors who settle into their characters immediately and keep the audience guessing, what will happen next. The production runs through May 15. Tickets are $20 to $73, same phone and website above.

THEATRE AT THE CENTER, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana, veers from its traditional musical fare to present a riveting mystery thriller, Sleuth, through March 20. Award-winning actors Larry Yando (left in photo), well-known to Chicagoland theater-goers, and Lance Baker (at right) star in the TAC's first production of the 2011 season.
Opening night drew a modest but wildly enthusiastic crowd that bounced out of their seats for a standing ovation when the lights went down (thrust stage, no curtain). Yando, on stage the entire time, does not miss a beat of his character's calculated wickedness. If I say too much about Baker, I'd reveal too much about the storyline. But Baker also gives a stunning performance. This is a do not miss for all the murder mystery fans out there. Tickets are $36-$40 at (219) 836-3255, at (800) 511-1552 and on the theater website at Parking at TATC is always free.

THEATRE AT THE CENTER, THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES, presents the ArtsPower National Touring Theatre production of the classic, Anne of Green Gables March 29-April 2. Tickets are $8.50 adults, $7 children. Theater address and where to buy tickets in listing above.

TOWLE THEATER, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond, opens its eighth season with the musical comedy, Ruthless, the Director's Cut. The story revolves around 8-year-old Tina Denmark (Nicole Dizon, left) who is convinced she is the right person to play Pippi Longstocking in the school play and will thus do anything to get the part (Robin Childress also is featured). Murder comes to mind. This seductively funny musical comedy, obviously not for kids, continues through March 30. Tickets are $15 at (219) 937-8780 and at the theater website, Free, secured parking is just off Lafayette Street, steps from the theater's back door. From what we have noticed, that appears to be where most people park.


MOJO AND THE BAYOU GYPSIES bring Mardi Gras to Chicagoland with what promises to be a rocking Cajun CD release party and concert at 8 p.m. March 4 at the Montrose Room, Intercontinental Hotel, 5300 N. River Road, Rosemont. Advance tickets $20-$89, at the door $25-$99, Ticketmaster and (847) 544-5300. If you've never been to a Mojo concert, treat yourself to an awesome concert you won't forget. And for Mojo's huge fan base in Chicagoland, well all those people know what's coming and this show will rock, Looziana Bayou style. That's good buddy Mojo (front, center) with his wild hat. Wherever Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies play, it's Mardi Gras time.


View the skies through some of the world's Great Observatories in 3D, an all-new show now running in the Universe Theater at ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM, 1300 S. Michigan Ave. (at the east end of Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-7827 (STAR). This show takes you behind the scenes with some of the world's most incredible telescopes so you can see how new discoveries reach the human eye. All the info you need for your virtual ride to the stars is at

HERBERT TRACKMAN PLANETARIUM one of the Southland's far-too-well-kept secrets, located on the main campus of Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Road. The planetarium presents always-free Sky Shows every month with astronomy advocate and host, Art Maurer. Art is one of those guys who can answer just about any question his audiences might ask and his explanations are clear! General audience shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays: March 1 - Skies of Spring;  March 15 - Our Solar System; March 29 - The Ferni Paradox. If weather permits, there will be telescope viewing after the show. The 6:30 p.m. Thursday shows are for the younger set: March 10 - Skies of Spring (young); March 24 - Dec. 21, 2012. No, the world is not going to end. 

Use your GPS to find the place on the Joliet Junior Campus off Houbolt Road. If you need good directions, Art says you can e-mail him at

THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, 111. S. Michigan Ave. On Feb. 5 the museum opens American Modern, a collection of more than 140 photographs by Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Walker Evans (1903-1975) and Margaret Bourke-White (1906-1971, now through May 15. As this column goes to press, or online, the Art Institute is conducting previews of Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France. All the exhibit details and info you need to plan a day at the Art Institute are at Pictured: The Madonna of Yarnwinder by Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519).

BROOKFIELD ZOO, 3300 Golf Road, (708) 485-2000. For more information check out at (Chicago Zoological Society). OK. I didn't say it, but the folks at Brookfield did. Here goes: "Have a swinederful day" March 5 at the zoo's National Pig Day Celebration. The fun begins at 1 p.m. in the Children's Zoo and the kids will serenade said piggies, (including American guinea hogs pictured), with "with a hog-wild rendition of 'Happy Pig Day'". There's much more and in fact, the zoo always has something going on for visitors of all ages.

Years ago, I met and wrote about the legendary Dr. Margaret Burroughs who, with her husband, in 1961 founded what became the DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY --  in their home. The museum featured items the couple had collected or others had donated. Burroughs, who died late last year at 93, also remains a legend in the world of art with an incredible body of artworks focused on African American people and cultures.

When our Star Newspapers' photographer and I interviewed Dr. Burroughs at the DuSable, she gave each of us a personally signed posters of a few of her classic woodcuts. Authentic treasures.

The museum today is located at 740 E. 56th Place, virtually on the University of Chicago campus. The exhibit Red, White, Blue and Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services, reveals the struggles of the 14 million African Americans who have served in the military on American shores, starting long before the American Revolution. Of course there is much more, both art and history. All the details for a DuSable visit are at (773) 947-0600 and The DuSable website lists many activities and the exhibits and proves that every month is Black History Month.

Chicagoland's  own T. rex, Sue, continues her restful stay in the grand hall of FIELD MUSEUM, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive (on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-9410. Now through Aug. 14, The Horse, a new exhibit at Field, is an exploration of the profound relationship between humans and horses and a look at how human civilization has been influenced the horses. Visitors will explore more than 200 different breeds of horses, artworks focused on horses and much more. Horse whisperers will not want to say nay to this exhibit. Sorry. Couldn't resist. BTW: One of Field's best kept secrets is the Crown Family Playlab where little ones will have a great time digging up fossils and playing games in the world of natural history. Details and tickets for a trip to the museum are at and at (312) 922-9410.

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 2203 E. Chicago Ave., (312) 280-2660, presents Coming into Character, an exhibit of works by American painter Jim Nutt, through May 29. Known for his "inventiveness biting wit and distorted figure," the exhibit promises a striking new look at modern art. All the details are at Take a look at the museum website and at Nutt online. His work is striking and he is one of the foremost contemporary artists at work today. Nutt was born in 1938 so add some years to the photo at left from the MOMA website.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, looks ahead to its third Body Worlds exhibit, the Cycle of Life, which has its U.S. premiere at MSI starting March 18 and closing Sept. 5. The 14,000 square feet of Body Worlds, Cycle of Life focuses on the human life cycle and follows the previous two exhibits of its type. According to Dr. Gunther von Hagens of Germany, who discovered what he calls plastination, people will their bodies to the exhibit. They are then preserved via plastination, a see through look at the working of the human form and various organs, often displayed separated. Be forewarned. The features in this exhibit, as in the previous two, once were living people or their organs that have been donated with complete details of how they will be used.

Body Worlds are at once absolutely fascinating while at the same time the concept has a macabre side. I was entranced with Body Worlds and at the same time found myself wondering about the people whose bodies I was viewing. In any case, for anyone fascinated by the workings of the human body, nothing can take the place of von Hagens' exhibits. More details are at (773) 684-1414. Photo courtesy Museum of Science and Industry

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, (312) 738-1503, looks at the indigenous societies known as the Huichol who inhabited what is now Mexico long before the formation of nation defined by boundaries and a central government. "The ancestral traditions, an impressive artistic legacy and notable contributions to Mexican history are attributable to this people. Alas, today this beautiful collection of people face the brutality of deforestation, construction and mining that threaten their very existence. La Nacio Huichol, from the Sea to the Desert looks at the people throughout history through photographs, artwork and more. The exhibit runs through August. Admission to this extraordinary museum is free. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum offers many programs and special classes. Information is at the number above and

SHEDD AQUARIUM, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is where you can go eye to eye with a dolphin or take a stroll with a penguin and much more. Fascinating and mysterious, the World of Sea Jellies invades Shedd starting April 15. More as the date approaches. Head to the aquarium website more  details about what is there and how to plan your day. Remember, there's no way you can do it all or even see it all. Everything you need for a visit is at and at (312) 939-2438. The website also has links to enchanting looks at some of Shedd's aquatic residents.


photo by sarah gross

Blog Archive

About Me

Tinley Park, Illinois
As a longtime newspaperwoman who left the business to freelance, I want to keep in touch with the world. This is my place to reach out with words.