Actor extraordinaire, James Harms, returning soon to Theatre at the Center.
Molly Nunn in the title role of Highland (Indiana) Performing Arts Group's "Sweet Charity." Dear Readers,
OMG! The list of what's going on in the Southland, the museums
and other regional venues is almost endless so if you are searching for something to do, you need look no further.
There's free stuff, all prefaced by 'FREE' and tons of cheap fabulous theater.
This week, the Drama Group's "Seussical ... the Musical" opens and I hope you'll take a look at my little memory triggered by thoughts of this production. Of course, hope to see you at the Studio Theatre too.
And, SLATE company debuts with "Into the Woods" at Center for Performing Arts, GSU.
Later this month, the Illinois State Fair in Springfield will really rock as the Southland's own Neverly Brothers perform Aug. 20 and 21.
I've expanded the museum information a bit and will be adding more as fall advances.
Meanwhile, this is a crazy month of traveling to see family so I will not be doing another full-blown blog until early September. However, I will send out brief updates so watch for those updates.
Hope you are having an awesome summer. Can you believe it's already August??
As always, please feel free to e-mail me any corrections: email@example.com. And do, please do, pass this blog site along to anyone who might want to know what's happening.
As always, feel free to e-mail me with anything for the blog or about the blog!
Thanks and to all my theater friends, "Break a leg."
MUSIC, DANCE AND MORE
BRISTOL RENAISSANCE FAIRE
Sure. You've seen the ads and thought for years, "Hey, I really want to go to this." Well, why not now? For the 22nd year, the Bristol Renaissance Faire brings more than 1,200 performers, 16th century games, rides, arts and crafts, entertainment and yes, the giant turkey legs faire-goers love to devour. Jousting knights, swashbuckling swordsmen, dancers and court musicians are just a few of the Elizabethan weekend gala every-weekend-through-Sept. 7. The Bristol Faire is, well, actually not in England but off Interstate 94, just west of the Russell Road exit. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and gate admission is $18.95, $9.50 for children 5 to 12. RenQuest role playing game tickets are an additional $10 or $15 for the entire weekend. Advance discount tix are at www.renfaire.com and at (847) 395-7773
"CHICAGO DANCING FESTIVAL 2009"
FREE! Yes, it's a freebie dance gala."A Celebration of American Dance," an open performance under the stars, takes place starting at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. This extraordinary event will feature artists from some of the country's most acclaimed dance troupes including Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Step Africa and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the all-male Les Ballet Grandiva. Seating begins two hours before curtain time and advance reservations are not necessary. www.chicagodancingfestival.com.
CHICAGO JAZZ CLUB CRAWL
All aboard the luxury coach bus for the next Chicago Jazz Club Crawl on Aug. 20. The tour returns back to yesteryear when jazz pub crawls were the Chicago thing. All the details for this extraordinary jazz feast are at www.chicagojazzclubcrawl.com and at (866) 717-TOUR (8687).
DEBBIE DOES DRURY LANE
Tammy (for those of us who remember) has been a senior citizen for years, but her talent and appeal have not waned. The legendary Debbie Reynolds will kick up her heels and share inside Hollywood stories (hmm, what about Liz and Eddie?) at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace from Aug. 6 to 9. Tickets are $33 and dinner packages are available at (630) 530-0111 and www.drurylaneoakbrook.com.
Ron Hawking brings "The Men and Their Music" to Drury Lane on Oct. 6 for two performances only.
GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA
Yes, you read that right. The extraordinary big band arrangements live on with the official Glenn Miller Orchestra, a legacy unmatched in the musical world. "In the Mood," "Moonlight Serenade" and "String of Pearls" are only a few classics the audience will hear when the orchestra performs on Aug. 30 at Munster (Indiana) High School Auditorium, 8808 Columbia Ave. Tickets, $25 and $35, and information are at (219) 938-9001.
Yes, THE Michael. King of Pop Hometown Tours are go go go! Starting Aug. 7, tours will begin at noon and last till 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Details including reservations, route and stops, are at www.thekingofpoptours.com (Be sure to get the 'the' in the url) and at (866) 717- TOUR (8687). Tickets are $55 adults, $45 children 6 to 12, no charge for the 5 and younger set. Transportation from hotels and airports available.
NEVERLY BROTHERS ROCK 'N' ROLL EXPERIENCE
FREE. They hail from the Southland but travel the country. Just back from a stint out west, the Neverly Brothers rock 'n' roll experience band will rock the burbs at two free concerts on Aug. 9; 1 to 3 p.m. at Four Seasons Park on Seil Road, one mile west of River Road, in Shorewood and at 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Ceasar Park, 141st Street and Kenton Avenue in Crestwood. This year the Nevs also head to Springfield to play at the Illinois State Fair, Aug. 20 and 21 at the Shed Stage, across from the Lincoln Stage.
MEET ME IN ... BEECHER
Oops. I meant St. Louis. Indeed, Beecher Part-Time Players present the musical "Meet Me in St. Louis," Aug. 21 to 29 at Beecher Community Hall Upstairs Theatre, 673 Penfield St. Tickets, on sale now, are $10 and $15 at (708) 431-1141.
SHAKESPEARE VISITS JOLIET
FREE. Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park, 201 W. Jeffereson St., Joliet, presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on the Bicentennial stage as Joliet's premiere of Shakespeare in the Park at 7 p.m., Aug. 11. No tickets and none of this to be or not to be there. Just be there. Bring a blanket to sit on, and concessions will be available.
HORTON HEARS A WHAT?
It's not about Horton, but you have to hear this story. Does anyone else recognize these lines: "This might be a river, Now mightn't it be, Connecting McElligot's Pool with the sea." Last week while thinking about the Drama Group's upcoming "Seussical ... the Musical," a long ago memory flashed through my brain. One of my very, very first books was Dr. Seuss' "McElligot's Pool." I seemed to remember my Aunt Ada and Uncle Rolland giving me the book in the late 1940s or very early '50s when I was no more than 7 or 8.
This past weekend, I called Aunt Ada, who will be 83 this month, to see if my memory served me right and if she had any recollection of the gift. She told me as a young elementary school teacher, she had collected Dr. Suess books and yes, she was almost 100 percent certain she and Uncle Rol (now 84) indeed did give me a copy of "McElligot's ...."
I haven't seen a copy for decades so on Sunday, yes, I ordered the book from Amazon.
With a 1947 copyright date, "McElligot's Pool" alas has become one of Dr. Seuss' almost-forgotten classics, and I cannot understand why. Thus, I'm thrilled to read it's quoted in the lyrics of "Seussical ..." The Drama Group production opens Aug. 7 and runs through Aug. 16 at the Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. No surprise, tickets have been moving quickly, and a few performances are sold out already. Sidenote: Some Cat with a striped hit told me the show will be spectacular! Tickets are $15 adults, $14 students and seniors, (708) 755-3444 and at www.dramagroup.org.
Coming in Octorber, the Drama Group will present 'Rent' for a very limited run. You just might want to get your tickets for this one soon too. Season tickets could be the right decision!!
This powerful musical never disappears, perhaps because it touches on humankind's frailties during a time period that was witness to a nightmare era, wrought by the worst of the human species. Once seen, "Cabaret" simply cannot be forgotten. Jim Corti directs and choreographs this iconic theatrical work opening Aug. 13 and running through Oct. 11 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, from Aug. 6 to 9. Tickets are $33 and dinner packages are available at (630) 530-0111 and www.drurylaneoakbrook.com.
'SWEET (FREE) CHARITY'
FREE! The Highland (Indiana) Performing Arts Group will present "Sweet Charity"concert in the park at the Main Square Gazebo at Ridge Road and 5th Street, Highland. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Molly Nunn stars as Charity. and Aug. 6-8. Bring chairs, blankets and plan on a great time!
'LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA'
Reviews are in and Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, indeed has another hit of the 2009 season. The 2005 Tony-winning Broadway musical, "The Light in the Piazza," opened last week, bringing the romance of Italy to the stage through Sept. 20. Mary Ernster and Summer Smart shine as the characters originated by Olivia deHavilland and Yvette Mimieux in the 1962 Hollywood romance. The 2005 Broadway musical hit follows the original story of a very protective mother and her 20 year-old daughter galavanting around Rome. Romance finds the girl, but the mother holds a secret that could dramatically change this blossoming love.
Fortunately, filmdom's George Hamilton did not have to sing as lovestruck Fabrizio in the movie, but Marriott's Max Quinlan is a phenomenal musical theater performer. Gene Weygandt stars as Fabrizio's father, a part created by Rossano Brazzi and Paula Scrofano gives a charming, convincing performance as Fabrizio's mother.
While I loved the show, I did not expect it to progress in an operatic fashion; that is with the storyline carried forward by actors generally singing their lines. While two reviewers absolutely loved the music, another shared my opinion that the music is not memorable. But then, "... Piazza won a Tony in 2005 for Best Original Score so the critics who love the score obviously outweigh those who do not.
Joe Leonardo's directing is wonderfully on target for this Roman holiday. Tickets are at (847) 634-0200 and at www.marriotttheatre.com. Prices: $45 and $55, with $5 discount for students and seniors; dinner packages available. m.e.
GLASS SLIPPER LOST AT THE BALL
"Cinderella" dazzles all at the prince's ball at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, 10 Marriott Drive through Aug. 29. The brilliant Marc Robin, a director, choreographer as well as composer, wrote this imaginative and interactive production. Kids of all ages and kids at heart will share the experience as Cinderella learns dreams really can come true. All tickets are $12. Times and performance dates are at (837) 634-0200 and www.MarriottTheatre.com.
WHERE FOR ART THOU RECORD STORE?
Route 66 Theatre brings the Nick Hornby story, "High Fidelity ... The Musical," to the stage at Pipers Alley Theater, 1608 N. Wells St., Chicago, opening Aug. 17. Although Hornby did not write the musical book, "High Fidelity" fans no doubt are going to head to Old Town to see what should be a terrific production. 'High Fidelity ..." tickets are $29.50 to $39.50 at (312) 664-8844 and atwww.route66theatre.org.
BACK TO THE WOODS
Billy Vitucci stars as the Baker and Meghan Hoyt as the Witch when the all-new Southland Area Theatre Ensemble, or SLATE, opens its debut production with thee performances of Stephen Sondheim's blended fairytale classic, "Into the Woods," on Aug. 14 and 15 at Center for Performing Arts, Governors State University. Tickets are $18-$21 adults, $16-19 students at (708) 235-2222 and www.centertickets.net.
UP, UP AND AWAY
We all daydream at times, giving way to our imaginations as we drift away toward some real or imaginary place. Of course, reveries frequently are just that, wisps of hope. Some people live in their dreams, airs of the past or a hoped-for-future as thin as smoke. The Steppenwolf theater production, "Up," by Bridget Carpenter takes the audience into the heart of a family struggling to confront reality vs. dreams. The entire cast generates the stage chemistry this outstanding production demands, and as an added bonus, Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey is phenomenal in a pivotal feature role. "Up" goes through Aug. 23 in the lower theater, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago. Tickets are $20-$70 at (312) 335-1650 and at www.steppenwolf.org. m.e.
'LOOSE, FOOTLOOSE, KICK OFF YOUR SUNDAY SHOES'
Director-choreographer Stacey Flaster weaves her magic onstage at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, as she recreates for stage the 1984 iconic movie, "Footloose," through Aug. 16. Matt Raftery as the new kid, Renn, and Andrea Prestinario as the town preacher's rebellious daughter, Ariel, soar as the entire production brings audiences to their feet, clapping and hooting with joy. This nonstop, high energy musical -- including the 1980s classic song "Footloose" along with "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and "Holding Out for a Hero" -- grabs the heart and soul and reminds us that life is good. And yes, it's OK to put the world's woes aside for a couple of wondrous hours. Bound for superstardom, Flaster does not miss a beat, and every moment of this show reveals her fresh and energizing theatrical touch. Tickets are $36 to $40 at (219) 836-3255 and atwww.theatreatthecenter.org. Parking, of course, is always free! m.e.
Awesome theater news flew into my e-mail box today. The inimitable, phenomenal, incredible veteran stage actor James Harms returns to Theater at the Center this fall in the title role of "Don Quixote."
WITH THESE HANDS
ALWAYS FREE! The Tall Grass Arts Association, 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, continues its exhibition, "With These Hands," an extraordinary collection of sculpture and wall images by local and national artists. The show continues through Sept. 13. This is the first gallery exhibit of this type for Tall Grass as well as the first time many of these artists have shown their works in the Chicago area. The media these artists employ are bounded only by the imagination. One of the Southland's most acclaimed sculptors, Grant White of Ford Heights, is one of the featured artists. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. More information is at the gallery, (708) 748-3377 and at www.tallgrassarts.org. Take a look in the gift shop while you are there. I love to buy wonderfully unusual notecards there!
CHICAGO OUTDOOR FILM FESTIVAL
FREEBIE FILMS! William Holden and Broderick Crawford, along with Judy Holliday, star in the 1950 classic "Born Yesterday" at the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, every Tuesday through Aug. 25 at Butler Field in Grant Park, Lake Shore Drive at Monroe. Guaranteed I will not be there on Aug. 11, when Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 slasher classic, "Psycho," is screened. I still remember running out of the theater, crying with terror when I saw the film during its original 1959 release. The list of films for the remaining Tuesday nights is at Chicago films.
ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM
The iconic dome that tops a magnificent structure jutting out into Lake Michigan can only belong to one place; Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. Now appearing in Adler's Definiti theater "IBEX: The Search for the Edge of the Solar System," takes viewers to the edge of solar system to explore the possibilities that the IBEX spacecraft (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) will probe in the region where the solar wind meets interstellar space. That is, where does our solar system end? Adler's newest exhibit examines the history of stargazing, from before the era of telescopes to the modern era of telescopes and beyond. You'll see authentic telescopes from the Galileo era (early 1600s) on up through today and into the realm where telescopes can actually communicate with each other. "Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass" is included in general admission. All the details about exhibits as well as options to plan your trip and purchase tickets are at www.adlerplanetarium.org.
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
Japanese folding screens have captivated the imagination of art lovers worldwide since first introduced to the Western world in the 16th century. The expansive screen provided each artist with a tableau on which to create any reality, any dream and flight of fantasy -- limited only the painter's imagination. "Beyond Golden Clouds: Japanese Screens from the Art Institute of Chicago and the St. Louis Art Museum" will continue on display through Sept. 27 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. "A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today" explores the shapes and scenes and materials artists have employed since ancient times to create wondrous vessels for the fruit of the vine. With credit to the Art Institute for the comment, I would note the exhibit is pegged as "intoxicating." The exhibit runs through Sept. 20. On schedule for March, "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917," should be a blockbuster. All information about the museum is at www.artic.edu
BROOKFIELD ZOO GOES COUNTRY
Yeehaw everyone! Zoo Tunes, Brookfield Zoo's summer concert series, concludes Aug. 23 with triple treat of country music including Cross Country Junction, Josh Garcia and multiplatinum singing star Darryl Worley. Showtime is 1 p.m. and included with Zoo admission. The zoo is located off First Avenue between Interstate 55 (the Stevenson) and I-290 (the Eisenhower), The zoo also may be accessed off I-294 and most RTA lines. All the information you need is at Brookfield Zoo's website.
Say "hi' to Sue. There's something exciting about dinosaurs, and kids as well as the kid within each of us, find adventure and intrigue in the giant animals that walked Earth millions of years ago. Alas, far too many people have never met Sue, the ginormous T. rex that greets visitors in the huge open area immediately past the entrance at Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Sue's relatives appear in an all-new 3D film, "Dinosaurs Alive," in the museum's new theatre. Coming on Oct. 23 -- They sparkle, dazzle and have a dark side too. An all new exhibit, "The Nature of Diamonds," opens Oct. 23. Watch for more details. Everything needed for a trip to the legendary Field Museum on the Museum Campus is at www.fieldmuseum.org.
DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY
Blues in Bronzeville, uniquely Chicago. Now through Dec. 13, the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, in conjunction with "The Chicago Blues Museum, presents "The Soul of Bronzeville: TheRegal, Club DeLisa and the Blues Exhibit." The exhibit features rare photos and memorabilia of Chicago blues legends Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Buddy Guy and more. In addition to the Blues exhibit, the museum also presents, "Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services." "The call to serve one's country, for the more than 14 million black men and woman who have served, has been a battle of its own long before the colonies enlisted the first militia," museum information states. More than 100 artifacts, objects, images and documents from that battle are on display in an open-ended exhibit. More information about the DuSable Museum is at www.dusablemuseum.org.
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
Check out the world-famous Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street and Cornell (off Lake Shore Drive) this summer for never-ending wonders. LEGO my -- ohmygosh. Attention LEGO fans of ALL ages will not want to miss "Art + Science = Architecture," a mind-boggling exhibit of architectural wonders recreated in, yup, LEGOS. Structures include Sears (I just can't say the W word) Tower, St. Louis Gateway Arch and skyscrapers from around the world, all created by trained architect and LEGO professional Adam Reed Tucker. Also, Tucker will be working on his latest project on Sept. 12 in the museum's Rotunda. The entire exhibit runs through March 15 and is included in general admission.
And opening Oct. 8 at MSI, "YOU! The Experience." You read that right. An all-new permanent exhibit looking at YOU celebrates the mind, the body and spirit in an interactive, high tech 21st century gallery. Think Wii on steroids. Watch your blood flow in infrared, see the new 13-footsize human heart and find out your own heart rate. Ever thought hamsters had it great, playing all day on those little wheels they push round and round? Well, a visit to YOU will give you just the chance to play hamster on a human-sized wheel. Unlike the hamster, however, you'll be getting real-time feedback on your body's response to aerobic activity. YOU will offer much more and this blog will provide more details as opening date nears.
Lastly for this issue, faster than you can cast a spell, "Harry Potter and the Blood Prince" in the Imax theater and "Harry Potter the Exhibition" are in their final weeks; both close Sept. 27.
All the info you need for an MSI trip is at www.msichicago.org.
Shedd Aquarium is at 1200 Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus and there's something fishy going on there. Of course, the new, improved and enlarged Oceanarium offers delights for all ages and if you are with the young ones, you can take them to Polar Play Zonewhere they can pretend to be penguins or deep sea explorers and more. What fun! Details, tickets and information for planning your trip to this extraordinary aquarium, a Chicago treasure, are at www.sheddaquarium.org.