First of all, I will not be able release a new blog until the last weekend of this month, so I have included in this posting almost everything that has come into my e-mail inbox in the last several weeks.
But a few reminders are in order. This is the last weekend for Illinois Theatre Center's "Shayna Madel," a touching memory play that goes back and forth in time. Also, this is the final wekend for Drama Group's production of the Broadway smash musical "Rent."
Also listed -- Shedd Aquarium's all-new "Fantasea" (see mystical Oceanarium photo) brings 21st century technology, a magical story and beautiful sea mammals together in an Oceanarium production like none before.
And this month, animal and environmental guru Jeff Corwin heads to Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University. Check the full listing in the blog.
And remember the big heart model at the Museum of Science and Industry? Well, take a look at the all-new heart (far right) in the totally new permanent exhibit opening Oct. 8, "You: The Experience." More about that in Chicagoland treasures.
Steppenwolf's phenomenal season opener, "Fake," stands out as one of the most brilliant and stimulating dramas I've seen in years. Kate Arrington and Francis Guinan are joined by three other actors in a script that mesmerizes from the opening line. My mini-review follows this little note.
Spotlight Theatre presents a thriller, "Veronica's Room," (photo above) featuring Michael Fisher of Tinley Park (from left) Nicole Fleming of Burbank and Desiree Kendra of Tinley Park.
And those are just hints of what's inside this latest "And Now Presenting ..."
As always, please e-mail comments and any corrections to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steppenwolf launches new season with masterful drama
Steppenwolf Theatre launches its new season with "Fake," a brilliant drama that shifts between 1914 and the mid-20th century with the Piltdown man hoax the focal point for escalating tension in both time periods.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Francis Guinan) invites four people, including a persistent investigative reporter (Kate Arrington) from the United States, for what starts out as an evening of cordial conversation. The discussion rapidly deteriorates into antagonistic barb-throwing when all four vehemently argue their individual takes on the potentially fraudulent nature of the Piltdown man discovery.
The action shifts to the living room of a professor some 40 years later, but the focus remains on what turned out to be either an accidental or deliberate archeological hoax.
As the play segues from past to future, there is no lack of continuity in the seamless plot.
Playwright/director Eric Simonson's characters focus on the issue of the debate, Piltdown, but they also develop into complex personalities whose relationships break or solidify as their opinions about the so-called "missing link" evolve.
This is one of those rare dramas that not only enrich the soul but tantalize the intellect.
Larry Yando, Coburn Goss and Alan Wilder round out a stellar cast of five, each actor portraying two characters, one in each time slot. Extraordinary sets bring the audience right into the eras, locations and conversations on stage.
Steppenwolf is at 1640 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Tickets are $20 to $70 at (312) 335-1650 and at www.steppenwolf.org.
CURTAIN CALL COMMUNITY THEATRE
It's a romp into Mystery Dinner Theatre with "Funeral for a Gangster" with the Curtain Call Community troupe, Oct 16-25, at Jenny's Steakhouse, aka Ruby's Speakeasy, 20 Kansas St., Frankfort. Tickets are $30 at (815) 464-2685.
THE DRAMA GROUP ... Rent's due!
The Drama Group's production of the Broadway hit"Rent," a blockbuster musical, continues through Oct. 11, at the Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are at (708) 755-3444 www.dramagroup.org. The classic storyline of Puccini's opera "La Boheme" is brought into contemporary times where shelter remains a precious commodity for struggling artists and sickness brings a scourge upon the community. Only now the disease is not "consumption," but AIDS. Tickets are selling quickly and according to the latest Drama Group Blast, some shows are sold out. If you want to see what promises to be an outstanding production, act now!
DRURY LANE OAKBROOK
The Broadway smash hit "Thoroughly Modern Millie," directed by artistic director William Osetek, opens Oct. 22 and runs through Dec. 20 at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, 100 Drury Lane. Show only tickets are $29-$38 and dinner theater packages are available. Student and senior tickets greatly reduced; (630) 530-0111, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.
GAELIC PARK PLAYERS
GGP presents "Craddock's Well," Nov. 6-22 at Chicago Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th St., Oak Forest. Tickets and times are at (708) 687-9323.
H-F PARK DISTRICT COMMUNITY THEATER
Take out the wooden stakes and all your anti-vampire paraphernalia. "Bunnicula," the vampire bunny that sucks juices out of vegetables, is coming to the 'burbs. The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Community Theater presents this all ages charming production on Oct. 24 and 25 at the H-F Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut, Homewood. Tickets and times are at www.hfparks.com and at (708) 957-0300.
ILLINOIS THEATRE CENTER
Illinois Theatre Center, 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, opens its season with"A Shayna Maidel," which continues through Oct. 11. The "memory play" goes back and forth in time and focuses on a family divided before the Holocaust. A father and his little daughter came to America before the Nazis came to power. Alas, the mother and another daughter remain in Eastern Europe and later are captured and sent to a concentration camp. The New York Times raved about the production in that city. Tickets are $19 and $21, $1 discount for seniors, students; (708) 481-3510.
MARRIOTT THEATRE -- Big hair's back!
Laughs galore, tons of fun and big hair return as the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Hairspray" rocks the Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire through Dec. 6. One of Chicagoland's most well-known actors, Ross Lehman, jumps into the role (along with wig, bra, makeup and more) as Edna Turnblad in this rollicking production directed and choreographed by the brilliant Marc Robin. Parking is free and tickets are $45 with $5 discount for seniors and students: (847) 634-0200 and www.marriotttheatre.com. Dinner packages are available.
ORLAND PARK THEATRE TROUPE
The OPTT presents "Sound Effects," Nov. 13-15 at Orland Park Civic Center, 14700 Ravinia. Tickets are $13, $11 seniors and $9 for children, (708) 403-7275 and at www.orland-park.il.us.
PALOS VILLAGE PLAYERS
Medieval England returns later this fall with the Palos Village Players' production of "Lion in Winter," Nov. 6 - Nov. 14 at Palos Park Recreation Center, 8901 W. 123rd St. Tickets are $15, $12 students and seniors; (877) 787-8197 and at www.pvp.org.
PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE
The almost mythical romantic comedy musical, "The Fantasticks," the longest running show in New York, opens the 15th season of Porchlight Music Theatre in the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, through Nov. 14. Tickets are $37, discounts for seniors, students: (773) 327-5252 and through Ticketmaster outlets.
For two weekends only, Oct. 22 - Nov. 1, Porchlight celebrates its 15th anniversary with an updated version of one the company's most popular hits, the humorously macabre"Macabaret," performed with parody by the Corpse de Cabaret. Tickets are $30, available at locations above.
PROVISION THEATER COMPANY
Provision Theater revives its 2004 hit, Harry Chapin's "Cotton Patch Gospel," to Nov. 8 with a revamped version in the company' new home, 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago. Tickets are $25 to $28 at (866) 822-4111 and at www.provisiontheater.org.
"Veronica's Room," a chilling thriller by Ira Levin, author of "Deathtrap" and "Rosemary's Baby," walks a fine line between "fantasy and reality, madness and murder," according to Spotlight's Facebook page. The show runs from Oct. 16 - Oct. 24 at Sherman Recital Hall, Governors State University, University Park. Tickets are $14, senior student discounts; reservations at (708) 798-1188 and by e-mail at email@example.com.
STEPPENWOLF -- Watson, that skull please!
Attention Sherlock Holmes, anthropologists and archeology fans. Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago opens its 2009-2010 season with an absolutely brilliant new play, "Fake," written and directed by company member Eric Simonson. See review at top of blog.
Steppenwolf for Young Adults presents "The House on Mango Street," Oct. 13 to Nov. 1. Tickets are $20. Tickets and performance information at www.steppenwolf.org and (312) 335-1640.
THEATRE AT THE CENTER
A brilliant production of "Man of La Mancha," starring James Harms as Don Quixote de la Mancha, and David Perkovich as Sancho Panza runs through Oct. 17 at Theater at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Tickets are $36 to $40 at (219) 836-2555 and at www.tickets.com. More details are at www.theatreatthecenter.com. See review from previous blog at the end of this posting.
Theatre at the Center for Young Audiences presents "Alice in Wonderland" Oct. 7-10. Times and ticket information are on the theater website or at the phone number above.
THEATRE OF WESTERN SPRINGS
Jane Austen's classic Victorian novel "Sense and Sensibility," adapted for the stage, brings early 19th century England to Chicagoland Oct. 22-Nov. 1 at Theatre of Western Springs, 4348 Hampton Ave. Tickets are $18 and $20, (708) 246-3380 and at www.theatrewesternsprings.com
TALL GRASS ARTS ASSOCIATION
Tall Grass Gallery, 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, continues the exhibit "Here and Now," through Nov. 21. The exhibit features works by many Tall Grass artists. Acrylic paintings, photographs, etchings, watercolors and even batiks. In addition, sculpture and pottery are among the many art forms on exhibit. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. More information at (708) 748-3377 and at www.tallgrassarts.org.
Tall Grass opens its fall 2009 Art Film Series at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Marcus Theatre, 1301 Hilltop Ave., Chicago Heights (immediately north of Lincoln Highway). The British production"Is Anybody There," starring Sir Michael Caine, opens the series. Other films include "Away We Go," with Maya Rudolph on Nov. 8; "Whatever Works" by Woody Allen and starring Larry David on Dec. 13; and "Moo," starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey on Jan. 10. Tickets to individual films are $8 or $28 for the entire series. More information is with the gallery, phone number above.
DANCE, MUSIC AND, WELL, ANIMALS
CENTER AT GSU
The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University presents a special show starring Animal Planet's Emmy Award-winning star host Jeff Corwin with his "Tales from the Field" at 2 p.m. Oct. 17. Viewed as a leading environmental conservationist, Corwin brings a animals, education and tons of fun in his family production. Tickets are $32-$39. $19-$26 for children 16 and younger, (708) 235-2222 or at www.centertickets.net.
John Boss, a frequent name on Chicago area cast lists, plays the New Swami in "Kama Sutra Bound and Gagged" a raunchy musical, at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, (773) 456-5262. Admission is $20 plus two drink minimum. Obviously this is strictly adults only. Word is the show is a hoot though we have not had time to see it.
CHICAGOLAND JAZZ TOURS
JWR Tours offers a Sweetest Day Jazz Club Crawl Tour on Oct. 17. Guests will travel on luxury limo buses that will tour up to three of Chicago's most elegant jazz venues with surprises including champagne, wines and cheeses while riding in comfort. Pickup locations are available at downtown hotels as well as Hyde Park and a south suburban location. The cost is $65 per person which includes free admission to the jazz clubs on the tour. Check it out atwww.jazzclubcrawl.com. Registration is set up at the website.
OH THOSE NEVERLYS!
The Neverly Brothers rock and roll experience headlines an open-to-all Halloween concert from 8:30-11:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Malcolm Mayo VFW Post 5422, 557 Baltimore St., Wilmington. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door, (815) 476-9400. Check out the band's full schedule at www.theneverlybrothers.com.
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. Under that dome, the Sky Theater continues to delight visitors as it has since 1930 when Adler opened as the first planetarium in the Western World. But there are other domes in Adler, one of them a hidden sky treasure built in 1913 -- the Atwood Sphere, now open on the lower level. About 10 visitors at a time ride a tiny cable car into the sphere and hear all about it. It is 15 feet in diameter with 62 holes in its metal dome into which light shines to show the positions of some of the brightest stars in the night sky. At one time, the Atwood was used to train early pilots to navigate the night sky. The sphere combines fun and nostalgia with astronomy. All the details about exhibits as well as options to plan your trip and purchase tickets are at www.adlerplanetarium.org.
HERBERT TRACKMAN PLANETARIUM October Skies
If you live in the Southland and never heard of Joliet Junior College's Trackman Planetarium, 1215 Houbolt Road (be sure to get directions to the planetarium), you are missing a real treat. It's one of the best kept secrets out here. The Sunday afternoon show series, geared to the younger set, begins at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 with "Are there Aliens?" All shows, for young people and general audiences, begin with a live show of the current night sky presented by astronomy guru Art Maurer of Crete. All shows are free so you just show up. The phone number is (815) 280-6682 and you can access the planetarium through the college website www.jjc.edu "Skies of October, Oct. 20 "Wonders in the Sky." The full sky show schedule is at www.jjc.edu
Then put Trackman in the search spot.
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
An all-new wing opened earlier this year at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. Admission to the classic and new sections is included in the admission price. Many Chicago area museum-goers do not know about the mesmerizing Thorne Miniature Rooms, some 20 small diorama-like spaces designed and furnished with miniatures representing different eras over the last few centuries in Europe and America. While not fairyland scenes, the rooms dazzle with precision as do the miniatures in the Fairy Castle at Museum of Science and Industry. Everything you need to know for a trip to the Art Institute is at www.artic.edu.
Brookfield's "Boo at the Zoo" and "DinoNites" will delight kids of all ages as the Halloween season begins. The events open Oct. 16. and run through weekends ending Oct. 25. This year, in addition to special family activities during the Boo season, a 7,000 square-foot corn maze will be open to visitors. Maze designers used some 5,000 cornstalks to create the walk-through maze. Parades, giant pumpkin-carving exhibitions and much more will fill the days during Boo season. All the details including a full schedule are at the Chicago Zoological Society website,www.czs.org.
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
Imagine this. Admission is only a penny for one entire weekend. Keep reading. Tons going on at the Chicago History Museum (formerly Chicago Historical Society), 1601 N. Clark St., (312) 642-4600, during this bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Two exhibits open Oct. 10 and run through April 2, 2010, "Abraham Lincoln Transformed" and"Benito Juarez and the making of modern Mexico." This exhibit is co-curated with the National Museum of Mexican Art and features more than 25 Mexican treasures never seen before in the United States. Admission to the museum the weekend of Oct. 10 is only a penny! Lots more is planned to celebrate and learn about two men whose leadership dramatically changed their respective nations in the second half of the nineteenth century. All the museum details are at www.chicagohistory.org.
DUSABLE MUSEUM/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.
"The Nature of Diamonds" and the updated, remodeled and renovated Grainger Hall of Gems open Oct. 23 and promise to dazzle museum visitors exploring the nature of gems at Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus. A collaboration of four natural history museums, "... Diamonds" examines the geological origins of these precious minerals and looks at the history of diamonds as jewelry, symbols of wealth and power and its amazing technology applications. Ancient manuscripts, some of the world's most fascinating and famous diamonds as well as the stories behind these gems are just a few of the treasures visitors will discover in this all-new exhibit. At the same time "Diamonds" opens to the public, the totally updated legendary Grainger collection of gems, a permanent exhibit and always one of the Field's most treasured displays, will be unveiled. Admission prices and all the details you'll need for a Field visit are at www.fieldmuseum.org.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
"Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008" opens Nov. 14 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. This "ground-breaking" exhibit is "devoted to contemporary Italian art and creativity ... and presents more than 80 Italian artists active during the past four decades whose work offers a deep sense of originality and vitality," museum press notes state. The MCA not only contains its permanent and temporary exhibits but offers a wide range of avant-garde presentations. All the details are atwww.mcachicago.org.
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
Opening Oct. 8 at Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street and Cornell (off Lake Shore Drive) -- "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. All the info you need for an MSI trip is at www.msichicago.org.
"Fantasea," the all-new Oceanarium show at Shedd Aquarium, 1200 Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus, takes visitors on a magical trip. Dolphins, beluga whales and other ocean mammals become part of a story that combines theater and the Oceanarium experience in an extraordinary production unlike anything you've ever seen at the world-famous aquarium. The new, improved and enlarged Oceanarium offers delights for all ages including the Polar Play Zone where youngsters (OK, anyone) can pretend to be a penguin or deep sea explorer and much more. What fun! Details, tickets and information for planning your trip to this extraordinary aquarium, a Chicago treasure, are at www.sheddaquarium.org.
Mini review: Don Quixote de la Mancha rides again
James Harms brilliantly captures the heart and soul of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote in a phenomenal production of “Man of La Mancha,” directed by William Pullinsi at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, and running through Oct. 11.
Consummate performances by Harms, Ericka Mac (Aldonza/Dulcinea) and David Perkovich (Sancho Panza) are matched by a cast that includes Dennis Kelly, Larry Adams, Joe Tokarz, Audrey Billings and Ann McMann.
There are no weak links in this tour de force. Harms’ Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote reveals a man full of life, optimism and chivalry even as he faces possible death at the hands of the Spanish inquisitors. And finally an actor reaches the power, bravado and the tenderness called for in the character’s many musical numbers.
Harms’ character is funny, touching, somewhat mad and totally rational. His performance is sheer magic.
Casting Perkovich as Sancho was a masterstroke as well. Sancho is the perfect foil, friend and supporter of Cervantes because, as he sings, “I like him.”
Mac easily segues from the jaded whore Aldonza to the tender and vulnerable Dulcinea of Quixote’s waking dream.
The entire cast, Pullinsi’s extraordinary directing, Stacey Flaster’s captivating choreography as well as wonderful musical direction with big orchestra sound by William Underwood work together to bring extraordinary production to the stage. Tickets are at (219) 836-3258 and www.tickets.com. More information is at www.TheatreattheCenter.com.