Monday, May 25, 2009

Photos: Book covers of "Pazar" and "Sacrifice" as well as a view of Icy North 1 at Shedd Aquarium's newly re-opened Oceanarium.
And of course, the late Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues.
Dear Readers,
Thank you for your patience with me this over this much delayed blog posting. Since it is the weekend, I will plan on the next blog release for two weeks from this coming Sunday or Monday.
For those who do not know, my husband Murray had knee replacement surgery and  I just could not get blogging time. Of course, Murray always is my priority.
This week's blog has loads of new stuff interesting and challenging dramas coming up and what is billed as a blockbuster in religious -- sacred music coming to Dominican University.
On the lighter side of music, the Guess Who are heading guess where this month.
The Drama Group's challenging summer production, "The Laramie Project," tackling the murder of Matthew Shepard, opens next weekend.
Our world class museums never disappoint and while Harry Potter continues his stay at Museum of Science and Industry, the history of telescopes is the focus of an all-new exhibit at Adler. Also, Adler has free days this week so check it out.
Anyway, there's tons to do, locally and in the city, and I've included all the information pouring into my e-mail box.
Also, I was saddened to hear that Queen of the Blues Koko Taylor finally had succumbed to her many ailments. During my years as Don Snider's assistant editor to Firstlook arts and entertainment section, I had the privilege of interviewing the late blues legend who was an amazing and fascinating woman. In fact, she lived in Country Club Hills and thus agreed to Star interviews several times.
She was a grand and gracious lady, accessible to fans and down to earth. There was nothing fancy or fake about Taylor who reportedly was 80 when she died.
I want to write more and will, either for the next blog or an addendum sent separately, but for now will just say her famous words, "Wang Dang Doodle," and add that I will miss knowing she's around to delight blues fans worldwide.
As always, if you see errors, please do let me know. Hope your summer is going well.
Looking for something to read this summer? 
Think "Pazar" and horror. Two native Southland authors, whose names will sound familiar to many of you, have books now on sale both at stores and online. These are NOT self-published!
Dennis P. Wheeler, son of the legendary Denny Wheeler of Star Newspapers fame, takes readers into the land of Pazar, a place familiar to protagonist Roger Metwick from the character's Dungeons and Dragons game play. When Roger lands in Pazar, the MySteers brothers discover him and task him with a challenge in their own war against an army of evil led by a giant black Minotaur. The book, "Pazar You Say" is the first in the series of "Eye of the Time" books and is available at Amazon and other major booksellers. Sounds like a terrific read for fans of the supernatural and D&D.
Meanwhile, former Star "Pop Stops" columnist, John Everson, was secretly penning award-winning horror/dark arts stories and novels between CD reviews. John's first novel, "Covenant," garnered a Bram Stoker Award in 2004 and now his second full-length work, "Sacrifice," is on the market. "'Sacrifice' is told at a brisk pace, packed with extreme violence, unique ghosts and an antagonist, Ariana, who just may be one of the most disturbing female characters to slash her way through a horror novel in many a bloody moon," says Nick Cato of Stem shots. And that's only one of many reviews you can find of John's slasher tome.
If the magical/fantasy D&D or the slasher horror genres pique your interest, check out Wheeler and Everson online. So many writers work to break into the world of novels and few succeed. I'm always thrilled to see local authors, especially those I know, make the grade!
Secular compositions intrigue many classically attuned listeners and performers. For those music lovers, a blockbuster in the genre is headed to Dominican University, Lund Theatre in the Performing Arts Center, 7900 Division St., River Forest. To celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Order, Chiesa Nuova, a ministry for the performing arts in Chicago, will present "A Celebration of Hope and Peace" at 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 27. One of the major pieces in the concert, "Prayer for Peace," is described as an essay for string orchestra in six movements. All the details of this piece and the entire concert event can be found at Tickets are $40 to $50 at (708) 488-5000.
If you were around in the 1960s and '70s, you no doubt remember the Guess Who and many of their hits, including "These Eyes," "No Time," "American Woman" and "Laughing," just to name a few. Well, the band 's reunited with originals Jim Kale on bass and vocals and Garry Peterson on drums and vocals. 
So, Myra, why are you writing about the Guess Who? 
Well, Guess What! The Guess Who will headline the opening show, June 12, in the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District's annual Starry Nights concert series at Irwin Park, Highland Avenue and Ridge Road, Homewood. Advance tickets are $20 and $7 for children 3 to 15, (708) 957-0300 and at Park District offices. Tickets on day of concert are an additional $5. Times tba.
Other Starry Nights concerts will feature Doo Wop Spectacular with Terry Johnson's Flamingos, the El Dorados and Jonny Keyes & the Magnificents on June 26, and 1964, a Beatles tribute band, on July 24. 
The Drama Group continues rehearsals for its next production, "The Laramie Project" set for the Studio Theatre, 330 202nd St., Chicago Heights. "This fast paced, thought provoking play challenges you to confront your own deep-seated beliefs and tolerance for others," the press release states. Hundreds of interviews gave rise to "Laramie," which is presented as a series of "interviews" in the wake of the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student. The young gay man was a hate crime murder victim, tied to a fence post and tortured. I have not seen "Laramie" but am convinced the phenomenal Drama Group will do justice to the topic and to Matthew Shepard. Incidentally, DG is the first local theater to tackle this challenging piece so mark the dates, June 11-21. Box office phone number is (708) 755-3444. Web site is
Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, brings back the 1950s with "Pump Boys and Dinettes," a musical tribute to the long gone era when gas station attendants pumped and dinette gals sassed next door at the Double Cupp diner. This tons of fun musical trip back in time is terrific summer fare and runs through Aug. 2. Tickets are $29 to $33, dinner theater packages available. Tickets are at (630) 530-0111
Still kicking up her heels to great reviews, the legendary Debbie Reynolds will take the Drury Lane stage Aug. 6-9. More details later this summer.
Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire asks, "Can you spell 'h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s?'" Former Firstlook editor Don Snider asks, "Can you spell 'f-u-n?'" Or what about spelling the "25th APBCSB," he asks. "The latter is the acronym for 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,' the Tony Award-winning musical at the Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, running through July 19," Don continues. "It's basically the same musical that had a long run at Drury Lane Theatre-Water Tower Place about a year ago, and has some of the same cast members including Roberta Duchak as one of the Bee' judges and Eric Roediger as William Barfee. The show also has all the same hilarity of the previous production," Don says. "But it doesn't have the downtown parking fees (free at Marriott)." Show tickets are $45 and dinner theater packages are available Wednesdays through Sundays, phone (847) 634-0200. 
Orland Park Theatre Troupe presents "Back II Broadway" dinner theater on July 10 and 19 at Orland Chateau, 14500 LaGrange Road, Orland Park. Tickets are $40 a person at (708) 403-7275 and at
Porchlight Music Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, continues its production "Once On This Island," a "Caribbean musical fairytale," re-imagined by the company, through June 28.
Tickets are $37, discounts for students and seniors, at Ticketmaster outlets and at the theater, (773) 327-5252,
It's coming soon, an all-new theater company. Southland Area Theatre Ensemble, or SLATE, will present its opening production, Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods," on Aug. 14 and 15 at Center for Performing Arts, Governors State University. More details right here later this summer and right now at
We all day dream, letting our minds drift away into some real or imaginary place where life is calm and the brain can take a brief respite from the real world. Chicago' famous  Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, concludes this season with "Up," written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro. "On the best day of his life, Walter built a flying machine that reached the clouds," the press release states. "Ever since, he's tried to invent new ways to fly while his wife keeps the family afloat. 'Up' is a quirky, bittersweet tale about escaping the boundaries of the everyday and how we dream ourselves into a future." The show runs from June 18 - June 27 (previews) and then June 28 - Aug. 23 (regular run). Preview tickets are $20 to 45; regular run, $20-$70 at (312) 335-1650 and at
Summer breeds the start of ghost story season and the Route 66 Theatre Company takes on the challenge wIth Laura Schellhardt's haunting drama, "The K of D: An Urban Legend." Described as a "haunting drama," "K of D ..." takes place when "an entire small town in western Ohio is vividly brought to life... After a reckless driver kills her twin brother, Charlotte McGraw becomes a supernatural wonder to others when it appears she has received an eerie power from her brother's dying kiss."  The summertime ghost story is billed as a "quirky, touching play that offers the unexpected perspective of a child on the big questions of death and redemption." The play runs from June 9 to July 12 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago. Tickets are $20 to $25 at (773) 308-6927 and at
Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, presents the George and Ira Gershwin award-winning musical, "Crazy for You" through June 14Don Snider saw the musical last week on press night and was delighted to see a veteran Chicago actor in the starring role. Don wrote: "Richard Strimer has long been one of the top tap dancers in the Chicago area. Now he has the lead in this show where he can display his multiple talents. Strimer plays Bobby Childs in the fabulous 'Crazy for You'"  Tickets are $36 though $40 at (219) 836-3255 and at
Continuing through June 27Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery, 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, presents "LANDMARKS: Restoration & Regeneration," billed as an unusual and eclectic collection of works by Nikkole Huss and Heather Page, both widely-exhibited artists and college educators. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, (708) 748-3377 and
Looking for that special gift? Tall Grass has a wonderful little gift shop packed with one-of-a-kind treasures from a few dollars up to, well, whatever. Anyway, it is definitely worth a stop when you visit the gallery. Admission to the gallery and shop is always free.
There's more from Tall Grass. The Art Film Series presents the Israeli film, "Waltz with Bashir," an animated documentary recounting the filmmaker's experiences as an Israeli soldier serving in the army during the Lebanese war of the 1980s. "Waltz ..." was nominated for an Academy Award. The film is in Hebrew with English subtitled and will be screened at 6:30 p.m., June 14 at Marcus Theatre, 1301 Hilltop Ave., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $7.50 and available at the gallery.
"The Rat Pack" tour production, recreating the trio that made the pack famous - Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. - will be at the Halls of St. George, 905 E. Joliet St., Schererville, IN, for one night only. Tickets to the 8 p.m. June 26 show are at (219) 865-9411. Details are at
July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, an event that mesmerized people around the world. No surprise, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, will celebrate all month with special space activities. That includes an Apollo birthday cake at 3:17 p.m. July 20, 40 years, to the minute, since the Eagle -- the Apollo moon lander -- touched down at Tranquility Base. Visitors will definitely want to check out "Shoot for the Moon," a two-gallery exhibit focused the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo years. Astronaut Jim Lovell, commander of Gemini 12 and the star-crossed Apollo 13, donated many personal items -- letters, logs, manuals, photos and spacewear -- to Adler for the exhibit. The actual Gemini 12 capsule that launched Lovell and Buzz Aldrin into space on Nov. 11, 1966, has been restored and is considered the centerpiece in "Shoot for the Moon." The exhibit is entirely free, and while I love the space capsule, my favorite items are the personal ones Lovell donated for the exhibit. I met him twice at Adler press events and he's a funny, charming space hero. m.e
An all-new exhibit, "Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass," takes visitors back in time and then into the universe of today and tomorrow. Now open, this is the most extensive exhibit of viewing instruments of its type, with visions from Stonehenge days to the time of Galileo's first peek at the heavens through a spyglass. From that point in stellar history, the telescope has evolved so phenomenally that astronomers can actually see planets in other star systems. I expect to see the exhibit in the next couple of weeks and will report back with more details but for now, take a quick tour of the exhibit at
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, named after Sue Hendricson, the woman who discovered the monstrous fossil in South Dakota in 1990, might be a Sheldon instead of a Sue, but for now, no one knows. Want to know more about Sue and her ancient relatives? Go to
"Real Pirates," ride the seas through Oct. 25 at Field. These are the pirates of yesteryear. Special tickets are needed for this exhibit.
Harry Potter and friends continue to whip up magic while bringing guests into Hogwarts at "Harry Potter, the Exhibition,"  through Sept. 27 at Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Special timed tickets, in addition to museum admission charge, are  required for this exhibit; details, ticket prices and package options are at Museum hours, other exhibits and upcoming events also are at June 19 is a free admission day. More free dates in the fall. All the details, prices and exhibition details are at 
They're back and there are more cetaceans than before. After 18 months of absence, the wonderful sea creatures at Shedd Aquarium's Oceanarium have returned, with many related species in the new, greatly expanded and reinvented, Oceanarium. Now open to the public, the new Oceanarium should be spectacular. Shedd Aquarium is at 1200 Lake Shore Drive and details are at I hope to have more details in the near future.


photo by sarah gross

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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.