Saturday, September 19, 2009

'Moon Over Navy Pier,' a new painting in Michael Cheney's latest collection, 'Chicago Impressions.' See featured event for exhibit information. Photo courtesy Michael Cheney.
Joe Tokarz as Padre and James Harms as Don Quixote in Theatre at the Center's 'Man of La Mancha.' Mini Review at front of blog.
Cast of Drama Group production of 'Rent.'
PLEASE READ. It is Tuesday morning, Sept. 22, and Jeannne Rega-Markionni just sent me a message about James Javier, a man who is well known in the Southland community theater world. James was jogging over the weekend, hit by a car and according to Jeannie, is in a coma. Doctors will not have any indication as to prognosis until the swelling in his brain recedes. Jeannie asks for prayers and good thoughts for the Javier family and for James recovery.
Dear Readers,
Thank you for your comments and patience as I work on making the blog more readable. There's tons going on this month and next so please at least skim through the listings. In order they are: 
Review of 'Man of La Mancha'
Featured event
Music and Dance
Chicago Classics including museums and two planetariums (planetaria, if you insist).
Don't forget to check out the listing for Drama Group's production of 'Rent.' It's at the Studio Theatre with a limited number of tickets shrinking as we 'speak.' 
Please continue to send any comments, corrections and listings for the next blog to Also, any suggestions will be welcome. I especially want to know if you think reviews and previews of any new shows should be up front, as I am placing the review this week, or after the listings -- at the end.
Hope to see you soon at one of the several events we will be seeing during the next two weeks. 
And as always, thank you for your support. Also thanks to Frann Carnivele-Sidlow, resident producer/director of the Orland Park Theatre Troupe, whose local theater listings help add to this blog.
Yours in arts and entertainment,
  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 More information is at  


Meet award-winning Flossmoor artist Michael Cheney at the Sept. 25 opening of his latest collection of city scenes, "Chicago Impressions," from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Atlas Galleries, 535 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The event, free and open to the public, also marks the self-described post modern artist's 10th anniversary with the acclaimed gallery. Cheney's ongoing body of work focused on the soul, excitement and heartbeat of Chicago absolutely dazzles the eyes and the mind. His paintings can be found in homes and commercial sites worldwide. The event offers guests a chance to meet Cheney, see his latest collection and learn how he brings Chicago to life on canvas. More information about Cheney and his work can be found at home page and
Careful with those plants. BTG presents "Little Shop of Horrors" Oct. 30 - Nov. 1 at Baer Theater at Morgan Park Academy, 2153 W. 111th St., Chicago. Tickets are at (773)284-8497 and at 
It's Mystery Dinner Theater time for Curtain Call Community Theatre which presents"Funeral for a Gangster" Oct. 16 -25 at Jenny's Steakhouse, aka Ruby's Speakeasy,20 Kansas St., Frankfort. Tickets are $30, seating limited; (815) 464-2685 or
THE DRAMA GROUP ... Rent's due!
Get ready for a spectacular October with Drama Group's production of the Broadway hit"Rent," a blockbuster musical, Oct. 2 - Oct. 11, at the Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are at (708) 755-3444  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!
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 and at (708) 957-0300.
Illinois Theatre Center371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, opens its season with"A Shayna Maidel," Sept. 23 to 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 $1 9 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. The prodction runs Sept. 23 - 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 Dinner packages are available.
Medieval England returns later this fall with the Palos Village Players' production of "Lion in Winter," Nov. 13 - Nov. 21 at Palos Park Recreation Center, 8901 W. 123rd St. Tickets are $15, $12 students and seniors; (877) 787-8197 and at
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.
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
"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
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 "Fake," a new play written and directed by company member Eric Simonson. The story follows four guests invited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to join him at his English Country home and end up in a fray over the Piltdown Man fraud. The show runs to Nov. 8. Tickets are $20 to $70 at (312) 335-1650 and at
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 More details are at See review near top of blog.  
Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park, opens its season at 8 p.m. Oct. 3 with audience favorite, romantic pianist and vocalist Jim Brickman. Tickets are $32-$52 at (708) 235-222 or at
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. Saturdays through Oct. 31 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.
Ron Hawking returns Oct. 6 for two performances only of "The Men and Their Music"at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets are $39 with dinner packages available at (630) 530-0111, at and all Ticketmaster outlets. 
Kevin Moore presents "The Best of Broadway Musicals: Celebrating Rodgers and Hammerstein" at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills. Tickets and information are at (708) 974-5500 and
Under the artistic direction of ballet legend Edward Villella, the acclaimed Miami City Ballet makes its Chicago debut Oct. 2 to 4 at Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway. Tickets are $30 to $89 at Auditorium Theatre box office as well as all Ticketmaster outlets. 
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
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
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." Lincoln's and Juarez's leadership dramatically changed their respective nations in the second half of the nineteenth century in ways highlighted in the exhibits. All the museum details are at
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
Say "hi' to Sue. The world's largest T rex can only be one place: the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. The ginormous Sue is back in the news with her smaller cousin having been discovered. 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.  Coming on Oct. 23 -- an all new exhibit,"The Nature of Diamonds." All the information needed for a trip museum is at
"Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008" opens Nov. 14at 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 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
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
There's always something fishy going on at Shedd Aquarium,1200 Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus. 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
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 small planetarium seats several dozen people and shows are run by astronomy guru and advocate 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 General shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays: Oct. 6, "Skies of October, Oct. 20 "Wonders in the Sky."  Young people are shows at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays: Oct. 1 "We Go to the Moon," Oct. 29 "Our Solar System." 


photo by sarah gross

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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.