Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday time happenings

Dear Readers,
Celebrate with arts and entertainment throughout the holiday season. Field Museum has the perfect spot for the young set, the Crown Family Playlab, a hidden gem in the museum and covered by general admission. Loads of activities will keep the little ones busy including picking and grinding maize (as seen in photo above). Photos, going clockwise from upper right: "The Christmas Schooner" at Theatre at the Center brings the warmth of the holiday season to the intimate thrust stage and features Daniel Coonley and Brandon Dahlquist. Michelle McKenzie-Voight stars as Mame in the Drama Group production of, what else, "Mame?!" Ryan Bergal (left) and Randy Schafer also star in what should be a perfectly riotous musical. If you don't know the story, check out the 1958 musical, "Auntie Mame," starring the phenomenal and inimitable  Rosalind Russell. Forget politics, regardless of where you stand, and make a point of seeing the  extraordinary White House. Complete with replica carpets, furniture and art work, this White House will dazzle anyone who takes the time to see it at Museum of Science and Industry. The photo above shows the view from the front of the Executive Mansion. But that's only part of this amazing exhibit. And it's good to know the animals at Brookfield Zoo get to participate in a Thanksgiving Day feast, along with help from little visitors. All the details about the items above and much more follow in this edition of "And now presenting ..."
Please note, I am attempting to add a blog following widget so you might want to look for it. 
Feel free to e-mail me with any corrections, additions and comments --
Happy Thanksgiving.                          Myra
PS I've spent three hours trying to fix the wacky spacing. Sorry I couldn't get it all aligned right.


DRAMA GROUP 'Darling, I'm your Auntie Mame'
DG presents the riotous musical, "Mame," Dec. 4-6 at Bloom Auditorium Theater, 10th Street and Dixie Highway, Chicago Heights. Tickets are $17 and $18 at (708) 756-3444 and .

The Broadway smash hit "Thoroughly Modern Millie," directed by artistic director William Osetek, continues 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, and all Ticketmaster outlets.
Drury Lane Children's Theatre also presents the Charles Dickens Classic, "A Christmas Carol" for several special performances Nov. 19-Dec. 21. All show tickets are $10; Breakfast with Santa packages and one dinner with Santa package are available, see above. Several show dates are sold out, so check the schedule at the theater's website. Click on children's theater.

GORILLA TANGO THEATRE's bra-ve new show
"The D-Cup Diatribes," a one-woman comedy that celebrates, empowers and explores womanhood, runs Nov. 27- Dec. 15 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee, Chicago. Written by Melody Swink, the show is billed as both hilarious and insightful. Tickets are $20 at (773) 598-4549 and A portion of all ticket proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength. To celebrate the Chicago run of the comedy, a lingerie shop, G Boutique, 2131 N. Damen Ave. features a special meet and greet with the playwright, director and star from 7-9 p.m. Dec 1. Additionally, specialists at the boutique will do free bra fittings and there will be giveaways.

MARRIOTT THEATRE -- Big hair's back!
The Broadway musical, "Hairspray," directed and choreographer by Marc Robin, continues through Dec. 5 at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Tickets are $45 and up; dinner packages available. Tickets, show information and performance schedule are (847) 634-0200 and at
Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences presents "A Christmas Carol" from Nov. 13-Jan. 2. Tickets are $15, see above.

Porchlight Music Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, presents the family classic, "Miracle on 34th Street," Nov. 20-Jan. 3. Santa Claus will be present to greet little visitors and listen to their wishes after every performance. Tickets are $40 with discounts for students and seniors, (773) 327-5252 and all Ticketmaster outlets.


David Mamet's award-winning drama "American Buffalo" opens Dec. 3 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. The run goes through Feb. 7. This groundbreaking American drama follows three small-time crooks as they plan to heist a valuable buffalo nickel. Mamet creates three personalities whose flaws intensify as their grand theft plans evolve. Tickets are $20 to $77 at (312) 335-1650 and at

THEATRE AT THE CENTER -- Hoist the mainsail

Join the crowd heading up the ramp for a voyage aboard "The Christmas Schooner," a charming holiday musical by Chicago theater legend John Reeger and composer/lyricist Julie Shannon. Voyage runs through Dec. 20 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. The story follows the 19th century adventures of a brave ship captain who sails Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees to immigrants in Chicago. Tickets are $36-$40 at and at the theater box office, (219) 836-3255. More show information is at 
Theatre at the Center for Young Audiences presents "The Story of the Little Mermaid" Nov. 30-Dec. 14. Times and ticket information available at number and website above.

"As Time Goes By," an exhibit by the Mythopian Artists' Group, fills the gallery at Prairie State College, 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights, through Dec. 17. A 4:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 artists reception at the Christopher is open to the public, and there is no charge. The exhibit in many media focuses on the human experience of time. More information is at the PSC Foundation, (708) 709-2948. Gallery hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and also 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday or by appointment.

Tall Grass continues its 2009 Art Film Series at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Marcus Theatre, 1301 Hilltop Ave., Chicago Heights (immediately north of Lincoln Highway) with a Woody Allen-directed production,"Whatever Works," starring Larry David.Tickets are $8. Information at  (708) 748-3377.

A wondrously magical experience, ADC's annual 'Holiday Fantasy,' Nov. 21-22, at the Tinley Park Convention Center, showcases dance as you've never seen it before!  The Homewood-and-Orland Park-based legendary dance studio features its own company dancers and faculty, along with guest artists, in a production interspersed with several courses of lunch or dinner. Imagine enjoying an appetizer, then watching lights dim while dazzling holiday visions appear -- ballet or tap dancers performing a holiday classic. Another course, then more dance until you've had a complete meal and watched a glorious show. This is a one-of-a-kind, breath-taking production. Details and reservation information are at 

"Holiday Hop" with classic oldies groups, Cornell Gunter's Coasters, the Platters and the Marvelettes, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, will be a trip back in time to the 1950s and '60s at Center for Performing Arts, Governors State University, University Park. Tickets are $32 at (708)  235-2222 and at 

JWR Tours Jazz Club Crawl next one is Dec. 17. Get on board in Chicago or the South Suburbs. Guests travel on luxury limo buses to two or three of Chicago's most elegant jazz venues with surprises including champagne, wines and cheeses while riding in comfort. Check it out at Registration is set up at the website or telephone (866) 717-8687.

The Southland's own world-class symphony orchestra, the IPO with Maestro Carmon DeLeone, opens its 32nd season at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Lincoln-Way North  Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort. The same  musical program, which features guest pianist Natasha Paremski on piano, is performed again at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22. The concerts include music by Bach, Rachmaninoff, Litolff and Ravel. Evening tickets are $30-$50 and $25-$30 on Sunday. All students under 18, $15 for either performance. Tickets are at (708) 481-7774 and

The long-running family holiday sky show, "Star of Wonder," will run under the iconic dome of the Sky Theater at Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum for the last time this season before it is retired to the archives. The Sky Theater will close in the summer of 2010 for renovation. "Star" has long been one of our family favorites, and when my children were small, we drove down to Adler every holiday season to see it. Today "Star" examines contemporary theories of celestial events that may have given rise to the biblical story of the Christmas star. Regardless of one's religion or lack of it, "Star of Wonder" generates its own astronomical holiday magic. It opens Nov. 23 and will run through Jan. 3Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. Everything you need to plan your Adler visit is 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 Sunday afternoon show series, which starts at 2 p.m., and the Thursday series that starts at 6:30 p.m. are geared to the younger set. Coming up --  Sunday Nov. 29 and Thursday Jan. 21, "Winter Skies for Kids"; Also Sunday Dec. 13 and 20, "The Christmas Show." Sky shows for the junior high set and older are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Coming up: Dec. 1, "The Seasonal Sky: Skies of December." Dec. 15, "The Christmas Show" and Dec. 29, "Skies of January." 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. If you have questions, Maurer will happily answer them. All shows are free so you just show up. The phone number is (815) 280-6682. The full sky show schedule is at Then put Trackman in the search spot.

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. Opening Nov. 20 and on exhibit through Jan. 24, "Monica Bonvicini: Light Me Black." This contemporary and apparently quite extraordinary exhibit explores the world of institutional architecture, particularly museums, through both the physical and psychological interpretations. Check out this link for more information:

BROOKFIELD ZOO -- Animal feast
Brookfield Zoo celebrates Thanksgiving Day Feast for the Animals, noon Nov 26. Children will be able to help feed some of the tamer animals and watch zookeepers feed some of the not-so-tame animals. All the event details including a full schedule of what is is going on at Brookfield are at the Chicago Zoological Society website, The zoo is at 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield. Directions are on the website.


Chicago History Museum (formerly Chicago Historical Society), 1601 N. Clark St., (312) 642-4600, features two parallel exhibits 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. All the museum details are at

Blues in Bronzeville, uniquely Chicago. 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

"The Nature of Diamonds" through March 28, and the updated, remodeled and renovated  Grainger Hall of Gems, a permanent exhibit, continue to dazzle museum visitors exploring the nature of gems at Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus. But if you're holiday plan include little ones, Field's Crown Family Playlab, a permanent part of the museum, offers six themed play areas bursting with things to do. Little explorers can dig up dinosaur bones, grind corn in a pueblo or dress like an animal and crawl, hop or 'fly' around the museum. An extraordinary series of adventures await the young set during every family visit. The area includes family bathrooms, stroller parking and infant zones as well as a staffed reception desk where Field personnel will help make your Crown visits special. The Crown Family Playlab is included with regular museum admission. The Playlab can be     accessed through any Field entrance, including the little known East entrance. All the details you'll need for a Field visit are at

"Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008" continues 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 at

Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street and Cornell (off Lake Shore Drive)  -- presents "Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light" Nov. 20 - Jan. 2, with more than 50 dazzling holiday trees and other displays from around the world. If you have never seen it, do not miss the breath-taking "White House: A Look Inside." This 60-by-13-foot large scale replica of the White House has involved more than 600,000 hours of labor, a labor of love started and coordinated by John and Jan Zwiefel in 1975 as a "gift to the people from the people." Back in the 1990s, I saw the White House replica when it was on display at Lincoln Mall in Matteson. This labor of love will astound you! Try not to miss it during the Nov. 20-Feb. 15 MSI visit. All the info you need for an MSI trip is at DATES

"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 

While Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies always features programs and exhibits focused on Jewish life, you can see "Ground Level Project"  through Jan. 17 in the street-level vestibule, visible from outside the magnificent structure at 610 S. Michigan Ave. Spertus commissioned four artists to express, investigate and challenge "traditional perceptions of the Jewish experience." Artist Jason Lazarus' moving image "The top of Anne Franke's chestnut tree" was recorded from the Annex where the Frank family hid for two years before their presence was revealed to the Nazis. Anne wrote of the chestnut tree in her now classic "Diary of a Young Girl." More Spertus details are at

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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.