Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photos: Holiday Magic lights dazzle visitors throughout Brookfield Zoo; Clara in Salt Creek Ballet's "The Nutcracker"at GSU's Center for Performing Arts; Frank Roberts as Archy and Kelly Anne Clark as Mehitabel at Illinois Theatre Center.

Dear Readers, Enjoy the holiday season and take time to savor at least one, hopefully more, of the arts and entertainment treasures in the Southland and Chicago. My daughter and her family discovered a new treasure in the South Suburbs last weekend: the Oak Lawn Children's Museum, 5100 Museum Drive, phone (708) 423-6723. Be sure to check out the fabulous second floor!


The Center at Governors State University presents a musical adaptation of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" at 11 a.m. Dec. 19. Tickets are $10.50 and $11.50 at (708) 235-2222 and at

"Peter Pan and Wendy" continue to fly (yes, for real) through Dec. 13 on the mainstage at Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave. Tickets are $7 children, $13 adults at (708) 246-3380 and at

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 through Dec. 21. All show tickets are $10.

ITC, 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, presents its holiday production of the musical "Archy and Mehitabel," the jazzy story of Archy, the cockroach, and Mehitabel, the cat, through Dec. 20. Tickets are $19-$21 at (708) 481-3510.

Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, brings the beloved musical "My Fair Lady" to the state Dec. 9 through Feb. 14. Tickets are $45-$55 at (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, stages "Miracle on 34th Street," through Jan. 3. Tickets are $40 with discounts for students and seniors, (773) 327-5252 and all Ticketmaster outlets.

David Mamet's award-winning drama "American Buffalo" continues 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," through Dec. 20 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Tickets are $36-$40 at and at the theater box office, (219) 836-3255. More show information is at 

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.

"The Sacred, the Spiritual and the Sensual," an extraordinary art exhibit of works by acclaimed masters, Javier Chavira, Sergio Gomez and Harry Sudman," fills the exhibit hall through Jan. 31 at the Tall Grass Gallery, 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, 708) 748-3377. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission always free. 

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 IPO will perform its annual "Holiday Concert" at 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort, and at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 at Lincoln-Way East Performing Arts Center, 201 Colorado Ave., Frankfort. Tickets are at (708) 481-7774.

Salt Creek Ballet brings its phenomenal "Nutcracker Ballet" to Center for Performing Arts, Governors State University for two performances, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 12, featuring guest soloists Gillian Murphy and Gennadi Saveliev from the American Ballet Theatre. Salt Creek Ballet performances are breathtaking and will captivate everyone in the family. Tickets start at $15 for children, $20 for adults and be certain to check on special offer for Sugar Plum Party. Tickets are at (708) 235-2222 and at


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" 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 --  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: c. 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. Now 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:

Spectacular Holiday Magic events from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and then every day Dec. 26-31 features a million lights illuminating the zoo's walkways. Special events including ice-carving, the Kiddie Express train ride and more will delight visitors of all ages. Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between Interstates 55 and 290. It's also accessible via I-294 and public transportation. More information about Holiday Magic and all its events is at (708) 688-8000. Activities free with paid admission, $12 adutsl $8 children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older; free to members. Tots 2 and under admitted free. Auto parking is $8, buses $10.75 Information also is at


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

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

Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the Museum Campus, features the hidden gem for the  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" through 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." now though Feb. 15. 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 Frank'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.