Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mini gem-filled blog update

Dear Readers,
Several mostly Southland treasures this weekend and one next weekend have induced me to write an interim blog update so you do not miss out on some terrific entertainment gems.
Packed in between the listings in this mini blog is a review of Illinois Theatre Center's current production.
But don't stop reading after the review. Check out the music events that follow.
And don't forget to hug someone who needs a hug this Sunday, Valentine's Day. 
Full blog will be out next week.


PHOTOS: At left Kona Burks (from left), Makeba Pace and Vallea Woodbury perform in "Crumbs from the Table of Joy" at Illinois Theatre Center, reviewed below. Orbert Davis on Trumpet and Ed Petersen on sax return to join the rest of the Jazzmasterss Jam at the Prairie State College Jazzfest.

THE DRAMA GROUP's production of the 1941 Tennessee Williams gem, "The Glass Menagerie" continues through this weekend only at the Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $17-$18 at (708) 755-3444 and

ILLINOIS THEATRE CENTER's compelling production, “Crumbs from the Table of Joy,” continues through Sunday, Feb. 14 and then closes.
"Crumbs...," powerful drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, tracks the upheavals and humor in the African American Crump family when two new women enter the picture, clearly to stay.
In the months following his wife’s death, Godfrey Crump (Ethan Henry) has dedicated himself to the teachings of Father Divine, an evangelist preacher. Meanwhile Crump is doing his best to raise and understand his two adolescent daughters, Ernestine (a phenomenal Vallea Woodbury), who also guides the audience through the play, and Ermina (Kona N. Burks).
As the audience meets the family, the girls’ quiet lives with their father are about to end. Lily Ann Green (Makeba Pace), the flamboyant and most uninvited sister of the deceased woman, moves in to take care of her nieces.
Lily, who claims she promised her sister she would look out for the daughters, also attempts to move in on her brother-in-law. Her wild lifestyle fascinates and confuses the sisters who struggle to find some sense in both their father’s and aunt’s lifestyles.
However, Godfrey disrupts the already complicated family when he marries a white woman, Gerte (Amanda-Claire Lowe) after a secret whirlwind courtship of mere days. Everyone struggles for comfort and a way to eliminate, or at least abate the tension in this drama of very realistic people.
Perhaps symbolic of the significance of even minor changes, the family name is only one letter off the first word in the title.
And although race is an obvious factor in “Crumbs…,” the script reflects the universality, the ubiquity of family struggles everywhere amid upheaval.
Powerful performances by the entire cast in the intimate theater left me feeling as though I were that proverbial fly on the wall, perpetually buzzing around the Crump household to take in all that was happening.
  Artistic director Etel Billig’s directing is spot on, as always. This production gem is a must for anyone who loves primo theater.
ITC is located at 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19-$21, (708) 481-3510 and at the door.


ENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS at Governors State University, University celebrates Valentine's Day weekend with John Mueller's Winter Dance Party, the official tribute band for Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper rocks the Center at 8 p.m. Feb. 13. We've seen this show and it's awesome. Holly (Mueller), Valens (Ray Anthony) and the Big Bopper (Jay Richardson, son of the Big Bopper) recreate the music of the '50s, before the "day the music died." Tickets are $22 - $42 at (708) 235-2222 and at

JAZZ CLUB CRAWL returns for a Valentine's Day Sweetheart Club Crawl special starting at 8 p.m. Feb. 13 in Matteson with additional pickup at 8:45 p.m. in Hyde Park. Travel by luxury tour bus to jazz clubs, sipping champagne and munching on goodies throughout the evening, $65. All the details are at and at (866) 717-8687.

MOJO AT THE MAC: The phenomenal Zydeco and magic of Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies return to the McAninch Center at College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Blvds., Glen Ellyn, at 8 p.m. Feb. 13. Tickets are $30, $28 seniors, (630) 942-4000 and at This show will take you out of your seats and into the stratosphere of good feelings. 

JAZZIN' ON THE PRAIRIE. OK. We made that name up but hopefully it got your attention. The always phenomenal Prairie State College "Jazzfest," the premier jazz festival in the Southland, returns starting at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the college, 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $12, $8 students and seniors, available in advance at the PSC business office and also at the door the night of the concert, (708) 709-3500. The extraordinary event opens with stellar students who have spent the previous two days in music clinics with the Jazzmasters Jam members -- the legendary Orbert Davis on trumpet, New Orleans sax master Ed Petersen, Larry Gray on standup bass, Dana Hall on drums and PSC's own Valerie Nicholson, Jazzfest founder and organizer, on the ivories. Will the Jazzmasters close out with "Caravan" this year?? This event is mandatory for all jazz fans. 

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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.