Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring sends phenomenal arts and entertainment your way

PHOTO CAPTIONS: Bobby Vinton visits the suburbs this spring and brings his hits with him; Bathers by a River" by Henri Matisse anchors Art Insitute of Chicago's upcoming Matisse exhibit; (top right) Bill Bannon and Allison Moody in Illinois Theatre Center's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers"; Paul Nirchi (left) and Rick Rapp in Oak Lawn Park District Theatre's "Curtains."

   Dear Readers, 
          Have a blast in the burbs. Tons to do in every category so I won't waste words repeating any of it. Reminder that "And now presenting ..." has been picked up by two regional websites, www.SouthlandSavvy.com and www.YourSWGuide.com. Please check these out. 
         And if you find any errors in the blog, or omissions of releases submitted, please e-mail me ASAP at myrasharon@comcast.net
         Thank you for your continuing encourgement vis-a-vis this blog. I always love to read your comments.                            Myra


"Mozart Light and Dark" will fill the Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center with a glorious program starting at 8 p.m. this Saturday, March 13.
Under the direction of guest conductor Victor Yampolsky, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D Major, (K504) "Prague" and on the other side of the musical spectrum, Mozart's "Requiem Mass in D Minor" (K 626). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from 1756-1791. 
Guest vocalists the South Suburban Chorale, under the direction of Al Jackson will join the orchestra with soloists soprano Samantha Barnes, mezz-soprano Lindsey Poling, tenor Grand Knox and bass Keven Keys. 

Lincoln-Way North is located at 19900 S. Harlem Ave. in Frankfort (turn west off Harlem at the Vollmer Road light). Tickits are $30-50 for adults, $15 for students 18 and under; (708) 481-7774.  More information at


Atlas Galleries, 535 N. Michigan Ave., presents the Art of Jimi Hendrix and original paintings by Grace Slick, lead singer of legendary 1960s rockers Jefferson Airplane (which changed its name over the years), in a show from 6-8 p.m. March 19. More than 14 estate sign ltd. edition prints, including song manuscripts and more, will be on exhibit. Scott Hann, publisher and curator of the exhibit, will make a special appearance. 
The show is free and open to collectors and anyone interested in seeing these works; (312) 329-9330 and (800) 423-7635. More details are at www.atlasgalleries.com


           ‘Red, hot lover Barney wants to get hot           
            Review by Myra Eder

Barney Cash wants action. Not the wrestling kind on television but rather the steamy passion of an illicit romance.
            As Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” opens at Illinois Theatre Center, the very married seafood restaurant owner Barney (Bill Bannon) scurries about his mother’s modest and temporarily empty New York City apartment. The “red, hot lover” has invited Elaine Navazio (Allison Moody), a hot dish he net at his seafood restaurant, to spend the afternoon with him.
            The clandestine afternoon turns out very different from any encounter Barney could have imagined. In fact, the very meticulous restaurateur, always worried about his fishy smelling fingers, subsequently spends an afternoon with semi-paranoid hooked-on-pot actress-wannabe Bobbi Michelle (Shelley Crawford) and the fortyish angst-ridden family friend Jeanette Fisher (Kristie Berger).
            Directed by veteran thespian Etel Billig, the very funny “Red, Hot Lovers” continues at Illinois Theatre Center, 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, through March 21.
With the absolutely perfect and superb cast of four under Billig’s always on-target direction, the romantic interludes Barney arranges, the hoped-for few hours of extramarital feverish and unrestrained sex, take him into realms of emotion he could not have imagined.
            Does the sex happen? If I answered that, the words ‘spoiler alert’ would jump off the page.
            In typical Simon fashion, the comedy evolves with smart humor and always the unexpected. The script demands hard work from every actor. Bannon is onstage for the entire play and does not miss a beat, and the women explore their characters to the max.
“Lovers” is perfect for the Illinois Theatre Center stage and simply never disappoints.
            Tickets are $19-$21 at (708) 481-3510 and at the door.

       And your best spelling bee word would be ….
         Review by Myra Eder
Back in fifth grade, I went down in the class spelling bee on the word ‘scissors.’ I was reinstated due to my nonstop crying and then missed the correct coarse/coarse in the all-school bee.
All that came back as I laughed it up at in the audience at “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Towle Theatre, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond, IN.
The show has only one more four-day run, March 11-14.
            Adolescence perhaps ranks as the toughest time of early life. It incorporates the wonder and fear of first romances, passionately hoped-for acceptance by classmates, dramatic changes to the body and flirting with sexuality, which often leaves young men too embarrassed to stand up.
            Combine all that with bizarre words (think crepuscule), examples of use that will have you laughing out loud, loads of clever songs and you’re off to Putnam County’s Spelling Bee.
Six astronomically competitive students remain in the lineup, including one named Leaf Coneybear (a perfectly dorky Shawn A. Smith); Logainne Shwartzandgrubenniere (Katie Taylor) whose last name is a combination of her two dads’ sir names; and William Barfee, pronounced barfay (a riotous Vasily Deris) who writes words out on the floor with his big toe before he says the letters.            
            One strange vice principal (a perfectly deadpan Bill Danko), who reads the always bizarre words, and a former spelling bee champ now successful business woman (Jeannie Rega-Markionnni whose soprano voice alone is worth the price of the ticket) lead the bee.
            Then there’s Mitch Mahoney (Kevin Bellamy) on a work-release program. Hid job is to hand the losers juice boxes after they leave the stage.
Chip Tolentino (Zachary  Gipson), Marcy Park (Nicole Dixon) and Olive Ostrowsky (Danna Pantzke) round out the list of competitors.
            The across-the-board superb performances along with absolutely on-target direction by Jeff Casey combine for a fantastic production that captures every nuance. A terrific musical also depends on stage chemistry and this production has it all.
            Tickets are $15 at (219) 937-8780.

BEVERLY HILLS UNIVERSITY CLUB presents the musical, "Oliver," April 23-25 at Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St., Oak Lawn. Tickets are $21 adults, $19 seniors, students. More info TBA.

BEVERLY THEATRE GUILD presents one of the most thrilling mysteries ever to hit the stage, "Deathrap," April 30-May 2 at Baer Theater at Morgan Park Academy, 2153 W. 111th St., Chicago. More info at (773) 284-8497 and www.beverlytheareguild.org.

CHICAGO DRAMATISTS present Arlene Malinowski performing an autobiographical one-woman show, "Aiming for Sainthood," for hearing impaired and deaf audiences7:30 p.m. March 25-27 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. "As the hearing daughter of devoutly Catholic deaf parents, Malinowski learns to navigate the cross-cultural maze of the medical world and the deaf world when, as an adult, she returns home to care for her mother who is battling cancer," the press release explains. "Malinowski tells her story through sign language and voice, using both deaf and storytelling techniques." Richard Perez directs. Tickets are $10 at (312) 742-8497 and at www.millenniumpark.org. All performances are signed for the deaf and hearing impaired.

DRAMA GROUP presents the musical"City of Angels" April 30-May 2 at the Bloom High School Theatre, Dixie Highway at Chicago Road, Chicago Heights. Tickets are $18 adults, $17 students and seniors, (708) 755-3444 and at www.dramagroup.org. Set in Hollywood in the late 1940s, the musical is a tapestry of two plots, a musical comedy and a detective story. This should be a phenomenal show.

DRURY LANE OAKBROOK TERRACE100 Drury Lane, presents the powerful musical, "Ragtime," with the theater's largest cast ever. The show runs March 18-May 23. Tickets are $31-$45 and dinner packages can be purchased, (630) 530-0111, all Ticketmaster outlets and at www.drurylaneoakbrook.com.

ILLINOIS THEATRE CENTER, 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, presents American humorist Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" through March 21. Tickets are $19 and $21 at (708) 481-3510 and at the door. SEE REVIEW ABOVE.

MARRIOTT THEATRE, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire,  opens the 2010 season with the beloved musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," which first opened in New York in 1964. Yes, that long ago. It continues through April 25 and stars Chicagoland theater favorite, Ross Lehman; directed by David H. Bell. The season's complete lineup and ticket information are at www.MarriottTheatre.com and at (847) 634-0200. 

NOBLE FOOL THEATRICALS (I love that name) presents one of Chicago's most versatile and talented actors, Renee Matthews, in Tom Dudzick's hilarious and touching family comedy, "Over the Tavern" just extended through April 3. stage is the Pheasant Run Resort Mainstage Theater. REVIEW from last blog post at the end of this one. 
For one day only, Noble Fool presents the perfect St. Patrick's Day production at 8 p.m. March 13, the Irish comedy "Flanagan's Wake" on the 320-seat Pheasant Run stage. All tickets are $29; see above for tickets and information contacts.

OAK LAWN PARK DISTRICT THEATRE presents the musical murder mystery and simply tons of fun show within a show, "Curtains," March 12-21 at Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th Street. Tickets are $21 adults, $20 seniors and children, (708) 857-2200.

ORLAND PARK THEATRE TROUPE travels to River City, Iowa, sort of, for one of America's favorite musicals, "The Music Man" April 30-May 2 at Carl Sandburg High School Performing Arts Center, 13600 LaGrange Road, Orland Park. Tickets are $18 adults, $16 seniors and students, $14 children 12 and under, (708) 403-7275 and www.orland-park.il.us and click on Recreation and Parks/Programs/Theatre. 

ORLAND PARK COMEDY IMPROV presents, yes, improv at 8 p.m. March 26 at Old Village Hall, 14413 S. Beacon Ave. Tickets are $6 at locations above and at the door.

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago explores the theme of belief with Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" directed by the award-winning ensemble member, Frank Galati. The show runs from April 1-June 6. Tickets are $20-$53 for previews, $20-$77 for regular run, (312) 335-1650.

SHHHH! THEATRE AT THE CENTER, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, presents "Noises Off," to kick off the theater's 20th anniversary season. This was the debut show for the new theater in the summer of 1991. "Noises Off," described as described as a riotous farce, stars two Chicagoland favorites, Marilyn Bogetich and the inimitable Dale Benson whose comic timing is the stuff of legend. The show runs through March 21. Tickets are $20 - $40 at (800) 511-3255 and at www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com

SPELLCHECK NOT ALLOWED INSIDE AS TOWLE THEATER, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond, IN. presents the musical comedy, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" through March 11. We have inside info that veteran Drama Group actor/member Jeannie Rega-Markionni is in the cast! Tickets are $15 at (219) 937-8780. SEE REVIEW ABOVE. 

Chicago Children's Theatre presents Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favorites" April 8-May 2 at Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. Tickets are $35 adults, $25 children 12 and under and includes post show museum admission, (773) 227-0180, ext. 15 and at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

Marriott (Lincolnshire) Theatre for Young Audiences presents Marc Robin's musical classic, "Sleeping Beauty"  through April 25. Tickets are $15 at www.marriotttheatre.com. and at (847) 634-0200.

Noble Fool Theatricals Youth Ensemble presents "Beauty and the Beast" March 20-April 3 at Pheasant Run Mainstage, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 children 12 and under. 

Theatre at the Center Theatre for Young Audiences, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN. presents 'The Diary of Anne Frank" March 15-20. Tickets are $8.50 adults, $7 children. 

BOBBY VINTON, the legendary singer/songwriter whose 1960s love songs topped the charts over and over, will perform a total of three concerts, May 10 and 11, at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets are $45-$55 with discounts for subscribers. Vinton's live shows leave nothing undone as he sings his greatest hits, 'Roses Are Red, My Love,' 'Blue Velvet,' 'There, I've Said It Again,' 'Blue on Blue' and 'My Melody of Love,' the song that brought him the honorary title, the Polish Prince. And those are just a few of his hits. Vinton, now in his 70s, has not let age stop him. He's been performing live for more than 50 years and is the consummate entertainer. Tickets are at (630) 530-5203, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com and Ticketmaster.

New York's acclaimed ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER celebrates the 20th anniversary of artistic director Judith Jamison with performances from March 24-28 at Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Tickets are $30-$85 at (800) 962-2787 and at all Ticketmaster outlets. More information about the performances is at www.auditoriumtheatre.org.

BALLET FOLKLORICO de MEXICO de Amalia Hernandez, an extraordinary company that brings every flavor of dance to the stage, will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 13 and 3 p.m. March 14 at Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Tickets are $30-$55 at the theater box office, Ticketmaster options and online at www.ticketmaster.com/auditorium.

CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS at Governors State University, University Park, has a star-studded bill of entertainment this month. At 4 p.m. March 14 Neil Berg "100 Years of Broadway" presents a full lineup of entertainers who will revive many of the great hits of Broadway. Ticket are $26. Then at 7 p.m. March 20, the multi-Grammy winning Los Lobos rock band headlines "Centerpalooza." Chicago band Mojo Daddies and Bloomington, IL-based Backyard Fire Tire also perform. Tickets to this rock-filled night are $25 to $56 at (708) 235-2222 and at www.centertickets.net.

The ILLINOIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA features guest conductor Victor Yampolsky in a musical program centered on one of the world's most brilliant composers. "Mozart Light and Dark" begins at 8 p.m. March 13 at Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort.  The South Suburban Chorale, along with soprano Samantha Barnes, mezzosoprano Lindsey Poling, tenor Grant Knox and bass Keven Keyes also will add demanding vocals during the all-Mozart event. Tickets are $30-$50 and $15 students at (708) 481-7774 and www.ipomusic.org.

The Southland's own rock and rockabilly experience stars, the NEVERLY BROTHERS, headline the 6:30-9:30 p.m. March 17 St. Paddy's Day party at Northwoods, Coyote Run Golf Club, 800 Kedzie Ave., Flossmoor, (708) 957-5600. Then doors open at 4:30 p.m. March 28 for the NEVERLY BROTHERS Retro Rock 'n' Roll Dinner Party at Senese's Winery, 10345 S. Central Ave., Oak Lawn. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Reservations are required and tickets are $42 at (708) 499-2969.

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO: The legendary world-class Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., looks at an extraordinary period in the life of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in an original exhibit, "Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917." What promises to be an extraordinary examination of this time frame in Matisse's career, a period that included his development of the iconic "Bathers by the River" in the Art Institute collection, opens March 20 and runs through June 20. Best of all, it's included in general admission! All the information you'll need for an Art Institute visit are at www.artic.edu. The Art Institute has a membership special going in advance of the Matisse blockbuster.

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 220 E. Chicago Ave., continues its performance season and will present "Young Jean Lee's Theatre Company: The Shipment" March 26-28. The MCA bills Young Jean Lee as "one of the boldest voices in contemporary theater. Go to www.mcachicago.org and click on performances for a full schedule of performance art, productions you will not see anywhere else in Chicago. 

SPERTUS MUSEUM, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago,(312) 322-1700, explores creative expansions of the Jewish experience in "Ground Level Projects," March 10-June 27 in the glass-enclosed street-level gallery visible from the outside of the exquisite new building. There is no charge to see the current "Installation no.6' by Jan Tichy, a video installation with 200 paper objects, adhesive, sand bags and sound. Information about the museum the entire institution is at www.spertus.edu.

TALL GRASS ARTS ASSOCIATION GALLERY has gone jazzy with its current invitational, "Something Jazzy" now through April 11. The exhibit showcases artists whose works interpret the spirit of jazz. The gallery is at 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, (708) 748-3377; gallery hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and admission is always free; www.tallgrassarts.org.

UNION STREET GALLERY, 1527 Otto Blvd., Chicago Heights, (708) 754-2601 features  "Image Attitude Impression, a national juried art exhibit, opens with an artist reception from 6-9 p.m. March 12. The show ends with a closing reception from 6-9 p.m. April 9. The gallery is open noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 6-9 p.m. second Friday of each month. Gallery admission is free as are receptions. More information is at www.unionstreetgallery.org.

VOGT VISUAL ARTS CENTER, 174th Street and half block east of Oak Park Avenue, Tinley Park, (708) 614-6503 or (708) 309-4371, features its Annual Photography Exhibit through March 31. Gallery information including hours at http://www.tinleyparkdistrict.org/Parks-Facilities/Vogt-Visual-Arts-Center.htm

ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM, 1300 S. Michigan Ave. (at the east end of Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-7827 (STAR).  The first planetarium in the western world packs in a universe of information, exhibits, extraordinary shows and a multimedia, interactive history of the Apollo program in "Shoot for the Moon," a phenomenal permanent exhibit on the third floor, included in general admission. A huge bronze sculpture of Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell welcomes visitors to this double gallery filled with treasures, including the fully-restored Gemini 12 space capsule Lovell and Buzz Armstrong took around the world -- 59 orbits -- for more than three days in 1966. Everything you need for a trip to Adler is at www.adlerplanetarium.org.

HERBERT TRACKMAN PLANETARIUM:  Stars shine in Joliet, especially one of the Southland's far-too-well-kept secrets, Joliet Junior College's Trackman Planetarium, 1215 Houbolt Road (be sure to get directions to the planetarium). If you have not made the trip, you're missing a real treat. Thursday shows are geared to the younger set. Tuesday series is for the junior high and adult set. Coming up --Thursday (younger set) at 6:30 p.m. March 18, "Out Solar System." Coming up for the older crowd at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 23, "Sun-Earth-Moon" and at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday March 9, "The Seasonal Sky: Skies of March."All shows are free so all you have to do is show up. As an added treat, Art the Planetarium Guy is there to answer all your questions. For directions and further information, (815) 729-9020 or go to www.jjc.edu and search Trackman. PLEASE NOTE: Astronomer Art assures wants to assure everyone that the world will NOT end on Dec. 21, 2012.

FIELD MUSEUM, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive (on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-9410. "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age," a new 7,500-square-foot continues through Sept. 4 and will thrill even the most jaded Ice Age fan. Star of this exhibit is a 40,000-year-old baby mammoth. At adulthood, the huge animals weighed as much as eight tons with tusks that could reach 16 feet in length. Alas, these cousins of elephants died out, but fortunately left a huge fossil record. Museum visitors will discover answers to many qustions including how the prehistoric creatures balanced their tusks, how much they ate and how elephants 'talk' to each other. Special tickets will be required. Information about Field Museum is at www.fieldmuseum.org
BTW: Can anyone tell me the difference between mammoths and mastodons? I always thought they were interchangable names but I guess not. If no one can tell me, I hope the exhibit will make the distinction clear.

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, launches an Nature's Lens Film Series that looks at the pressing environmental issues impacting our fragile planet. The full film schedule is on the Notebaert website, www.naturemuseum.org and at (773) 755-5100. Put your cursor on Education Resources and a drop down window will appear with a link to the film series. Next film, "Human Footprint." Screenings are free with museum admission.

Noble Fool's 'Over the Tavern' brims with laughter, love

Review by Myra Eder

Pure and simple. Noble Fool’s production of Tom Dudzick’s “Over the Tavern” ranks as one of the three funniest productions I have seen in my nearly 30 years of reviewing theater. While “Tavern” is not a musical, the other two are and I will reveal them at the end of this mini-review.
            The setting is the Pazinski home, an apartment over their tavern where the Polish American Catholic parents, Chet (Scott Cummins) and Ellen Stacy Stoltz), struggle to keep their marriage alive while dealing with the lives, loves and woes of their four teenage children during the 1950s.
            The story focuses on middle schooler Rudy (a phenomenal Gabriel Harder) and his unending questions about Catholicism, in fact about religion itself. He drives the already driven Sister Clarissa (the always extraordinary Renee Matthews) beyond her limits of tolerance with perpetual challenges to church teachings. When “S’ter,” who always carries her trusty ruler and clicker, asks Rudy why God put man on earth, the boy’s answers vary from “I’ve been wondering that myself,” to something akin to “Beats me!” Not quite catechism.
            In fact, 12-year-old Rudy announces he’s going to look at all the world religions before deciding on one. During this phase, he wears a yarmulke (Jewish men’s skullcap) and greets Sister with “Shalom” triggering an audience laugh riot.
            Amid all this, Annie (Katrina Syrris) experiences mid-teen female angst, Eddie (Alex Adams) plays with the legal system and developmentally disabled Georgie (a wonderful performance by Daniel Velisek) takes it all in.
            This hilarious, heartwarming and ultimately poignant human comedy, with John Gawlik's spot-on direction, runs through March 29. Noble Fool productions are staged on the Pheasant Run Mainstage, 4051 E. Main St. in St. Charles. Tickets are $29-$30 at the Pheasant Run Box Office, (630) 584-6342 and all Ticketmaster outlets; dinner packages available.
            Oh, the other two comedies that knocked me out of my seat – Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in “The Producers” and Tim Curry, David Hyde-Pierce and Sara Rodriguez in “Spamalot.” Noble Fool is in good company. Or maybe it's the other way around.

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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.