Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IPO ends season with Huffman, Grossman ... Sue celebrates 10th

Dear Readers,
Hope you find something to do. LOL. You cannot possibly sit home all May when you see what's happening around the metro area. 
Steppenwolf announced that company member Jon Michael Hill (at right) has garnered a 2010 Tony Award nomination for best featured actor in a play -- "Superior Donuts" by company member Tracy Letts. We have seen Hill in several productions, including "... Donuts" and his performances are stellar.
Meanwhile, I am working on a new template for the blog but have just begun so you probably will see lots of white space on the right. In any case, let me know what you think about the new format and the more monochromatic typeface.
Please keep the e-mail press releases coming and also e-mail me with corrections and comments. Have a great month. See you at the end of May or beginning of June.



The DRAMA GROUP, fresh off the big stage, moves right into its next show, "The Complete History of America, Abridged," described as a "hysterical historical" look at 600 years life on this continent. The production runs June 11-20 at the Drama Group Studio, 330W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $18, $17 seniors and students; (708) 755-3444 and at

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

MARRIOTT THEATRE, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, keeps the audience awake and involved with the 2006 blockbuster Broadway show, "The Drowsy Chaperone," through June 27. Imagine this: You slide your favorite stage musical CD into the player and the era and actors magically burst into life. The brilliant Marc Robin creates his own magic as director and choreographer of "... Chaperone," a musical within a musical comedy featuring an all-star cast including Chicago favorites Paula Scrofano, John Reeger and James Harms. Tickets are $35 to $48 at (847) 634-0200 and all Ticketmaster outlets. The 411 on the show is at

NOBLE FOOL THEATRICALS, Pheasant Run Resort Mainstage Theatre, 4051 E. Main St., St Charles, tackles the tough words (OK, the easy ones too) as "The Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" buzzes through St. Charles through June 13, and if you have not seen this riotous ode to adolescents and spelling bees, it's worth the trip. (I-355 extension dramatically reduces the drive time to St. Charles.) Tickets are $29 and $39 at (630) 584-6342 and Ticketmaster. 

OAK LAWN PARK DISTRICT THEATRE presents the musical story of Gypsy Rose Lee, "Gypsy," June 4-June 13 at Oak View Center, 110th Street and Kilpatrick, Oak Lawn. Tickets are $21, $20 seniors, (708) 857-2200.

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE, Theatre Building of Chicago, 1224 W. Belmont, continues its awesome production of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" through May 30. This show is much more than a musical; think experience. If you have never seen "...Woods" and you like Sondheim, you're in for a magical treat. If you have seen it, here's your chance to once again experience what has become a stage classic. Tickets are $38, $32 students and seniors and available at the box office and by phone at (773) 327-5252 and all Ticketmaster outlets. 
“Into the Woods” is often laugh-out-loud. Still, the production of the Sondheim classic captures the powerful elements in the story as each character meets challenges and lessons symbolic of life’s journey. The show is packed with creative uses of multi-media. Rachel Quinn (left in photo) is a phenomenal Cinderella and Jeny Wasilewski (right) takes on the Red Riding Hood role with panache. Other stand-out performances are Scott Sumerak as the na├»ve and starry-eyed Jack; William Travis Taylor as the charming and hilarious Cinderella’s Prince; and Rapunzel’s Prince, Cameron Brune. Sarah Gross

PROVISION THEATER COMPANY, 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, presents the world premiere run of "The Hiding Place," based on the autobiography of Corrie ten Boom whose family joined the World War II Resistance to battle the Nazis and do what they could to undermine Hitler's "final solution." The production runs weekends through May 23; tickets are $25, $28 at (866) 811-4111 and

SPOTLIGHT THEATRE kicks off the summer with the Tennessee Williams classic, "The Night of the Iguana," June 11, 12 and 18, 19 at Sherman Recital Hall, Governors State University, University Park. Tickets are $14, $12 seniors and students at (708) 941-8294 and

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago explores the theme of belief with the extraordinary production of Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" directed by award-winning ensemble member, Frank Galati. The show runs through June 6. Nobel prize-winning playwright Beckett's play is described as an absurd comic masterpiece. Ensemble member William Petersen of "CSI" fame gives a riveting performance. Tickets are $20-$53 for previews, $20-$77 for regular run, (312) 335-1650. SEE REVIEW BELOW!
Meanwhile Tarell Alvin McCraney's brilliant triptych, The Brother/Sister Plays," continues in the Steppenwolf upstairs through May 23. Sarah Gross' March review of the entire trilogy is at the end of the blog. Gross said the three one-act dramas are phenomenal, in the 'do not miss' category' for serious theater-goers. SEE REVIEW BELOW!
"An Evening with David Sedaris," best-selling author and NPR humorist, stops at the upstairs theater June 8-13. All tickets are $35.

THEATRE AT THE CENTER, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, takes its onstage vows with the Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt musical, "I Do! I Do!" an intimate (in the bedroom), nostalgic (as years go by) look at a couple's marriage through 50 years -- the good times, the not-so-good, the terrific and the really tough times. The show opened on Broadway in 1966 and has become a classic treasure in musical theater. The two-person production, featuring Chicago-based stage stars Bernie Yvon and Heidi Kettenring, continues through May 23. Tickets are at (219) 836-3255 and and

THEATER-ON-THE-HILL, Bolingbrook Performing Arts Stage, 375 W. Briarcliff, brings the Pete Townshend and the Who 1960s rock opera "Tommy" to life June 25-July 18. The show feaures one of my former Star Newspaper colleagues, Erika Enigk Grotto. Tickets are $14, $11 seniors and students, at (630) 908-2563 or by e-mail to

TOWLE THEATRE, 505 Fayette St., Hammond, IN, continues its production of the romantic comedy "Kissing" through the weekend of May 23. Tickets are $15 at (219) 937-8780 and at


ARMENIAN DANCE COMPANY OF CHICAGO performs at 7:30 p.m. June 26 at Auditorium Theatre, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $30 at (847) 830-3881 or at (773) 844-0138.

Make way for the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and travel back in time to hear the inimitable sounds of the official Glenn Miller Orchestra performing its Big Band hits and other favorites of the 1940s at 3 p.m. May 15 at CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS at Governors State University, University Park. Tickets are $23-$43 at and at (708) 235-2222. Larry O'Brien (left) of South Bend, IN, conducts the orchestra.

FERMILAB ART SERIES takes the physics of sound to the max with Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues at 8 p.m. June 26. The Chamber Blues music experience takes lucky audiences into a phenomenal fusion of gritty Chicago blues and classical sounds. Siegel's extraordinary musical talent spans across the performance and composing spectrum and Chamber blues brings it all together with a chamber music size combo. Tickets are $20, $10 18 and under. Info on the art series and other events, as well as tickets, are www.FNAL.GOV/CULTURE and (630) 840-2787. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Ramsey Auditorium in Wilson Hall is at the back of the iconic structure in Batavia. A map sketch is at The iconic Wilson Hall is visible from Kirk Road, an extension of Farnsworth, as you travel north off I-88.

Closing out its 32nd annual season, the ILLINOIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA presents "Two Worlds, Old and New" at 8 p.m. May 22 at Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave. (turn west off Harlem where Vollmer Road goes east), Frankfort. The program features the masterful talents of Concertmaster Hal Grossman (pictured at right) and Assistant Concertmaster Elizabeth Huffman performing Bach's Concerto for Two Violins which premiered in 1731. The program also includes Symphony No. 9 in E minor from Dvorak's From the New World. Poulenc's Two Marches and an Interlude round out the program. Tickets are $30-$50 at (708) 481-7774 and, if any are left, at the box office before the performance.

"Starry Nights," the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District's annual summer concert series at IRWIN PARK, Highland Avenue and Ridge Road, Homewood, kicks off June 11 as Piano Man recreates the sounds of Billy Joel and Elton John. On June 25 Elevation performs U2 and Pink Houses plays John Cougar Mellencamp on July 23. Check out preview videos of the bands at Tickets on sale now; a$7 adult, $5 child at Park District offices and (708) 957-0300. 


CHRISTOPHER ART GALLERY at Prairie State College, 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights features creative works by 12 graduating students, on display through May 20. Information is at (708) 709-3636

           UNION STREET GALLERY, 1527 Otto Blvd., Chicago Heights, continues its exhibit "Pairs," through May 14. This exhibit focuses on pairs of related works by each participating artist. Pairs are displayed as 'partners,' inviting comparisons of subject, style, size and color. Other events, including classes with professional artists, fundraisers a variety of special happenings and all the info you need for a visit to the gallery are at and at (708) 754-2601. Gallery admission is free.


ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM, 1300 S. Michigan Ave. (at the east end of Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-7827 (STAR). Kids will fly a shuttle, explore a new planet, spend time in extra-terrestrial housing in an all-new permanent exhibit, Planet ExplorersThis wondrous hands-on, climb in, launch into space exploration will entice the kid in everyone. I admit, I wanted to fly the shuttle but instead climbed in and out of the off-world living quarters. This astronomically exciting 'space park' is free with general admission. While you are up on the third floor, don't forget to check out Shoot for the Moon, a two-gallery look at the history of pre-shuttle spaceflight with loads of memorabilia, videos and more, all anchored with the authentic Gemini 12 spacecraft that carried astronauts Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin on a 59-orbit, 2.5 million km. journey in space in November 1966. Everything you need to know for a trip down there is at

Stars twinkle in Joliet at the intimate HERBERT TRACKMAN PLANETARIUM, one of the Southland's far-too-well-kept secrets, located on the main campus of Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Road (be sure to get directions to the planetarium). If you have not made the trip, you're missing a real treat. The 6:30 p.m. Thursday shows are geared to the younger set. Coming up on May 13, "Comets and Asteroids." The 7:30 p.m. Tuesday series is for the junior high and older set. Coming up May 18"The Search for Intelligent Life." Further information is at (815) 729-9020 or go to and search Trackman. Ask for Art the sky guy.

Matisse has gone to video. OK, that's a stretch, but the ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO has created this video preview "Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917." A Matisse blockbuster continues at the ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO: The world-class art museum111 S. Michigan Ave., looks at an extraordinary period in the life of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in an original exhibit created by the Art Institute with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Matisse runs through June 20 and is included in general admission! Also open, two new exhibitions on architecture and design in Galleries 283-285. All the information you'll need for an Art Institute visit are at

BROOKFIELD ZOO300 Golf Road, between Interstates 55 and 290, debuts the "Great Bear Wilderness" now open. This state-of-the-art exhibit features polar bears, even grizzly bears along with Mexican gray wolves, bald eagles, bison and even a raven. An underwater viewing area allows visits to stay dry, of course, while observing polar bears swimming. Get the scoop and event details for Brookfield at (Chicago Zoological Society).

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, presents what should be a fascinating look at one movement in that battle against racism: "The Black Panthers: Making Sense of History." The exhibit joins permanent galleries focused on different eras of blacks throughout American History. Museum details are at (773) 947-0600.          

FIELD MUSEUM, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive (on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-9410. Guess who is having a birthday? Yes, T. rex Sue naturally is millions of years old, but she celebrates her 10th anniversary at Field Museum with a package of exciting prehistoric adventures May 26-Sept. 6. A film production. "Waking the T. rex 3-D; The story of Sue" will take visitors on an amazing Sue adventure. And "RoboSue: The T. rex Experience" will feature a robotic Sue that will almost interact with visitors -- safely of course. And for the serious Sue fans, on May 29-May 31, Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the archeological wonder, will be at the Field to talk about her adventures, answer questions and sign autographs. The spectacular Sue doings will require special tickets. Meanwhile "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age," a 7,500-square-foot exhibit, 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 questions including how the prehistoric creatures balanced their tusks, how much they ate and how elephants 'talk' to each other. Special all-access tickets will be required for the Sue spectacular. Details of Hendrickson's talks are at (312) 665-7100. Information about Field Museum is at

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 220 E. Chicago Ave., presents an exhibit of more than 100 original works by Steve Krakow. More than 100 original 'info strips" are on display. Additionally, four concerts will take place in May with musicians featured in Krakow's strips. which run every other week in the Chicago Reader newspaper. The exhibit runs from through May 30. On June 1 the MCA kicks off its summer Tuesdays on the Terrace with a fabulous jazz artist lineup. Also mark your calendar for June 26 when Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art debuts. Calder will continue through Oct. 17. All the exhibit details and jazz on the terrace details, as well as any info you need to plan an MCA visit are at

If you have not been there in years, the legendary U-505 Submarine is an extraordinary exhibit anchored by the only German U-boat captured and brought to the United States. Surrounded by compelling galleries, photos and even film footage of the capture, this is a one-of-a-kind experience and it's only at the MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. This thrilling adventure takes you where few have ever gone before. Then check out the phenomena of storms, such as lightning (at right), one of the many high tech looks at Mother Nature in "Science Storms," the recently opened, two-level, 26,000 square feet permanent exhibit included with general admission. All the details and everything you need to plan a day at MSI are at

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, continues its series of free nature films with the May 27 showing of "On the Wings of the Monarch," a documentary that follows host Libby Graham on an amazing journey into the life of the monarch butterfly. All the information you need for a Notebaert Nature Museum visit are at

Visitors to SHEDD AQUARIUM, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, can now see the four-month old baby beluga in the Oceanarium. Also, "Happy Feet -D Experience" is playing in the renovated theater. Visitors will travel to Antarctica and meet a lively cast of penguin characters in this magical 12-minute, 4-D family feature. Check out all the details and events as well as plan your trip to the world-famous Shedd Aquarium at

By Myra Eder

 Beckett baffles.
After more than two weeks of thinking and perusing literary commentary, I finally have a small grip on Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame.”
The star-studded Steppenwolf Theatre production, which opened earlier this month and runs through June 6 (ticket information in listing below), absolutely mesmerized me, pried my brain open and continues to intrigues me.
This one-act play, which premiered in 1957, takes the viewer into a realm beyond theater of the absurd.
Watching “Endgame,” I think, parallels what one might encounter stepping into Salvador Dali painting come to life. The surreal experience, a dreamlike, perhaps nightmarish journey would not make sense at first. The dreamer would have to return often to understand the Dali plane of existence.
So too with “Endgame.”
            The brilliant four-person Steppenwolf Company cast, as well as director Frank Galati give life and coherence to Beckett’s bizarre script. Indeed, one does not have to be a Beckett scholar, or for that matter have any familiarity with the late legendary playwright to realize the skill and insight this play demands.
Powerful stage chemistry adds another layer of genius to "Endgame."
The power in Steppenwolf’s production is such that Beckett’s intent becomes secondary as the audience experiences another reality that unfolds in “Endgame.”
William Petersen (pictured) portrays Hamm, a blind man, king of his abode, who sits on his throne-on-wheels in the center of a small room because he cannot stand up. Hamm’s lame manservant Clov (Ian Barford) goes back and forth, in and out of the little room as he begrudgingly responds to his master’s every demand. Theirs is an alien codependence.
             Clov, for some unexplained reason, cannot sit down.
             Meanwhile, Hamm’s aged and apparently legless parents, Nagg (Francis Guinan) and Nell (Martha Lavey), each live in a covered ashcan, discarded by their son and by life.
            Their pathetic existence deteriorates as the play moves forward, without any obvious impact on their son.
            At first, most audience members would find little, if anything, in common with Beckett’s characters. But in fact, if each person were to break down his or her life into a few basic, unrelated episodes, similarities to the onstage actions probably would emerge. 
“Endgame” ultimately is very human if not humane.
             Beckett’s dialogue reveals, in Galati’s words, a “world broken apart, dismantled of the rational thought charged through the first half of the (post war) 20th century.” It was this postwar state of mind that critics see as a key force in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” as well as “Endgame.”
             In Steppenwolf artistic director Lavey’s compelling interview with Galati in the program, she asks how he would want an audience to experience “Endgame.”
Galati replies, “With open arms. Not afraid of the dark …. I think a great work of art asks us to step into it and accept its wisdom, its vision of truth.”
              As an aside, Petersen is an extraordinary talent. While “CSI” no doubt pays very well, Petersen belongs onstage where he can breathe life into complex characters created by the brilliant playwrights of every age. His dazzling performance in Steppenwolf's "Dublin Carol" late last year was my first opportunity to see him outside his Gil Grissom TV character. Petersen commands the stage and slips into his roles with convincing authority. He does not act. He is that character of the moment.
              A final note: I urge anyone who is not a Beckett scholar to read the program before the curtain goes up. I regret not having done so as the “Endgame” experience would have been even richer with the knowledge gained from Lavey’s Galati interview as well as artistic apprentice Rebecca Stevens’ analysis of the play and playwright in historical context.

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photo by sarah gross

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About Me

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.