Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear Readers,
Listings galore have filled my e-mail in-box. As such, the proverbial something for each and every one of you and your friends and families of all ages rests within the blog that follows. Band concerts, chorales (Charles Stark conducts Lincoln-Way Area Chorale at right), holiday productions, ghostly encounters and even heavy drama join with elegant museum exhibits and brilliant Brookfield Zoo (just one view at top of blog) for whatever your mood commands. 
For those of you who live in the southwest enjoy the season and cherish time with friends and family. Remember, 2010 disappears all too soon. Happy Chanukah (or however you spell it), Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays.



BEVERLY ARTS CENTER, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago, presents the wacky Broadway hit, Hairspray from Dec. 2-5. Tickets are $15, $12 seniors, students, BAC members, (773) 445-3838 and www.beverlyartcenter.org.

CHICAGO DRAMATISTS, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., presents the musical Local Wonders, Nov. 27-Jan. 9. Tickets are $25-$30, discounts seniors, students, groups, (630) 457-1074 and www.brownpapertickets.com.

THE DRAMA GROUP meets a persistent ghost starting Dec. 3-12 when the theater troupe debuts its production of the Noel Coward comedy Blithe Spirit, directed by Kelly Padden. Imagine this: Charles (Warren Sampson Jr.) is a writer who invites a medium to his house to conduct a seance, strictly for the purpose of research. Or so he thought. Alas, Madame Arcati (Deb Brunette-Cairns) unexpectedly connects with Charles' very annoying late wife, Elvira (Betty Wigell) who is not at all pleased with her husband's marriage to Ruth (Karen Lockwood). Life becomes chaotic as Elvira's spirit interferes with what had been a relative calm. Blithe Spirit is set to haunt the Studio Theatre, 330 W. 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $18, $17 students and seniors at (708) 755-3444 and www.dramagroup.org. Photo features Lockwood (top), Sampson and Wigel.

DRURY LANE THEATRE, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. presents a remounted version of the wacky story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers through Dec. 19. What happens when seven, uh, horny brothers up in the mountains of Oregon 1850 find seven young women in town? The young women find the newcomers quite attractive, more so than the local guys. Well, the show definitely is family fare so don't worry about bringing the kids. The energetic and highly entertaining production stars Steve Blanchard and Abby Mueller ((left) as well as many favorite Chicago-based actors, including multi-Jeff Award winning Renee Matthews as Mrs. Bixby, an absolute hoot, and Don Forston as Mr. Bixby. Tickets are $31-$45 and lunch and dinner packages available, (630) 530-0111, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com and Ticketmaster. Parking is free.

DRURY LANE CHILDREN'S THEATRE presents the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, through Dec. 18. Dinner with Santa on Dec. 15 followed by show and and breakfast buffet package on Dec. 4, 11 and 18 are available. Show only tickets $12 at (630) 530-0111, Ticketmaster and www.drurylaneoakbrook.com. Parking is free.

ILLINOIS THEATRE CENTER, 371 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, sings in the holidays with the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick musical, The Apple Tree, Dec. 3-19. The production actually is three short stories, all dealing with love and redemption. Katrina Kuntz (in photo), Glenn Stanton and ITC favorite Frank Roberts (in photo) star in the show. Etel Billig directs. Tickets are $20-$22, with $1 discount for students and senior, (708) 481-3510.

MARRIOTT THEATRE in Lincolnshire, 10 Marriott Drive, meets River City this month for Meredith Wilson's timeless musical, The Music Man, through Jan. 9. Bernie Yvon stars as Harold Hill. "Music Man" opened on Broadway in 1957 and still sparkles more than 50 years later. Directed by Mark Lococo, Marriott brings this gem up close and personal as only Marriott's theater-in-the-round can. Tickets are $40-$48 at (847) 634-0200 and www.MarriottTheatre.com, discounts some days for seniors, students. Dinner packages available.

MARRIOTT THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES takes audiences from Illinois to Kansas and then to the magical, sometimes evil, world of Oz in its holiday production of The Wizard of Oz through Dec. 30. Dara Cameron stars as Dorothy, Heidi Kettenring as the Wicked Witch and Mark Kaplan as Uncle Henry/Oz as part of an all-star cast in a show for all ages. Tickets are $15.

OPENING NIGHT ARTS GROUP presents A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley, Dec. 2-4 at Trinity Christian College, Marge Kallemyen Theatre, 6601 W. College Drive, Palos Heights. Tickets are $17 members, $20 non-members, (708) 570-1630 and www.openingnightartsgroup.org.

ORLAND PARK THEATRE TROUPE presents A Candle in the Window, Dec. 10-12 at Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 Ravinia Ave.; tickets $13, $11 seniors, students, children 12 and under free, (708) 403-7275 and www.orland-park.il.us. Director Frann Carnivele-Sidlow described the show as heart-warming story about a group of weary travelers stranded in a train station. After resting at the station, the travelers wake up and "their lives will never be the same." Carnivele-Sidlow adds, "I cannot tell you more or I will be giving away the miracle of the story." Should be an powerful holiday show.

PHEASANT RUN RESORT MAINSTAGE, home of Noble Fool Theatricals at 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles presents an all-time favorite holiday classic, It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, from through Dec. 26. Tickets are $29.50-$39.50 and dinner packages are available, (630) 584-6342. Parking is free.

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE, STAGE 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, (773) 327-5252  reprises its holiday hit from last year, Miracle on 34th Street, running through Jan. 2. Tickets are $38 during November, $40 after that; discounts for students, seniors, groups.

ST. ANDREW PLAYERS of Homewood sail into the season with The Christmas Schooner, a family musical that chronicles a true story of the Christmas Tree Ship. The story focuses on the shooner Rouse Simmons, lost at sea in a November gale and the German-American family who continued to bring trees to Clark Street dock in spite of their own tragedies. The production will be staged at St. Andrew UMC, 18850 Riegel Road, Homewood. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 4 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5. All tickets are $10 at (708) 798-8904. Pictured Rebecca Mooney (from left), Tailor Montecki, Wendy King, Carl Boyens and Chianna Montecki.

STEEL BEAM THEATRE, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles, presents It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, the "Miracle on 34th Street" musical version by Meredith Wilson, through Dec. 19, tickets $25, $23 seniors, students, www.steelbeamtheatre.com and (630) 587-8521.

STEEL BEAM also continues show for the younger set, Sing Along with Santa, through Dec. 19. Tickets are $12, $10 children under 16.

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago, (312) 335-1650, ends the year and starts the next with the Edward Albee classic, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring ensemble actors Amy Morton and Tracy Letts (pictured). This powerful drama of marital discord and much more continues through Feb. 13. Tickets are $20-$75 at the box office number above and at www.steppenwolf.org.

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas at THEATRE AT THE CENTER, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana, where the family musical based on the classic "Miracle on 34th Street" continues through Dec. 19. Robert Hildreth (pictured) is most convincing as Santa and the rest of the huge and talented cast blends with tangible stage chemistry to take the story through to a very believable conclusion. The first act delights and the second act of the production absolutely soars. If you don't believe in Santa when you walk into the theater, you will when you leave. Tickets are $36-$40 at (219) 836-3255, at (800) 511-1552 and on the theater website at www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com. Parking at TATC is always free.

THEATRE AT THE CENTER'S THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES presents the always magical The Story of the Nutcracker through Dec. 13. Lunch packages are available. Show only tickets are $7 for children, $8.50 adults. See above for contact information.

THEATRE OF WESTERN SPRINGS CHILDREN'S THEATRE, 4384 Hampton Ave., presents the candied classic, Willy Wonka, based on Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," from Dec. 3 to Dec. 12. Tickets are $15 and $7 for young people under 18, (708) 246-3380 and at www.theatrewesternsprings.com. More information, including showtimes, can be found on the website.

TOWLE THEATER, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond, brings its eighth installment of its holiday tradition, A Fabulous 50s Christmas back to the stage, paying tribute to Perry Como, Andy Williams and many more, including mid-20th century commercials that will bring back memories or for the younger set, no doubt trigger lots of chuckles at the "olden days." The show runs through Dec.19. Tickets are $15, paid in advance and non refundable, (219) 937-8780 and www.towle theater.org. Free well-lit, secured parking is just off Fayette Street and leads to back entrance of theater. Since you'll never guess who's in the photo, here goes -- Kristyn Estes (from left), Gina Vitucci, Michelle Gessert and Morgan Papesh.


CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS, Governors State University, University Park, presents the The Salt Creek Ballet in its annual production of The Nutcracker at 1 and 5 p.m. Dec.11. Salt Creek Ballet is one of Chicagoland's hidden treasures and features an extraordinary company of brilliant young dancers. Tickets $25-$40 adults, $20-$35 16 and younger. Then at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 The Center's Especially for Kids series presents The Fantastic Toy Shoppe. Tickets for this event are $10.50 to $11.50. All tickets for all events, as well as show details, are at www.centertickets.net and at (708) 235-2222. Parking is always free. When buying tickets, ask if your purchase qualifies you for a $10 ticket voucher.

CIVIC BALLET OF CHICAGO brings its production of The Nutcracker to Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Drive, Dec. 11, 12. Tickets are $25, $12 children 12 and under. See tickets.elgin.edu or call (847) 622-0300 for tickets and info on Clara Christmas Parties.

The award-winning ILLINOIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, under the direction of Maestro Carmon DeLeone, along with guest artists, present the Harris Holiday Concerts at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19 at Lincoln-Way East Performing Arts Center, 201 Colorado Ave., Frankfort. The first half of the concert will feature holiday favorites as the Lincoln-Way Area Chorale and members of the South Suburban Chorale join in the musical festivities. Soloists Marie Michuda of Frankfort and Benjamin Warschawski of Baltimore also will perform.
Scrooge! the Musical will fill the second half of the concert. Artistic director Etel Billig of Illinois Theatre Center will direct the performers. Accompanist Lisa Kristina, along with Lincoln-Way Madrigal singers will join the musical for what promises to be a delightful production. Single tickets to the holiday concerts are $30-$40 at (708) 481-7774. When ordering ask about the IPO's special ticket promotion.

LINCOLN-WAY AREA CHORALE presents its annual concert, Sing We Now of Christmas, at 3 p.m. Dec. 4 at Lincoln-Way East Fine Arts Center, 201 Colorado Ave., Frankfort. Tickets are $12, $10 seniors and students at (815) 462-2307 and at the door.

MORAINE VALLEY FINE AND PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, presents a potpourri of entertainment in the Dorothy Menker Theater:  Moraine Valley Jazz Ensemble Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, tickets $12, $10; Moraine Chorale and Chamber Singers Merry Christmas Music at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, tickets same as concert; Moraine Valley Concert Band, Christmas Music and More!, 3 p.m. Dec. 5, tickets same ; Moraine Valley Percussion Ensemble Holiday Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, tickets free; Theater for Young Audiences, The One Man Christmas Carol, 2 p.m. Dec. 12, tickets $8, $6 children; all tickets at (708) 974-5500 and www.morainevalley.edu/FPAC.

SOUTHWEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and the ST. LINUS MUSIC MINISTRY present Season's Greetings at St. Linus Church, a holiday concert at 4 p.m. Dec.5 at St. Linus, 10300 S. Lawler Ave., Oak Lawn. Tickets are $20, $15 seniors, $5 students, under 12 admitted free. Concert concludes with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus with everyone joining in. Information is at (708) 802-0686.

TINLEY PARK ARTS ALIVE! COMMUNITY BAND AND JAZZ BAND performs its annual holiday concert at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 in the all-new Tinley Park Performing Arts Center, 16801 80th Ave. Admission is free. More details are with the park district at (708) 342-4200.


MORAINE VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Robert F. DeCaprio Gallery, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, currently features the Marc-Anthony Polizzi installation piece, In Over My Head, through Dec. 19. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. This is an amazing work of art with an unexpected treasure, a sculpture within a sculpture. Visitors will recognize this as their eyes scroll down the green artwork. More gallery information is at (708) 974-5500.

UNION STREET GALLERY, 1527 Otto Blvd., Chicago Heights, (708) 754-2601, and TALL GRASS ARTS ASSOCIATION GALLERY, 367 Artists Walk, Downtown Park Forest, (708) 748-3377, could have that special gift for that special someone, perhaps you! Both galleries will have art sales with works of art priced right for gifts as well as hand-designed gift items.
  • Tall Grass gallery and mini gallery gift shop opens Dec. 3 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. The gallery and gift shop hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • Union Street's holiday shopping runs from Dec. 1-23 with a reception from 12 - 4 p.m. Dec. 11.
In the Orland-Tinley-Palos area, MCCORD GALLERY, (708) 671-0648, the big white 'house' on top of the hill on the corner of LaGrange and Creek Roads (129th Street) also has a holiday gift event, now through Dec. 22.


View the skies through some of the world's Great Observatories in 3D, an all-new show now running in the Universe Theater at ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM, 1300 S. Michigan Ave. (at the east end of Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-7827 (STAR). This show takes you behind the scenes with some of the world's most incredible telescopes so you can see how new discoveries reach the human eye. www.adlerplanetarium.org.

Learn about the stars you can see and the ones a bit beyond naked eye viewing in Joliet at the intimate HERBERT TRACKMAN PLANETARIUM (see article: http://downersgrovesun.suntimes.com/entertainment/2120987-421/shows-planetarium-adler-sky-dec.html), one of the Southland's far-too-well-kept secrets, located on the main campus of Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Road. The fall show season is in full swing with sky guy Art Maurer of Crete at the helm. Note that all shows are free. Sky shows at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays are for the general audience: Dec. 7 Our Solar System, Dec. 21 Christmas Star. Meanwhile, shows at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays are for the younger set: Dec. 2, Christmas Star and Dec. 30 Our Solar System. Shows at 2:30 p.m. Sundays also are geared to the younger set: Dec. 19, Christmas Star. Meanwhile use your GPS to find the place on the Joliet Junior Campus off Houbolt Road. If you need good directions, Art says you can e-mail him at amaurer@jjc.edu.

Chagall returns to THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, 111. S. MIchigan Ave. After five years of intensive research and conservation treatment, Marc Chagall's America Windows together are the centerpiece of a new presentation of public art in Chicago. Chagall (1887-1985) created the iconic stained works to commemorate the American Bicentennial and as a memorial to Mayor Richard J. Daley (1901-1976). Another Art Institute tradition returns at 10 a.m. Nov. 26, the 19th annual "Wreathing of the Lions" on the museum's front steps. Aided by solar power, the wreaths will glow at night, adding to Chicago festive appearance during November and December. All the details you will need for a trip to the iconic Art Institute are at www.artic.edu.

Holiday Magic lights up BROOKFIELD ZOO, 3300 Golf Road, (708) 485-2000, every weekend through Jan. 1. Billed as Chicagoland's largest light festival, guests will see the zoo become a magic wonderland with a million twinkling lights, animated displays, a 35-foot Abominable Snowman, gingerbread men tumbling and jumping on a trampoline and so much more, including, of course, all the animals. For more information check out at www.brookfieldzoo.org or www.czs.org (Chicago Zoological Society). Be sure to ask about Zoo Year's Eve festivities!

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, continues the exhibit Red, White, Blue and Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services, revealing the struggles of the 14 million African Americans who have served in the military on American shores, starting long before the American Revolution. All the details for a DuSable visit are at (773) 947-0600 and www.dusablemuseum.org.

Where will you find a room completely covered in gold?? FIELD MUSEUM, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive (on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-9410, newest exhibit, GOLD, continues through March 6. Learn about gold's impact on the world as one of the rarest and most prized minerals. This extraordinary exhibit will leave visitors dazzled as they travel through galleries exploring gold around the world and precious gold objects including authentic Byzantine coins from the 11th century, the genuine Chicago White Sox World Series trophy and so much more. Couples married for 50 years -- with proof -- have a special day coming up at the museum on Dec. 4. All the golden anniversary celebration day details are at http://www.fieldmuseum.org/CalendarSystem/program_item.asp?ID=2035 . All other museum details, include planning your visit, are at the details at www.fieldmuseum.org and at (312) 922-9410.

Chicago's wondrous holiday traditions, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights, are now dazzling visitors at the MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. A 45-foot Grand Tree with 3,000 lights graces the Rotunda. Decorated with 1,000 character-inspired ornaments, the tree pays tribute to Jim Henson's puppet creativity, also holding court at the museum in Jim Henson's Fantastic World which runs through Jan. 23. Yes, you'll visit with Kermit the Frog, gaze at the glamorous Miss Piggy, see Bert and Ernie and many more favorite Muppets. In addition to the original characters, visitors will see Henson's art work, sketches as well as television and movie props and photos of Henson and his collaborators at work on some of the most lovable characters of all-time. Details on all the exhibits as well as museum tickets exhibit tickets are at the website above and at (773) 684-1414.

SHEDD AQUARIUM, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, debuts a new seasonal special, A Holiday Fantasea with the beloved beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins and a sea lion, all showing off their beauty and natural behaviors and accompanied by holiday music and festive backgrounds from around the world. In addition, The Polar Express 4-D Experience has situated itself at the aquarium for the holiday season. All the details are at www.sheddaquarium.org and at (312) 939-2438.

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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.