Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Holiday weekend update on arts and entertaiment!

Here's a pre-holiday look at what's going on.
Hard to believe this weekend is the Memorial Day observance. If you are looking for something special to do to honor the fallen, consider the Museum of Science and Industry and the one-of-a-kind, the only U-boat ever captured, U-505 Exhibit. Step into history in a multimedia hall of experiences before turning the corner to see the submarine in its own gargantuan home. See the details in museum listings below. Photo at right is from the actual capture and more are on view in the exhibit.
Or if dinosaurs rule in your home, then a trip to the Museum Campus for a visit to Field Museum and its all-new extraordinary 3D film and robotic dinos in honor of T. rex Sue's 10th anniversary year with the Field. Also, special appearances by Sue Hendrickson, the woman who discovered the Tyrannosaurus rex in South Dakota, will take place this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Times and other details are at the museum's website in the museum listings.
Oh, if you go there in the next three weeks, you probably will be greeted by a large and personable T. rex. 
More about the T. rex extravaganza in the next blog.
Several plays are running now (more are set to open the following weekend), so there's more than enough to do for the three-day observance.
Listings below begin with plays and are followed by music and dance, art galleries and museums. 
Please keep those press releases zipping into my e-mail box at And don't hesitate to send me any corrections, information-wise or silly typos. I always love your comments as well and have applied many of your suggestions to this work-in-progress.
See you again soon.


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

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 with Kim Brines as Mama Rose and Connie Johnson as Gypsy (photo). The phenomenal"Gypsy," runs June 4-June 13 at Oak View Center, 110th Street and Kilpatrick, Oak Lawn. Tickets are $21, $20 seniors, (708) 857-2200. Oak Lawn is known for its awesome musical productions and tickets sell out fast! This should be a blockbuster.

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRETheatre 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. Comment by Sarah Gross

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!
"An Evening with David Sedaris," best-selling author and NPR humorist, stops at the upstairs theater June 8-13. All tickets are $35.

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 on sale now, $14, $11 seniors and students, at (630) 908-2563 or by e-mail to Want to know what an actor experiences from auditions to showtime, then check out the show's blog at

THEATRE OF WESTERN SPRINGS presents an all-female version of the riotous Neil Simon play, "The Odd Couple" at 8 p.m. June 2 at a special location, McCord Gallery, 9602 W. Creek Road, Palos Park. Tickets are $30 at (708) 671-0646 and (708) 448-8138. This is a fundraiser for the gallery and it should be a blast.


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

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.

Get ready to rock as "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. Headline act Piano Man (right photo) recreates the sounds of two pop rock legends, Billy Joel and Elton John. Check these guys out at This is much more than a stand-at-the-mike-and-sing performance with full costumes, set design and props. But be sure, the great hits will be there. On June 25 Elevation performs U2 and Pink Houses plays John Cougar Mellencamp on July 23. Check out preview videos of the bands at Advance tickets on sale now -- $7 adult, $5 child at Park District offices and (708) 957-0300. 

        POTPOURRI OF GALLERIES - Well, just one press release came in this time.

UNION STREET GALLERY, 1527 Otto Blvd., Chicago Heights, presents a Nina Weiss exhibit, "Not Far Off," Landscapes inspired by forests and fields, from June 11-July 31.  An opening reception for Weiss will be from 6-9 p.m. June 11 and July 9.


ADLER PLANETARIUM AND ASTRONOMY MUSEUM, 1300 S. Michigan Ave. (at the east end of Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus), (312) 922-7827 (STAR). Whoopi Goldberg narrates the latest show, a spectacular "Journey to the Stars." Show schedules and everything else you need for a day at Adler can be found 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 June 10, "What's in the Sky." The 7:30 p.m. Tuesday series for the junior high and older set presents "The Season Sky: Summer Sky" on June 10. These are the final sky shows till fall! Further information is at (815) 729-9020 or go to and search Trackman. Ask for Art the sky guy.

Matisse has gone to video right here. OK, that's a stretch, but the ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, 111. S. MIchigan Ave., continues the "Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917" exhibit through June 20. This is an extraordinary show and best of all, covered by general admission. Everything you need to know for a day at the Art Institute is 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? The world's largest and most complete T. rex, Sue, has been with the museum for 10 year and a two-fer birthday bash is going on. Actually, it's a three-fer. For the next three weeks, Sue will be wandering around the main hall greeting guests and showing off her amazing fossilized skeleton which happens to be one of my favorite Field treasures.
There's more: RoboSUE: The T. rex Experience takes visitors back to prehistoric times with robotic dinosaurs that can actually track human guests and follow them with their eyes. Watch yourself on the video screen and see just how these robotic wonders -- T. Rex and Triceratops see you.
An all-new 3-D movie, "Waking the T. rex: The Story of SUE," takes visitors into another prehistoric adventure. You'll watch dinosaurs hunt their prey and fight to the death for food as you stand by looking at a day in the life of Sue, nearly 70 million years ago. Check it all out at

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 220 E. Chicago Ave., presents an exhibit of more than 100 original works by Steve Krakow.  On June 4, the museum begins its First Fridays summer experience with a blowout evening of food, music by Chicago's celebrated punk marching band Mucca Pazza along with six DJs around the place and much more, including a "carnival-inspired" menu! Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door and $50 for VIP access (not sure what that includes) at (312) 397-4010 and at

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, 57th Street and Lakeshore Drive, has a perfect exhibit for those who wish to honor the memories of soldiers who paid the ultimate price while fighting for their country. The U-505 Submarine, in its entirety, brings to life many of the stories of World War II including the incredible capture of the killer German U-boat. A hall filled with multi-media exhibits about the war and the full story behind the sub's capture lead into the giant hall built to hold the ship. Everything you will need for a visit to MSI is at MSI photo by Scott Brownell.

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, in conjunction with the Consulate of Mexico, presents "Sanctuary: Flight of the Majestic Monarchs" as seen through the eyes of award-winning Mexican artists. "Weighing no more than a gram, the Monarch recognizes no borders or human divides on its 2,500-flight from Canada, through the midwest United States before it finally finds sanctuary in the warm fir forests and beautiful mountains of Michoacan, Mexico," museum press notes indicate. A full list of activities, in addition to the exhibit details, can be found at

Visitors to SHEDD AQUARIUM, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, will have longer hours for visiting over the holiday weekend, open till 8 p.m. May 28-30. And you can now see the four-month old baby beluga in the Oceanarium as well as sign up for a close encounter with a penguin. "Penguin Encounters" begis June 7 and spots will fill up! All the details you need to plan a day at Shedd are at


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.