One of the best things about being in Chicago is that everyone has access to good theatre. Whether it be in a larger theater downtown, a black box on the North Side or a small space in the suburbs, it’s just a matter of finding it!
Tucked away in a Skokie theater, the Emergent Theatre Company recently opened their production of Neil Simon’s “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” Directed by Robert Costanzo (“City Slickers,” “Friends”), this is a classic show about a long-time married man who is contemplating having an affair with three different women. It is performed in three related vignettes, each focusing on the relationship between our leading man and one of the women. The concern that I think any audience has in these situations is “will the next vignette be as strong as the last one?” Quite enthusiastically I can tell you, each time a new actress entered the stage, I was engaged by the different energy, but the consistent strength of performance.
As the lights go down at the top of the show, the Jimmy Buffet song “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” begins to play. This fun nod to what you are about to experience tapers off and we are greeted by our leading man Jim Saltouros as Barney Cashman – a gentle and unfulfilled restaurant owner. Mr. Saltouros’ Barney is a man whose curiosity and anticipation leaves you remembering just how it felt to go on a first date.
The show’s talented leading ladies (Kelly Levander as Elaine Navazio, Rachel Rosen as Bobbi Michelle and Lisa Stran as Jeanette Fisher) each capture an energy unique unto themselves and propel their individual scenes forward. Ms. Levander is sassy and brash as the experienced other women, Ms. Rosen is boisterous and wacky as the actress who can spin stories and Ms. Stran is hilariously sorrowful. With Mr. Saltouros’ Barney trying to figure his way through each debacle, the show is energetic, full of laughs and may remind you that the grass isn’t always greener.
Emergent Theatre: Last of the Red Hot Lovers Review – Last Of The Red Hot Lovers is playing at the Mayer Kaplan JCC Theatre, 5050 Church St. in Skokie through 4/19/15. Tickets can be purchased through Goldstar at a discount.
If you’re looking for some new theatre, be sure to check out this new show by Jen Bosworth, Why Not Me…Love, Cancer and Jack White. Playing at the Heartland Studio, this is a one-woman-show both written and performed by Ms. Bosworth.
“Why Not Me…Love, Cancer and Jack White” is one woman’s hilarious and hopeful romp through life’s heartaches, headaches and hysterics. In her critically acclaimed one woman show, Jen Bosworth’s irreverent and hilarious “Why Not Me” details her adventures as a failed actress in Los Angeles; her stint as Academy Award Winner Nicolas Cage’s Office Manager; and her journey as the caretaker for her feisty and determined Colombian mother as she bravely fought, but eventually succumbed to metastasized breast cancer. When Jen’s mother, Ines’s cancer returned they asked “Why us? Why is this happening to us?” And then one day Ines turned to Jen and asked, “Why not us? We are not so special. Why shouldn’t tragedy touch us?” “Why Not Me” is the inspiring tale of what it takes to accept ourselves, love others, and go bravely in the direction of our dreams. It is the story of accidentally finding spirituality. Ultimately, “Why Not Me” is about turning our hardships and tragedies into gold. Banged and battered gold, but gold nonetheless.
Heartland Studio Theatre is located at 7016 North Glenwood in Chicago and performances run Thursday-Sunday between now and August 17, 2014. Purchase tickets here prior to performances.
When I go to see live theatre, I want to know nothing about it before I enter. I don’t read reviews, I don’t read casting information and I don’t read leaked excitement. I want to know nothing. When the lights go down and the curtain goes up, I want to enter a brand new world and have a unique experience all my own. Granted, that experience is in a large room with hundreds of other people, but going to the theatre is truly a distinctive experience. You bring your history, your tastes and your unique perspective. You are going to see a show that will affect you differently from anyone else purely because you are you.
At the end of most productions, the cast comes out on stage and the audience claps. In typical fashion, the more fun or more principal a role, the louder the clapping gets for that actor – and that is fitting. If you love a performance, you should cheer for it! Somehow though, in the last 20 years it has become commonplace to give a standing ovation for every single show performed. It is so much so that a cast can tell that an audience didn’t particularly like a performance purely because they didn’t stand up. My question is – what happened to the “in between?” What happened to watching a show that you enjoyed, clapping loudly, hooting a bit and then exiting the theatre in smiles? Why must audiences always give a standing ovation to let everyone know that they enjoyed the show? It kind of leaves you wondering what you’re now supposed to do for those productions that truly knocked your socks off. At least, it leaves me wondering…
So I implore you – consider the shows that you are standing for! In the same way that chocolate loses it’s excitement when you eat it every day (bad example?), consider that you are removing the meaning of the standing ovation when you give one for each and every show. Save your ovation for those productions that change your world. The ones that give you goosebumps. The ones that touch your soul. And whether your fellow audience members are aware of it or not, you will know that when you are moved to get up on your feet at the end of a production, you truly couldn’t stay seated.
If you read my review of The Last Ship by Sting, you know that I am a huge fan of this new musical. If you’ve been wanting to get tickets between now and the end of the Chicago run, Goldstar is currently offering discount tickets to see The Last Ship! You can get tickets for as low as $49, but shows are selling out quickly. I would highly suggest choosing a date and booking your show now!
Premiering in Chicago before heading to Broadway, new musical The Last Ship is not only inspired by Sting’s childhood, but it also has an original score by the British pop star. Set in the English seaport village of Wallsend, The Last Ship follows a young man who ventures off to find a future beyond the shipyard. Years later, he returns to discover that his lost love is engaged to someone else, and his proud community is struggling to preserve its way of life. Big, bold and beautiful, The Last Ship has a powerful list of talent behind it: 16-time Grammy-winner Sting, Tony-winning director Joe Mantello (Wicked), Tony-winning playwright John Logan (Red) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal).
Free food, fun television and food trucks? Those are three “F’s” that I can get behind! A brand new Spike TV show called “Frankenfood” is hosting free food truck tastings in Chicago all of this week! The show itself combines unlikely foods to create awesome new ideas. Sometimes they work, sometimes not so much. Either way, this should be fun to check out! And best of all, they are coming to Chicago – a city that knows good food from bad! – to give us a taste.
Here are your food truck locations between 6/18-6/20:
- Wednesday 10:30a – 2p:CTA – Stop Randolf/Wabash: 151 N. Wabash Ave
- Thursday: 2:30p -6p Madison Street: 70 West Madison St
- Friday: 6:30a – 10:30a Ogilvie Train Station: 500 W Madison St
Expect to see fun foods like Spam Sushi, Braised Pork Belly S’mores, Fried Slim-Jim Mac-N-Cheese Balls, Spaghetti Filled Burgers and more!
This event is completely free, so go check it out! To find out more about the Frankenfood show coming up on Spike TV, check out their Youtube video and let the salivating begin!
If you’ve heard about the Hidden Cash Game being played in other parts of the country, you will be thrilled to hear that it’s now in Chicago! If you’re not familiar with the Hidden Cash Game, this is a social experiment being conducted for what seems like the sole purpose off helping other people. Follow Hidden Cash on Twitter (in Chicago you’ll also follow this account) and you’ll be given clues to where there is hidden money in different areas of the country or the city you live in. The first person to find it wins! That is it. That is all.
It has recently been revealed that Jason Buzi, San Francisco real estate investor and entrepreneur is the “host” of the game that has taken off all over the country. He has been quoted as saying “Just because I am a businessperson doesn’t mean everything for me is about making money. It isn’t.” And with an estimated $10,000-$15,000 spent on the game – at the end of the day, that’s not a ton of money to launch a goodwill movement. Hopefully it is just enough.
The whole idea behind this game is one that we need to encourage. Pay it forward! Do you have an extra $20 that you found in a coat pocket? Hide it and tweet about it to your friends! Maybe add the #HiddenMoney hasthag and you’ll pay it forward a little further. I am fascinated to see how this social experiment turns out, but I know that the next time I find some unexpected cash around my house, I’m going to play!
So how do you take part in the Hidden Cash Game around Chicago? Follow Hidden Cash on Twitter, watch for clues and then jump into the game! And if you do find some money, think about paying some of it forward. That AND I want to hear about it!
Interested in more free activities that you can do around Chicago? Read about those here.
Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan Review
Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan Review – The truth is that you never know who you are speaking to on the Internet. We all have avatars that may or may not be real images of ourselves – and we have the ability to be whoever we want to be while sitting behind the computer screen. This is the premise of Ask Aunt Susan, directed by Henry Wishcamper and currently playing at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago through June 22, 2014. Led by Alex Stage as the narrator (very solid and present), Ask Aunt Susan takes the audience on a humorous and intense ride through modern day technology and relationships and how they intermix to create an alternate reality.
Upon walking into the theater, the audience is met by a somewhat chaotic M. C. Escher-esque set that is decorated with television screens. Having seen a number of newer shows that utilized screens, I was a bit concerned that these would take away from the performance. This is completely the opposite. The televisions serve as a constant reminder that we are a “plugged in” society and propel the story forward as an assistant to the narrator.
Built on a very strong script by Seth Bockley, the play itself is funny and thought provoking. The supporting actors (including Jennie Moreau, Marc Grapey and Robyn Scott) each steal the spotlight in their own way, but you find yourself always grounded by the narrator. Ask Aunt Susan is an enjoyable production that will leave you thinking through the last second of the show and well after the bow.
Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan Review – Ask Aunt Susan is playing at the Goodman Theatre between 5/24-6/22. Tickets can be purchased through the Goodman Theatre box office online or by calling (312) 443-3800. Goodman Theatre is located at 170 North Dearborn in Chicago.
Chicago Family Staycation Ideas
Summer is the time when our kids get out of school, the weather is warm and people like to travel. The biggest problem with that is that is that travel can get expensive! You’re talking about hotels, plane tickets, gas money and more. Perhaps it’s time for a Staycation! Here are some Chicago Family Staycation ideas for you to help you enjoy your own city and do it on a budget:
Chicago Museums & Tours
Chicago Kids Activities
Downtown Chicago Activities
Chicago Sports Activities
Chicago Amusement and Water Parks
Other Notable Chicago Activities
This list is just a beginning for your Chicago Family Staycation ideas! Chicago is such a large city that I’m sure there are many more. Feel free to leave additional Chicago Family Staycation ideas in the comments and I’ll update the list!
Here are some other cities to check out:
A – D
Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous
F – I
Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida — LaToyaEdwards.net
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss
K – P
Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High
R – W
Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That
Les Miserables Drury Lane Discount!
There is a new production of Les Miserables being performed at The Drury Lane Theatre, an establishment just outside of Chicago in Oakbrook Terrace (100 Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181.) This show runs through June 8, 2014 and there are currently tickets available. Even better, there is the option of a Les Miserables Drury Lane discount!
Les Miserables Drury Lane Discount: Goldstar is currently offering tickets to see Les Miserables for as low as $22.50 per ticket. Standard show prices for this production range from $45-$60, so this is a significant discount. Ticket prices and availability will change between now and the end of the run.
Here is the description provided on Goldstar:
Grand and uplifting, Les Miserables is a powerful affirmation of the human spirit and one of the most popular musicals of all time. This tale of passion and revolution in 19th-century France won seven Tony Awards on Broadway and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film. Drury Lane kicks off its 30th anniversary season with this sweeping tale of romance, passion, suspense and redemption set against the stormy backdrop of the French Revolution. You’ll be immersed in the tale of ex-convict Jean Valjean’s struggle for redemption while trying to outrun the determined police inspector Javert, and the innocent love of his adopted daughter Cosette for the revolutionary and student, Marius. It’s a celebration of the human struggle for justice and happiness in the face of hardship, carried forward on a gorgeous score, including the beloved songs “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and more.
You’ve likely seen the movie and you may have seen Les Miserables performed on the stage as well, but like many theatergoers will tell you (including myself), you can never really get enough!
Interested in more? Read other Chicago Deals here.
The Joffrey Ballet: Romeo & Juliet Discount:
The Joffrey Ballet is launching a new production of Romeo & Juliet at the Auditorium Theatre (located at 50 E. Congress Parkway in Chicago) that will run for two weeks only: April 30th-May 11th 2014. This performance is a contemporary take on the classic story that we are all familiar with.
Here is the description according to Goldstar:
The world famous Joffrey Ballet stages a bold contemporary version of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved tragedies, Romeo and Juliet. The Chicago Philharmonic will be on hand to perform Sergei Prokofiev’s powerfully dramatic score, which includes the famous “Dance of the Knights” (aka “Montagues and Capulets”). This timeless story of two young lovers caught between their warring families unfolds against a striking multimedia backdrop, which depicts three different political eras of the 20th century. Choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor, director of the Polish National Ballet, this vibrant new telling of Romeo and Juliet is “stunning … truly magnificent” (London’s The Telegraph).
The Joffrey Ballet: Romeo & Juliet Discount: Currently you can get tickets to see The Joffrey Ballet perform Romeo & Juliet for almost half off the current box office price through Goldstar. There are a variety of dates available in May and they range in price from $48.60 – $91.20 (down from a regular box office price of $81.00 – $152.00). This is a great way to see a fantastic Chicago company perform one of the classics.
Interested in more? Read other Chicago Deals and about other Chicago Theater information.