Tag Archives: chicago

First Wives Club On Broadway Debuts And Succeeds In Chicago

First Wives Club Review ChicagoIf you have ever watched the First Wives Club movie and didn’t think it was possible to turn it into an entertaining musical, you were wrong. First Wives Club made it’s Pre-Broadway debut on our Chicago stage at the Oriental Theatre this past Wednesday with a full house and lots of applause. This was a show marked with the attendance of the great Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland and director Simon Phillips as well as other notable names and producers, all of whom could not have looked more pleased to see their show up and running.

First Wives Club is a story about four college girlfriends who promise to live their lives side by side, through marriage, children and anything else that should come. Years later, after falling out of touch – and mourning the death of one of the original four – the three remaining friends find each other and reconnect. After initially glossing over the problems in their marriages and lives, all three women find that they are in failing relationships, turn to each other for support and – eventually – revenge on their husbands.

The show started with an upbeat musical montage that introduced the audience to the girls as they were graduating college. You got to watch them meet their husbands and get married while singing familiar songs like “Reach Out” and “Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).” Then we met our leading ladies as adults. Tony Award-winner Faith Prince as Brenda, Wicked star Carmen Cusack as Annie, and Mamma Mia’s Christine Sherrill as Elise were all forces to be reckoned with, both separately and together. All three had excellent timing, clearly loved their characters and had voices that gave you goosebumps (more than once). In fact, every single member of this cast was on point and gave it their all. Even better, they were having fun, and that translated very clearly to the audience.

First Wives Club ChicagoTwo standout supporting actors who deserve some extra acknowledgement are Patrick Richwood as Duane Fergusson (Brenda’s friend) and Morgan Weed as Shelley Salem (Morty’s girlfriend). These two actors stole every scene that they were in and had the entire audience in stitches. Given two of the most quirky roles in the show, both of these performers used every moment to make their mark and often had the audience laughing well after each bit was finished. Watching a show is that much more entertaining when you know that the actors are having just as much fun as you are.

The few issues that I had with this production were with some of the musical numbers. While most were upbeat fun or intense ballads that drove the story, no versions of the “I’m So Lucky” numbers seemed to work. The first turn was just after the three leading ladies reconnected. As they glossed over any problems in their lives, they sang about how so very lucky they were. While the information needed to get to the audience, the song itself never seemed to gel or flow. It felt clunky and not as musically tight as the montage that we’d just been privy to. It’s easy to forgive one number (as in most shows, there are always stronger and weaker songs), but when it returned again in the second act (sung by the men), it still lacked flow. Let me be clear, the performers sang and joked their might out of these songs, but the musical numbers as they were written didn’t leave me feeling invested in the show.

First Wives Club Chicago ReviewBoth the sets and lighting also drove this production. One of the unspoken characters throughout the show was the large crisscrossed windowpane that opened and closed at the back of the set. This set piece is in Cynthia’s opening scene as she feels that there is nothing left to live for as well as in the apartments and locations of the other women. It served as a subtle reminder of needing to be freed from a cage and served the story very well. Also, towards the end of the show, each of the three women (in spotlight) and their respective husbands sing together, yet the men are lit in blue. This is a beautiful moment of separation while attempting to to find their place in each relationship.

All in all, First Wives Club is a show worth seeing. The voices are powerful, the actors are hilarious and the sets move gracefully throughout every scene. You’ll find yourself recognizing Motown classics and hear them repurposed in great ways. Make sure to see this show while it’s in Chicago!

Oriental Theatre: First Wives Club Chicago Review – First Wives Club is playing at the Oriental Theatre through 3/29/15. Tickets can be purchased through Goldstar at a discount.

The Field Museum Chicago Discount!

Field Museum Chicago DiscountOne of the museum staples in Chicago is The Field Museum! This is where many of us first learned about mummies and dinosaurs as well as gems and other extraordinary artifacts. Currently – and for a limited time – you can also get a Field Museum Chicago discount!

Groupon is offering your choice of two deals on The Field Museum tickets.

To be clear, you’ll be paying the price above and you’ll get $5 in Groupon bucks deposited into your account within 7 days of your purchase. Limit 1 per person and you may buy 10 more as gifts.

If you are making this purchase before 7/6/14, you can use coupon code FUN15 at checkout to get 15% off one purchase as well, making your Field Museum Chicago discount that much better.

The Field Museum began in 1893 with a collection of objects from the then-ongoing Chicago World’s Fair, beginning a more than century-long exploration of science, art, and archaeology. These days, the Museum—which shares a lakefront campus with the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium—contains more than 25 million artifacts and specimens. The collection is so massive that only 1% of its items can be displayed at a time, though that 1% features plenty of historically significant doozies.

To keep the Museum’s permanent and rotating exhibitions up to date, The Field Museum’s scientists conduct research at global field sites and on the collection itself. To learn how the Museum is beginning to catalog our world for future museumgoers, check out the Groupon Guide’s recent visit.

The Field Museum is located at 1400 S Lake Shore Dr. on the Museum Campus in Chicago.

Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan Review

Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan ReviewGoodman 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.

Goodman Theatre: Ask Aunt Susan ReviewBuilt 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 – Enjoy Your City!

Chicago Family StaycationChicago 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 Zoos

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

The Sound Of Music Chicago Discount!

The Sound Of Music Chicago DiscountThe Sound Of Music Chicago Discount

If you are a fan of the classic The Sound Of Music, you are going to be very excited! The Sound Of Music opens at the Civic Opera House (20 North Wacker Drive Chicago, IL 60606) April 25th and runs through the currently announced end date of May 25th. This show stars Billy Zane (one of the stars of the movie Titanic), as well as opera stars Christine Brewer and Elizabeth Futral, Jenn Gambatese of Broadway’s Wicked and All Shook Up, and Edward Hibbert of Frasier. Even better is that you can currently get a The Sound Of Music Chicago Discount!

The Sound Of Music Chicago Discount: Goldstar is currently offering tickets to The Sound of Music for as low as $35 for dates throughout the entire run. The full ticket price ranges between $47-$179, so this is a nice discount on a show that you likely know all of the music to, but have never seen performed live. Dates and prices will begin to sell out, so don’t wait too long if you intend to take advantage of this price reduction.

The stage production of The Sound Of Music is a little bit different than the movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The basic story is the same, but there will be additional songs and scenes that you didn’t see in the movie. Just like books are typically better than movies, you may find that you enjoy the play more!

Interested in more? Read other Chicago Deals here.

Chicago’s Pizza Coupons – Free Small Thin Crust Pizza!

Chicago's Pizza CouponsChicago’s Pizza Coupons

Chicago people are particular about Chicago pizza and with good reason. In my opinion, we have the best pizza in the country and we have a lot of it! Everyone tries to be the best by tinkering with the crust or the sauce, but there are only some who succeed. One of these local haunts is Chicago’s Pizza.

Chicago’s Pizza Coupons: Chicago’s Pizza is a small restaurant chain consisting of three locations in Lakeview/Lincoln Park, Ravenswood and Old Irving Park. They offer dine-in, delivery and take-out and I’ve always found their food to be consistent as well as a really good meal. As a bonus, they also offer coupons!

Currently the Chicago’s Pizza coupons include free Coca-Cola products for making a purchase (the free item gets larger as the total of your order rises – i.e. 1-liter, 2-liter or 6-pack), free wings with purchase and more. Those are currently valid at all locations, but there are others that seem to be good at each specific Chicago’s Pizza location. The Old Irving Park restaurant is currently offering a free small thin crust pizza when you sign up for their points program! The points program is a loyalty program that will earn you additional points for placing orders online or referring friends. Eventually your points will earn you free food!

If you haven’t tried Chicago’s Pizza yet, I highly recommend it. I’m a huge proponent of stuffed pizza, but I can vouch for their thin crust as well, so you won’t be sorry! Whatever you do, be sure to also take advantage of the Chicago’s Pizza coupons when you order!

Looking for more? Read about more Chicago Deals, Chicago Restaurants and what’s Free In Chicago!

Rock Of Ages Chicago Review!

Rock Of Ages Chicago ReviewRock Of Ages Chicago Review

“Are we at the Bank Of America Theater or the Admiral Theater?” asked my smiling companion during the Rock Of Ages show last night. It was what I was thinking as well. Rock Of Ages takes you back to the late 80’s on the Sunset Strip where long and stringy or feathered hair was “the thing” and short shorts (or no shorts?) were everywhere. And in this show, half of the ensemble had also raided their local Frederick’s of Hollywood store.

Rock Of Ages Chicago Review: Rock of Ages was created in 2005 and is currently the 31st longest running Broadway Show. I know that you are all thinking about the movie that was released in 2012 (starring Tom Cruise, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough), but I’m going to ask you to try put those thoughts aside for a minute. Rock Of Ages the stage musical is loud, fun, raunchy and entirely tongue-in-cheek. You spend much of the show bouncing your head to the songs that you’ve known for 25 years (“More Than Words,” “Oh Sherrie,” “Here I Go Again,” “Harden My Heart,” “I Want To Know What Love Is” and so many more) and trying so hard not to sing out loud, possibly embarrassing yourself. Of course, by the end of the show, everyone is singing along because you just can’t help it.

Rock Of Ages Chicago ReviewThe first moment of the show sets the tone for the entire three hours. As the house lights begin to fade, stage lights streak down from above the stage and hit the crowd like a rock concert. The band is loud and ready to jam and the energy starts charging through the seats. You realize then what you’re in for. Next the cast begins to flood the stage, and in that moment (full of stringy hair and very scantily clad women), you feel the energy of the music in the floor and you are encompassed by nostalgia. The first act continued just like that – never letting up on the energy or the pace – and taking you through to the intermission. I don’t believe they ever finished a single song (or if they did, very few), but that didn’t matter because you flowed through that first act, laughing and jamming to the music that you know so well. The beginning of the second act was much slower than the first, but hang in there. The show ends with a great number.

All of the actors, singers and dancers were extremely talented, but there were a few who stood out. Andrew Sklar (as Lonny) was the bawdy MC for the evening. He had a blast with his role and the bit became hilariously infectious. Tanner Hussar (Franz) was a character that I wasn’t familiar with at all, as Franz wasn’t in the movie, but Mr. Hussar owned the stage when he was on it. The way he flourished got a well deserved laugh every single time he appeared. Lastly, Kadejah Onè had a voice that stopped you cold. Her powerful chords cut through you in a way that I don’t think I’ve experienced before. I’d be happy listening to her sing the phone book.

This is a show that might shock you right out of the gate, but give it a minute to find it’s footing. You won’t be sorry AND you’ll spend the next day singing all of the songs that you haven’t thought about in years.

Rock of Ages is here for one week only and will finish it’s run on 3/16. You can also get half price tickets over at Goldstar.

Interested in reading more Entertaining Chicago theater reviews? Go through all of them here.

Chicago Magazine Subscription Deal!

Chicago Magazine Subscription DealChicago Magazine Subscription Deal

One of my favorite magazine subscriptions is Chicago Magazine. Not only does it give you a roundup of great activities, restaurants and events in your area, but it usually covers something very specific and relevant to Chicagoland. You will see articles on the top doctors, the list of the best high-schools and elementary schools, the best hospitals, the best burgers and so much more! I am among the many who waits each year to find out where my children’s schools fall on the list in Chicago Magazine because we all know that some of our public schools are better than others. It’s incredibly helpful to get these lists and – even better – have them delivered to your door each month!

For a limited time you can get a Chicago Magazine subscription deal! Through the end of the day 3/16, Entertaining Chicago readers can use coupon code ENTCHICAGO on the Discount Mags site to get a new subscription or renewal of Chicago Magazine for only $4.99 per year! I will be renewing my subscription at this price and I hope that you can take advantage of the savings as well!

Oriental Theater: Heartbeat Of Home Chicago Review!

Heartbeat Of Home Review ChicagoHeartbeat Of Home Chicago Review

Heartbeat Of Home Chicago Review March 2014: Powerful. Captivating. Energizing. Airy. Those were the words that continually floated through my mind and likely those of my fellow theatergoers watching Heartbeat of Home at the Oriental Theater.

Heartbeat of Home is a step-dancing performance conceived of by John McColgan and Moya Doherty, the same creators of Riverdance. I have never seen Riverdance, so I will admit that I went into this performance not knowing exactly what to expect. From the first beat of the first click of a shoe I was mesmerized. The dark stage went from several introductory moments of one-move shoe clicks and lightning-like lighting effects to an explosion of music and motion. The calm and poise displayed by the dancers appeared almost inhuman as they launched their bodies around the stage in predetermined patterns of gymnast-like movement. It was enthralling to take in the spectacle.

Heartbeat Of Home Chicago ReviewHeartbeat of Home is unlike Riverdance in that it consisted of an Irish Dance troupe, Latin dancers, Flamenco dancers and Afro-Cuban dancers all intermixed throughout the production as well as in smaller vignettes. And unlike any other production I’ve ever seen anywhere, every single member of this company, from the dancers to the musicians to the singers were as invested as every other performer. This company left their hearts on that stage. They owned every moment of the show and they all appeared to love performing it. It truly was a site to behold.

Heartbeat Of Home Chicago ReviewI would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the standout performers (including Ciara Sexton, Bobby Hodges, Clare Craze, Vanessa Guevara, Curtis Angus, Angelo Gioffrè, Teneisha Bonner, Kieran Donovan and Renako McDonald among so many more), but I can truly say that each person on that stage was absolutely the right person to be performing. Or so it appeared to an audience member.

Heartbeat of Home is playing at the Oriental Theater through 3/16/14 and you can currently get tickets for as low as $29. I highly recommend this show and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Oriental Theater: Ghost The Musical Chicago Review!

Ghost The Musical Chicago ReviewOriental Theater Chicago 2014: As I exited the theater with the crowds of people who watched Ghost The Musical at the Oriental Theater this week, I noticed that the woman at the concession stand was waving a CD and reminding everyone that they could purchase a copy before leaving. And not one person did. That was a pretty good representation of the feeling that I got while watching this show – or rather, the lack of feeling.

Ghost The Musical Chicago Review: Ghost The Musical (starring Steven Grant Douglas, Katie Postotnik and Carla R. Stewart) is the same story of the famous movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. A man and woman have a great love, do some pottery, he dies and they both have an emotional love affair with Whoopi Goldberg. I enjoyed the movie enough, but I was always bothered by the fact that the Demi Moore character Molly seemed to lack depth. I never really cared that she was sad. I wanted to, but I never connected with her. Unfortunately the entire two and a half hours of Ghost The Musical is the same experience.

The actors in the show performed well and performed earnestly. They had wonderfully powerful voices – when they could be heard over the music. Most of the louder numbers drowned out much of the singing, so the amazing belted notes are the ones that you heard. And they were great! That being said, none of the music resonated. There wasn’t one single song that you found yourself humming afterward and poor Ms. Postotnik sang one sad ballad after another. It’s just that they all felt the same.

Ghost The Musical Chicago ReviewOn a lighter note, Oda Mae Brown was hilarious from beginning to end. I could have done without her songs as well, but Ms. Stewart had a dynamic presence that made you want to watch her. Her grand musical entrance (along with her sisters) was fantastically funny and that is probably the only song I can truly say that I enjoyed and to which the entire crowd responded.

There was one area that I did think was remarkable and that was the lighting and special effects. Many of you will remember the scenes in the film where Sam has to learn to walk through a door and where he meets a man on a subway (“Get off my train!”) who teaches him to move physical objects. Those two scenes in particular were phenomenal to watch. I have my ideas of how they accomplished these amazing visual effects on a stage, but I don’t really want to know. As an audience member, it was an eye-opening pleasure to watch Sam slowly make his way through a door that by appearance (and some lighting) stayed intact.

Ghost The Musical Review ReviewThe train was a whole other experience. They had a movable set of train seats and railings on which many of the ensemble actors sat. As our “Subway Ghost” kicked and punched items out of people’s hands, slow motion and strobe lights would take over and these objects would float and spin through the air. It was my favorite part of the entire show, that two minute “dance.” Think of your favorite action movie that incorporates a car driving down the street at high speed and imagine all of the cups, papers and other extraneous items that fly out of the way of that car. Now imagine those items on a stage. It was fantastic.

There were a few other oddities that I won’t go into (like how there was periodically a group of people in either suits or street-wear performing like a dancing Greek Chorus, the constant attempt to make New York City another character by projecting fast-moving street and skyline visuals on background screens and how the song “Focus” performed by the Subway Ghost felt completely disjointed and like a sudden thrash-metal performance by Faith No More), but they left both me and much of the audience furrowing our brows.

All in all I would say that the actors did their jobs, the lighting, staging, costumes (I loved that the ghosts Sam met were a heavenly white from the chest up and regularly clothed below) and sets were effective, but the score and story were lacking. I won’t be seeing it again and I can’t recommend that you do either.

*Originally posted on Couponing For 4. Reposted with permission of the author.