This just in: After five sold-out shows in September, Monster Jam will be back for another weekend of performances at Allstate Arena February 25th – 27th.
You don’t usually hear “Take me out to the ball park” and “Fore” used together, but this weekend, you can use both if you go to The Greens at the Steelyard, a new RailCats promotion - and it's a lot of fun!
Although I wasn’t able to attend – I was recovering from knee replacement surgery – my niece Becka Salach Smith and her sons, Parker (9) and Winston (4), went in my place. Becka sais "We had a blast! Thanks so much! Parker didn't like the smell and Winston didnt want to wear his ear covers."
I had the marvelous opportunity recently to go to Symphony Center to see/hear the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) conducted by Benjamin Northey. Although I a receive a lot more invitations to plays than to concerts, I always try to accept the ones I do get. MSO commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with “The Galaxy’s Greatest Hits”. In addition to glorious music, pictures from space were projected on a giant screen suspended above the orchestra. It was an ‘out-of-this-world’ experience! 4 BIG Spotlights
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has launched its 42nd season with an evening of three bold and exciting works, collectively titled "Forge Forward." The title is appropriate. These edgy and slightly risky works prove once again that Hubbard Street is clearly Chicago's best modern dance company and they have consistently established a reputation for constantly looking toward the future. Two of the pieces presented here are world premieres -- one by New York-based choreographer Kyle Abraham and the other by Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow Rena Butler. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS
***RECOMMENDED*** The Early Verdi Series at Lyric Opera of Chicago is certainly off to a fantastic start. Over the course of the next several years, Lyric will be featuring a single Verdi opera each season which was composed either early or in the middle of his very long and prolific career. First up is "Luisa Miller" from 1849. Lyric Opera has only performed this work once before in its 65-year history, and that was over 35 years ago. Thanks to some innovative programming on Lyric's part and the addition of conductor Enrique Mazzola (who is Lyric's music director designate), opera lovers now have a rare chance in a brief limited run to see how this pivotal and transitional work ultimately affected Verdi's later masterpieces, both in terms of its musical score and dramatic structure. 3 SPOTLIGHTS
Joffrey Ballet's "Jane Eyre" is a Tour de Force for Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews - Review by Carol Moore
**** Highly Recommended **** The Joffrey Ballet’s absolutely magnificent “Jane Eyre” was an experience not to be missed! Words just don’t do it justice! After multiple readings of Charlotte Brontë’s novel, I’ve always come away with a sense of Jane’s aloneness – of the girl/woman facing an uncertain and usually hostile world alone. Jane is the original survivor in my book; selfishly, I think Cathy Marston’s vision is ‘my’ story! 4 BIG Spotlights
****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** Lyric Opera of Chicago has launched their 65th season with a massively entertaining production of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville." While this may be the 16th time that Lyric has presented this work -- it was featured as the second opera of their inaugural season -- it is only the first time that long-time Music Director Sir Andrew Davis has actually conducted it here. And that's significant. With him on the podium there is clearly no doubt that the pacing will consistently and perfectly drive the frivolity forward. From the iconic and instantly-recognizable overture to the delightfully ebullient finale Davis expertly guides this production. Add in the first-rate cast and incredible design elements and the result is as nearly perfect a version of this opera that you will ever have the pleasure to experience. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS
*** Recommended *** “Sesame Street Live! Make Your Magic” is the perfect opportunity to introduce your children/grandchildren to live theater. This fast-moving, brightly colored show is chock full of multiple Muppets and friends in high-energy dance numbers done to rhythmic music designed to get the kids dancing, too. All your favorite Sesame Street learning blocks – numbers, letters and colors – are here too! 3 Spotlights
NEXUS Chamber Music Chicago Festival at a new Chicago venue, Guarneri Hall - Exquisite! Review by Carol Moore
**** Highly Recommended **** When my friend Crista and I went to the second annual NEXUS Chamber Music Chicago Festival at a new Chicago venue, Guarneri Hall, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that the musicians in NEXUS Chamber Music were all young and uber-talented, and I’d read that Guarneri Hall was designed specifically for chamber music, so I thought “Call of the Birds” would be a good concert but really, I had NO idea!!!! It was outstanding! My recommendation - hurry and get tickets for the last two concerts in the festival this weekend. 4 BIG Spotlights