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Clef N tes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts Spring 2011

River of Change

Actress, director, and playwright Regina Taylor brings Dallas’ Trinity River straight through Chicago with her riveting trilogy that explores the powerful cycles of change in one woman’s life. David Weiss sits down in a conversation with the playwright.

Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer The Sacred and The Sublime Soli Deo Gloria debuts in Chicago with Bach's monumental St. Matthew Passion.

Regina Taylor on the set of her new stage play trilogy The Trinity River Plays at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Jason M. Reese. Styling by George Fuller.

A Dance of Madness Preview of The Eifman Ballet's spring production of “Don Quixote” at The Auditorium Theatre.


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CNCJA

FEATURES

12 As He Likes It!

Q & A with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin on his 10 year anniversary with the theater.

20 A Dance of Madness Emily Disher talks with choreographer Boris Eifman in a preview of the spring Eifman Ballet production of "Don Quixote , or Fantasies of a Madman” (1994), performed at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

58 Uncommon Fanfare

Contents

58

Spring 2011

Soprano Renée Fleming is just one of the many luminaries in town to celebrate the birthday of Chicago’s prééminent patron of the arts Joan Harris in a hotly anticipated benefit at Millennium Park's Harris Theater.

62 Celebrating Miles Preview of River North Dance Chicago's spring tribute to jazz legend Miles Davis, part of a grand city-wide celebration of the iconic performer's birth.

20

12

Top: Soprano Renée Fleming (Photo by Andrew Eccles/Decca); Lower right: Gary Griffin, associate artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Photo by Liz Lauren); Lower left: Scene from The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg’s “Don Quixote” (Photo courtesy of the Eifman Ballet). Spring 2011CNCJA•3


From the Publisher’s Desk

Photo Courtesy of The Harris Theaeter for Music and Dance

If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that one should never underestimate the power of a seed. A seed always comes fraught with limitless potential, unfettered hope, and a thirst that seems almost unquenchable. It forces drive and inspires faith and diligence. Biblical scripture describes the mustard seed as the smallest of seeds that, with proper nurturing and care, develops into one of the very largest of shrubs, so large that birds of every kind come to shade in its branches. And that is why I have the greatest appreciation for the power of a seed. With a seed, all one can do is to dream of the greatest thing that it can become. This spring, Harris Theater for Music and Dance will celebrate one of the great planters of our city’s garden of culture and Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park arts. In this issue of Clef Notes, we preview “Fanfare for An Uncommon Woman,” a benefit concert at Harris Theater that brings together luminaries like Renée Fleming and Pinchas Zukerman to celebrate the birthday of the great patron of Chicago arts and culture Joan Harris. Prime movers for the Millennium Park theater which bears their name, Joan and husband Irving Harris planted a seed little more than five years ago which has sprung up to become a home for some of the most outstanding young, and now thriving, arts organizations representing Chicago arts excellence. The Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Jazz Ensemble and Chicago Opera Theatre all found a nurturing, creative home within the Harris’ branches that allow each to develop deeply inspiring, artistically excellent performances with support for top-tier marketing, as well as technological and facility support without the burden that typically comes with maintaining one's own facility. Under the Harris’ wings, Chicago Opera Theatre is able to explore new, wildly innovative opera productions like Tod Machover’s upcoming Death and the Powers. Myron Silberstein previews the new electronicabased opera in this issue’s “State of the Arts.” Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre is one cultural institution that has become home to incredibly talented arts organizations from across the globe. And like The Harris, Auditorium Theatre started from just a simple seed. Today, the theater nurtures the work of legendary institutions like the State Ballet of Russia, which—this winter—presented their production of “Swan Lake.” In the spring, the theater will present events like the legendary Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre’s “Revelations,” a 50th anniversary celebration of the historic dance company’s work. River North Dance Chicago also takes to the Auditorium Theatre stage to celebrate legendary jazz innovator Miles Davis as part of the city-wide celebration of the musician's birth. Emily Disher examines the ground-breaking production in this issue’s “Cultural Almanac.” And Boris Eifman brings his internationally renowned Eifman Ballet from St. Petersburg, Russia to explore Miguel de Cervantes’ illuminating revelation of one man’s dance with madness “Don Quixote.” Our preview of the breathtaking project explores Eifman’s infusion of his own tensions into the compelling choreography. And of course, we explore the rapid cycles of change illuminated through the eyes of one woman’s compelling journey in the stage play trilogy The Trinity River Plays. Actress, director, and playwright Regina Taylor brings her latest work to her Chicago home, Goodman Theatre, yet another institution, sprung from just a tiny seed, that has grown to house some of the finest performances the city sees each year. David Weiss sits down with Ms. Taylor in a discussion that brings her career and life full circle with this stirring work. We hope that, through the pages of Clef Notes Spring 2011, you will take the opportunity to explore some of the incredibly creative and awe-inspiring cultural wonders Chicago has to offer, which all began at one time or another from just a simple seed, full of power, promise and hope.

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Clef N tes

Chicagoland Journal for the Arts S PRING 2 0 1 1

Publisher D. Webb

Editorial

Editor Patrick M. Curran II Editorial Support Christopher Hopper Candice Tripp

Staff Writers and Contributors Fred Cummings Emily Disher Dinah Grossman Holly Huffstutler Alex Keown David Kulma Ashley Matthew Daniel Scurek Myron Silberstein David Weiss Alexandra Zajac

Graphics

Art Director Phillip Carlton Contributing Photographer Jason M. Reese

Graphics & Design Specialists Chelsea Davis Angela Chang

Advertising

Publisher’s Representatives The Lyon Group, LLC 847.853.7001

Sponsorships

Jason Montgomery Subscriptions

Clef Notes is published quarterly (March, June, September and December) each year. An annual subscription to the magazine may be purchased by mailing a check or money order for $18 to Clef Notes Publishing, Inc. 5815 N. Sheridan Road, Suite 1107, Chicago, IL 60660. Bulk rates are also available. Credit card purchases may be secured online at ClefNotesJournal.com or by calling 773.741.5502. Copyright © 2011 Clef Notes Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the USA.


Contents Spring 2011

27 CNCJA

DEPARTMENTS

14 Curator’s Corner: An Eye On The Streets

An abandoned storage locker purchase unearths a trove of photographic treasures, all the work of one little known North Shore nanny with an eye for the street—little known until now.

18 Preview: The Bach Project

Soli Deo Gloria brings their celebration of the sacred to Chicago with Bach’s monumental St. Matthew Passion. We look at the venerable instution’s work in bringing sacred classical music to the forefront.

34 State of the Arts: Culture Shock Opera-less-ordinary becomes even less ordinary when Chicago Opera Theater takes on Tod Machover’s wildly innovative Death and the Powers. Get ready to be amazed. Above: Mitsuko Uchida's performance at Symphony Center this winter is just one of the many reviews we bring you "In This Quarter Year." Pictured: Pianist Mitsuko Uchida conducts The Chicago Symphony Orchestra from the piano. Photo by Hyou Vielz.

36 Cover: Conversation with Regina Taylor Regina Taylor brings her poignant trilogy, The Trinity River Plays, to Chicago, and David Weiss sits down with the Goodman Theatre luminary in a discussion of her career, life lessons, and this stirring new work. Spring 2011CNCJA•5


scuttlebutt Letters from our readers... Let Fashion Reign!

Photo by Adam Daniels

Hey Clef Notes, You guys rock! Love, love, love your fashion spread on Chicago arts. I am a big fan of fashion and enjoy the arts any chance I can. And, while I admit I don't typically attend arts galas, it was great fun experiencing the luxury vicariously through the pages of your wonderful spread. My hat is officially off to you. Maria Patterson Chicago - River North

What a beautiful combination of arts and fashion in your recent spread ("Fashion and the Arts" - Winter 2011). I just loved the Sam Kori George evening gown designs. I had no idea he had designed the gowns for the Oscars. The pieces were a bit much for any concert, I think, but who cares? They were gorgeous. I would use any opportunity I could to wear those incredible gowns. Judith Warren Chicago - Streeterville

I really do wish you had allowed more space in your fashion issue. It was really nice, but just way too brief. There were only two gowns and three male looks. They were all very beautiful. But, again, just not enough of a good thing, I guess. Stephanie Landau Chicago - Loop

enjoy the entire

SIGNATURE HAIR TREATMENT • 15 min. Shoulder

Photo by Lara Goetsch.

TimeLine Love P.J. Powers, artistic director of Timeline Theatre.

Readers may submit letters to Feedback, Clef Notes Publishing, Inc. 5815 N. Sheridan Road, Suite 1107, Chicago, IL 60660 or via E-mail to Feedback@ClefNotesJournal.com. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the express written consent of the publisher. Clef Notes Publishing makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the magazine’s content. However, we cannot be held responsible for any consequence arising from errors or omissions.

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& Neck Massage Thank you for acknowledging the work of a Chicago product (DePaul University) working hard from the ground up in Chicago theatre with your feature on TimeLine Theatre ("Making History" - Winter 2011). I am a big fan of TimeLine and P.J. (Powers, artistic director), and I'm glad I'm not the only person who noticed his great nice smile. John Cagan Kennilworth, IL

The article ("Making History") was a really nice way to showcase an up-and-coming, small, but thriving, theater in Chicago. I very much enjoyed reading about its mission. It was nice learning about the theater's history, and I look forward to travelling into the city to see one of its new shows. I certainly hope you choose to continue to highlight more of the lesser known institutions in Chicagoland. There are some really top-tier institutions that don't exactly have the advertising dollars of the Broadway In Chicago's and the Lyric Opera's of the world. Albert Green Winnetka, IL

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chicagoperatheater Brian Dickie, General Director

Tod Machover

DEATH AND THE POWERS April 2, 6, 8, 10 Marc-Antoine Charpentier

MEDEA April 23, 27, 29, May 1 of s One s i M t E'S Don' DICKI

HE/SHE May 7, 8 Robert Schumann

Frauenliebe und Leben

Leoš Janáček

The Diary of One Who Disappeared

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Spring 2011CNCJA•7


Out and About

T

he Northlight Theatre Board of Trustees and Gala Committee recently held their premier fundraising event at the Alhambra Palace on February 5, 2011. Set within a swank 1930s Hollywood nightclub featuring Morocan dining, belly dancing, and classic jazz by Chicago's own Flat Cats, "A Night at the Casbah" raised over $225,000 to benefit the theater's mainstage productions and educational outreach programs.

Photos by Bob Mihlfried

With unique auction prizes that included a visit with Tony Award winner Rondi Reed in Los Angeles on the set of CBS’s Mike and Molly, lunch with Jim Belushi, and tickets to Born Yesterday with a backstage tour of Broadway’s Cort Theatre, Northlight Co-Chairs, Sandra Barnett-White, Wendy Irwin, and Jennifer Newton produced an awe inspiring fundraiser that both stimulated the senses and raised significant support for the benExecutive Director Timothy J. Evans (Evanston), Gala co-chairs Wendy Irwin (Wilmette), efit of the arts. Well done Northlight! Sandra Barnett-White (Chicago), Jennifer Newton (Chicago) and Artistic Director BJ Jones (Evanston)

Greg and Anne Taubeneck (Wilmette)

Jim White (Chicago), Cherise and D’Shaun Ragland (Palos Park )

Desiree Ruhstraat Cunliffe and David Cunliffe (Highland Park), Fareed and Laura and Khan (Evanston) 8•CNCJASpring 2011

Ted and Barbara Buenger (Northfield)

Howard and Nancy London (Highland Park), Holly and Jordan Margolis (Highland Park)


Glenn Warning and Susan Karol (Wilmette)

Tim Evans (Evanston), Evie Award winner Freddi Greenberg (Evanston), Linda Kimbrough (Chicago), Franny Clarkson (Evanston )

Gerald and Stephanie Smith (Wilmette)

Executive Director Timothy J. Evans and Jane Evans (Evanston), Candy Corr and Artistic Director BJ Jones (Evanston)

Gala Committee: Jane Evans (Evanston), Wendy Irwin (Wilmette), Jennifer Newton (Chicago), Brenda Hansen (Evanston), Candy Corr (Evanston), Abby Strauss (Chicago), Sandra Barnett-White (Chicago), Paula Danoff (Winnetka)

Wendy Irwin (Wilmette), Sally and Darush Mabadi (Evanston), Abbey Romanek Greg and Anne Taubeneck (Wilmette) (Wilmette) Spring 2011CNCJA•9


Seven steps to making a long-running hit in Chicago! The Blue Man Group has been thrilling audiences in one incredible opern-ended run since 1997. We decided to take a good, hard look at the the elements that make this such a successful show. And we've come up with 7 key points we thing make it the phenomenon it is. Here's a bit of our anaysis:

! e l y t S n

a M e Blu

1.) Find dark, brooding leading men.

3.) Paddles, paddles, paddles! 2.) Give them each god-complexes.

5.) Throw in a complicated plot line....

6.)..a bit of mystery

(WHAT IN THE WORLD?!)

7.) and top it all off with liquid-light-spewing drums...

...and you've got the formula for a long-running Chicago hit show. You can see for yourself at The Blue Man Group, playing at The Briar Street Theater in Chicago's Lincoln Park. 10•CNCJASpring 2011

Photo Credits: Photo Number 1 - Darby Rotach © BMP; Centered photo by David Hawe © BMP; Photos Number 5 & 7 by Ken Howard © BMP; Photo number 6 by Paula Wilson © BMP;.

4.) Provide awesome mood lighting!


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By DAVID WEISS

T

Photo by Bill Burlingham

This spring, Gary Griffin celebrates his tenth anniversary as Associate Artistic Director at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (CST) with a production of As You Like It. The past decade has seen Griffin emerge as an acclaimed director here in Chicago (where he’s received eight Joseph Jefferson Awards), on Broadway with his Tonynominated staging of The Color Purple, and even in London’s West End, where his production of Pacific Overtures earned three Laurence Olivier Awards. In the midst of preparing for his production’s premiere, we sat down to discuss his time at CST, musical theatre, and the link between directing and dog-walking.

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As He Likes It! DW: What’s it been like, being involved with CST for such an extended period?

DW: So do you view musicals and Shakespeare's work as two sides of the same coin?

GG: Well, I think when both Barbara (Gaines) and I decided to do this, it was partly the unknown that made us both interested in working together. She was interested in having a partner that would think beyond the mainstage work and how to compliment that: what kind of work might help people look at Shakespeare differently? And I’m attracted to very theatrical, highly heightened realities and heightened universes, so I believed the classics would be a great place for me to live. It’s kind of fascinating to me that after ten years in this big journey, from starting with a little play about Shakespeare’s daughter, to musicals done in the studio, to big plays of ideas by other authors, I’m getting back around to Shakespeare. I think I’ve had sort of this amazing ten-year preparation to do this play. I’ve had this opportunity to know the theater and the company from all vantage points, to have been around the work, but now to dig in. I certainly understand why Barbara wanted to spend a career working on Shakespeare. Who wouldn’t?

GG: Yes. There are certain things you learn about what Shakespeare demands, (like) being comfortable in the universe of the plays. But As You Like It is fascinating in that I think it’s the most “real” of the Shakespeare plays. In this play, the magic is in the power of the love in it. It’s the cause-effect of the heart that makes it so extraordinary. It’s an extraordinary play, and very hard, because you can’t hide from it. There’s no easy way out.

DW: You’ve spent much of your career working with musical theater. What’s drawn you to that? GG: Creatively, the more contradiction that’s going on, the more interesting it is (for me). The fact that everything in music theater is conspired to be false. Everything that happens doesn’t really happen in a “cause-effect” reality, and yet your challenge is to make it seem absolutely real and natural and true to itself. People sing in real life; people dance. It’s just making those behaviors evolve from something true in people and true emotionally.

Gary Griffin, Associate Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

DW: Has that made working on the play intimidating? GG: It’s scary to me in that I want people to appreciate the breadth of it. In conceiving it and executing it, we try to do things that free the play. Sometimes I relate this to my dog: if I put her on the leash, she will tug and explore the extremes. But when she’s free and the leash isn’t on her, she senses the trust and stays much more connected. I think we’re always hoping that what we’re exploring will free you to see new colors and new dimension. It’s all about trusting the play’s potential, trusting that you have all the resources to realize it. DW: How are you feeling at this stage of the process, with previews beginning? GG: This time is the most exciting for me because you’re able to work on the play with everything you need, including the audience. You’re able to learn from the audience, make an adjustment, put it in the next night, and see if it lifts the moment. Because otherwise, you’re just planning. It’s the hardest thing about theater, and the greatest thing about theater. The most challenging thing is the unknown. The greatest thing is the unknown. It’s a wild contradiction, and that’s why it’s fun to go back.

Spring 2011CNCJA•13 Spring2011CNCJA•13


curator’s corner

T

hroughout the years, street style photographers have been documenting society and culture through their observant lenses. From the iconic images of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paul Strand and Helen Levitt, to the more recent photographs of Bill Cunningham, to the skyrocketing popularity of street style blogs such as Jak & Jil and The Sartorialist, street style photographers are responsible for capturing the collective image of a generation. Less concerned with commission and more concerned with honesty and humanity, street style photography has proven to be one of the most expressive forms of social commentary. This season, the Chicago Cultural Center is hosting an exhibition of street style photography by the late Vivian Maier. A North Shore nanny, Maier used her camera to document life in Chicago in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. On display are her photos from Chicago, photos from her time growing up in New York, and some from her international voyages. Along with her photographs, many of Maier’s personal affects are also on display. Rolls of film, notes and letters, her cameras, including her beloved Rollei, and an array of hats are all included in this exhibit. They provide an even more personal glimpse into the life of the largely undiscovered talent. But how did Maier’s gifts come into fruition? As of yet, there is really no good answer to this question. There is no evidence that she was a formally trained photographer, although the head of her household in New York was a notable portrait photographer, perhaps imbuing her with at least a cursory

knowledge of the art. Yet, her strong sense of style and artistry leads one to believe that she was much more than simply a casual hobbyist. With over 100,000 negatives discovered, as well as more than 3,000 prints and a heap of undeveloped film, Maier’s dedication to and love of photography is unmistakable. “She certainly had her own voice,” said Lanny Silverman, chief curator of exhibitions at the Cultural Center. “Although there is no way to read her intentions, it’s interesting to see her digestion of history through photography.” According to Silverman, Maier’s collection of photographs and personal belongings came to the Chicago Cultural Center by way of John Maloof, a real estate agent/author and frequenter of estate sales and flea markets. He had acquired the artifacts from an unclaimed storage locker at an estate auction in Chicago and became fascinated with its contents, setting him on a quest to discover more about their late owner. As it turns out, Vivian Maier was born in 1926 in New York City and died in 2009 without any notable kin. After spending much of her life in New York and some time in France, she became a nanny for several wealthy North Shore families, including that of Phil Donahue. It is unknown if any of her employers were aware of her passion for photography, and it is still undetermined if she was interested in exhibiting her works to the public. In fact, her intentions behind her artistic bent remain a mystery to this day. “What makes it so interesting is not knowing her background or direct influences, but it really seems like she has her own stamp,” said Silverman. Yet Maier was by no means isolated from or ignorant of the happenings of the art community of her era, based on her images of Salvador Dali, Christian Dior, Nelson Algren, and others. Among her possessions were several books that imply she was well versed in the history of photography, along with a collection of 8 millimeter films she made—including one that records the demolition of a Louis Sullivan building. As much of a portrait of the (Left) Children play in an alley way in a scene from

August 12, 1954 - New York, NY; (Right) A blustery winter’s day is captured in this image from March 18, 1955 - New York, NY.

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An

Finding


Eye On The Streets

Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer By ALEXANDRA ZAJAC

Spring 2011CNCJA•15 Spring2011CNCJA•15


curator’s corner

society she documented, her photographs also help compile a portrait of her own life. Maier's extensive collection of images document her time spent in different cities and their respective cultures. Especially interesting are Maier’s “self portraits,” done in artistic and distinctive ways. One depicts an image of her shadow; another, her likeness reflected in a doorknob. Her eye for unique perspectives makes her images both timeless and unforgettable. What is especially notable about several of the individuals Maier captures is how their lives must have vastly differed from the lives of her wealthy employers, and essentially the life Maier was exposed to as a nanny. Raw and honest, many of Maier’s images provide us with a glimpse into the style and culture of the less fortunate. Men and women are shown in their tattered clothes, and mussed children with guilty faces peering at the camera. All her images are very detailed, making them personal, immediate and incredibly telling. In fact, the vast majority of the photographs on display do not depict fancy subjects. Ratty fences and shadowed architecture is the urban landscape that Maier reveals in her photographs, along with individuals whose clothes need mending and children in disarray. Certainly, there are images of men in top hats and shots of women’s attractive handbags and shoes, but for the most part, these images take a backseat to the more moving portraits of men with wrinkles and women with missing teeth. Yet none of the pictures come across as pitying or patronizing. Instead, the subjects photographed are revealed as content, their knowing gaze both friendly and warm, if not a little weathered. The photographs aptly show us a different way of living, one that seems more simple, if not only mildly uncomfortable. Based on the images displayed, Maier also had a knack for photo-

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graphing scenes and individuals where magazines, newspapers, or timepieces were present, providing us with a glimpse into the time (and sometimes place) that the photograph was taken. It was a coy, yet artistic and personal ploy on Maier’s part, but one that made her work all the more fascinating. Furthermore, as exemplified by the content of several images, Maier certainly had a flair for imbuing a sense of humor into her pictures. One image in particular, from Egypt, showed the famous pyramids and the sphinx in the background, with a clear image of a horse’s rear in the foreground. On the whole, Maier’s photographs are definitely worth seeing. And considering that she never shared her images with the world, her work immediately becomes more genuine. From an intimate photograph taken in New York of a couple discreetly holding hands, to a shadowy architectural picture of women standing against a concrete wall, Maier’s photographs are varied yet fascinating. The Vivian Maier exhibit will be on view at the Chicago Cultural Center through April 2011. It is an engaging and profound documentation of an urban history spanning an entire era. From her unique and honest viewpoint, Maier gives us insight into the style and culture of her times. She manages to become the eyes of a generation, while providing us with raw images to which we can relate, even in this day and age.

(Top) A man rests in the sand in a photo from

August 22, 1956;(Middle) A child poses outside of

a supermarket in Queens, New York, NY in 1953; (Bottom) Two children stand side-by-side in a photo taken in Canada in the 1960s.


onal Th Professi

eatre at

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THE TRAGIC MUSE Art and Emotion, 1700—1900

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The Sacred & The Sublime

O

By MYRON SILBERSTEIN

n April 20th, a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, conducted by John Nelson at St. Vincent de Paul parish, will inaugurate Soli Deo Gloria’s Chicago Bach Project, an annual event presenting one of Bach’s three greatest choral works—the St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, and the Mass in B Minor

—each Easter season. The concert, inviting enough on its own artistic merits, will furthermore provide Chicagoans with an opportunity to become acquainted first hand with the work of an organization that is an unsung hero of the sacred music repertoire. Founded in 1993, a time when sacred works were largely absent from the catalogs of living composers and the programming of many of the world’s concert stages, Soli Deo Gloria (which takes its name from the Latin phrase meaning “Glory Solely to God,” with which Bach signed many of his works) is dedicated to commissioning new works of sacred music, to sponsoring recordings of sacred music, and to sponsoring performances of sacred music throughout the world—particularly in locations where such performances are scarce. Soli Deo Gloria sponsored the

18•CNCJASpring 2011

Maestro Nelson performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Costa Rica in 2009. The concert marked the work’s first known performance in Central America. Likewise, a 1996 visit to China, cosponsored by the General Motors Corporation and the Chinese Cultural Institute, brought Brahms’s Ein Deutsche Requiem to country for the first time. In preparation for that historic performance, and in keeping with its mission of providing access in the fullest sense to sacred music, Soli Deo Gloria commissioned composer Bright Sheng to translate the text of the Requiem into Mandarin. Soli Deo Gloria’s list of commissioned compositions is quite impressive: a Requiem by Pulitzer-winning composer Christopher Rouse and a work for children’s choir, soprano, and chamber orchestra—set to texts of Gerard Manley Hopkins and composed by former Chicago Symphony Orchestra Composer-inResidence Augusta Read Thomas—are just two in a catalog of nearly twenty works that have been premiered in locations from Paris to Los Angeles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As a commissioning organization, however, Soli Deo Gloria’s contribution to the field of sacred music is often recognized only in the fine print of program notes. The Chicago Bach Project marks the first time that Soli Deo Gloria has assembled a performing ensemble, chosen a venue, and produced a concert under its own auspices. For Maestro Nelson, no work and no venue could be more fitting to bring Soli Deo Gloria into the public eye than Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Publicly referring to the work as his “island piece”—the one piece of music he treasures above all others—Nelson is particularly delighted by the potential that the St. Matthew Passion has in making the maximum impact on the St. Vincent de Paul audience. Nelson led performances of


the Bach trilogy at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for over a decade and believes the church to be “ideal” for the St. Matthew “because the altar area is so large and broad” that the full effect of the antiphonal orchestra and choruses will be realized—an experience not to be had “in a concert hall or a normal church.” Chicago was, for Maestro Nelson, a natural place to host the Bach Project because of its active community of musicians. Soli Deo Gloria does not employ a resident ensemble; its commissioned works and sponsored concerts are performed by pre-existing performance organizations. When faced with the task of assembling the Chicago Bach Chorus and Orchestra, though, Nelson “had no fear about finding performers” in Chicago. Soli Deo Gloria engaged Donald Nally, Chorus Master of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Chorus Master for the Chicago Bach Project. Musicians involved in the St. Matthew performance include instrumentalists and vocalists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, and Lyric Opera. For Chandler Branch, President and CEO of Soli Deo Gloria, the choice of Chicago as a home for the Bach Project is also an expression of gratitude. Headquartered in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the bulk of Soli Deo Gloria’s supporters live in Chicago and its environs. Though the organization has hosted small-scale, private events in the past, Branch said, “putting a major cultural event in the city” offers a “point of entry” for people to have a direct experience of the work that Soli Deo Gloria has done, largely behind the scenes, for the past seventeen years. Even in a city with a plethora of established arts organizations, during a time of year in which opportunities abound to hear performances of sacred music, the Chicago Bach Project’s St. Matthew Passion performance reflects Soli Deo Gloria’s dedication to bringing sacred music to those without access to it. Though the expense of assembling a powerhouse team of musicians at one of the busiest times of the season necessitates a ticket price commensurate with the ambitions of the performance, Soli Deo Gloria has extended the invitation of rehearsal passes to selected non-profit organizations in an effort to make the Bach Project available to individuals who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience this event. For Maestro Nelson, central to the experience of the St. Matthew Passion are the interpolated non-Biblical texts by Picander, which are, in Nelson’s words, “pietistic, worshipful, and demanding in that they internalize individually the experience (of) Jesus.” Nelson recommends that concertgoers seeking a full appreciation of the work become familiar with the text beforehand so that, at the performance, they can “simply let the music wash over” them. As the organization’s name suggests, essential to Soli Deo Gloria’s mission, is a commitment to “honor(ing) God as the source of all human creativity and inspiration.” By no means,

though, does Soli Deo Gloria’s work speak only to people of faith. When awarding commissions, as Chandler Branch indicates, the question of a composer’s faith is not considered; whether a composer is “sensitive and serious about deciphering the meaning of a text and can create really powerful work” is fundamental. Likewise, though the announcement of the Chicago Bach Project states the hope that concertgoers will experience a “sense of worship … when they hear (the) glorious music of Bach,” Maestro Nelson is well aware that most people will attend the St. Matthew performance “for a musical experience.” The musical and the spiritual, though, are closely connected, Nelson believes, particularly when dealing with sacred texts. Such texts require composers to address an “inner life” that is “difficult to enter into,” as Nelson puts it, and the effort to do so “inspires the best in them.” This is as true of agnostic composers such as Verdi and Brahms—whose requiems are among their most powerful works and among the greatest achievements of Western sacred music—as it is of a Lutheran composer such as Bach—whose St. Matthew Passion Maestro Nelson considers to be one of the cultural apexes of the Lutheran movement. Joining the sincerity of Soli Deo Gloria’s mission with the expertise of Chicago’s most accomplished musicians, the Chicago Bach Project promises to be a highlight of the city's musical landscape for years to come. Opposite page (Clockwise from top left): Conductor John Nelson (Photo by David Zaugh); Douglas Williams (Photo by Ian Johnson); Nicole Cabell (Photo by Devon Cass); Jennifer Lane (Photo courtesy of Soli Deo Gloria); Nicholas Phan (Photo by Balance Photography); (Top left) Stephen Morscheck; (Bottom left) Stanford Olsen (Photos courtesy of Soli Del Gloria).

Spring 2011CNCJA•19


“I am interested in man as man—that is, the ner freedom can live in extreme structured, and insincerity.”

A Dance of Madness By EMILY DISHER

T

he tension between the idealist and reality has inspired artists and permeated their works for centuries. The discord between the two has influenced enduring works of literature like Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote (1615), which has, in turn, inspired other artists to examine his themes through varied lenses. Boris Eifman, founder and artistic director of St. Petersburg’s Eifman Ballet, for instance, explores the difficulties posed by modern definitions of madness through a re-imagining of Cervantes’ tale. In his ballet, “Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman” (1994), Eifman illustrates concerns about the existence of man’s “inner freedom” in a “bonded society.” The Eifman Ballet will perform its founder’s re-imagining of the tale at The Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University on April 21st and 23nd, as part of Chicago’s Soviet Arts Experience. The 13-month festival celebrates the work of artists who created under, or in response to, the former Soviet Union. The aptly named ballet re-imagines Cervantes’ novel through the mind of a Russian man committed to an insane asylum. The committed man imagines himself

20•CNCJASpring 2011

as Cervantes’ idealistic knight, and tries to be kind and caring to those around him. When asked about his interpretation of Cervantes’ famous plot, Eifman explains, “I was always interested in the (reason) why man’s desire for harmony, beauty and fairness is surely suppressed by society and estimated as a sign of madness. (Through the ballet,) I tried to disclose this conflict, passing it through the wave of choreographic language.” Although this central idea would seem likely to invoke tragedy, Eifman, like Cervantes, uses comedy naturally and liberally in his work. Of course, any representation of the character of Don Quixote would seem peculiar without the humor that Cervantes so expertly weaved into his tale, and Eifman stresses that his ballet also could not exist without humor. He describes audiences of the ballet as “laughing during the whole performance,” but adds that “the comedic scenes in the asylum are thrown by acute feelings of heart-grief about a more fair and free world.” When asked whether his work responds directly to the former communist Soviet Union, Eifman asserts that his production “is not a political pamphlet.” He insists, instead, that the story cannot be confined to a specific location or time, explaining that the character in the asylum should not be associated only with the Soviet repressive regime. “I am interested in man as man,” he explains. “That is, the way in which the personality with inner freedom can live in extreme structured, bonded society, based on force, hate and insincerity. These questions worry the artist no matter which political regime is (in power) at the moment in the country.” In response to my question, Eifman concludes, “Nevertheless, there are a


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lot of autobiographic things in my ‘Don Quixote,’ and I would never create it in such way, if I had not lived in the Soviet Union.” Thematically, Eifman’s ballet has been strongly influenced by Cervantes' and his own life experiences; stylistically, it also has ties to Marius Petipa’s famous 1869 ballet “Don Quixote.” Eifman describes his piece as preserving classical choreography, yet also as a bridge between two different types of ballet: “Our version is certainly related closely to (Petipa’s) classical performance. In our production we haven’t given up on classical choreography. Reserving several scenes in classic ballet style, I hope we have successfully connected the ballet of the 19th century, liked and famous around the world, and the ballet of the 21st century.” The original “Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman” first debuted in 1994, but Chicago audiences will be treated to Eifman’s update of the ballet, which he completed in 2009. Eifman describes himself as an “artist of painful, restless habit,” adding, “I constantly remake the previous works.” In revising his 1994 version of “Don Quixote,” he explains, “We created new costumes and setting and, of course, we newly composed the choreography.” Ultimately, however, the central themes of the ballet persist. Eifman concludes, “The performance axis— the tragic disagreement of unordinary personality and the cruel world suppressing this personality—is the same….I sincerely hope that in our "Don Quixote" interpretation, we looked in a new light at the important philosophical questions about the life of contemporary society.” The critically acclaimed ”Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman” will make its Chicago debut when Eifman Ballet brings the production to the Auditorium Theater this spring in three performances. 

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Cast and company of The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg in “Don Quixote.”

Spring 2011CNCJA•21


tidbits

In yet another example of the richness and Chicago's arts and culture scene, local arts education theater ensemble, Barrels of Bydiversity EMILYofDISHER Monkeys (BOM)—yes, that's correct—Barrels of Monkeys, plans to kick off its 10th anniversary performance of "That's Weird, Grandma" with two months of matinee performances of the work at Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Avenue. "That's Weird Grandma" is a hilarious, bizarre, and high-energy presentation of songs and sketches written by Chicago kids. The material originates in BOM’s creative writing workshops in the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park Districts. The company’s professional theater artists then adapt a selection of stories for performance. The result is an audience favorite—a show that is “safe” for all ages, yet very much appreciated by an adult audience. Performances of "That's Weird, Grandma" began on February 6, 2011 and run through April 3, 2011. For tickets or information, call barrel of monkeys, anyone? 312-409-1954 or visit barrelofmonkeys.org.

American Voices

Photo by Merri Cyr

Avalon String Quartet, one of the country’s leading chamber music ensembles, will be joined by guest pianist William Koehler to present the Members of the Avalon String Quartet. spring engagement of its 2010-2011 Chicago Concert Series, a concert titled American Voices. Avalon’s 2010-2011 three-concert Chicago season explores different intersections of the string quartet and the human voice, with each concert examining this relationship from a different perspective. The American Voices program will include Steve Reich’s novel “speech melody” work Different Trains, Amy Beach’s Quintet for Piano and Strings, and Augusta Read Thomas’ Fugitive Star, which was written specifically for the Avalon Quartet in 2000.

Arbor Day at the Arboretum Arbor Day Tree Planting at Morton Arboretum 2010. Photo Courtesy of The Morton Arboretum.

This Arbor Day, Friday, April 29, 2011, the Morton Arboretum will welcome Curious George to kick off its celebration of America's oldest environmental holiday. Curious George will lead a parade from the Children's Garden to a select tree planting site, where children and their families will be able to plant trees along side George. Guests will also be treated to a reading of Curious George's new book, "Curious George Plants a Tree." The festivities run from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. on Arbor Day with the tree planting with Curious George at 11:00 a.m. in the Children's Garden. Further information on the Morton Arboretum's Arbor Day celebration can be found online at mortonarb.org or by calling The Arboretum’s Visitor Services at 630-968-0074.

Art Loop Open

Last fall, the Chicago Loop Alliance and Chicago Artists’ Coalition announced the launch of Art Loop Open, a new art exhibition and competition judged by the public and taking place in ten venues throughout the Loop during the month of October, 2010. With more than 12,000 votes cast by members of the public in support of their favorite pieces of art, the top three Art Loop Open prize winners were: John Dempsey for “The Great American Landscape” ($25,000 First Prize); Daniel Lavitt for “Till We Meet Again” ($15,000 Second Prize); and Joseph Ivacic for “Staying Connected” ($10,000 Third Prize). Contestant art pieces included nearly every medium from installation to photography to traditional paints and sketches. In addition to the top prize-winners, on display throughout the Loop are 12 additional merit award-winning works. We have the privilege of providing a few of the outstanding works submitted here. Our congratulations go out to all who participated in this wide-reaching competition and exhibition. Clockwise from top right:; Lifeguards by Jane Fulton; Imaginary Wonderlands by Kirsten Leenaars; Art Loop Open Prize winners William Dempsey, Daniel Lavitt & Joseph Ivacic and Art Loop Open officials; First Prize winner The Great American Landscape by John Dempsey; Second prize winner Sorry I Missed You by Daniel Lavitt; Third prize winner Staying Connected by Joseph Ivacic; Self Portrait by Takeshi Moro; Wondering Eyes by Henri Clifton

22•CNCJASpring 2011


In

This

Quarter Year

The State Ballet of Russia in "Swan Lake" (Photo courtesy of The State Ballet of Russia); The Cast of Jake's Women at Citadel Theatre (Photo courtesy of Citadel Theatre); Neal Davies and Stephanie Blythe in Lyric Opera's The Mikado (Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago); (L-R) Karen Aldridge and Penny Johnson Jerald in Regina Taylor's The Trinity River Plays at Goodman Theatre (Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux); River North Chicago Dancers Jessica Wolfrum and Michael Gross in "Al Sur Del Sur." (Photo courtesy of River North Dance Chicago)


DANCE REVIEW

Romance Reigns In River North Dance Valentine By EMILY DISHER

Photo Courtesy of River North Dance Chicago

February 12, 2011 - River North Dance Chicago (RNDC) warmed up Valentine’s weekend with a steamy, action-packed engagement that boiled over with romance. Snippets of the company’s eclectic repertoire built up to the evening’s centerpiece, the world premiere of “Al Sur Del Sur,” a suite of tangos choreographed by internationally recognized Argentinean tango stars Sabrina and Ruben Veliz. The evening’s sultry tango finale added just the right amount

Jesicca Wolfrum and Michael Gross in "Al Sur Del Sur." of spice to a delicious showcase. “Al Sur Del Sur” featured twelve RNDC dancers weaving through the ins and outs of relationships, conveying curiosity, envy, and, most of all, passion. The sharp, quick flick of a leg could puncture a slow and sensuous moment, and all at once, a jealous couple could lose themselves again in the order of the social dance. RNDC’s couples, who seemed perfectly paired to one another, exhibited a seamless combination of technical prowess, and believable on-stage chemistry. The most beguiling

dancers were the trio of Christian Denice, Brandon DiCriscio, and Jessica Wolfrum, whose tricky love triangle shone with personality. Melanie Manale-Hortin and Jeff Wolfe performed a dynamic duet, and Lauren Kias and Lizzie MacKenzie excelled in a tender piece in the middle of the performance. Only in the final movement of the piece did the emotion seem to diminish. The jealousies and curiosities of other movements dissolved into a tamer, more orderly event akin to a traditional ballroom competition. Gorgeous musical selections by Ástor Piazzola, and three additional composers, combined with glamorous gowns featuring high-cut slits, round out what was a truly sumptuous performance. RNDC seems to enjoy surprising its audiences by providing a highly varied program of dissimilar works, which keeps viewers guessing about what will come next; so other works in the program included an eclectic mix of music and dance styles. The evening began with Artistic Director Frank Chaves’ “Love Will Follow” (2001)—set to the music of Kenny Loggins—and led to the fiery, high-energy percussion of “Beat” (2001). RNDC featured “Beat” earlier this season in its Fall Engagement, but it is always enthralling. Denice masters the tour de force again and again, always impressing audiences with his athletic dynamism. The only trouble with this piece was the lighting—at times the stage became almost completely dark, obscuring Denice’s impressive movements. You couldn't help but struggle to see him clearly the entire time. RNDC followed “Beat” with a series of three duets. The first of these, “Fixé” (1994) proved to be the highlight. The choreography and costuming felt earthy, and the partnering very organic. The piece showcased Manale-Hortin’s supple back and impressive flexibility through a series of acrobatic lifts with partner Kelly Michael Brunk. The two exhibited a liquid chemistry together, enhanced by the costuming—the patterns of which seemed to connect across the two bodies. Only the music proved haunting, with incongruous screaming audible throughout. Following intermission, the company presented its signature piece “Evolution of a Dream” (2009), set to “Sweet Dreams.” This piece is exceptionally jazzy and highly athletic. While, at times, the amount of activity on stage seemed overwhelming, the work made you want to jump out of your seat and dance—it’s no wonder the company was winded as they took their bows. Additionally, two excerpts from longer RNDC works preceded the tango suite. An excerpt from “Hidden Truth” (2009), which, out of context, is not quite as striking as it is within the entire work, and Hanna Brictson’s solo from “Train,” a vibrant, show-stopping snippet. Yet again, RNDC has shown its audiences how incredibly versatile they are. The addition of an extensive tango piece to the company’s repertoire—and its debut during the Valentine’s week-

end engagement—was another step forward for the company. Viewers will no doubt hope to see RNDC’s talented company tackle the demanding choreography and style of “Al Sur Del Sur” again in the future. Pictured: River North Dance Chicago's Jessica Wolfrum and Michael Gross in "Al Sur Del Sur."

24•CNCJASpring 2011


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THEATER REVIEW

Citadel Theatre's Jake's Women Has By ASHLEY MATTEW Relatable Punch February 4, 2011 - When Jake’s Women first premiered, Cheers, Murphy Brown and Seinfeld were all on the airwaves, all Emmynominated in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series for Television. The most recent selection of Emmy-nominated comedic programming recognized 30 Rock, Modern Family and The Office, of which two shows are filmed in a fictional documentary/reality style format. Successful humor, logically, is related to the period of its origin. Consequently, Jake and his women seem right at home in today’s reality driven world. In the 1992 Neil Simon play, a middle-aged novelist must overcome control, guilt and fear of intimacy in this scenario to preserve his marriage. The wearying depth of each troubled relationship—Jake with sister, Jake with current wife, Jake with former wife, Jake with daughter, Jake with therapist—builds and builds to an idealistic resolution, haphazardly fulfilling an urge for a happy ending. Relief, however, in this Citadel Theatre production does comes from a believable, charismatic, and steady cast. One is inclined to pity Jake (Chuck Quinn) as the solitude of a writing profession and a corporate travelling wife, Maggie (Lucinda Johnston), have left him somewhat mentally impaired. He is both addicted to and occasionally resentful of the mind-made relationship with his sister, Karen (Claudia Vasilovik), his deceased wife, Julie (Jessica London-Shields), a version of his daughter,

Molly, at the age of 21 (Erin O’Shea) and 12 (Elita Ernsteen and Annie Hartman), as well as his therapist, Edith (Maggie Cain). His talent even has the ability to construct dialogue between Karen and Edith, who are presumably the comic support and have never actually met. Schizophrenic? Supernatural? The audience may never wonder. Ms. Vasilovik and Ms. Cain, equally gaudy and spinsterlike, jive so casually it is natural to believe they are, in fact, speaking to each other, and that they know each other well. A similar scene between Ms. LondonShields and Ms. O’Shea as a youthful mother only now meeting her adult daughter is a surprisingly influential explanation of how Jake is truly lost. It should make sense that these women appear to know each other, though. Much of the play is a fabrication of how Jake might perceive them to behave toward him and interact with one another. Ms. Johnston— admirably and enthusiasticly Jake’s problem and solution—is the kind, hopeful promise willing to enlighten Jake again, despite a sixmonth separation period in which they were mostly apart. The dilemma between Jake and his various women will always be applicable. The only real glitch here is that, though it is far from an untold problem, this particular version seems to lack an insightful or fresh attitude toward how to continuously nurture a marriage, while developing individually, too. Aptly making use of a compact stage space, the recently expanded Lake Forest theatre is an eager home for Jake’s Women.

Cast of Jake's Women from left to right - Erin O'Shea, Chuck Quinn, Elita Ernsteen

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Spring 2011CNCJA•25 Spring2011CNCJA•25


OPERA REVIEW

The Mikado is Lyric’s Latest in a Season of Triumphs

Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of CHiicago

By FRED CUMMINGS

Toby Spence as Nanki-Poo, Andriana Chuchman as Yum-Yum, Neal Davies as Ko-Ko in Lyric Opera’s The Mikado. January 13, 2011 - It’s not surprising that Lyric Opera elected to retool in their approach to a new staging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. The classic operetta is as familiar to musical theater as any you’ll find. What is surprising is the amount of genuine freshness and musical ardor conductor Philip Morehead has packed into the recognizable score and the amount of comic originality stage director Gary Griffin (associate artistic director for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) has weaved into the wonderfully imaginative production. Set in what amounts to be the early twentieth century, Lyric’s lavish costumes bore out a new, more modernized (and Britannia-influenced) version of the operetta’s original 19th century imperialized Japan. Buttressed by a remarkably refined chorus and Morehead’s briskly paced orchestra, the cast presented a masterclass in balancing sharpwitted comedy with nuanced musical excellence—all adding up to the latest jewel in one whopping crown of a season. English tenor Toby Spence gave a charming turn as Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado who flees his royal position in the guise of a roving minstrel to escape an impending (and unwanted) arranged marriage. Spence’s lush lyricism is well suited to the bel canto-esque writing the role encompasses. Nanki-Poo’s love interest in the story, Yum-Yum, was sung with pure delight by Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman. Her bright, sweet tone brought a wonderful freshness to “The Sun Whose Rays,” a tongue-in-cheek ode to her own beauty that anticipates the couple’s nuptials. Andrew Shore thrilled as the eccentric Pooh-Bah, the opportunistic court official that has assumed far too many governmental posts to name, along with the salaries (and personalities, it seems) of each. 26•CNCJASpring 2011

But Neal Davies served as the comedic linchpin in this production, bringing a vaudevillian finesse, virtually disappearing into the role of Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner. Ko-Ko finds himself in the unenviable position of having to secure a candidate to satiate the Mikado’s thirst for a beheading to meet out justice Mikado-style. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose his own head—literally. Davies, Shore and Philip Kraus— who sings the role of Pish-Tush—are a hilarious hit in the swift spiel of “I Am So Proud,” where each frenetically declines the opportunity to provide a head for the execution. If Davies was the comedic linchpin, however, it was mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe who became the musical cornerstone of the night in the role of Katisha. Blythe yields an incredibly powerful and wonderfully rich bell tone. Her voice is panoramic and easily matched the chorus and cast against her in “For He’s Going to Marry Yum-Yum,” where the crowd tries to vocally overpower her and keep her from revealing Nanki-Poo’s true identity: her wandering fiancée. Blythe’s performance of “Alone, and Yet Alive!” provided a brief escape in a night of rapid-fire mirth. The soprano’s sumptuous tone and nuanced phrasing gave a poignant, sympathetic look behind Katisha’s bombastic veil to reveal a lonely and sensitive soul. And if the meat of the operetta’s success lies with a flawless cast, the seasoning comes in the meticulous diction essential to any successful production of The Mikado. Throw in sharply executed physical comedy and trimmings like clever supertitles that serve as inside jokes to Sullivan’s already witty libretto, and you have the recipe for Lyric’s most recent triumph in a season of triumphs.


CLASSICAL CONCERT REVIEW

Uchida and CSO Offer Differing Perspectives on Mozart By MYRON SILBERSTEIN

January 28, 2011 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrated the week- lutions sound both necessary and satisfying. Chen furthermore encouraged end of Mozart’s birthday (his 255th) this year with an all-Mozart program bold dynamic contrasts and articulations, bringing Mozart’s asymmetrical featuring pianist Mitsuko Uchida, whose Mozart concerti have become phrasing in the upper strings into relief against the lower strings’ steady staples of the CSO's schedule in recent seasons. This year’s program con- three-eight rhythm in the third movement. Such brashness is entirely approsists of the mid-career F Major Concerto (K. 413), the early Divertimento priate in Mozart; indeed, it is most welcome. in B-flat Major (K. 137), and the widely-known late C Major Concerto (K. In contrast, Uchida’s Mozart was overly polite; flawless in its technique, 467), often dubbed the “Elvira Madigan” concerto due to its prominence in dazzling in its cascades of figuration, but not particularly effusive. This the 1960 film of the same name. The relatively brief program offered nu- is puzzling inasmuch as her original cadenzas to the C Major Concerto, for which Mozart’s cadenzas are not extant, demonstrated merous instances of delight and excitement, but fell short a personal and emotionally-driven affinity for Mozartean of the level of profound engagement that the best Mozart drama. They succeeded both in developing the musical maperformances can achieve. terial presented within the movement and amplifying the The most vibrant and dramatic playing was to be pianistic techniques permeating Mozart’s writing. On the heard in the Divertimento, led with subtlety and grace by Concertmaster Robert Chen. The two concerti, by conwhole, they were preferable to such venerable cadenzas as Dinu Lipatti’s. trast, often lacked a sense of conflict and urgency. This Uchida’s playing was at its best at moments of virtuosic should not have been the case; the C Major Concerto was written by a mature artist at the height of his extraordibrilliance. She furthermore succeeded in coaxing orchestral colors from the piano. However, she missed the opernary powers, whereas the Divertimento was written by a atic expansiveness of Mozart’s melodies and the delight in prodigious but unpolished adolescent attempting to asrhythmic and harmonic experimentation that are so crucial similate his recent exposure to the musical innovations Pianist Mitsuko Uchida. to the composer’s work. I do recommend this performance; of the Milanese. That the greatest satisfaction was to be had in what was indisputably the least accomplished work on the program the music is not to be missed and the Divertimento is a delight. But liscan only be due to Mr. Chen’s and Ms. Uchida’s respective approaches to teners should supplement their experience of the concert’s two concerti by treating themselves to a recording of one of the great Mozarteans of the Mozart. Throughout the Divertimento, Chen employed rubato liberally but nev- past. Robert Casadesus’s recording of the C Major Concerto conducted by er obtrusively. Sensitive to the harmonic tensions in the score, he allowed George Szell, for example, will give audiences a taste of the full range of Mozart’s dissonances the spaciousness needed to make his harmonic reso- Mozart’s genius.

listen. inspire. create.

Kelly Guinaugh Inverness 847.705.9569 www.interiorenhancementgroup.com Spring 2011CNCJA•27


THEATER REVIEW

Virginia Woolf Bares Teeth and Souls By DAVID WEISS December 11, 2011 – Perhaps there is no play more deeply entrenched in the canon of “Great American Theatre” than Edward Albee’s grand battle between husband and wife. In the decades since its controversial 1962 Broadway debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has come to be viewed by many as the holy grail of American drama, as an iconic and nearly untouchable masterpiece. But with such lofty accolades has also come the threat of nearmummification: too often productions seem to hold the work at arm’s length, and the drama is reduced to marathons of dispassionate name-calling or (even worse) endless shouting matches. Yet with her muscular and vibrant new Steppenwolf production, director Pam

Photo by Michael Brosilow

from unforgiving stone. Slipping effortlessly into Albee’s demanding language, Morton also gives Martha an insistent, magnetic physicality that undergoes a mesmerizing evolution as the night wears on. Equal to her every step of the way is Tracy Letts, in whose capable hands George becomes a man desperately fighting to remain numb and unaffected—and losing. Every confrontation makes him looser, quicker, more fluid, until finally everyone in the room—not to mention the audience—is scrambling to keep up. Yet Letts never for a moment allows us to forget how much he loves his wife, and how much each new volley costs him. Indeed, what Morton and Letts understand, and what MacKinnon wisely teases out, is the way George and Martha often can’t help but laugh at the awfulness of their situation, because after all, they do love each other. Moments of sadistic cruelty unexpectedly give way to cackles of delight or gestures of unbearable tenderness. Their shifting dynamic creates a colorful, ever-changing landscape guaranteed to keep the audience entertained and offbalance for the duration. Contributing invaluably to this unsteady terrain is Carrie Coon as Honey. Making her Steppenwolf debut, Coon is hilarious and heartbreaking in a deceptively simple performance that combines unwavering commitment with a total lack of self-consciousness; on more than one occasion, she brings down the house with little more than just a word. And Madison Dirks provides an impressive and pitiable rendering of her husband Nick: swinging wildly between condescending entitlement (Left to right) Carrie Coon, ensemble member Tracy Letts, Madison Dirks and ensemble member Amy Morton in Steppenwolf and pathetic naiveté, he skillTheatre Company’s production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Pam MacKinnon. fully evokes a man unaware of just how out-of-his-depth he is. MacKinnon has brought a tart freshness and stunning immediacy Combined with Todd Rosenthal’s subtly ironic scenic design (all back to the material, dusting away the decades to remind us why warm colors and reassuring hominess), Nan Cibula-Jenkins’s spotWoolf was so revered to begin with. on costuming, and MacKinnon’s elegant staging, Virginia Woolf is a Certainly, a great deal of the credit is shared by Steppenwolf’s production that truly delivers on all fronts; newcomers to the play and cast, brilliant without exception. Exhibiting the kind of excellence old fans alike will find plenty to discover and enjoy. we’ve all come to expect, Amy Morton is absolutely masterful as guerilla housewife Martha, a portrait of warmth and bitterness hewn 28•CNCJASpring 2011


Change Cuts Deep in The Trinity River Plays

Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux

By DAVID WEISS

Iris (Karen Aldridge) comforts her mother Rose (Penny Johnson Jerald) as they sing songs from their past.

January 24, 2011 - The moments in life that truly change us can arrive in many forms. Some people willingly transform themselves. Some people have change violently visited upon them. And some people change gradually, inescapably, without even knowing how. This multifaceted truth rests at the heart of Regina Taylor’s Trinity River Plays, a penetrating and charming new trilogy that explores the nature of change within a Dallas family. Set against the backdrop of endless Texas summers, the plays follow a singularly intelligent woman named Iris (Karen Aldridge in top form) as she charts her way through three distinct turning points in her life. Jar Fly begins the cycle on her seventeenth birthday in 1978— a day that seems to serve as a coming-of-age tale in miniature—as bookish Iris contends with her mischievous cousin Jasmine (a lively and ultimately touching Christiana Clark). Aldridge and Clark lend the girls’ youthful relationship complexity and heart, and their interactions with Jasmine’s mother Daisy (portrayed with sass and soul by Jacqueline Williams) prompt some of the evening’s biggest laughs. Yet the tone ultimately grows lyrical and haunting when an unexpected event forces Iris to rethink her identity and her way of relating to the world. Jar Fly offers little resolution, but it serves as an intriguing entry point into the trilogy. The second play, Rain, transports us to the mid-‘90s, where a freshly-divorced Iris must face the news that her mother, Rose (Penny Johnson Jerald), has ovarian cancer. Rose registers as distant and mysterious in Jerald’s hands, showing only the merest hints of

love and warmth; her performance doesn’t gain true focus and weight until Rose’s advancing illness begins chipping away at her defensive façade. Only then does Iris’s relationship with her mother take on real dimension, paving the way for Rain’s most potent image. In the wake of Rose’s passing, Iris storms into the backyard garden, her body quaking as she fights to suppress her grief. Finally, she collapses, keening, into the arms of her aunt and cousin as rain drenches them in turrets. It’s a richly theatrical, primal tableau—and a masterful moment for Aldridge, who fearlessly plunges into raw and instinctive territory. These threads of pain and uncertainty converge in Ghoststory, as Iris searches for the right way to move beyond her past—a matter complicated by contrite ex-husband Frank (Jefferson A. Russell, wry and amiable), old high-school crush Jack (Samuel Ray Gates, pleasant and nondescript) and a ghostly presence that looks like Rose. Mixing searing confrontations with uplifting comedy, Ghoststory draws the Trinity River Plays to a messily patchwork—but thoroughly human—conclusion. Aided immeasurably by its uniformly handsome tech (especially Todd Rosenthal’s vibrant set and Karen Perry’s impeccable wigs and costuming), Ethan McSweeny’s production spins Ms. Taylor’s ambitious work into a full-blooded evening of theater. And while Trinity River may still have some maturing ahead of it, it’s plain to see how much of herself Ms. Taylor poured into its creation. The risk was worth it. Spring 2011CNCJA•29


MUSICAL THEATER REVIEW

Wicked Still Soars, Just Not As High By DAVID WEISS lend the role its maximum emotional impact. It doesn’t help matters that both Schwartz and Burns, like many before them, must battle the ghosts of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth every step of the way, struggling to make the roles their own without straying too far from what’s expected. As is, they hold their own without ever truly vanquishing the memory of that original star duo. Fortunately, several of the production’s supporting cast members manage to create wonderfully affecting performances despite the limited stage time allotted. As Elphaba’s wheelchair-bound sister Nessarose, Stephanie Brown brings refreshing clarity and heart to what could have simply been a one-dimensional role, imbuing even the smallest moments with a touching vulnerability and longing. As princely love interest Fiyero, Richard H. Blake effortlessly suggests his character’s intelligence and sincerity even while striking pretty-boy poses or wading through a tortuous love duet. And Paul Slade Smith brings remarkable dignity and warmth to the role of Dr. Dillamond, Elphaba’s most influential mentor. So while it’s true that the current production may lack the kind of inspired star power that elevated the original, it still retains much of what made that original so successful. The breathtaking visuals, subversive lyrics, and heartfelt message still pack a punch after all this time. And ultimately, because of those enduring qualities, it remains unlikely that audience members seeing Wicked for the first time will leave the theater disappointed. Photo by Joan Marcus

December 1, 2010 - What can one say about Wicked? At this point in its existence, the Oz-ian musical has remained all but unchanged since it came roaring onto Broadway nearly eight years ago, and now shows every sign of becoming a Phantom-style juggernaut on the touring circuit. The current iteration playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre reverently preserves Joe Mantello’s original direction (along with Wayne Cilento’s naggingly inert musical staging), and Eugene Lee’s original production design remains as beautiful, intricate, and

Jackie Burns and Chandra Lee Schwartz in Wicked at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

unsettling as ever. Yet like those elaborate clockwork sets, one can’t help but get the feeling that much of the production itself has become a well-oiled, carefully calibrated mechanism. Certainly the performers have to fight to make their presences felt amidst the spectacle, with varying degrees of success. As the misunderstood heroine Elphaba, Jackie Burns proves herself a vibrant and powerful singer, but tends to fade from focus whenever she’s not delivering one of her signature go-for-broke ballads. Indeed, her Elphaba lacks the razor-sharp cleverness and self-aware attitude needed to make the character register as more than just a solemn dogooder. As played here, Elphaba comes across as an intense but often distant central figure. Fairing a bit better is Chandra Lee Schwartz’s bubbly Glinda. Saddled with ninety percent of the show’s comedic moments (some of them clunkers), Schwartz delivers admirably under pressure with a performance built on spastic giddiness and acidic good cheer; it’s easy to see why she was previously cast as Penny in Hairspray. However, her undeniably entertaining performance is sorely lacking the grace notes of deadpan wit and glimmers of genuine depth that 30•CNCJASpring 2011


DANCE REVIEW

State Ballet's "Swan" Lacks Typical Luster By EMILY DISHER

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"SWAN LAKE" PERFORMED BY THE STATE BALLET OF RUSSIA.. PHOTO COURTESY OF THe STATE BALLET OF RUSSIA.

February 4, 2011The State Ballet Theatre of Russia presented “Swan Lake,” one of classical ballet’s most beloved works, at The Auditorium Theatre February 4-5th. The Friday night performance seemed somewhat lackluster, unfortunately. As a whole, the dancing lacked personality, and the muted feedback from the audience reinforced the overall dull im-

pact of the performance. Svetlana Noskova, who danced the dual role of Odette/Odile during the February 4th performance, provided welcome relief, however, as she excelled in both roles. Noskova conveyed the role of Odette beautifully, with quick, bird-like movements of the head and arms. Her dancing conveyed the passion that was found lacking elsewhere in the program, yet she still exhibited the technical prowess for which Russian dancers are well known. She performed a demanding 32 fuettés quite effortlessly, with a soft and lovely landing. Her partnering with Prince Sigfried (Alexander Lityagin) was equally smooth, without a moment of stilted action. Noskova stunningly transformed from Odette to Odile. Her Odile was sassy, and loaded with personality. Lityagin’s performance did not exactly match that of Noskova. Generally, his technical skills were spot on, although he sometimes tilted backward oddly on his turns, and some of his landings proved clumsy. His partnering was strong, but he lacked the dynamism necessary for the central role. Gennadi Gorozhankin, however, put on quite a show, and demonstrated more personality than his male peers in his role as the jester. His extensions and the height of his jumps proved impressive. Ivan Alekseyev also displayed some personality as the ballet’s villain, Rothbart. Despite these bright spots, the corps seemed out of touch with the spirit of the Noskova's performance, churning out a truly mechanical performance overall. The dancers rarely echoed the fluid actions of the show’s star. While the painted backdrops were quite charming, the music provided something of an obstacle to the audience’s attention. The excess “noise” of the recording, as well as some inordinately long pauses between movements detracted from the overall impression of the ballet. Additionally, the ending proved strange. Bucking the traditional, tragic ending in which Siegfried and Odette take their own lives upon realizing that they can never break Rothbart’s spell, Dmitry Korneev’s adaptation concluded on an inexplicably happy note.  Spring 2011CNCJA•31


A

s I walked through the doorway of the Driehaus Museum, I literally stepped back in time, leaving behind my 21st century life composed of all things mass produced and/or technology based, and was transported back to a time and place where craftsmanship and the art of conversation were both recognized for their artistic contributions to society. As I walked through the grand Main Hall, graced with ornate European and American marble (17 different types of marble were used throughout the first floor of what was commonly referred to as the “Marble Palace”), I truly had stepped back into the period (late 1870s to 1900) commonly referred to as the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age was a time of great cultural and industrial transformation within American society, where the vast divides in wealth developed and where ostentatious displays of affluence amongst the nation’s newly developing urban elite became the norm. The Driehaus Museum is housed in the Gold Coast mansion built in 1883 for then wealthy liquor merchant Samuel Nickerson and subsequent future owner Lucius Fisher, both men of commerce and self-made wealth. In 2003, the mansion was acquired by Chicago investment advisor and philanthropist, Richard H. Driehaus, an avid collector and preservationist of the artistic and architectural styles of the period. In fact, the Driehaus Museum now houses some of the most opulent artifacts, furniture, inlaid woodwork, and period pieces from the Gilded Age, many of which are from Driehaus’ own extensive personal collection. Nickerson, himself a purveyor of the fine art and culture of the period, was responsible for the original design of the mansion and its elaborate furnishings. He had a particular affinity for Oriental art of the period. As I absorbed the history of the space, my mind wandered on to what life

Around Town

must have been like for the Nickersons or the Fishers as they entertained guests in the mansion. Guests entering the residence through either the Main Hall or the Reception Room via the garden conservatory would have been enthralled with the opulent excesses of each of the seven rooms on the first floor. Situated between the Dining and Smoking Rooms, the Reception Room features high walnut wainscoting, with original aqua blue and green glass tiles from the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Company—then one of the country’s leading tile manufacturers—with designs of passionflower vines leading to the ceiling, adding height and color to the room. The room is also home to one of many of Driehaus’ artifacts from his personal collection, the 1910 Tiffany Studios Nautilus Shell Centerpiece Lamp. Following their reception, guests of Nickerson and Fisher likely strolled across the great marbled Main Hall to relax and converse within one or all of the four west rooms of the first floor; the Parlor, the Drawing Room, the Library and the Gallery. After being summoned to the Dining Room, guests would have spent hours in conversation over extravagant feasts. Still featuring the original Nickerson dining table, the Dining Room is cast in a Renaissance Revival style motif with white oak wainscoting over six feet high encircling the room. Following dinner, male guests would have excused themselves to the Smoking Room, right off the entrance to the Main Hall, while the female guests would 32•CNCJASpring 2011

have retired to the Drawing Room, the Library, or the Gallery for further conversation. The soft colors of the Drawing Room traditionally set in what were considered at the time to be feminine hues would have been in stark contrast to the dark, ebonized cherry wood resonant of the English Renaissance style of the adjoining library. One of the grandest rooms of the home, then and today, is the Gallery Room. In 1883, the Chicago Daily Tribune praised Nickerson’s Art Gallery as one of the finest, most appointed, collections outside the east coast. Illuminated with a clear skylight, Nickerson’s gallery displayed some of the finest works of art of the time by both European and American artists. When the mansion was sold to Fisher, extensive renovations were made to the room including the placement of a large fireplace, wainscoting and the installation of a stain glassed skylight whose autumn and blue colors pick up on the iridescent glass tile-lined fireplace and the light green walls. As gentlemen entered the smoking room, they would have been greeted with the Moorish inspired designs common within smoking rooms of the period. Fisher, with his love of the American West, added a bronze bust of a Native American chief to the fireplace mantle, contrasting with the Moorish inspired motifs that ran the length of the room atop the continuing high wainscoting commonly seen throughout the house. As I completed my own tour, I couldn’t stop imaging the conversations that took place within the Marble Palace throughout the Gilded Age nor could I escape the impact of the innate craftsmanship and beauty within each space of the mansion. The architectural vision and artisan-like detail within each of the rooms hearken back to what many consider a simpler time to the extent that rooms were designed around interpersonal communication. Perhaps it is the beauty inherent within interpersonal communication fostered by the architectural significance of each room within the Marble Palace that Mr. Driehaus wants us to hold on to before our minds return to the 21st Century and we all instinctively reach for our Blackberrys. The Driehaus Museum is located at 50 East Erie Street and is open to the public throughout the week. Interested parties should contact Jeanine Riedl, visitor services and events coordinator at 312-932-8665 or visit www.driehausmuseum.org online. — Patrick M. Curran II Photos from top: Dreihaus Museum Exerior, Dining Room & Main Hall. Photos ©The Dreihaus Museum.


SKETCHES OF BLUE: AN ORBERT DAVIS TRIBUTE TO MILES April 14, 2011

RIVER NORTH DANCE CHICAGO April 16, 2011

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER May 18-22, 2011

Featuring the world premiere Simply Miles by Frank Chaves, co-commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre

Celebrating 50 years of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations Photo by Cheryl Mann.

PART OF THE

PART OF THE

AAADT’s Linda Celeste Sims. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

THE EIFMAN BALLET OF ST. PETERSBURG DON QUIXOTE, OR FANTASIES OF A MADMAN April 21 & 23, 2011

THE ALL NEW ORIGINAL TRIBUTE TO THE BLUES BROTHERS July 6-24, 2011

Made possible through the support of Seymour Persky.

4 EASY WAYS TO PURCHASE TICKETS PHONE: 800.982.ARTS (2787) | ONLINE: Ticketmaster.com | BOX OFFICE: 50 E. Congress Pkwy | GROUPS 10+: 312.431.2357 FOLLOW US ON

auditoriumtheatre.org

THE MILES DAVIS FESTIVAL IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF:

Lead Funder

The Eifman Ballet

AAADT Presenting Sponsor

Student Matinee Sponsor

Student Matinee Sponsor

Official Hotel

Official Airline

Spring 2011CNCJA•33


State of the Arts

CULTURE SHOCK

Todd Machover’s new Death and the Powers will have you bracing yourself for everything from singing robots and chandeliers in an electronica-filled production that takes you far away from the familiar confines of traditional opera. By MYRON SILBERSTEIN

O

n April 2nd, Chicago Opera Theater (COT) will give the Midwest premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers. In doing so, COT continues its commitment to presenting new and innovative productions. Death and the Powers is not simply a new opera; it is a new kind of opera—an opera for which new technology had to be invented, an opera in which a dozen of the performers… are robots. The technological innovations of Death and the Powers are integral both to the libretto’s plot (written by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky) and to the underlying questions about the defining features of our humanity that the opera aims to explore. And the technological elements of the opera are absolutely cutting-edge. The format of the opera’s plot, though, is older and more traditional than opera itself. The opera takes the form of a mystery play—a medieval enactment of liturgical texts. The texts in Death and the Powers, though, are not Biblical; rather, they are an account of humanity left behind by the nowextinct human race. The robots, now the earth’s dominant species, annually enact portions of these late-human texts in an attempt to decode their meaning. The text enacted in Death and the Powers involves a wealthy inventor named Simon Powers, who—on the verge of death—uploads himself into his physical surroundings. His home and all the objects within it, imbued with his selfhood after Simon’s physical death, become known as The System. Throughout much of the opera, Simon’s friends and family (all played by humans) interact with The System, struggling to learn how to relate to Simon in his post-mortem, technologized state. Machover’s hope is that the opera will encourage the audience “to think about what the limit of a human being” is—that is, where our humanity begins and ends and how far beyond its traditional physicality it can extend. The robot performers are intentionally designed to not look human. Illustrations of the robots show triangular metallic slabs balanced on supporting structures of girders, more like the skeletons of futuristic buildings than like living creatures. The robots’ uninviting physical forms are meant to heighten the impact of their very human behavior. As Machover explains, “The less they look like people, if they have characteristics that feel human, it prompts a really strange sensation.” The result is that, “a lot of people feel very close to these robots.”

34•CNCJASpring 2011

Robots are by far not the only technological presence in Death and the Powers. The stage, representing the house into which Simon has uploaded himself, makes use of software developed in Machover’s Opera of the Future Group. During baritone James Maddalena’s off-stage performance as Simon, this software tracks his volume and pitch as well as his muscle activity and breathing, using the data obtained to direct portions of the set to move and to emit light and sound accordingly. One highlight of the set is a musical chandelier. The Chandelier is both a sculpture and “a big musical instrument” with “about a hundred long vibrating strings made of Teflon,” explains Machover. In a duet between the deceased Simon and his third wife, Evvy, Mr. Maddalena’s voice is projected through the Chandelier and its timbre modified as the mezzo-soprano plucks the Chandelier’s strings. As Mr. Machover emphasizes, “There’s nothing prerecorded; sophisticated software and wireless communication systems connect” all the elements, yielding the “very unusual” phenomenon of a genuine “duet between a woman and an object.” The opera’s music demonstrates Mr. Machover’s masterful assimilation of electronic sound into an unabashedly lyrical musical aesthetic. The electronic sounds blend seamlessly with the thirteen acoustic instruments in Death and the Powers’s ensemble to form timbres that, though never heard before, sound inevitable. Machover is no iconoclast; he is a classical cellist with a particular affinity for the music of the pre-Renaissance. For him, the use of electronically-produced sound is simply a way “to expand the palate” of the traditional orchestra, particularly when doing “delicate things that are very hard to do with live instruments.” How should Chicago opera lovers approach this new and challenging work? Opera of the Future’s Website features a comprehensive blog (http://operaofthefuture.wordpress.com) including a synopsis of the opera written by Mr. Pinsky, links to interviews with Mr. Machover, and video clips of the opera’s highlights. This material will provide insight into the fundamental themes of the libretto and the inner workings of the technology that is so prevalent in the production. As for the music, though, Machover has composed his score to allow the audience’s ears to be its guide: “As a cellist, the thing I do best of all is probably to write melodies. There’s always a melody at the core of everything that’s going on. If you follow the melodies, you’ll be just fine.”


Photo by Jill Steinberg

The Musical Chandelier engages in a sensuous duet with Simon Powers' wife Evvy (mezzo-soprano Patricia Risley) in the “Touch Me” scene.

Spring2011CNCJA35 Spring 2011CNCJA•35


Artist Conversational

Actress, Director,& Playwright

Regina Taylor By DAVID WEISS

Photos By JASON M. REESE

“W

What first inspired you to be an artist?” It’s a deceptively simple question, one that can render even the most verbose of creative types temporarily mute. After all, in a lifetime full of creative influences and experiences, the trail leading back to that original inspiration can be complicated and labyrinthine. But when I sat down with acclaimed actress, director, and playwright Regina Taylor, her response was immediate, certain, and remarkably simple. It began with her mother. Speaking warmly, gently, with an almost preternatural calm, Taylor recalls how she was raised to live a creative life from the very beginning. “One of the first memories I have— it might have been at the age of five,” says Taylor, “is being on the floor with my mother with construction paper, scissors, crayons, writing my own children’s books.” Born in the projects of Dallas, Texas in 1960, Taylor was brought up by her single mother, Leannell Taylor, to appreciate the power of words. At a time when the civil-rights movement was barely starting to emerge in the American Midwest, writing became a way for Taylor to liberate how she saw herself. “She needed me to envision how my life might be,” Taylor explains, “We came into a world where people would name us right away, put us in boxes and label us. Some names you want to take on, other names you shuck off. What she handed me was a tool in terms of writing, so I could create my own names.” Leannell also introduced her daughter to a wide variety of authors who were “eclectic and open to the world.” Reading frequently and eagerly, Taylor found her perception of the world itself changing as well. “Having been born in Dallas and not having seen anything outside of Dallas, to be able to read about different worlds expanded my horizons and prepared me for stepping out into the world. I wasn’t afraid of leaving home and exploring the world, and exploring myself in the world. That was one of the best gifts my mother gave me when I was younger.” In pursuit of that exploration, Taylor would eventually attend Southern Methodist University with the intention of studying journalism. But when she enrolled in an acting course for fun, she fell in love with performance, realizing

36•CNCJASpring 2011


Regina Taylor on the Goodman Theatre set of her new trilogy The Trinity Rivers Plays. Styling by George Fuller. Spring 2011CNCJA•37


NEXT ACT: CROWNS Regina Taylor and The Goodman Theatre are set to celebrate the 10th anniversary production of her acclaimed musical Crowns. The story centers around a young woman who relocates to the South after the death of her brother. She finds strength in the tales of the wise women who surround her—and the powerful rituals connected to their dazzling hats. Fusing the music of the South with rich storytelling and abundant “hattitude,” Crowns is a jubilant celebration of song, dance, cultural history— and glamorous headwear.

she’d found a second passion that went handin-hand with her intense love of writing. “It was another way to explore human nature. To be able to step into someone else’s skin, to see life through their eyes, and then to come back from that journey with a greater knowledge of self, and how we’re all so much alike in terms of the basic wants, dreams, ambitions, desires, motivations.” Before graduating from college, Taylor had already acted in two made-for-TV movies, including the critically lauded Crisis at Central High, a drama about the Little Rock Nine. Since then, her acting career has encompassed work in Broadway, film, and television (including a 1992 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Drama), and she’s earned widespread acclaim for her work as a director and playwright. Amidst it all, her continuing urge for exploration has also led her to travel around the globe, to countries including Japan, Vietnam, Italy, and

England. But for all her travels and experiences, Taylor would never claim to have completely “moved beyond” her humble beginnings. To the contrary, her view of life is that “it is a cycle, that we are always returning. I think we always have to go back through our past and deal with that past in order to move forward.” Part of that cycle is what Taylor terms “the season of the hard rain,” when each of us inevitably faces the hardships and tragedies in our lives. “You have to deal with it—or not. That’s the choice with that cycle of return; it is how we meet it each time. Some people try to run away from it. Some people stand their ground and

Taylor will direct this production, which runs in June and July of 2012. For more information, visit at GoodmanTheatre.org.

Because Taylor has worked as an artistic associate at the Goodman for tion of trust and talent: “I know the people are a higher level of actors cast. I’m truly privileged to be working here.” (Regina Taylor) 38•CNCJASpring 2011


take nourishment from it to grow. Certain people keep meeting it the same way.” Ultimately, says Taylor, the question you ask yourself each time is, “What needs to change within me in order to move forward?” For Taylor herself, the hardest cycle of rain arrived five years ago, when her mother passed away from ovarian cancer. “I think with any parent dying, you question the ground you stand on,” she says, “You question everything in your life. It shakes up everything.” The experience led to a number of transformations, some less expected than others. “If anyone has ever been a caretaker to a parent, you know—you grow up. No matter what age, you grow up. And the parent in a certain way becomes a child. It’s a cycle. These are opportunities to strengthen

what you think you know, and let go of certain assumptions. So certainly that was a huge moment for me, to evolve as a better human being and a stronger human being.” Her mother’s death also transformed Taylor’s artistic trajectory, leading her to pen her most recent project: The Trinity River Plays. A trilogy of one-acts set in Dallas, Texas, the plays follow one woman’s journey from the age of seventeen as she struggles with her own cycle of growth and hardship—including the death of her mother from ovarian cancer. But despite the noticeable similarities, Taylor insists that the trilogy is not autobiographical. “It is taking certain questions that I had, and bringing in DNA from different parts of real and imagined characters and situations to try and answer some of those questions.” Her deep attachment to the material notwithstanding, Taylor says she never considered directing or performing in the plays herself. “I knew I was writing three plays, and I knew I wanted my focus to be on the writing, so I really wanted collaborators.” In this case, her creative partners hailed from the Dallas Theatre Center and from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Because Taylor has worked as an artistic associate at the Goodman for the past seventeen years, the group offered the perfect combination of trust and talent: “I know the people are a higher level of

the past seventeen years, the group offered the perfect combinahere. It’s a great team of designers, and it’s a brilliant family in the Spring 2011CNCJA•39


Regina Taylor on the set of her new stage play trilogy The Trinity River Plays at Goodman Theatre (Styling by George Fuller).

actors here. It’s a great team of designers, and it’s a brilliant family in the cast. I’m truly privileged to be working here.” Having also served as actor and director in the past, Taylor understands the collaborative process like few others. She’s found that acting, writing and directing are really “offshoots of the same creative source,” with differences just being a matter of where one enters. The director “has the overall vision and he’s steering the ship. He’s the conductor.” By contrast, “the actors, in terms of their specific voices, are the instruments for the conductor to use.” “But right now,” she says with a smile, “I’m writing the music. In writing, it’s a solitary place: in a room, on a train, in a cafe. Writing, trying to be open to the voices of the characters, opening yourself to channel these characters onto the page.” For Taylor, the writer’s main duty is always to provide “a good spine, a good, strong heart, mind, a soul to the piece.” Only then is the play ready to be handed over to the group, who flesh everything out. “You want people to take it through their own imagination, and certainly everyone involved in this production has done that.” As a result, she’s often been surprised by what’s come out of her own plays. “You go, ‘Okay, yes, I hear it this way. I know this character is this.’ And then someone comes in and you go, ‘Oh! Well, of course.’ You want to be surprised.” But the biggest surprise Taylor has encountered with The Trinity River Plays so far came from the audiences themselves in Dallas, where the initial production was staged. “I was very amazed by how it struck people. People would come up to me and start telling me their secrets; things that they hadn’t told their parents or their loved ones; things that, after seeing the show, they needed to speak out loud.” In light of such reactions, Taylor now hopes the play will 40•CNCJASpring 2011

convince theatregoers to “give a call to that person that they need to talk to, to have a visit with someone that they need to speak to. The power of the piece is in the unearthing of who you are. I think through my writing I’m trying to know myself better, and hopefully that’s passed on.” And as she’s learned over the years, that process of unearthing yourself can be long and difficult. “Owning one’s voice is very hardearned,” she admits. “I always reference Miles Davis: he is that first note, that first breath. He is where he’s been, and where’s he’s going. To be able to reveal yourself in such a pure way is something that I’ve always been seeking in the work. And I think that to be able to do that, to have the freedom to do that, to make those discoveries… it is again that constant process of becoming. Even as Miles Davis arrived at a sound, he kept shaking it up and exploring and challenging himself to evolve in that and own it even more so. And I think that, in the work that I’ve done over the years, there is that constant searching and struggle.” Because in the end, resolving the struggle is beside the point. It’s the search, the cycle, that fulfills Taylor most. It’s gradually become clear to me that her calm, her poise, and her unnerving clarity are not borne of stasis so much as equilibrium, of moving forces held constantly in balance. She speaks like a woman at peace with her own movement. Like someone who knows they can’t control everything in life, and accepts that. Like she wouldn’t have it any other way: “The voice that I have today is something that I like. It’s something that has been hard-earned. And it’s something that I will continue to hone.”


Save the date to celebrate!

Save the date to celebrate 98.7WFMT and 60 years of fine arts broadcasting. It’s our diamond jubilee year…a time to note the past, the present, and look to the future. Please join us on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm at Chicago’s Harris Theater in Millennium Park for a one-hour on-stage event featuring amazing talent. Tickets for the performance are $60 and include a special post-event reception in the Harris Theater lobbies. Individuals, corporations, and foundations wishing to support WFMT and WTTW may reserve individual seats and/or full tables at the Jubilee dinner. Learn more about the levels of support and related benefits by contacting the WFMT/WTTW Development Office at (773) 509-5434 or by e-mail at jubilee2011@wfmt.com.

Call (773) 509-5525 to learn more and reserve your tickets today. Lead sponsor:

The Crown Family David Herro and Jay Franke

Andrea and Jim Gordon

Stefan Edlis & Gael Neeson Foundation

Joan W. Harris and

Carole and Gordon Segal

wfmt.com/jubilee2011 of 2/18/2011 SpringAs 2011CNCJA•41


Got a Green Sweet Tooth? You may very well have one and not even know it. The Garfield Park Conservatory's "Sweet Saturdays" explores the greenery that provide the treats we love. By DINAH GROSSMAN

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Sweetness—no other taste is as universally venerated. From culture to culture our collective tolerance for bitter and sour flavors varies, but the desire for—and love of— sweetness is universal. Certain of our cultural traditions remain almost synonymous with sweetness, and perhaps no other holiday is more closely associated with it than Valentine’s Day, a time to acknowledge those we love with sweetness in the form of gestures, words, and yes, candy.

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To celebrate the month of Valentine’s Day, Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory hosted its third annual “Sweet Saturdays,” two Saturdays during which the Conservatory highlights plants that provide some of the key ingredients to our favorite confections. Chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, and bananas were among the featured trees and shrubs, with information tables staffed with volunteers spaced throughout the exhibits.


The lesser-known sister of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Garfield Park Conservatory impresses with its sheer size, the grandeur of its architecture, and the breadth of plant varieties housed beneath its glass roof. In a space so lush with interest, it is easy to become lost in the whole of the room. But programs like “Sweet Saturdays” bring the Conservatory into sharper focus, providing a framework for a particular plant or species, and allowing it to be seen in sharper relief, set apart from the frenzied whole. On an ordinary day, it would be easy to wander the stone paths without looking up at the right moment to see three coronets of green bananas reaching toward the sunlight, or the red berry of a coffee plant hidden coyly behind glossy leaves. But for this event, volunteers in red

t-shirts stood behind similarly clad tables, directing the gaze of passers-by and offering samples of cocoa beans or coffee beans draped in chocolate, or tiny crystals of candied ginger. Author Michael Pollan blames the mass production of cane sugar, followed by the creation of synthetic sweeteners, for our current casual attitude toward all things sugary. No longer relegated to special occasions, sugar in all its forms has found a way into almost everything we eat, especially prepackaged and prepared foods. So accustomed have we become to the omnipresence of sweetness in all we consume, that our palates have become somewhat deadened to the taste, strangers to a time when the touch of something sweet on the tongue was a pleasant shock, a departure from the flavors comprising the bulk of our diet. Banal as it may sometimes seem, the allure of sugar is too deeply ingrained in our DNA to deny even the most seductive of scents we associate with the flavor: a dried vanilla bean (the result of a spent orchid flower), or the tingle of cinnamon (the bark of a tree that is pruned using a technique called coppicing, which increases the number of new shoots that emerge from the ground, and thus the amount of bark available for harvest). Even a confectionery connoisseur isn’t likely to know the details of where and how his or her favorite flavors are grown. “Sweet Saturdays” is a window into the lives of all things sweet and tropical, a world we Midwesterners are drawn to and ignorant of in equal measure. Billed as a family-friendly event, “Sweet Saturdays” tends to attract a lot of families with children, many of them in strollers that can become a traffic hazard on the narrow Conservatory paths. An activity room set with tables for making your own Valentine’s Day cards, or rolling miniature beeswax candles didn’t seem to hold the attention of many little ones—perhaps its location, at the end of a loop of sugary samples, ensured a youthful crowd too hopped up on cane juice to concentrate on crafts. A lineup of bands played “Live Tropical Music,” and Inspiration Kitchens was on hand selling sandwiches, hotdogs, and soft drinks. Coffee and hot cider could be purchased at another table, where proceeds went to support the Conservatory. Nearby stood a table covered in house plants for sale, where a coffee tree in its infancy could be had for just a few dollars. As with any exhibit, “Sweet Saturdays” had its weaker and stronger elements. Volunteers were at turns unfortunately unaware and impressively well versed in the subjects they were assigned to instruct (The two ends of the spectrum featured a volunteer who, when asked what she knew about plantains, responded that they made good chips, and proffered one, versus the resident beekeeper, who could tell you how many pounds of honey the conservatory harvests each year, and the variety of pollens often found in urban honey). In its third year, Operations Manager Katherine Schultz says the Conservatory has figured out the winning formula for a successful event, and hasn’t changed much from year to year. That’s both understandable, and slightly disappointing, since the relatively handsoff nature of the exhibits seemed to leave plenty of room for more involvement on the part of visitors, and thus a deeper understanding of how coffee is harvested, or chocolate processed from bean to bar. The activity room would have been the perfect place for a chocolate or candy-making demonstration, and would have filled in the gap left in the exhibits between plant and product. The Conservatory, with all its sweet offerings, seemed not fully tapped, leaving visitors with the sweet taste of sugar on the tongue, but little more than that. (Main) The Garfield Park Conervatory's Sweet Saturday Fact and Flavor Station (Inset) Sweet Saturday's Cocoa Carts. Photos courtesy of The Garfield Park Conservatory. Spring2011CNCJA•43 Spring 2011CNCJA•43


goings on... CST Bringing the Funk to London Town Straight from a six-week tour of Australia, Chicago Shakespeare Theater's (CST) acclaimed Funk It Up About Nothin' makes its London debut at Theatre Royal Stratford East beginning April 8, 2011. Theatre Royal Stratford East is located in London's Borough of Newham, which has the most diverse population in the country and a large youth demographic—making it the perfect home for CST's witty "hip-hoptation." In its refurbished Victorian-era playhouse, the Theatre Royal showcases new talent and productions that reflect the richness of the borough's multi-ethnic community. Created and directed by GQ and JQ (The Q Brothers), this exuberant "hip-hoptation" of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is thrilling audiences the world over, from its home-town audience in Chicago to Joe's Pub at The Public Theater in New York to Scotland's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Funk It Up About Nothin' garnered the Dress Circle Award for Best Musical The Q Brothers, GQ (top) and JQ (bottom), co- Production. The production's extended life speaks creators and directors of Chicago Shakespeare well of CST's World’s Stage initiative to bring the Theater's Funk It Up About Nothin'. world's best theaters to Chicago and Chicago Shakespeare to the world. Funk It Up About Nothin' is presented in London by Theatre Royal Stratford East, CST and Richard Jordan Productions.

Chicago History Museum Exposed! On February 11th The Chicago History Museum kicked off a new installation called Unexpected Chicago. One artifact will be unveiled on the first Friday of each month and will rotate in a case located in the Museum’s lobby and will only be on display for that month, so this is a rare opportunity to see some unique pieces from the city’s history.

Chicago History Museum (CHM). Photo courtesy of the CHM.

“The idea behind Unexpected Chicago is that the Museum has a collection of over 22 million artifacts, and many of these artifacts with amazing stories are never experienced by the public because they don’t fit within the theme of an exhibition,” stated Gary Johnson, Museum president. “This is the Museum’s opportunity to make these artifacts available to the public.”

Each month’s artifact will have a different theme and will appeal to a different audience. February’s artifact was a “Blacks Blue Book: A Directory of Chicago’s Active Colored People and Guide to the Activities, 1917” and a “Scott’s Blue Book: A Classified Business and Service Directory of Greater Chicago’s Colored Citizen’s Commercial, Industrial, Professional, Religious and Other Activities, 1947.” These books help document the spectacular growth of Chicago’s African American community in the 20th century. The Museum will reveal the featured artifact on the first Friday of each month, both online through the Museum blog, Facebook, and Twitter and in the Museum itself. For more information on Unexpected Chicago, which is supported by a gift from The Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Foundation, you can visit chicagohistory.org/unexpectedchicago. 44•CNCJASpring 2011

Grammy Note Despite his recent rash of health issues, Maestro Muti and the CSO were recently awarded two Grammy awards for the recording of Verdi's Messa da Requiem from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at the 53rd annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13, 2011. Muti and producer Christopher received statuettes for Best Classical Album. Muti, along with CSO Chorus director Duain Wolfe, was also honored with a second statuette, along with for Best Choral Performance. Riccardo Muti, music director of The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo

Since his fall on by Todd Rosenberg). stage during rehearsals on February 3rd, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's (CSO) music director has been recuperating at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The accident required immediate surgery to correct facial lacerations and jaw fractures suffered in the fall. On February 11th, doctors at Northwestern announced that Maestro Muti's fall was the result of a heart rhythm disturbance. To prevent future episodes, doctors implanted a pacemaker device. Doctors are optimistic about Muti's prognosis and CSO audiences eagerly await his healthy return to the podium.

Lyric's Show Boat Chorus Auditions The Lyric Opera of Chicago recently announced chorus auditions for its 2011-2012 production of Kern & Hammerstein's 1927 masterpiece Show Boat. The auditions will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at New York City's Lincoln Center for experienced, classically trained, African-American singers in all voice categories for positions within the company's choral ensemble. Show Boat will run at Lyric Opera from February 12 - March 17, 2012. The history of the musical Show Boat is as tumultuous as the topics it covers, specifically race relations in 19th & 20th century America. Vehemently panned by critics throughout the years for its negative stereotypes of AfricanAmericans, Show Boat is also credited as one of the first musicals that incorporated a racially integrated cast. Interested applicants must apply to the Lyric Opera before March 21, 2011. Visit LyricOpera.org for more information.


Spring 2011

Left:Lyric Opera Cast and Chorus of Lohengrin (Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago); Above: dianne reeves (Photo by Christian Lantry); Below Left: REnÉe Fleming (Photo by Andrew Eccles;/Decca; Below Right: Celia (Chaon Cross) Touchstone (Phillip James Brannon rosalind (Kate Fry) disguised as the young man Ganymede in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's As You Like it (Photo by Liz Lauren).

Cultural Almanac Spring 2011CNCJA•45


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Music & Dance

CSO: Kissin Plays Grieg Piano Concerto Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival CSO Chamber Music at the Art Institute: Atlantic Piano Trio St. Petersburg Philharmonic CSO: Bruckner #4 featuring Kurt Mazur, conductor Symphony Center's Jazz at Symphony Center (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org) An Evening with Branford Marsalkis and Terence Blanchard

Orion Ensemble (Tel. 630.628.9591, orionensemble.org) Victoria Bond's World Premiere for Orion and Ballet Chicago Symphony Center w/Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org) Scharoun Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker CSO All-Access: Camilli Trio Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts The CSO The Chieftains with Paddy Maloney and Special Guests The Concert to End Polio featuring Itzhak Perlman CSO: Mendelssohn's Ellijah Yuja Wang, piano CSO: Enigma Variations CSO: Enigma Variations - Beyond the Score Appollo Chorus MusicNow #4: Kaija Saariaho’s Graal Theatre

Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) The Residents Music of the Baroque (Tel. 312.551.1444, baroque.org) The Brandenburgs Newberry Consort (Tel. 312.255.3610, newberryconsort.org) Music and Miracles Old Town School of Folk Music (Tel.773.728.6000, oldtownschool.org) Dave Alvin Dave Miller & Fred Simon Rodney Crowell: Chinaberry Sidewalks Tour Mauvais Sort Acoustic Africa: Afel Bocoum, Oliver Mtzukudzi and Habib Koité Altan & Lúnasa Cheryl Wheeler & Chely Wright Robyn Hitchcock & Joe Boyd: Live & Direct from 1967 Justin Roberts Kids Show The Ditty Bops John McCutcheon Tim O'Brien & Bryan Sutton, Chris Smither California Guitar Trio

Generation Next Competition Winners and Composer's Lab Showcase Concert Music of Chen Yi and Zhou Long Carnival of the Animals Corinah Duo

Fulcrum Point New Music - Speaking In Tounges Eat to the Beat - Giordano Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago Harris Theater Family Series - Green Eggs Lyric Opera of Chicago (Tel. 312.332.2244, lyricopera.org) Lohengrin Hercules Carmen Music Institute of Chicago (Tel. 847.905.1500 ext. 108, musicinst.org) Music of Marta Ptaszyńska and Henryk Górecki

Baroque Band (Tel. 312.235.2368, baroqueband.org) Heavenly Angel Chicago Chamber Musicians (Tel. 312.819.5800, chicagochambermusic.org) Sounds and Spaces Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Tel. 312.334.7777, harristheaterchicago.org) Double Bill - Harris Theater and Contempo Baobab Tree Champion Foundation Thodos Dance Chicago Bella Voce Joffrey Academy Trainees - Creative Force Spring Showcase Fanfare for an Uncommon Woman - Benefit Performance Illinois Institute of Arts Fame 2011 Luna Negra Dance Theater Music of the Baroque Hubbard Street Dance Chicago - Spring Series MusicNow #4: Kaija Saariaho’s lush and rich Graal Theatre

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The CNCJA Cultural Almanac listings are representative of schedules from participating institutions available at time of publication.


Spring 2011CNCJA•47

MARCH 2011

A Red Orchid Theatre (Tel. 312.943.8722, aredorchidtheatre.org) The Mandrake Apollo Theatre (Tel. 773.935.6100, apollochicago.com) Million Dollar Quartet Biograph Theatre (Tel. 773.871.3000, victorygardens.org) Circle Mirror Transformation The Tulip Brothers Tree Broadway In Chicago (Tel. 312.977.1700, broadwayinchicago.org) Working Hair Merchant of Venice Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Tel. 312.595.5600, chicagoshakes.com) Short Shakespeare! Macbeth The Cripple of Inishmaan Give Me Your Hand National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch Circle Theatre (Tel. 708.771.0700, circle-theatre.org) The Man Who Came To Dinner Disney's Alice in Wonderland Court Theatre (Tel. 773.702.7005, courttheatre.org) Orlando Goodman Theatre (Tel. 312.443.3800, goodmantheatre.org) Mary God of Carnage El Nogalar The House Theatre of Chicago (Tel. 773.251.2195, thehousetheatre.com) Odradek The Majic Parlour Lifeline Theatre (Tel. 773.761.4477, lifelinetheatre.com) The Moonstone Viva Las Lifeline! Metropolis Performaing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights (Tel. 847.577.2121, metropolisarts.com) Shawn Mullins The Butler Did It! Flanagan's Wake Pinochio Northlight Theatre in Skokie (Tel. 847.673.6300, northlight.org) Sense & Sensibility Profiles Theatre (Tel. 773.549.1815, profilestheatre.org) Reasons to be Pretty RedTwist Theatre (Tel. 773.728.7529, redtwist.org) Man From Nebraska Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Tel. 312.335.1650, steppenwolf.org) As You Like It Sex With Strangers The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen Heddatron Sonnets for an Old Century Samuel J & K The Hot L Baltimore Timeline Theatre Company (Tel. 773.281.8463, timelinetheatre.com) In Darfur Writers Theatre in Glencoe (Tel. 847.242.6000, writerstheatre.org) Do The Hustle Travels With My Aunt 





 

 













































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Photos from left: Kate Fry-center, Matt Schwader and Chaon Cross in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's As You Like it (Photo by Liz Lauren); Dolores (Barbara Garrick) and James (Scott Jaeck) keep their romance alive in Thomas Bradshaw's Mary (Photo by Liz Lauren); The Oriion Ensemble (Photo by Cornelia Babbit); Myra Lucretia Taylor from Goodman Theatre's Mary (Photo by Liz Lauren); The Entire cast of Million Dollar Quartet (Photo by Sarah von).

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Art Exhibits

MARCH 2011

The Art Institute of Chicago (Tel. 312.443.3600, artic.edu/aic) American Modern: Abbot, Evans, Bourke-White Contemporary Fiber Art: A Selection from the Permanent Collection Egoyomi: Japanese Picture Calendars Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3 John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism June Wayne's Narrative Tapestries: Tidal Waves, DNA, and the Cosmos Real and Imaginary: Three Latin American Artists Rebecca Warren Arms and Armor: Highlights of the Permanent Collection BIGsmall Chagall's America Windows Return Cy Twombly: Sculpture Selections, 1948-1995 Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design Neither Man Nor Beast: Animal Images on Ancient Coins The Touch Gallery What's Greek about Roman Copy? Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) Urban China: Informal Cities Without You I'm Nothing: Art and Its Audience Interactions: A Four Month Series of Artist and Audience Activations Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion National Museum of Mexican Art (Tel. 312.783.9740, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org) Cabeza de Barro La Vida Sobre Papel Smart Museum of Art University of Chicago (Tel. 773.702.0200, smartmuseum.uchicago.edu) The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900 After The Readymade Adler Planetarium (Tel. 312-922-78278, adlerplanetarium.org) Cyber Space Our Solar System Planet Explorers Shoot for the Moon Telescopes Universe In Your Hands Galaxy Wall Chicago Architecture Foundation (Tel. 312.922.3432, architecture.org) Chicago Model City Icon at Inland Steel Chicago History Museum (Tel. 312.642.4600, chicagohistory.org) Out In Chicago Abraham Lincoln Chicago: Crossroads of America Facing Freedom Lincoln Park Block by Block Lincoln's Chicago My Chinatown Sensing Chicago The Dioramas Treasures Unexpected Chicago        

        

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The CNCJA Cultural Almanac listings are representative of schedules from participating institutions available at time of publication.

Photos from left: DEARBORN TELESCOPE 1864 (G-33) FROM TELESCOPES: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ADLER PLANETARIUM); GALILEO FROM BEYOND EXHBIT AT THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY);VOYAGER FROM OUR SOLAR SYSTEM (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ADLER PLANETARIUM); Image From Earth to the universe Exhbit at The Adler Planetarium (Photo courtesy of The Adler Planetarium).

Museums

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MARCH 2011

DuSable Museum of African American History (Tel. 773.947.0600, dusablemuseum.org) Let Your Motto Be Resistance Africa Speaks A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services The Freedom Now Mural Thomas Miller Mosaics Sixteen Pieces Field Museum of Natural History (Tel. 312.922.9410, fieldmuseum.org) Gold Design for a Living World Africa Animal Biology Bird Habits Insects: 105 Years of Collecting Lions of Tsavo Mammals of Asia Man-eater of Mfuwe Nature Unleashed Portraits of Resilience The Horse The Romance of Ants Underground Adventure Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (Tel. 847.967.4800, ilholocaustmuseum.org) Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges Karkomi Permanent Exhibition Make a Difference: The Miller Family Youth Exhibition Legacy of Absence Gallery The Zev and Shifra Karkomi Permanent Exhibition Museum of Science and Industry (Tel. 773.684.1414, msichicago.org) 40 Years of Black Creativity Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life Coal Mine Earth Revealed Fast Forward…Inventing The Future Imaging: The Tools of Science NetWorld Pretroleum Planet Science Storms Swiss Jolly Ball The Great Train Story You! The Experience Shedd Aquarium (Tel. 312.939.2438, sheddaquarium.org) Amazon Rising Caribbean Reef Oceanarium Reimagined Polar Play Zone Waters of the World Wild Reef Spertus Institue of Jewish Studies (Tel. 312.332.1700, spertus.edu) Uncovered & Rediscovered 2 



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Photos from left: Byzantine coins from the field museum's gold exhibit (photo courtesy of the field museum of natural history); Muybridge Photo - The Gallop from The Horse Exhibit at The Field Museum (Photo ©AMNH Library Special Collections; Science Storms at The Museum of Science and industry; Earth Revealed Exhibit at The Museum of Science and Industry (photos courtesy of the museum of science and industry)

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GOODMAN THEATRE IS YOUR TICKET TO LAUGH-OUT-LOUD COMEDIES IN 2011

GOD OF

CARNAGE BY YASMINA REZA TRANSLATED BY CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON DIRECTED BY RICK SNYDER

MARCH 5 – APRIL 10 Don’t miss this triple-Tony-Award-winning Broadway sensation described as “ninety minutes of sustained mayhem,” by The New Yorker.

STAGE KISS BY SARAH RUHL DIRECTED BY JESSICA THEBUS

A WORLD-PREMIERE GOODMAN THEATRE COMMISSION

APRIL 30 – JUNE 5 Stage Kiss is an off-beat fairy tale about what happens when lovers share a stage kiss—or when actors share a real one.

BY DAVID HENRY HWANG DIRECTED BY LEIGH SILVERMAN

WORLD PREMIERE

JUNE 18 – JULY 24 The truth is lost—or concealed—in Chinglish, a new comedy by Tony Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly).

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND SINGLE TICKETS:

312.443.3800 | GoodmanTheatre.org GROUPS OF 10 OR MORE: 312.443.3820 | GoodmanTheatre.org/Groups

Principal Support of Artistic Development and Diversity Initiatives

Corporate Sponsor Partner for Stage Kiss

Lead Corporate Sponsor for God of Carnage

Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards for Stage Kiss and Chinglish

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Corporate Sponsor Partner for God of Carnage

Corporate Sponsor Partner for Chinglish

Corporate Sponsor Partner for God of Carnage

Goodman Theatre Women’s Board Production Sponsor for Chinglish

Major Corporate Sponsor for Stage Kiss

Corporate Sponsor Partner for Stage Kiss

Shubert Foundation Exclusive Airline of Goodman Theatre

Major Support for General Operations

Leading Contributor of General Operating Support


EXHIBIT REVIEW

Field's New Exhibit brings the Horse Up Close and Personal By DINAH GROSSMAN

It's said that there are two kinds of people in this world: Horse lovers, and everyone else. But even if you’ve never settled into a saddle, the Field Museum’s new exhibit The Horse offers a perspective on the relationship between humans and horses that’s worth more than a passing glance. The exhibit’s aims are twofold: to examine the biological evolution of horses over millennia, and to show the mutually transformative effects that horses and humans have had on one another over that same span of time. From a traditional diorama of early horses in their natural habitat, to a cutaway video detailing the anatomy and mechanics of a horse and its rider, The Horse conveys information through an unusually wide variety of audio and visual media. The exhibit addresses the horse-human relationship worldwide, which provides a lot of material from which to draw, and maybe it is this sheer quantity of information, artifacts, and trivia that could leave a viewer feeling overwhelmed. Reproductions of cave paintings of horses, equine skeletons, posters from rodeos depicting cowboys like rag dolls atop violently bucking broncos—these are placed side-by-side with a life-size model of a horse in full armor, and a bright red “fire carriage,” the horse-drawn predecessor to the fire truck. Meanwhile the audio from a number of videos can be heard playing simultaneously in the background. The exhibit succeeds in impressing upon the viewer the practical impact of horses on human society. The extent to which horsepower has literally been harnessed in an effort to improve the quality of life for human beings can be summed up in the following manner: horses are bigger, stronger, and faster than we are, and can therefore accomplish the physical tasks of transporting people and things quicker and with more efficiency than would otherwise have been possible. And before their strength was valued, their meat and milk sustained non-agrarian societies.

But where the psychological side of this relationship is concerned, there is a marked absence of content. What sets horses apart from other beasts of burden? (It would be difficult to imagine a similar exhibit about, say, pack mules or camels). What accounts for the human fascination with horses not solely as a means of transportation, but as pets, and even some might say accessories associated with a certain class or lifestyle? What other domesticated animal do we venerate for its beauty the way we do the horse? Is it that they possess many of the physical attributes that we find attractive in people—muscular, tall, with long, thick hair and elegant necks? And despite having domesticated horses, why do we still romanticize their wild brethren? Certainly there is no other wild animal with which we associate freedom, speed, and beauty more than a wild stallion. Aside from the final video in the exhibit, which touches perfunctorily on the emotional connection some riders have with their steeds, the overall moral of the human-horse story feels strangely empty. As animated machines and elegant vehicles, horses have a rich cultural past that runs parallel to our own, and it is depicted artfully in this exhibit. The less tangible aspects of our communal history, however, remain more than a touch elusive.  In 16th-century Europe, the armor worn by horses rivaled that of the knights who rode them. This German horse armor includes the chamfron, which covered the horse’s head and carried the rider’s family crest or coat of arms; the crinet, which protected the horse’s neck and was made of overlapping plates so the horse could move its head; the crupper, which shielded the horse’s hindquarters; the saddle, which kept the rider’s waist safe from lances, spears, and arrows; and the peytral, which was worn over the chest and raised or flared outward to provide freedom of movement for the horse’s legs. Photo © The Field Museum of Natural History and AMNH/D. Finnin

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Music & Dance

APRIL 2011

Symphony Center w/Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org) CSO: Bruckner #4 featuring Kurt Mazur, conductor Leif Ove Andsnes, piano CSO: Muti Conducts Otello CSO: Muti Conducts Shostakovich 5 Max Raabe & Palast Orchester Maurizio Pollini, piano Orchestre National De France Yuri Bashmet and Evgeny Kissin CSO All-Access: Ensemble Meridian CSO: Sibelius Violin Concerto featuring Leonidas Kavakos , violin CSO and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Symphony Center's Jazz at Symphony Center (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org) Dianne Reeves The Count Basie Orchestra & The Marcus Roberts Trio

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (Tel. 312.922.2110, auditoriumtheatre.org) Vivid - Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts Sketches of Blue: An Orbert Davis Tribute to Miles Davis The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg - Don Quixote, or Fantasisies of a Madman Avalon String Quartet (Tel. 815.753.1000, avalonquartet.com) Read-Thomas, Meltzer, Reich and Beach Baroque Band (Tel. 312.235.2368, baroqueband.org) Medee Chicago Chamber Choir (Tel. 312.409.6890, chicagochamberchoir.org) Soar: Songs of Wind and Sky Chicago Chamber Musicians (Tel. 312.819.5800, chicagochambermusic.org) Brahms Chicago Opera Theater (Tel. 312.704.8414, chicagooperatheater.org) Death and the Powers Medea Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Tel. 312.334.7777, harristheaterchicago.org) Music of the Baroque - Messiah Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) Trisha Brown Dance Company Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes with MAVerick Ensemble: El Gallo: opera for actors The Newberry Consort (Tel. 312.255.3610, newberryconsort.org) Musica Secreta Old Town School of Folk Music (Tel. 773.728.6000, oldtownschool.org) Herb Alpert & Lani Hall Garnet Rogers & Archie Fisher David Grisman Quintet Plus Emmylou Harris Septeto Nacional de Ignacio PiĂąeiro Loudon Wainwright III Johnny Clegg Band Laura Doherty & Little Miss Ann Kids Show Lori McKenna The Mighty Sparrow & Calypso Rose Crooked Still William Fitzsimmons Old Blind Dogs River North Chicago Dance Company (Tel. 312.944.2888, rivernorthchicago.com) River North's ATRU Debut, featuring a tribute to Miles Davis by Frank Chaves! Ruth Page Center for the Arts (Tel. 800.838.3006, ruthpage.org) Mordine & Company Dance Theater: NEXT 1

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The CNCJA Cultural Almanac listings are representative of schedules from participating institutions available at time of publication.


Spring 2011CNCJA•53

APRIL 2011

A Red Orchid Theatre (Tel. 312.943.8722, aredorchidtheatre.org) The Mandrake Apollo Theatre (Tel. 773.935.6100, apollochicago.com) Million Dollar Quartet Biograph Theatre (Tel. 773.871.3000, victorygardens.org) Tree Circle Mirror Transformation Broadway In Chicago (Tel. 312.977.1700, broadwayinchicago.org) Working Wicked Next to Normal Peter Pan Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Tel. 312.595.5600, chicagoshakes.com) Short Shakespeare National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch The Madness of George III Circle Theatre (Tel. 708.771.0700, circle-theatre.org) A Little Night Music Court Theatre (Tel. 773.702.7005, courttheatre.org) Orlando Goodman Theatre (Tel. 312.443.3800, goodmantheatre.org) God of Carnage El Nogalar Stage Kiss The House Theatre of Chicago (Tel. 773.251.2195, thehousetheatre.com) The Magic Parlour Metropolis Performaing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights (Tel. 847.577.2121, metropolisarts.com) Pinocchio The Butler Did It! Diary of Anne Frank Be The Groove Stayin' Alive: The Bee Gees Tribute The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Julie Defending The Caveman Northlight Theatre in Skokie (Tel. 847.673.6300, northlight.org) Sense & Sensibility RedTwist Theatre (Tel. 773.728.7529, redtwist.org) Man From Nebraska Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Tel. 312.335.1650, steppenwolf.org) Sex With Strangers The Hot L Baltimore Heddatron The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen Sonnets for an Old Century Timeline Theatre Company (Tel. 773.281.8463, timelinetheatre.com) The Front Page Writers Theatre in Glencoe (Tel. 847.242.6000, writerstheatre.org) Travels With My Aunt 



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Photos from left: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo by Todd Rosenberg); The avalon String Quartet (Photo by Merri Cyr); The Eifman Ballet in "Don Quixote" (photo courtesy of Boris Eifman and the eifman ballet); Harry Groener and Nora Jones in The Madness of King George at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Photo by Peter Bosey); Cast of Million Dollar Quartet (Photo by Sarah Von); chandra lee schwartz and donna vivino in Wicked (Photo by Joan Warren)

Theater


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The Art Institute of Chicago (Tel. 312.443.3600, artic.edu/aic) American Modern: Abbot, Evans, Bourke-White Contemporary Fiber Art: A Selection froim the Permanent Collection Egoyomi: Japanese Picture Calendars Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3 John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism June Wayne's Narrative Tapestries: Tidal Waves, DNA, and the Cosmos Real and Imaginary: Three Latin American Artists Rebecca Warren Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) Urban China: Informal Cities Without You I'm Nothing: Art and Its Audience Interactions: A Four Month Series of Artist and Audience Activations Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion National Museum of Mexican Art (Tel. 312.783.9740, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org) Cabeza de Barro La Vida Sobre Papel Smart Museum of Art University of Chicago (Tel. 773.702.0200, smartmuseum.uchicago.edu) The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900 After The Readymade        

     













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The CNCJA Cultural Almanac listings are representative of schedules from participating institutions available at time of publication.

And, for a limited time, you'll automatically qualify for our Arts Explorer's Drawing, which includes 2 tickets to the Eifman Ballet Performance of "Don Quixote" this April at The Auditorium Theatre, dinner for two at Wildfire Restaurant and one night's complimentary stay at The Amalfi Hotel in Downtown Chicago. So, don't miss out! Get your dose of Chicago's premiere magazine for arts and culure today.

And receive 4 great issues for just $10. That's 44% off our standard rate of $18 per year. Simply visit: clefnotesjournal.com/subscriptions click on the link to our "Webstore" and sign up for a full year's subscription using coupon code: ARTS.

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Photos from left: Éduard Manet, The Tragic Actor (RouviÉre as Hamlet) 1866, Oil on Canvas. Courtesy of the National museum of Art, Washington.; Anna Le Merrit, Ophelia,1880,Oil on Canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago. Bequest of Robert Coales, 2007. Permanent or ongoing exhibits at all museums listed within the Cultural Almanac are available on pages 48 and 49.

Art Exhibits


EXHIBIT REVIEW

Smart Museum Exhibit Plays on Human Emotions By ALEXANDRA ZAJAC

Anna Le Merrit, Ophelia,1880,Oil on Canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago. Bequest of Robert Coales, 2007.

Noël Hallé, Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife, c. 1740-44, Oil on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase from gift of the Mark Morton Memorial Fund, and Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Davidson, 1974.

Art is an emotionally provocative form of expression. It can spark controversy and promote dialogue, move us, enlighten and surprise us, fill us with passion, anger and joy, and sometimes do all at once. It is this intrinsic human reaction to art that The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900, seeks to explore. On view February 10 – June 5, 2011 at the Smart Museum of Art at The University of Chicago, The Tragic Muse exhibits several works from the Smart’s own collection, as well as loans from other notable institutions including the National Gallery of Art and the Tate. The subject matter varies between the centuries, with the eighteenth century focusing on epic scenes from literature, the Bible and theater, while the Victorian age depicts more common, everyday scenes. Then, around the 1900s, a new aesthetic emerged using the solitary figure as the subject of a very intimate image. From epic portrayals of grief and anguish, such as The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine by Francesco Fontebasso (1744) to more intimate images of ordinary circumstances such as The Emigrant’s Last Sight of Home by Richard Redgrave (1858), the works depict true emotion in the face of adversity and seek to unveil our subsequent reaction to their portrayal. Curated by Anne Leonard, Smart Museum Curator and Mellon Program Coordinator, The Tragic Muse segments the works into various stages of emotion, such as “Grief and Sentiment,” and “Fate and Tragedy.” There were several pieces devoted to tragedy in theatre that featured scenes from Shakespeare’s MacBeth, but one of the most

striking images of theatrical tragedy was George Romney’s Siddonian Recollections (c.1785-96). It depicts three facial expressions in such exacting detail that it is hard to look away. Conversely, Odilon Redon’s Vision (1895/1897) uses only dark and light to make the figure stand out on the canvas. Using such a simplistic approach, he still manages to convey remarkable expression on the figure’s face with only about four fine lines depicting its facial features. It is at once engaging and fascinating in its emotion and simplicity. There are also some sculptures, such as Auguste Rodin’s towering Adam (1881) that articulate melancholy and torment through both facial expression and body language. Regardless of the technique or subject matter, it is interesting that these overt forms of expression are not as frequent in popular art these days. A lot of contemporary art uses strong symbolism rather than actual human expressions to both evoke and provoke emotions. Yet, the examples seen in this exhibit not only incite emotion, they are also forthcoming about the emotions they seek to portray without using experimental, avant-garde techniques that can detract from the overall message of the piece. Perhaps what garners such a strong reaction is seeing the raw honesty and strong sentiment imbued into the art. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of interpretation, paving the way for an immediate reaction to the subject at hand, bringing the viewer closer to the artwork for an intimate and unique experience. Spring 2011CNCJA•55


OPERA REVIEW

Lyric’s Lohengrin Draws Drama with Contrasts

Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

By FRED CUMMINGS

Georg Zeppenfeld as King Heinrich, Johan Botha as Lohengrin, Emily Magee as Elsa and Lyric Opera Chorus in Wagner's Lohengrin.

February 11, 2011 - From the very first downbeat of the Overture to Wagner’s Lohengrin, you know that Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis is up to something. His very calculated approach to Wagner’s grand, sweeping strings, the vast range of dynamic contrasts, and the tempi of its cascading melodies betray a very deliberate attempt to ensure that the heroic German orchestration does not run away with this already emotionally charged opera. This is not an easy feat with Wagner. After all, it’s Wagner. The sheer scope of a Wagnerian score, from its majestic horns to its sweet, nuanced phrases can easily drive the tempo, intensity, and range that distinguish the overall character of any opera performance. Melodrama is embedded within the music, and that alone is reason enough to get swept away with the score. Yet, from the outset of Friday evening’s opening night performance of Lohengrin, Davis made it very clear that Wagner’s orchestration was not going to be running away with this production. Davis’ approach created an opportunity for the music to serve as Wagner originally intended. He wisely used the densely packed orchestration as a kind of emotional tapestry instead of the controlling force within the design. His patient tempi and respect for Wagner’s weighty pauses punctuated the ever-rising tension in both the score and the plot of the story. He aptly avoided the trappings of Wagner’s opulent score, cultivating an orchestral performance that never overpowered any individual artist, but that was still heavily imbued with the majesty inherent within the music. It’s a delicate balance that Davis is well known for. Of course, Lyric’s music director did have more than just a little help from some pretty powerful voices in Lohengrin’s cast and chorus. Baritone Lester Lynch served at the forefront of this effort as the King’s herald for the medieval German nation, Brabant. Lynch’s broad, full-bodied tone created a wonderfully imposing effect as the only true media throughout in the land. German bass George Zeppenfeld sang in the role of King Heinrich. His 56•CNCJASpring 2011

lush, resonant bass voice became the grounding force in the production. With flawless diction, crystal clarity and a warm, resonant tone, Zeppenfeld gave a communicative performance that articulated a king who was imposing, yet still humble enough to exhibit compassion and wonder. But clearly the impact of any production of Lohengrin is determined by the effectiveness of the battle it encompasses: the battle between virtue and villainy. Lyric’s battle lines were clearly drawn by the stark contrasts of voices that stood on the opposing sides of that conflict. Our heroine, Elsa, was portrayed by the bright, gleaming voice of mezzo-soprano Emily Magee. Her radiant, fluttering tone expressed an Elsa rich with hope and expectation. And she demonstrated a keen understanding of Elsa’s journey throughout the night, a journey that would necessitate strength typical of the grace the embattled noble would need to sustain. Her strength was illustrated musically by the warm, lyrical tonal heft particularly noticeable in the lower range of her vocal register. Her singing was always delicately beautiful. And though it was quite powerful, it seemed to be that power that comes from resilience, not from sheer force of will. Magee’s delicate bel canto singing brought a beautiful ethereal quality to the performance. However, the higher range of her vocal register occasionally suffered the loss of that soft, buttery tone so ever-present in the lower parts of her role. Tenor Johan Botha sang in the titular role as Elsa’s champion. As Lohengrin, the South African tenor was well suited to vocally embody the virtues his character represents. Botha’s voice springs up from deep within his diaphragm, producing a bright, ringing, color-rich sound typical of those Wagnerian tenets of truth and sincerity that his character personifies. His aria Mein liber Schwan, late in the third act, was laden with lyrical richness and color. The emotional revelation to Elsa about her long lost brother was a tender and moving moment that solidified those


Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

up from his desolate defeat and dismantle Lohengrin. Schuster was a textural, musical lines of distinction drawn with such clarity within this production. delightfully menacing Ortrud. She produces a luscious, tone that is as lyrical as it is powerful. She masterfully crafted the lovely phrases that And while these classic Wagnerian performances were indeed stunturned in and out of emotions at the bat of an eye ning displays of vocal power and lyrical beauty, this night was owned by the scoundrels of our story. The and curled Telramund around her little finger. And it’s no wonder why. With a sweet, sensuous tone, lines drawn by their performances demonstrated she is beguiling, and yet again, a nuanced vulnerwell the meaty range that a villain’s role can offer a singer of great depth. ability emerges, only to go on to demonstrate her Let’s be truthful; even with its gloriously high dominance with a vocal presence that is at once enormous and powerful. This woman is scary. Her notes, nobility has it limitations. And when it comes affect on stage is striking, ebbing between menace to Lohengrin, the villain is where the real action is. Bass-baritone Greer Grimsley reveled in the and madness throughout the night. Schuster uses every weapon within her arsenal role of Telramund. Telramund is the classic antagoto create an Ortrud that is emotionally vibrant and nist full of bravado and menace, all aimed at Elsa and—by association—her champion. And Grimsley arresting. You can’t take your eyes off of her. In her brought just the right amount of stinging vehesecond act duet with Telramund, Der Rache Werk, demonstrating a virtuosic command of her instrumence to the role in a more throaty tone that powment, Schuster produced the loveliest bel canto ered across the venue like a beacon above Lyric’s singing, melting each note into the next sumptuorchestra, hurling accusations at Elsa like so many ously. Here, she convinces him that she knows the stones. The real range of his tonal color was revealed key to Lohengrin’s undoing, and thus leads him to in the scorn he lavished on Ortrud, his wife, when his own. their plan to uproot Elsa and ascend to power failed Stirring emotion and a wonderfully rich tapesafter Lohengrin defeated him in battle. His gorgeous try of singing combined to create a Lohengrin that phrases cultivated a vulnerability we had scarcely Michaela Schuster as Ortrud and Greer was traditional without being cliché, and with vilseen from Grimsley thus far. Grimsley as Telramund in Lyric Opera's lains that spice up the evening so wonderfully, you A veteran Wagnerian, mezzo-soprano Michaela Lohengrin. won’t want to miss Lyric Opera’s production of this Schuster sang in the role of Ortrud. In her response Wagnerian classic, so don’t! to Telramund, the devious wretch wrung the last bit of pride out of a deflated man by twists and by turns, bending him to her will to rise

Spring 2011CNCJA•57


Uncommon Fanfare for an

Uncommon Woman

By MYRON SILBERSTEIN

T

The impact that Joan Harris and her late husband, Irving Harris, have had on the arts is staggering. Their gift of fifteen million dollars to the Chicago theatre that bears their name, in conjunction with a loan of twenty-four million dollars for its construction, is considered to have been the largest-ever individual financial contribution to a Chicago performing arts organization. Mrs. Harris’s personal mission of arts advocacy has entailed over three decades of active service on the boards of twenty-three arts and cultural organizations. In 58•CNCJASpring 2011

Chicago alone, she has served as a board member of Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Columbia College Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, and as Chairman of the Harris Theater from 2004-2010. She has also been Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago, President of the Illinois Arts Alliance, and a member of the Illinois Arts Council. Her extraordinary commitment to the arts has been honored with over a dozen awards, including the Frederick R. Weisman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts. As Harris Theater Trustee Alexandra Nichols attests, “Joan Harris is one of the most respected and beloved cultural supporters in our country.” On March 9th, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance will host a special event in appreciation of this most dedicated and generous of arts advocates. Fanfare for an Uncommon Woman: A Celebration of Joan W. Harris on Her Birthday, comprising a champagne reception, a concert of approximately seventy-five minutes featuring world-renowned artists and ensembles, and an intimate birthday dinner for two hundred guests, promises to be a remarkable event. The evening, moreover, is not just a tribute to Mrs. Harris’s philanthropic legacy; it is a continuation of it: all proceeds from the benefit performance and dinner will be donated to the Harris Theater’s numerous arts programs. The Harris Theater’s programs are an exemplary realization of Joan Harris’s commitment to mak-

Clockwise from left: Joan Harris; The Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Photo courtesy of Harris Theatre); Soprano Renée Fleming (Photo by Andrew Eccles/Decca); The Harris Theater for Music and Dance; Violist Pinchas Zukerman (Photo by Paul Labelle).


ing the arts accessible both to audiences and to performers alike. The vision for the Theater had its genesis over twenty-five years ago, when, as Chairman of the Harris Board of Trustees, Sandra Guthman explains, she and Mrs. Harris “began talking about the possibility of creating a home for Chicago’s mid-sized arts organizations.” As Michael Tiknis, the Harris’s President and Managing Director, elaborates, at the time of the Theater’s establishment, there was no downtown venue “nurturing the development of mid-size (performing arts) companies” and providing them with opportunities to “have their work seen and appreciated by a broader audience.” The Harris Theater aims to provide “a world-class home” for such organizations, says Tiknis — home being the operative word: the Harris “would never bump out Hubbard Street Dance or Chicago Opera Theater” for a biggerbudget production. In its ongoing dedication to the development of Chicago artistry, the Harris Theater currently supports over thirty-five resident companies, providing both a venue and administrative support. Mr. Tiknis emphasizes that Joan Harris herself calls the Harris Theater “the people’s house” and goes on to say that, for its Board, the Theater is more than a physical venue; it is the embodiment of “an idea of what a theater could be” when it is dedicated to the artists who perform in it. The planning of Fanfare for an Uncommon Woman has been a labor of love for the event’s co-chairs, Louise Frank, Sandra Guthman, Caryn Harris, and Alexandra Nichols. The title of the event is a play on the title of Joan Tower’s series of compositions Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman (itself a play on Aaron Copland’s 1942 Fanfare for the Common Man). The fifth piece in the work was dedicated

to Joan Harris in honor of the opening of the Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 1993. In keeping with its intent of celebrating Mrs. Harris’s personal commitment to the arts, Michael Tiknis explains, the programming of the concert entailed asking “some of the people (Mrs. Harris) is close with to come and help celebrate her birthday.” Renée Fleming and Pinchas Zukerman, both “extraordinarily close” with Mrs. Harris, were immediately sought after to headline the evening, which features such leading artists as the Emerson String Quartet, the Escher String Quartet, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The Harris Theater, Mr. Tiknis admitted, is currently in planning discussions with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center about a possible ongoing residency in the Theater. If all goes well, the Fanfare evening may feature an announcement that the hoped-for residency has come to fruition. It would be a fitting birthday gift for a most uncommon woman—a woman whose contribution to the cultural landscape of Chicagoland and of the nation as a whole has been unparalleled. Clockwise from top: Trumpeter Stephen Burns (Photo courtesy of Harris Theater); Escher String Quartet (Photo by Henry Fair); Emerson String Quartet (Photo by Lisa-MarieMazzucco); Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han (Photo courtesy of Harris Theater) Spring 2011CNCJA•59


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MAY 2011 

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Composer Perspectives - Dana Wilson Chicago Opera Theater (Tel. 312.704.8414, chicagooperatheater.org) Medea He/She: The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Janรกcek ) & A Woman's Love and Life (Schumann) Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Tel. 312.334.7777, harristheaterchicago.org)  Harris Theater Presents Ian Bostridge Eat to the Beat - Academy Arts Eat to the Beat - Subscription Harris Theater Family Series - Once Upon a Tap Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Music of the Baroque - Mozart Symphonies Aspen Santa Fe Ballet The Joffrey Ballet (Tel.312.739.0120, joffrey.com)   Rising Stars Meet The Artists Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes with MAVerick Ensemble: El Gallo: Opera for Actors  Old Town School of Folk Music (Tel. 773.728.6000, oldtownschool.org) 1 2 3 4 5 6 Music & Rebellion  Bettye LaVette Tom Rush Marcia Ball Scott Free's Alt-Q Fest Savoy Doucet National Tap Day Festival Bruce Cockburn Orion Ensemble (Tel. 630.628.9591, orionensemble.org) Mahler's 150th Birthday  Symphony Center w/Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Jazz at Symphony Center (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org)  Quasthoff Liebeslieder Project CSO and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago  CSO: Muti Conducts Romeo and Juliet   On Waves of Sound - Family Event Anrnaldo Cohen, piano CSO: Muti and Yo-Yo Ma Reinecke Quartet CSO: Trumpet Treasures Paul Lewis, piano CSO: Haitink Conducts Brahms #4 Symphony Center's Jazz at Symphony Center (Tel. 312.294.3000, cso.org) Chicago Jazz Ensemble with Jon Faddis

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (Tel. 312.922.2110, auditoriumtheatre.org) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - Presented by Blackwell Consulting Services Baroque Band (Tel. 312.235.2368, baroqueband.org) Medee Chicago Chamber Musicians (Tel. 312.819.5800, chicagochambermusic.org) Boismortier French Connection







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In the winter of 2011, look for Clef Notes' new Artist-In-Residence concerts! Clef Notes subscribers will be invited to a unique series of piano concerts in Chicagoland featuring masterworks of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. And in the fall, look for the exciting announcement of our Artist-In-Residence, a recording artist hailed by critics as an extraordinary pianist displaying, "a rare mixture of brilliant technique, style and maturity." (Cincinnati Enquirer).







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The CNCJA Cultural Almanac listings are representative of schedules from participating institutions available at time of publication.

Clef Notes' Artist-In-Residence Concerts

Music & Dance


Spring 2011CNCJA•61

Theater

Art Exhibits

MAY 2011

A Red Orchid Theatre (Tel. 312.943,8722, aredorchidtheatre.org) The Mandrake Apollo Theatre (Tel. 773.935.6100, apollochicago.com) Million Dollar Quartet Biograph Theatre (Tel. 773.871.3000, victorygardens.org) Tree A Gospel According to James Phantom Limb Broadway In Chicago (Tel. 312.977.1700, broadwayinchicago.org) Working Next to Normal Peter Pan Spring Awakening Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Tel. 312.595.5600, chicagoshakes.com) The Madness of George III Circle Theatre (Tel. 708.771.0700, circle-theatre.org) A Little Night Music Court Theatre (Tel. 773.702.7005, courttheatre.org) Porgy and Bess Goodman Theatre (Tel. 312.443.3800, goodmantheatre.org) Stage Kiss The House Theatre of Chicago (Tel. 773.251.2195, thehousetheatre.com) The Magic Parlour Metropolis Performaing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights (Tel. 847.577.2121, metropolisarts.com) Bridge to Terabithia Metropolis Gala Nunsense Northlight Theatre in Skokie (Tel. 847.673.6300, northlight.org) The Outgoing Tide RedTwist Theatre (Tel. 773.728.7529, redtwist.org) Bug Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Tel. 312.335.1650, steppenwolf.org) Sex With Strangers The Hot L Baltimore Timeline Theatre Company (Tel. 773.281.8463, timelinetheatre.com) The Front Page The Art Institute of Chicago (Tel. 312.443.3600, artic.edu/aic) American Modern: Abbot, Evans, Bourke-White Contemporary Fiber Art: A Selection froim the Permanent Collection Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3 June Wayne's Narrative Tapestries: Tidal Waves, DNA, and the Cosmos Real and Imaginary: Three Latin American Artists Museum of Contemporary Art (Tel. 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org) Without You I'm Nothing: Art and Its Audience Interactions: A Four Month Series of Artist and Audience Activations Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion National Museum of Mexican Art (Tel. 312.783.9740, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org) Cabeza de Barro La Vida Sobre Papel Smart Museum of Art University of Chicago (Tel. 773.702.0200, smartmuseum.uchicago.edu) The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900 After The Readymade

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Permanent or ongoing exhibits at all museums listed within the Cultural Almanac are available on pages 48 and 49.



















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River North Tributes a Legend By EMILY DISHER

Jazz Legend Miles Davis (By artist Yuriy Shevchuk); (Inset) River North dancer Jessica Wolfrum (Photo by William Frederking).

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On April 16th, River North Chicago Dance Company (RNCDC) will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the birth of jazz legend Miles Davis. As part of a Chicago-wide Miles Davis festival, which began on January 21st, The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University has co-commissioned RNCDC and the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts of Michigan State University, to create the world premiere performance. RNCDC’s “Simply Miles” (the working title of RNCDC’s piece) will close the Miles Davis festival. RNCDC Artistic Director Frank Chaves spoke with me to discuss his work on the company’s Miles Davis tribute. Months ago, Chaves had already surmounted what he called the greatest challenge in creating “Simply Miles”—selecting the music. For RNCDC, fascinating music sits at the core of every program—in fact, the company is known for its exciting program selections. Chaves explains, 62•CNCJASpring 2011

“Personally, as a choreographer, I say if you’ve got the right piece of music, you’re half-way there.” In the case of the Miles Davis performance, of course, the music takes on even greater importance. Chaves was tasked with the tricky challenge of choosing music that would not only be appropriate representations of Miles Davis, but would also work well for dance. Jazz improvisation and unexpected riffs can pose particular obstacles to choreography, and Chaves recalls having felt Miles Davis’ music “isn’t always danceable,” as he began the selection process. After listening through the legend’s entire music library, however, he decided on two pieces from Kind of Blue, a three-minute segment from Bitches’ Brew, and the Miles Davis Quintet’s "Half Nelson." As he began choreography, Chaves states that he started to experience the music very differently. While working on the duet to “Blue and Green,” he says, “The music took on a whole new life…Now I feel like (Miles Davis’) music absolutely lends itself to dance… It’s perfect support,…a marriage of movement and music.” Because Chaves came to perceive the music much differently as he set dance to it, Chaves is very interested in the ways audiences will re-

spond to the work. He expects that Miles Davis fans will experience the music from a new perspective, and hopes that non-jazz fans will find the music more accessible through the pairing of dance structure. Additionally, through the company’s touring, Chaves is eager to introduce Miles Davis’ compositions to a whole new generation of fans around the country. Chaves is also enthusiastic about adding such a demanding, jazzy work to RNCDC’s repertoire. He calls the intersection of Miles Davis’ music and RNCDC a “match made in heaven,” and views this piece as a way for the company to “go back to its jazz-based roots.” Jazz dance—the foundation of RNCDC—is increasingly performed to contemporary music, and infrequently choreographed for classic jazz, Chaves explains. He adds that he looks forward to “reintroducing something this jazzy, with the company as sophisticated as we are now.” Frank Chaves has worked with company members and assistant choreographers Christian Denice and Ricky Ruiz, to create RNCDC’s celebration of Miles Davis. The company’s full April 16th program begins at 8 p.m. at Auditorium Theatre, and will also feature six additional works from RNCDC’s repertoire. 


As You Like It Cuts Loose

THEATER REVIEW

Photo by Liz Lauren

By DAVID WEISS

Disguised as the young man Ganymede, Rosalind (Kate Fry-center) listens to Orlando (Matt Schwader) unwittingly proclaim his love for her as Celia (Chaon Cross) looks on in amusement.

January 28, 2011 - The Forest of Arden has gotten quite the makeover. Gary Griffin’s lovely new staging of As You Like It at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (CST) has created a vibrant and playful world in which rules of gender, class, and especially gravity are cheerfully cast aside in the pursuit of love. Audiences will find themselves acutely aware of the space over their heads, as it is often occupied: floating apples, hovering clocks, hanging vines and airborne actors constitute only a portion of the evening’s grand visuals (Orlando even finds occasion to climb along the upper balcony). It’s a wonderful conceit that effortlessly sums up the comedy’s light charm and heady romanticism: these characters rarely bother keeping their feet on the ground. The game cast throws itself into this spirit with clarity and aplomb. As gender-bending leading lady Rosalind, CST vet Kate Fry imbues her character with wry intellect, simmering passion, and just enough uncertainty to keep you wondering if her mad schemes will actually succeed. As her cousin and confidant Celia, Chaon Cross strikes just the right balance between cunning and sincerity, proving a skillful manipulator even as she fears deeply for her cousin’s happiness. And Matt Schwader brings an endearing touch of geekiness to the besotted Orlando, his earnestness proving key to the character’s humor. Lest one forget that As You Like It is nothing if not a pastoral comedy, the groundlings’ humor arrives with a bang in the form of Elizabeth Ledo’s incomparable Phoebe. As a shepherdess who approaches romance like a charging bull, Ledo displays a verbal dexterity and physical flair that makes her every moment onstage a de-

light. Steve Haggard, as her tireless suitor Sylvius, exhibits the kind of responsive spark (sorely missing from his Benvolio last fall) that makes for a perfect comic counterpart. But perhaps the most intriguing performance comes from Ross Lehman as the melancholy Jaques. Though frequently portrayed as a low-energy depressive, Lehman and Griffin have instead created a Jaques bursting with clownish vigor and grand gestures, his sadness only occasionally poking through. Even a great deal of the iconic “Seven Stages of Man” speech is delivered as broad physical comedy, and it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Griffin is mocking Jaques’s depression or providing an enriching contrast to it. It’s a boldly unconventional performance either way (which may not be to all tastes), but one certainly can’t fault the purity of Lehamn’s commitment. Special note must be also given to Kevin Depinet’s scenic design and Christopher Akerlind’s lighting. In addition to the aforementioned flying elements, Depinet presents us with a striking re-imagining of the forest itself: the stage’s floorboards warp and stretch upward, weaving together into a twisting wooden spire as if alive. And Akerlind performs a series of subtle miracles, slowly transforming the set itself from flat grey to warm browns to glowing, translucent green. That sense of transformation lies at the very heart of As You Like It, and it is Griffin’s understanding of that truth which ultimately makes his production such a pleasure to experience. As You Like It runs at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier through March 6, 2011. Spring 2011CNCJA•63


Cultural Almanac Pick Lists

Jacqueline Carter’s Exhibit Picks

The Smart Museum of Art – University of Chicago The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900

This exhibition examines two centuries of works intertwined with emotion and explores how art’s cathartic power grows or fades for new generations of viewers. With over forty paintings, sculptures, and prints, The Tragic Muse combines works from the Smart’s collection—both long-held treasures and new acquisitions—with important loans from the Art Institute of Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, and Tate. Together with an accompanying catalogue, the exhibition draws on the scholarship of University of Chicago faculty to offer fresh insight into the visual representation of tragedy and art’s power to express and elicit intense emotions. The Tragic Muse runs through June 5, 2011. For more information, visit smartmuseum.uchicago.edu or call 773.702.0200.

The Field Museum of Natural History Design for a Living World

Design for a Living World offers a captivating look into the life cycle of materials and showcases the possible synergies between conservation and design. Utilizing materials from locations ranging from iconic American landscapes to such exotic places as the southwest coast of Australia and the forests of China’s Yunnan Province, ten prominent designers from the worlds of fashion, furniture and industrial design break this cycle by using sustainable, natural materials from around the world that support, rather than deplete endangered places to create new objects for our everyday lives. Design for a Living World will be on display at The Field Museum from May 13 through November 11, 2011. For more information, visit fieldmuseum.org or call 312.922.9410.

Éduard Manet, The Tragic Actor (RouviÉre as Hamlet) 1866, Oil on Canvas. Courtesy of the National museum of Art, Washington.

The Museum of Science and Industry 40 years of Black Creativity

The Museum’s Black Creativity program was established to present the creativity of African-American artists in various fields. Since its founding, the program has grown to focus on topics such as medicine, music, engineering, film, justice, architecture and science from an African-American perspective. This year, MSI offers a retrospective exhibition featuring hands-on activities, photographs, memorabilia and video—celebrating 40 years of Black Creativity. Experience 40 Years of Black Creativity at MSI through March 20, 2011. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call 773.684.1414. Visit mcachicago. org or call 312.280.2660.

Ed Richter’s Theater Picks

A Red Orchid Theatre The Mandrake

Callimaco loves Lucrezia, Lucrezia is married to Nicia, Nicia wants a baby… enter Ligurio and add a corrupt priest, the doting mother and the root of the mandrake to make for an extraordinarily complicated and hilarious plan. With everyone behaving so badly, can anyone possibly win? Directed by Steve Scott and featuring ensemble members Lance Baker, Steve Haggard and Doug Vickers, The Mandrake runs at A Red Orchid Theatre from April 8 through May 24, 2011. For more information, visit aredorchidtheatre.org or call 312.943.8722.

Photo by Liz Lauren

Goodman Theatre Mary

At the height of what Time Magazine dubbed "AIDS hysteria" in 1983, college student David invites his boyfriend home to his parents' house in Maryland where nothing has changed since the 1800s—including the slave quarters. Confronting hypocrisy and oppression with exhilarating wit, Bradshaw's incendiary work is "likely to leave you speechless!" (The New York Times). Mary runs at Goodman Theatre through March 6, 2011. For more information, visit goodmantheatre.org or call 312.443.3800.

Timeline Theatre The Front Page

In this landmark comedy set inside the crowded pressroom at Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building during the 1920s, a group of reporters cover a controversial execution and expose the rampant corruption, scandal and hi-jinx associated with Windy City politics Dolores (Barbara Garrick) and James (Scott Jaeck) keep their romance alive in Thomas and journalism. TimeLine revives a quintessential Chicago classic and highlights for Bradshaw’s Mary at Goodman Theatre. audiences the wealth of local history embedded in Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s hilarious and semi-autobiographical script. The Front Page runs at TimeLine Theatre from April 16 through June 12, 2011. For more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call 773.281.8463.

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Carrie Butler’s Dance Picks

This year, The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre celebrates the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s "Revelations." There’s never been a better time to experience the grace, artistry and athleticism of America’s “Cultural Ambassador to the World.” Join in the celebration May 18 through 22, 2011 at The Auditorium Theatre. For more information, visit auditoriumtheatre.org or call 312.922.2110.

Joffrey Ballet Rising Stars

This is the program that takes the Joffrey season to new heights. Expect surprise in a program of premieres as three of America’s boundary-pushing choreographers draw you in to a marvelous experience. Edwaard Liang returns with another breathtaking world premiere after touching audiences and impressing critics with the 2008 Prince Prize winner "Age of Innocence." Yuri Possokhov, the former Bolshoi Ballet star, is known for Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in Alvin Ailey's "Revelations." Photo by bringing new power to classic ballet. This premiere is his first work for the Joffrey. In its Paul Kolnik Joffrey premiere, "Night" by Julia Adam, is a dance of flight inspired by the dreamscape paintings of Marc Chagall. With a commissioned score by Matthew Pierce, Adam creates the impression of flying, falling and being chased. See Joffrey’s Rising Stars May 4 through May 15, 2011. For more information, visit joffrey.org or call 312.739.0120.

Photo by Paul Kolink

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre

The Museum of Contemporary Art Trisha Brown Dance Company

Brown is one of the few artists who can enter into a compact with tradition and remain radical. - Village Voice. MCA Stage celebrates the 40th anniversary of Trisha Brown Dance Company with a program that spans the depth and creative range of one of the foremost artists of our time. This is a rare opportunity to experience select early works that shaped postmodern dance, in combination with her newest piece, which is choreographed to a baroque opera. Performances take place April 15 – 17, 2011. For more information, visit mcachicago.org or call 312.280.2660.

Fred Cummings' Classical Music Picks

Baroque Band Heavenly Angel

You won’t want to miss one of Britain’s most exciting young sopranos, the heavenly Lucy Crowe, who will join Baroque Band between her performances in Hercules at Lyric Opera. "Lucy Crowe dazzles with her every appearance, a young singer extravagantly blessed with look-at-meand-listen charisma..." Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times. Performances take place May 17, 18 and 20, 2011. For more information, visit baroquband.org or call 312.235.2368.

A young noblewoman, falsely accused of murdering her brother, dreams of being rescued — and miraculously, her knight in shining armor appears. He is Lohengrin, who pledges to marry her and save her homeland from invaders. But she must love him unconditionally, and never ask his name or origin. Tall order — especially with two forces of evil plotting against her. Is Lohengrin the savior the downtrodden…or seeking redemption himself? Laden with symbolism, this masterwork abounds dramatic scenes — including Wagner’s iconic Wedding March! Performances run through March 8, 2011. For more information, visit lyricopera.org or call 312.332.2244.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center Muti Conducts Shostakovich 5th

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in Shostakovich’s triumphant Fifth Symphony, the score that made the composer famous around the world and established him as the great heroic voice of Russian music. Also featured is a work by Anna Clyne, one of the CSO’s new Mead Composers-in-Residence, Time Out New York says “combines lyrical instrumental writing with swirling electronic soundscapes.” Performance takes place April 8, 2011. For more information, visit cso.org or call 312.294.3000.

Johan Botha & Emily Magee in Lyric Opera's LOHENGRIN

Photo by Dan REst/Lyric Opera Of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago Lohengrin

o f with

who

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Editor’s Picks Chicago Opera Theater Death and The Powers

Illustration By Christian Robert De Massy and Vlad Bina

Developed at the MIT Media Lab, this groundbreaking production will use specially designed technology including a chorus of robots, a Musical Chandelier, and a set that expressively “comes alive.” The music is by Tod Machover, whose genre-bending work is celebrated for its arching melodic lines, richly nuanced textures, and propulsive rhythms. The libretto by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, from a story by Robert Pinsky and Randy Weiner, explores what we leave behind for the world and our loved ones, as told through an eccentric patriarch, Simon Powers, and his family. Visionary director Diane Paulus is renowned for her talent in delivering adventurous productions that touch people emotionally as well as physically through audience participation devices. Set designer Alex McDowell is Hollywood’s go-to guy when directors such as Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg seek an eclectic, dynamic look. Death and The Powers runs at Chicago Opera Theater April 2, 6, 8 & 10, 2011. For more information, visit chicagooperatheater.org or call 312.704.8414.

Circle Theatre of Forest Park A Little Night Music

One of Broadway’s most acclaimed masterpieces, this romantic and achingly beautiful chamber musical deals with the universal subject of love, in all its wondrous, humorous and ironic permutations. Lies, scandal, intrigue and a shockingly bawdy weekend in the country highlight this sparkling tuner featuring the song “Send in the Clowns." A Little Night Music runs at Circle Theatre from April 22 through June 5, 2011. For more information, visit circle-theatre.org or call 708-660-9540. "Bots" from Tod Machover's Death and the Powers.

Publisher’s Picks Jazz at Symphony Center Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves returns to deliver another program characterized by her unequaled interpretation and definitive style. This concert will feature a collection of powerful songs by influential female singer-songwriters, including Joan Armatrading, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell. Joining Reeves will be an all-star lineup including acclaimed jazz pianist and music director Peter Martin, Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Terreon Gully. After her last performance at Symphony Center, the Chicago Tribune said, “great jazz singing still lives—at least when Reeves is in the house.”

Photo by Andrze j. Liguz

Court Theatre Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

Jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves

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Sarah Ruhl, one of American theater’s most exciting young playwrights, adapts Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending novel about sex, love, and history. Often called the longest love letter in literary history, Woolf’s Orlando tells the story of an English nobleman, who lives for hundreds of years before falling asleep and waking up as a woman. Directed by longtime Ruhl collaborator Jessica Thebus (The Clean House at Goodman Theatre, Dead Man’s Cell Phone at Steppenwolf), Orlando demonstrates Court Theatre’s ongoing commitment to contemporary translations and adaptations of classic works. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando runs at Court Theatre from March 10 through April 10, 2011. For more information, visit courttheatre.org or call 773.702.7005.


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CNCJA Spring 2011 Issue  

Interview with Goodman Theatre Luminary Regina Taylor

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