LEUKEMIA CUP REGATTA
Summer Dreams by the Lake JOIN THE CLUB! - A NEW MUSICAL
ÂŠ 2015 LAKESHORE MAGAZINE All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying or other electronic methods, without prior written permission of the editor; except in the case of brief quotations embodied in the critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: BILL HANYZEWSKI
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MICHIGAN’S SUNSET COAST 44
RACE OF A LIFETIME 10
VISIT LAKE GENEVA 18
GENEVA LAKE SHORE PATH 20 JOIN THE CLUB! 27 LAKESIDE REVERIE 34
STYLE INSPIRATION REGATTA PARTY 8 LAKEHOUSE FAVORITES 42 CONCERT IN THE PARK 32
IN EVERY ISSUE FROM THE EDITOR 5 CONTRIBUTORS 6 SPRING EVENTS 7
For the summer issue of Lakeshore Magazine it was my privilege to spend time with some remarkable people and hear their stories. Travis Wilhite, a devoted father, husband and courageous survivor tells of his life-long love of sailing and how he channels this passion into raising funds for blood cancer research and someday, he hopes, a cure. Leigh Anna Reichenbach and Lauren Taslitz are two brilliant and inspiring women who drew from their own experiences to create a new musical comedy that speaks to women in a fun, honest and hilarious way. If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll see their show, Join the Club!, this July at the Skokie Theater. Alissa Ditta, a Michigan-based interior designer, invited us into her lovely home on the Lake Michigan shore. With natural elements and peaceful colors, her home perfectly reflects the beauty of the Great Lakes coast. She was kind enough to offer some design advice and product selections as well. I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed creating it. We’re already looking forward to the next adventure. Please join us online as we see where the season takes us! You’ll find much more online at lakeshoremag.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. And, as always, I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions for Lakeshore Magazine. Enjoy summer!
Alicia K. O’Connor Founder and Editorial Director Lakeshore Magazine Alicia@lakeshoremag.com
CONTRIBUTORS LINDSAY HUMES ART DIRECTOR WHITEOAKCREATIVE.COM
ALISSA DITTA, IIDA, NCIDQ CONTRIBUTOR, LAKESIDE REVERIE 33SHADESOFGREEN.COM | WILLOWGREENINTERIORS.COM
TRAVIS WILHITE CONTRIBUTOR, RACE OF A LIFETIME LEUKEMIACUP.ORG/PAGES/IL/CHICAGO15/SAILTRAVIS YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=M9JL9KENAD8
LAKE GENEVA CONVENTION AND VISITORS’ BUREAU CONTRIBUTOR, VISIT LAKE GENEVA LAKEGENEVAWI.COM
JIM BELOIAN CONTRIBUTOR, VISIT LAKE GENEVA GENEVALAKEGUIDE.COM GENEVALAKEGUIDE@YAHOO.COM
BILL HANYZEWSKI PHOTOGRAPHER, RACE OF A LIFETIME BILLHANYZEWSKI.SLICKPIC.COM/PORTFOLIO
NORTHSHORE PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN, INC. PHOTOGRAPHER, JOIN THE CLUB!
S U M M E R E V E N T S
CHICAGO ANDERSONVILLE’S MIDSOMMER FESTIVAL JUNE 12TH-14TH FOR 50 YEARS CHICAGO’S ANDERSONVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS BEEN CELEBRATING ITS SWEDISH HERITAGE IN OLD-WORLD STYLE WITH MUSIC AND PLENTY OF FOOD AND DRINK. THE LEUKEMIA CUP REGATTA JUNE 28TH-AUGUST 22ND EVENTS BEGIN ON JUNE 28TH AND CONCLUDE WITH A SAILING REGATTA ON AUGUST 22ND. SEE THE EVENT SITE FOR FULL DETAILS AND READ RACE OF A LIFETIME IN THIS ISSUE TO LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP. CHICAGO TO MACKINAC RACE JULY 11TH IN THIS 107TH REGATTA FROM CHICAGO TO MACKINAC ISLAND SAILORS TEST THEIR METTLE AGAINST LAKE MICHIGAN’S PERILOUS WATERS. LOLLAPALOOZA JULY 31ST - AUGUST 2ND THIS EPIC MUSIC FESTIVAL OF THE SUMMER HEADLINED BY SIR PAUL MCCARNEY HIMSELF. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE SECONDARY MARKET. CHICAGO AIR AND WATER SHOW AUGUST 16TH-17TH THE NATION’S LARGEST AND LONGEST RUNNING FREE AIR SHOW DRAWS AVIATION ENTHUSIASTS FROM ALL OVER.
WISCONSIN WRIGHT AND LIKE TOUR - MADISON JUNE 6TH TOUR THREE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT HOMES AND FIVE HOMES DESIGNED BY HIS APPRENTICES DURING THIS DAY-LONG EVENT. MILWAUKEE’S SUMMERFEST - MILWAUKEE JUNE 24TH - JULY 5TH MORE THAN 800 ACTS OVER THE SPAN OF 11 DAYS AND SOMETHING FOR EVERY PREFERENCE. OH, AND THERE’S BEER. MIDSUMMER MUSIC FEST – DOOR COUNTY ALL SUMMER CHAMBER MUSIC PLAYED IN INTIMATE SETTINGS IS THE FOCUS OF THIS SUMMER-LONG MUSIC FESTIVAL. SEE EVENT WEBSITE FOR DETAILS. WISCONSIN STATE FAIR - WEST ALLIS AUGUST 6-16TH THIS YEAR’S FAIR INCLUDES AN IMPRESSIVE LIST OF ENTERTAINERS, BUT THE FOOD MAY BE THE REAL SPECTACLE.
MICHIGAN MACKINAC ISLAND LILAC FESTIVAL - MACKINAC ISLAND JUNE 5TH-14TH WHEN THE LILACS HAVE FADED IN OTHER PARTS OF THE REGION, MACKINAC ISLAND IS IN FULL BLOOM WITH MILLIONS OF FRAGRANT BLOSSOMS. THE WEEK-LONG EVENT INCLUDES A PARADE, HISTORIC CARRIAGE TOURS OF THE ISLAND, AND AN ACTUAL DOG AND PONY SHOW. LEELAND FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL - LEELAND JUNE 13TH SAMPLE GREAT LOCAL FOOD AND WINE WHILE ENJOYING THE VIEW OF LAKE MICHIGAN. HARBOR SPRINGS WATERFRONT WINE FESTIVAL - HARBOR SPRINGS - JUNE 27TH CELEBRATE SUMMER WITH WINE AND GOURMET FOOD IN THIS BEAUTIFUL SETTING. CHARLEVOIX VENETIAN FESTIVAL - CHARLEVOIX - JULY 18TH-25TH THIS NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESORT TOWN CELEBRATES IT MARITIME HISTORY IN STYLE WITH A WEEK-LONG SERIES OF EVENTS. 7
R E G AT TA PARTY Stylish attire and accessories for the sailing season
CHARM BRACELET Brooks Brothers
SAILBOAT MOTIF SHIRT Nordstrom HOPE & PROTECT NECKLACE Mark & Graham
MEN’S CLASSIC TOPSIDERS Sperry
SAILBOAT PRINT DRESS Vineyard Vines
CAN COOLER Amazon
FRESHWATER PEARL NECKLACE J. Crew
EMBROIDERED BERMUDA SHORTS Brooks Brothers
CANVAS BELT Vineyard Vines
SILK ELSA TOP Lilly Pulitzer
BLUE SLIDES J. Crew
NAUTICAL PARTY CUPS Mark & Graham
BY TRAVIS WILHITE, EDITED BY ALICIA O’CONNOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL HANYZEWSKI
The Chicago sailing community has a long tradition of fierce competition, grand regattas, yacht parades and glittering celebrations. Each summer the community hosts a special series of events to support blood cancer research. The Leukemia Cup regatta is critical for one particular sailor because the money raised has helped him defy the odds and survive the battle of his life. Travis Wilhite, a strapping Texan with a smile as broad as his ten-gallon hat and a deep love for sailing, tells his survivor’s story and explains why each summer’s racing season is an experience he’ll never take for granted.
I started sailing when I was six years old on Lake Travis outside Austin, Texas. On a whim, my father bought a 21’ sailboat at a boat show, and that’s how we got into sailing. My younger brother and I didn’t like it so much at first, but by the second year, we were sailing regularly. My parents bought my brother and me a Sunfish sailboat when I was nine, and we took lessons from a kid on the University of Texas sailing team. We thought we were the stuff, it was so much fun. By the time I was in high school, Dad had bought a larger sailboat which we could spend the night on. It was like camping, only on the water. By my senior year in high school, I was sailing year round several days a week. In 1999, I left Austin to take a job in Chicago. My brother lived here and it seemed like a natural choice. I didn’t realize at the time that there would be so much sailing and racing here. Shortly after arrived in Chicago, I met a friend who had a boat in Waukegan Harbor and began sailing with him. The following year, I began racing on a number of boats out of Waukegan and during the summer of 2002, I met my wife, Honore, at a sailboat race called the ChicagoWaukegan. She was racing out of Monroe Harbor on a boat called Wings. At the party for the sailors, my captain met Honore and introduced her to me. On one of our first dates, we went Wednesday night beercan racing on Wings where I was invited to join the crew. In 2003, Honore and I were married at the end of May and spent the summer racing on Wings. We won the Chicago Boat of the Year award for our performance that summer and I also sailed in my first of five Mackinac races, which I loved. We raced every weekend for the 15-week season including all of the major regattas. In 2004, as we were gearing up to defend our title as boat of the year, I found a lump under my chin when I was shaving. I spoke to my doctor, and we tried several different antibiotics over the course of six weeks. The lump kept getting larger and I grew tired. Finally, having ruled out an infection and a cyst, my doctor sent me to have surgery to remove the lump and biopsy it. The week of waiting from the biopsy to the diagnosis was the worst of my life. My surgeon told Honore after the procedure that he felt it was lymphoma. He 12
didn’t know what kind of lymphoma but he said we needed an oncologist. I was 36 years old, in terrific health, married for a year and trying to have a family. Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma, is widely considered one of the most treatable, and curable, cancers. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, of which there are 27 varieties, are some of the most deadly and least curable cancers. For a week, we prayed for Hodgkin’s disease. Isn’t that horrible, you are hoping you get a terrible disease because it’s better than an even worse disease? Then the call came. It was Grade 3A Follicular NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma. One of the worst diagnoses I could get. In the world of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), there are two basic subtypes of cancer. The first, or acute, is related to T-Cells in the blood stream. These are typically very fast developing cancers and can kill within weeks or months if they go undetected. However, these are also often curable so the race is really to identify and begin treatment quickly. The second group is the follicular lymphomas. These are indolent or very slow growing, cancers. Follicular lymphomas are incurable. Treatment is focused on palliative care and keeping the patient a symptomfree as possible. People have been known to live for years with these diseases, requiring periodic removal of tumors or other treatments to alleviate symptoms. My cancer was a hybrid mix of acute and follicular lymphoma. To give you an idea of how rare my cancer is, twice as many men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US (about 1500/yr), than total patients diagnosed with my disease (about 700/yr). Right after my diagnosis, I had a PET scan to determine the extent of my disease and discovered 14 tumors throughout my body. Within a week of getting the diagnosis and having the PET scan, I was in CHOPRituxan chemotherapy. The treatment lasted six months and it took me about a year to completely recover. Our treatment plan from the very beginning was to do the maximum chemotherapy my body could sustain and hope for 10 years of remission. The CHOP-Rituxan worked, and I achieved remission. For the next 2 years, I had CT scans and met with Dr. Grinblatt regularly as I continued to be in remission. Honore and I committed to living life to the fullest and having a family even though my cancer would come
back someday. It was simply a matter of deciding not to let the disease dictate our lives. In January of 2008, our daughter, Hope, was born. Sadly, in May 2008, my routine CT scan discovered two lymph nodes which were larger than they should have been. I underwent a CT-guided needle biopsy, an extremely painful procedure, to extract enough material to perform a biopsy. According to Dr. Grinblatt, the chances of getting the exact same diagnosis would be in the millions, so if it was lymphoma, it was most likely a different form. Unfortunately, the odds were not in my favor. The diagnosis came back four days later exactly the same. Since I had my lifetime maximum of the CHOP-Rituxan chemotherapy drug, we were left with only a stem cell transplant as a treatment. Basically, there were two bullets left in the treatment gun. One was a stem cell treatment using my own stem cells, called an autologous stem cell transplant, and the other was a donor stem cell transplant. My brother was a near perfect match to be a donor, but the mortality rate for a donor stem cell transplant was high enough that Dr. Grinblatt felt strongly an autologous one was the way to proceed. If the transplant worked I could get 5-10 more years and then possibly have the donor transplant when my cancer returned. I was young and strong enough to make it and it was the best path forward. In June 2008, I began three months of chemotherapy to prepare my body for the stem cell transplant. I was in an isolation transplant unit at Northwestern Hospital for a month. The chemotherapy in a transplant kills all of your stem cells. The process takes six days of intense chemotherapy during which time my white blood cell count fell to zero, my red blood cell count fell so low I received transfusions multiple times per day. On the seventh day, with my stem cells completely shut down, doctors reintroduced my stem cells which had been harvested in the weeks before the transplant began. They call this my re-birthday. Then, we had to wait for my body to respond. If the stem cells took, I would begin registering a red blood cell and white blood cell count within 18-25 days. For 10 days, I lay in the hospital bed barely able to move. I have never felt so terrible in my life. Then, my blood counts began to register. My doctor couldn’t believe how quickly my body had responded. By day 12 after the transplant, my counts were high enough I could 15
The Leukemia Cup has grown to include several events throughout the summer of 2015. For more information and to register for the events, please visit here. The Stand Up Paddle event will be held on the Chicago Waterfront by Columbia Yacht Club on Sunday, June 28th. For more information, or to put a team together for this terrific day of fun, go to Stand Up Paddle.
go home. All told, I was in the hospital 18 days. It should have been 30-45 days, but I was lucky and my body responded quickly. I went home to Hope (who was now 9 months old), and Honore. I was still incredibly sick and run-down, but I was out of treatment. I remain in remission today. If I make it to September, I will be 7 years in remission. According to my doctors, Iâ€™m in the best shape I have been my whole life. Most of my side effects have dissipated, although I still have some short term memory issues which may never be resolved. After my initial battle with NHL in 2004, Honore and I began raising money to fund research on blood cancers. We decided to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society because 80-85% of the money they raise goes directly to researchers, several of whom we had the honor of meeting. It was serendipity that one of the Societyâ€™s fundraising events was the Leukemia Cup Regatta so we could both fundraise and sail. In 2005, I became chairperson of the executive committee for the Leukemia Cup Regatta. We moved the event to Columbia Yacht Club and brought in Tracy Howard and many of the wonderful people who continue to run this event today. When Honore and I started with the Leukemia Cup, the event raised $70,000. Last year, we raised more than $423,000 and were the second largest Leukemia Cup Regatta in the country. To support our efforts, please go to sailtravis.com and make a donation. Every bit helps. We have personally raised more than $350,000 for blood cancer research over the past 10 years, and we will keep raising money for the next 10 years. My cancer may be incurable, but I am determined to help find a cure, if not for me, for someone just like me who gets ambushed by a lump in their chin on a random Saturday afternoon. 16
The Powerboat Poker Run, featuring stops at various yacht clubs along the Chicago Waterfront, is Saturday, August 8th at Corinthian Yacht Club in Montrose Harbor. For more information, or to participate go to Powerboat Poker Run. The Red Sky Night benefit event is Friday night, August 21st at Columbia Yacht Club. The evening features cocktails, a silent auction, a live auction, and live music. For information or tickets, please go to Red Sky Night. The following day, the Leukemia Cup Regatta kicks off with racing on two courses off the Chicago lakefront followed by a dock party with drinks, food and music and the announcement of the race winners and fund raising winners.
PIER 290 WILLIAMS BAY ANNE PETERSEN
VISIT L A K E G E N E VA Sometimes called the Hamptons of the Midwest, Lake Geneva has hosted the regionâ€™s a-list for more than a century. But like the casual region it inhabits, the charming town offers something for everyone without a trace of pretense. 18
CARRIAGE TOUR ATRAMOS
LAKE GENEVA CHANNEL ATRAMOS
LAKE AIRE KEVIN
THE BAKER HOUSE AND MAXWELL MANSION
This beautifully appointed store features fine apparel and
Experience the gilded age of Lake Geneva at these restored
accessories for the gentleman. Brands include Bill’s Khakis, Paul
mansions-turned B&B. Live music and special events are
& Shark Yachting, and Wisconsin’s own Allen Edmonds.
scheduled throughout the season.
FLEMMINGS My Irish eyes were smiling as I browsed the many treasures within Flemmings. Imported Irish-knit fisherman sweaters and woolens are the focus along with decorative items for the home. Colorful lakeside essentials from Vineyard Vines and
THE GENEVA INN Located along the famed shore path, The Geneva Inn is an elegant place to rest after a day of exploring the lakefront. The in-house Grandview Restaurant offers dining with a view of the sparkling water.
Vera Bradley are stocked alongside Barbour jackets and my favorite imported Irish Breakfast Tea. Sigh…
THE ABBEY This family-friendly resort offers a variety of accommodations
SIGN OF THE UNICORN This lovely gallery features finely-crafted original art glass along
and activities for all interests. Check the resort schedule for
with a wide array of hand-made jewelry and vintage hand-
events and entertainment in all seasons.
colored engravings, maps and botanicals.
ELEVEN GABLES INN & COTTAGE If your family is of the four-legged variety, you’ll appreciate this
BRICK AND MORTAR HOME If you happen to purchase a lakeside home during your visit, this
dog-friendly Inn and Cottage. Bring your canine companion
is the place to come for furniture and décor. Nautical elements
on your lake path hike, leashed at all times of course, and relax
are everywhere and the staff is happy to offer guidance and
afterwards in comfortable surroundings of Eleven Gables Inn.
EAT AND DRINK KILWINS Located in a historic corner building just one block from the lake, Kilwins is the spot for coffee, decadent sweets of all kinds, and of course, ice cream.
PIER 290, WILLIAMS BAY Enjoy a view of beautiful Williams Bay while dining on classic American fare. Pier 290, accessible by land and water, features outdoor seating, a sandy beach, and fire pit. Perfect.
THE ABBEY RESORT, FONTANA Because I believe one should dine with a view of the water as often as possible, The Abbey Resort makes our list with lake-view options including the stylish 240 Degrees West and the more casual The Waterfront Grill. 19
GENEVA LAKE PIERS PETER GIORDANO 20
G E N E VA L A K E S H O R E PAT H WRITTEN BY ALICIA O’CONNOR PHOTOGRAPHY AS CREDITED 21
ESTATE ANNE PETERSEN
Though I may never be invited to the dazzling summer galas, I have enjoyed the pleasure of strolling through the lakefront yards and manicured gardens of the many grand estates of the Geneva Lake area. You can too. All are invited and it’s truly a unique experience. Along the sparkling shore of Geneva Lake, a public walking path offers a stroll through history. The Geneva Lake Shore Path was first established by the indigenous Potawatomi tribe centuries ago. The native people used the trail to circumnavigate the lake that provided sustenance and protection. The Geneva Lake area was only sparsely settled in the early 1800’s but began a generations-long development movement with the arrival of the railroad in the 1870’s. The area was already growing as a popular summer community when the great fire of 1871 drove many of Chicago’s most prominent families to take year-round refuge at their summer estates while the Second City was rebuilt. The original owners of these estates with names like Wrigley, Swift, Wacker, and Schwinn among others are credited with building industries that fueled the economic development of the region and the whole nation in the early 20th century. 22
The Geneva Lake Shore Path winds for 21 miles and passes only yards from these magnificent homes. The path has been enjoyed for generations and, amazingly, remained open to the public throughout the decades. To learn about the history of the area and options for enjoying the Shore Path, I contacted local historian and experienced tour guide, Jim Beloian. Many of the properties along the lake, from vast estates to modest cottages, have been owned by the same families for generations. “At the turn of the last century, all of the land along the Geneva Lake shore was owned by just 40 millionaires. Now there are more than 1,000 piers on the lake,” said Jim. For first-time visitors, Jim recommends starting in the town of Lake Geneva and walking counterclockwise around the lake. Some of the most spectacular homes can be seen along a three and a half mile segment from the Lake Geneva public beach to Chapin Road. Asked to name a favorite, Jim mentioned a Georgian-style mansion known as the Driehaus Estate. “It’s probably the stateliest home on the lake with only four owners since it was built in 1906.” Originally named Wadsworth Hall when it was built by Chicago banker Norman Wait Harris, the
BOATING ON GENEVA LAKE ANNE PETERSEN
estate occupies 36 acres that include formal gardens designed by famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York’s Central Park and Chicago’s Jackson and Washington Parks at the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The property was purchased in the late 1990’s by Chicago billionaire and ardent preservationist, Richard H. Driehaus who commissioned a complete rehabilitation of the mansion and grounds. The home is the site of lavish, elaborately themed parties throughout the year including a late-July spectacle that many consider the event of the season.
on other tours. Jim also offers guided tours aboard your own boat. See his website, genevalakeguide. com for details.
There are several options for enjoying the trail. For those not be ready to tackle the entire route in one day, the path is easily divided into segments of three to seven miles.
Walk, Talk & Gawk by Pat Groh and Chris Hawver ($7) divides the experience into seven manageable hikes of two to three and a half miles. The booklet includes one-page, pull-out guides for each segment with a notated map and description of the notable sights along each segment. The detailed description of each property and the single-sheet format make this guide handy and easy to use. With short-distance hikes, this guide is perfect for those who want to walk out and back along the same segment of the trail.
PROFESSIONALLY GUIDED TOURS Jim Beloian hosts private guided walking tours of any length for groups of at least four people. With the benefit of his decades of history on the lake, you are certain to learn bits of history that you would miss
SELF-GUIDED TOUR Two excellent guidebooks are available for purchase at the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce, located at 201 Wrigley Drive in Lake Geneva, and several local shops.
The Geneva Lake Shore Path Guide ($8) published by Nei-Turner Media Group is a nicely designed, 23
ALTA VISTA ESTATE MEREDITH112 24
SEA LARK ANNE PETERSEN
pocket-sized guide that divides the path into six segments by including a longer, more-difficult hike along the south shore. One hundred one points of interest are noted on an overview map for perspective.
WATER TOURS The easiest way to enjoy the beauty of the Geneva Lake shoreline while learning about the vibrant history of the area is by booking a tour on the Gage Lake Geneva Cruise Line. With several tour options including partial or full lake tours, sunset cocktail cruises and even a US Mailboat tour, there is something to fit any interest. The cruises offer a rich history of the community, the estates, and the notable people who built great industries in the last century. Visit Gage’s headquarters at the Riviera Pier in the town of Lake Geneva or the Gage website to purchase tickets.
IF YOU GO The shore path is for pedestrian use only. Bicycles and strollers are prohibited and dogs must be leashed at all times. The path is three feet wide in most places and the terrain varies from a paved surface to a rustic dirt path, to rocky and steep in various spots. Choose your footwear accordingly. While the path is open to the public, the land on either side including the lakefront is private property. Note that public restroom facilities are limited to the towns of Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, and Fontana. It’s a good idea to bring water and sunscreen, and it’s important to select a manageable distance and plan for your return. “There is limited access to a public road from most parts on the path and it’s illegal to cross private property,” Jim advises, so know where you will end your hike. “Some people bring two cars and park one at the end of their planned route.” Or better, if you are prepared to walk seven miles to Williams Bay from Lake Geneva, make arrangements ahead of time to be picked up by a Gage passenger boat for your return to the town. Several options are available and reservations are required. Visit the Gage website for details. With so much to see and experience, Geneva Lake and its shore path beckon visitors to take a walk in through history on a summer day.
GEORGE WILLIAMS COLLEGE ANNE PETERSEN
DRIEHAUS ESTATE ATROMOS 26
JOIN THE CLUB! PHOTOGRAPHY BY NORTHSHORE PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN, INC. AND LAKESHORE MAGAZINE
Join the Club! is a new musical comedy written and produced by Chicago North Shore residents Leigh Anna Reichenbach and Lauren Taslitz. Featuring an all-female ensemble cast, the show celebrates the experiences of five women whose paths cross while working on a volunteer community service project. As the characters explore their own roles, assumptions and prejudices about themselves and each other, they learn to appreciate and support the other women for their own unique gifts. The show features original songs and a deeply hilarious exploration of female friendship. This summer, Join the Club! makes its public premier at the newly remodeled Skokie Theater in Skokie, Illinois. I had the pleasure of meeting with Lauren and Leigh Anna to learn more about their creative process and the winding path that brought them to where they are today. 27
Neither of you started out in musical theater early in your professional lives. What path brought you here? Leigh Anna: I have always loved musical theater. As a kid growing up in Florida, I performed in community theater productions, and in college at Yale got involved in the acappella singing group scene. After graduation I did what lots of graduates unsure about their career desires did -- went to law school, which brought my husband and me to Chicago. We lived in Europe for several years and returned to Chicago’s north shore suburbs pregnant with our second child in 1999. I was looking to meet some new friends and stumbled through the doors of the Woman’s Club of Evanston (WCE). Quickly, I became involved in the organization’s annual benefit show, writing, performing and directing musical parodies. Lauren: My parents introduced me to musicals. We didn’t go to see them, they probably couldn’t afford to take us, but they owned all the recordings. When I was banished to the basement to help with the family ironing - there was always hours worth since my mother believed in ironing everything except towels - I turned on the music and sang along to make the time pass. I was in chorus in high school and had small parts in the musicals, but that was the extent of my involvement until years later. After high school I got a Biology degree from Princeton and JD from Harvard Law School and went on to practice law in New York. My husband and I moved to the North Shore with my husband’s job and when my oldest began middle school I started to write, perform, direct and produce shows for the school. But middle school came to an end, and desperate to write something that wasn’t G-rated, I started to write for the WCE show. How did you meet and what made you decide to develop a feature-length musical comedy together? Leigh Anna: We met through the WCE benefit show. I was immediately drawn to Lauren’s wicked and dry sense of humor and her straight-forward manner. Lauren: One night after a WCE show, I sat down near Leigh Anna, whom I had admired from a distance but didn’t know at all, and asked her if she’d ever 28
thought about writing something that was more than 3 ½ minutes long. She was open to the idea, and we started talking about developing a show. Leigh Anna: We began working with some of the more successful parodies we already had written for the WCE show, constructing a story around them that would reflect some of our own experiences in the club. Neither of us ever viewed ourselves as the type of woman who would be drawn to join a club like the WCE, so that is part of what we wanted to explore through our musical, Join the Club! Lauren: It was important to us that we didn’t construct a story that included a woman being “saved” by a man. The show is neither pro- nor anti-men. It isn’t about men. It’s about women, their relationships with each other and the issues they face as they navigate the ever-shifting demands of family, friends and work Is it fair to say that this show is somewhat autobiographical? Leigh Anna: There are, of course, elements of ourselves and of women we know that we have
morphed and combined into the characters of the five women in our show. From the hot shot young attorney, to the overworked volunteer mom, to the divorced mother of teenagers who try to ignore her, to the empty nester trying to reconnect with her somewhat distant husband, to the androgynous, overall-clad building super, these are women that Lauren and I know and love. We hope our audience will know and love them too. Lauren: The characters are certainly informed by our personal experiences. We both volunteer and, like our character, Cynthia, we know what it is to be home with our children and running in circles to give them opportunities. And, like Cynthia, I experienced the fear that, when it was all over, I might have nothing to show for my life. Like our main character, I can remember back in the day feeling superior to stay-at-home (and working) suburban moms; to anyone that didn’t have a highpower career. I didn’t necessarily think I was better, but I thought I was engaged in something that was more adult, more interesting, and more important and it wasn’t until I was on the other side that I realized 29
how narrow my perspective was. Finally and most importantly, by being part of a womanâ€™s club, Iâ€™ve learned what the character, Sara, learns: that you find commonality where you least expect it, and that there is nothing more rewarding or essential than being part of a community of women that bring you joy and have your back. Join the Club! explores relationships between women of different ages and experiences in a positive but honest way.
Is there a message that you hope your audience will take away from this show?
What’s next for “Join the Club!” and for the two of you?
Lauren: I would say this: Look beyond your surface differences. Here are five women of different ages and backgrounds – one whose kids are long out of the house, one with two teenagers, one with four kids in grade school, one a single high-power lawyer (whose boss is hitting on her) and one a single, working class woman of indeterminate sexuality – who appreciate and support each other.
Leigh Anna: We are hoping that a successful run of Join the Club! this summer will provide us with a good starting point for marketing the script to theaters on a wider basis. We believe that the show has the accessibility and appeal to connect with audiences around the county and would love to see Join the Club! on the marquees of theaters from Tampa Bay to Topeka. I can think of no greater joy than seeing satisfied audience members smiling and humming after they have seen a performance of the show that Lauren and I have had so much fun creating.
Leigh Anna: It’s an unfortunate tendency that some women divide themselves into categories - career, mommy-track, or stay-at-home - and that they judge the ones who make a choice different from theirs harshly. If, like Sara, we can overcome the reflexive reaction to criticize other women’s choices so that we can justify our own choices, we will build communities that not only are stronger and happier for women, but that will benefit our society as a whole.
Lauren: We hope that one day Join the Club! will be widely seen, like Defending the Caveman or Menopause the Musical. It’s funny and honest, and, while it features a female ensemble, at root, it’s about friendship and being there for each other, a truly universal theme. What’s next for me is The Graduate Program in Musical Theatre Writing at the Tisch School for the Arts at NYU beginning this fall. I love writing music and lyrics and I’ve been fortunate to have gotten my feet wet and been nurtured in Chicago, but I’m ready to do something scary again. I’m at the point in my life where I feel like it’s now or never when it comes to one final, huge adventure. While it’s going to be very difficult to leave my friends and family, I need to give it a try. I’m hoping for an engaging, challenging, immersive experience that will also make me a better writer. And I’m hoping to bring the voice of middle-aged women, most of whom are mothers, to the musical theater stage. I believe we deserve to see shows about us; shows in which our experiences are represented and validated and shows in which mothers are sympathetically portrayed (and not characters for the sole purpose of explaining why the protagonist is the messed up mess he is.) Join the Club! runs July 9th through July 25th at the newly remodeled Skokie Theater in Skokie Illinois. Tickets ($35) are on sale now and available online at SkokieTheater.com.
LAUREN TASLITZ AND LEIGH ANNA REICHENBACH 31
t r e c Con in the k r a P
SUMMER STYLE FOR A BEACH PICNIC CONCERT UNDER THE STARS.
MONOGRAMED COOLER Nordstrom
WICKER BAG Talbots
LINEN SUNDRESS Lands’ End
LIGHTHOUSE MOTIF SHORTS Ralph Lauren
WEDGE SANDAL Jack Rogers
ACRYLIC WINE GLASS Crate & Barrel
SUN HAT Mark & Graham
CLASSIC POLO Lacoste
PICNIC MAT Amazon
SUN DRESS J Crew Factory
BEACH CHAIR Ballard Design
LAKESIDE REVERIE PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALISSA DITTA
Alissa Ditta caught my attention in Instagram with gorgeous photos of the Western Michigan lakefront and her beautiful home. High on the dunes near Holland, Michigan, Alissa and her family share a lakeside home that is the stuff of dreams. With her background in interior design, it should be no surprise that her home is perfectly appointed in Michigan coastal style. Alissa was kind enough to give us a tour and offer a few decorating tips. 34
What’s your background, and how did you come to own this beautiful lakeside home? I’ve always been interested in architecture and interior design. After graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Art in Interior Design, I started working for an architectural firm. For the last 16 years, I’ve worked on designing commercial spaces - everything from schools, to churches, to offices. Residential design is also a passion of mine, so in my free time, I help people create homes they love with my own business, Willow Green Interiors. My Dad, sister, and I built our home on Lake Michigan in 2013. We loved the design and building process and enjoy living here. How would you describe your decorating style? I love so many different design styles, so it’s hard to narrow it down! When it comes to choosing things for my own home though, I tend to lean toward a traditional style. I think a home should be comfortable, so no stuffy rooms here! Your favorite color is green. There are so many different greens, so it can be a tricky color to work with. Do you have any favorite green-toned paints or fabrics you can recommend? Yes, I love green! A few of my favorite green paint colors: Benjamin Moore ‘Georgian Green’ HC-115 (a happy green shade that works well with lots of other colors), Benjamin Moore ‘Caldwell Green’ HC-124 (a darker dramatic green that would be really pretty in a powder room or a formal dining room), Sherwin Williams ‘Willow Tree’ SW7741 (A softer grey green that would be perfect for a bedroom). I didn’t paint any rooms green in my home this time, but I did incorporate touches of green with pillows and accents. Two green fabrics that I just love are ‘Swaying Palms’ in color Aloe by Tommy Bahama and ‘Strie Ikat’ in color Malachite by Robert Allen. I think every room looks better with a little green! Houseplants are another one of my favorite ways to incorporate my favorite color.
Your home has a spectacular view of Lake Michigan. What choices did you make in designing your home to take advantage of the location? The floor plan of our home was designed to take advantage of the lake views. You see the lake from the moment you enter the front door and in almost every other room in the house. We made sure to include a screen porch on the main floor as well as a porch on our second floor. Both have amazing views of the lake and are our favorite spots to be in the warmer months. Itâ€™s all about the lake around here! Can you share a few tips for creating a coastal-inspired interior appropriate for the Great Lakes region? Natural elements that you might find on the beach help to created a coastal-inspired interior. Things like shells, stones, driftwood. I like to use soothing colors to replicate the beach and water. The color palette for our home was inspired by the lake and the beach surrounding us. The quartzite floor in our foyer is a good example of this - all the different natural colors remind me of the beach. Wood tones are also important to create a warm feel. Follow Alissa online through her personal blog, 33shadesofgreen.com, business website, willowgreeninteriors. com and on Instagram @33shadesofgreen. The summer is sure to bring many spectacular images from her home on the Lake Michigan coast.
n a g i h c i M s tal a o C e l y St
Designer-selected piece to complete your dream lake home.
FEU DE BOIS CANDLE Diptyque
PRESERVED MOSS BALLS One Kings Lane
FRAMED NAUTICAL FLAGS Pottery Barn 42
SWAYING PALMS PILLOW COVER Etsy
CALDWELL GREEN Benjamin Moore
GEORGIAN GREEN Benjamin Moore
MARINE OUTDOOR SCONCE Quoizel
ANCHOR WOOL PILLOW One Kings Lane GLASS TABLE LAMP Regina Andrew
ANCHOR DOOR KNOCKER Pottery Barn
RATTAN COUNTER STOOL Pier 1
OLIVE TREE One Kings Lane
HOLLAND WINDMILL PETER C
MICHIGANâ€™S SUNSET COAST Holland, Michigan, along the western Michigan coastline, draws summer visitors with its sandy beaches, sweeping dunes and picturesque downtown. We asked Alissa Ditta to share some of her Holland-area favorites. 44
FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP JP’s in Holland, MI
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOT In the summer, you can’t beat a lunch picnic on the beach. Also, Pronto Pups in Grand Haven, MI. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Pronto Pup!
FAVORITE LOCAL PUB
HOLLAND LIGHTHOUSE ACRYLICARTISTRODNEY CAMPBELL
Sandy Point Beach House in West Olive, MI. It’s a restaurant, not a brew pub, but it’s my favorite place to have a drink and dinner on the weekends. Great atmosphere, delicious food, and a wonderful drink menu.
FAVORITE LOCAL SHOPS Downtown Holland has too many great shops to pick just one! A few of my favorites are: The Seasoned Home, Three Chairs, Spring Sweet, and Karla’s Place.
FAVORITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
PRONTO PUPS JERRY HUDDLESTON
Relaxing on the beach, swimming in Lake Michigan, and playing golf.
FAVORITE GETAWAY The Leelanau Penninsula. I love Michigan Wine Country and it’s a beautiful location in Michigan. Anywhere in Italy is my other favorite travel location.
GUILTY INDULGENCE Hudsonville Ice Cream. I could eat it every day. DUNE GRASS ALISSA DITTA 45
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