In the News: Tartuffe at South Shore Cultural Center


Performances part of Night Out In the Parks Series

Tartuffe - SeriousCourt Theatre’s acclaimed production of Molière’s Tartuffe will receive two admission-free encore performances Wednesday-Thursday, July 17-18 at 7 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.  Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Charles Newell directs the French classic translated by Richard Wilbur.  Reservations are not required and seating is handled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Call Court Theatre at 773-753-4472 for more information.

Tartuffe at play

A devilish comedy about the art of deception and the price of misplaced faith, Tartuffe reveals a tale as outrageous as it is insightful.  When the cunning imposter Tartuffe wields a pretense of piety to capture the imagination of aging family-man Orgon, the scoundrel succeeds in insinuating himself into the patriarch’s home, throwing Orgon’s family into utter chaos.  As Orgon’s foolish infatuation with Tartuffe’s fraudulent religious fervor grows, the depth of Tartuffe’s deception turns dangerous.  Artistic Director Charles Newell combines his signature style with a contemporary approach to breathe new life into this classic comedy.

The production is part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks initiative, which features more than 750 citywide cultural activities this summer, making more than 230 local parks safe havens and hubs of activity.

 is presented as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Park District.  Arts programming in neighborhoods advances the goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan and the Night Out in the Parks initiative.  For more information, visit and

About the Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District oversees more than 8,100 acres of parkland, 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling 312/742.PLAY.

About Court Theatre
Now in its 59th season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre.  Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts.  Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics.  Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.  Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago continuing to discover the power of classic theatre.

About the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

SunSpots: Tipsy On Theater!

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!


Enjoy the Flavors of Chicago Culturally-Diverse Theater!


I really enjoy theater, so in this post, I will attempt to tackle some typical barriers to attendance and I'll also share some current productions!

I'd rather see a good movie.  Theater is better than movies because it’s live, three-dimensional and, when it’s really good, you’re transported from your seat and into the lives of the characters.

Theater is too expensive.  If money is an issue, preview performances are a fantastic way of seeing a quality production at a lower price.  A preview performance is not just snippets and there are no “do-overs.”  Rather, it’s like a dress rehearsal-plus.  Preview performances allow the actors to run through the entire script prior to the official opening.  The actors and directors then have an opportunity to make adjustments to pace, delivery, etc., and to make tweaks based on audience reaction prior to subjecting the performance to the scrutiny of critics.

What the heck is goin' on?  Sometimes theater can be kind of challenging – whether due to the subject matter, language (such as Shakespeare plays!) or writing style – but there are a number of ways to enhance the experience.  It can help to visit the production’s website for background material.  It’s sort of like going to school: you can just go to class unprepared and come out clueless or invest a little lead time so that you’ll know what questions to ask or which issues are important.  Most productions include one or more free artists’ talks – either pre- or post-performance and sometimes scheduled on a separate day.  These are wonderful opportunities to understand how an actor prepared for their role, or the reason for certain directorial choices or to dissect a plot twist.  I also find that attending with a group, followed by cocktails, is a fun way to debrief!

You’ll find that Soleil’s To-Dos Theater Listings approach diversity in a number of ways, focusing on diverse theater companies, playwrights, actors, subject matter and/or directors.  We include small companies and large institutions.  The sophistication of the subject matter ranges in a way that I analogize to wine: we’ll serve up some Cabernet Sauvignon (deep and resonating), Chardonnay (light and crisp), Riesling and moscato (sweet, but with some substance and subtle complexity), but not white zinfandel (‘cuz just like iceberg lettuce, it lacks substantive nutritional value).  Here are a few varietals currently in performance:

vera starkBy the Way, Meet Vera Stark
Goodman Theatre, through June 2nd

Meet Vera Stark follows the career of a fictional actress who struggles to attain success, but finds herself limited to small roles as a maid or slave.  The play is very much a Chardonnay comedy with a smooth finish, though the second half lapses a little too close to White Zinfandel for my taste.  The first half includes fine acting by Tamberla Perry (Vera Stark), Kara Zediker (Gloria Mitchell), TaRon Patton (Lottie McBride/Carmen Levy-Green) and Amelia Workman (Anna Mae Simpkins/Afua Assata Ejobo).  The second half takes somewhat of an incongruous turn with comedy that is a bit over the top, yet not quite funny.  It is nonetheless redeemed by a rather poignant ending, which I wish had been more of the focus of the second half.

Tamberla Perry and director, Chuck Smith, recently joined WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift to discuss the play, Black stereotypes and their personal struggles to find “respectable” Black roles.

misanthropeMolière Festival: The Misanthrope
Court Theatre, through July 14th

Despite the fact that Molière is a classic French playwright, born in 1622, I found The Misanthrope to be comparable to a nice Pinot Grigio – easy on the palate, even for the novice.  In a word – okay, 2 words – hilarious and delightful!  It has a modern feel, but is set in a French baroque society where social graces reign supreme.  This play doesn’t have a cultural diverse theme, but is cast, predominately, with actors of color - Kamal Angelo Bolden, A.C. Smith, Grace Gealey, Patrese D. McClain, Allen Gilmore – and others.  The costumes are gorgeous and all of the actors were fantastic, but Gilmore, in the role of Arsinoé – in drag – pretty much stole the show.  He completely, and convincingly, embraced the role, but didn’t take himself too seriously.  If Tyler Perry could pull this off with such finesse, I probably would have seen one of his movies by now.

In contrast to the theme of Vera Stark, in this clip, Patrese D. McClain expresses her delight to find that she was NOT being cast as a maid.  There’s also a snippet of Gilmore’s performance!

[caption id="attachment_1394" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Click to play! Click to play![/caption]


head of passes

Head of Passes

Steppenwolf Theatre, through June 9th

There are deeper Cabernet-esque notes of complexity, pain and loss in this production, featuring moving performances by Alana Arenas, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, James T. Alfred and Cheryl Lynn Bruce.  Okay – the stage design was pretty moving, too!

Here’s what audience members had to say about it:

head of passes video

Be sure to take advantage of our 2-for-1 ticket offer!

Othello: The Remix
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, through June 15th

Here’s a quick-paced, hip-hop adaptation of Othello.  Light and tasty, yet still complex, this performance is free of laborious Shakespearean-speak and full of humor and fun!

othello the remix

It would be nice to have a “theater sommelier” whose opinion we could trust – even if we don’t agree with it - wouldn’t it?  I read a review of The Misanthrope that completely overlooked the brilliance of Allen Gilmore’s performance.  Why are there no theater critics of color in Chicago – someone whose cultural perspective allows them to address subtleties (or blatant-cies) that other critics miss?  Do you know of someone?  Whose theater reviews do you rely on?

In the News: Aretha Franklin Replaced with Janelle Monáe In Performance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra



MAY 20, 2013

Due to her doctor’s recommendation for treatment during the time frame of May 20 & 26, Ms. Aretha Franklin has regretfully withdrawn from her scheduled performance with Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on Monday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. celebrating the 24th annual Corporate Night. Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Janelle Monáe has graciously agreed to perform for this special performance. Monáe’s popularity has skyrocketed since her 2010 album debut with The ArchAndroid. Her success has garnered her several global appearances and collaborations, including the recent hit “We Are Young” with the Grammy Award-winning band Fun. Monáe will release a new album this fall entitled The Electric Lady. She was also recently signed as the newest CoverGirl spokesmodel.

For this performance Monáe showcases her unique talent for fusing R&B with pop and soul all while embracing expansive and vibrant orchestrations through some of her most popular songs. This program will be debuted with the San Francisco Symphony on Thursday, May 16, 2013.

The League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association celebrates its 24th annual Corporate Night, which pays special tribute to Chicago’s business community each year with a one-night-only performance that pairs musicians from the CSO with some of today’s most popular artists. Proceeds from this important fundraising event benefit the CSO’s general operations, as well as the nationally recognized music education and community engagement programs and Citizen Musician initiative of the Institute for Learning, Access and Training at the CSO.

Concert-only tickets are available to the public ($75 to $175); concertgoers can also purchase tickets for an exclusive post-concert party with food, drinks and live music for $100. Tickets previously purchased will be honored for this performance. Tickets may be purchased by calling the CSO Box Office at 312-294-3000 or at

JANELLE MONÁE has been called "a different kind of diva" by Vogue Magazine and "a true visionary... one of the most important signings of my career" by Sean "Diddy" Combs. For singer, songwriter, and high funkstress Janelle Monáe, however, the impetus remains the same as it's been since before her Grammy-nominated debut EP "Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase" captured the imaginations of fans and fellow artists. Her debut album The ArchAndroid is a soaring, orchestral trip enlivened with blockbuster vocals, mysterious imagery, and notes of 60s pop and jazz. Monáe enlisted the talents of the Wondaland ArchOchestra to realize her sound. Elaborate orchestral arrangements were composed and conducted by Nate "Rocket" Wonder and Roman GianArthur for Wondaland Productions. Featured guests include the legendary Big Boi of OutKast, renowned poet Saul Williams, the psychedelic dance-punk troupe Of Montreal and punk prophets Deep Cotton.

A musical force in Chicago and around the world, the CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA has been consistently hailed as one of the finest international orchestras since its founding in 1891. Riccardo Muti, one of the world’s most celebrated maestros, began his tenure as the 10th music director of the CSO in September 2010, and the eminent composer-conductor Pierre Boulez continues his service as Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus. In collaboration with renowned conductors and guest artists on the international music scene, the CSO performs well over 150 concerts each year at its home, Symphony Center, and in summer residency at the Ravinia Festival. With the launch of The Institute for Learning, Access, and Training, the CSO engages more than 200,000 Chicago-area residents annually. Music lovers outside Chicago enjoy the sounds of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only through its Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series and best-selling recordings on its acclaimed in-house record label CSO Resound, but also through sold-out tour performances in the United States and around the globe. Bank of America is the global sponsor of the CSO. For more information about the CSO, visit

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Corporate Night

Monday, May 20, 2013, 7:30 pm
Janelle Monáe
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Sean O’Loughlin, conductor

Concert-only tickets: $75–$175
Post-concert reception tickets: $100

TICKETS for all 2012/13 Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Center Presents and Civic Orchestra of Chicago concerts can be purchased by calling CSO ticketing services at 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, online at or by visiting the Symphony Center box office at 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604. Discounted student tickets for select concerts can be purchased, subject to availability, online in advance or at the box office on the day of the concert. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040. Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

Music + Movement: Havana Blue Me Away!

Orbert Davis & Frank Chaves

Music + Movement Festival Continues at Auditorium Theatre

Leave it to the Auditorium Theatre to come up with the bright idea to commission eleven local dance companies paired with local musicians to create new collaborative works.  Fabulous idea!  So, since February, The Music + Movement Festival has presented performances that have included such artists as Kalapriya Dance Company w/ Lyon Leifer, Sara Ranagathan and Ravi Iyer, Kuumba Lynx with Urban Aspirations, Joel Hall Dancers with Charles Heath, Chicago Human Rhythm Project w/ Greg Spero and River North Dance Chicago w/ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic!

Cuba_02At the Miles Davis Festival in 2011, a fortuitous encounter between artistic directors Orbert Davis (Chicago Jazz Philharmonic) and Frank Chaves (River North Dance Chicago) at the was the catalyst for the fabulous collaboration Havana Blue, which premiered at the Auditorium Theatre on Saturday, April 13!  As they discovered their shared African and Cuban roots, they decided to travel to Cuba together, along with twenty-five others, on an eight-day tour focused on Cuban music and dance!  "Together, they created a new work that re-defines music/dance collaborations by 1) conceiving a work together (composer and choreographer) from its infancy, 2) reversing the process with some of the music being composed to the dance (usually dance is choreographed to the music), and 3) utilizing improvisation within both idioms."  And, Havana Blue was born!

hb-007The program opened with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic's Cuban Ensemble.  The Ensemble’s ensemble was apropos, representing traditional Cuban swag!  You could tell they were enjoying themselves – both the music and their own little informal dancing!

For “Orlando’s Walk”, the brass section joined the Cuban Ensemble and allowed the audience to join them on the five-mile walk they took, pausing along the way for photos.  To make sure we really shared the experience with them, the house lights were brought up and we were invited to dance in the aisles and to take and share photos during convenient seconds of musical pauses.  The Cuban Ensemble closed with Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca and left the audience wanting more!


We took a bit of an unexpected detour as River North Dance interjected with a new work entitled Eva.

Eva was named for Eva Cassidy, whose stirring vocals intensified the emotion of the choreography.  The performance ranged from ethereal and effortless (Fields of Gold) to hot, torrid and steamy (Stormy Monday) and they gave a nod to the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater with Wade In the Water.  Eva was a lovely program, but, frankly, it could have been saved for another day, as it was a rather abrupt departure from the Cuban Ensemble’s groove.

Back Into the Groove . . .

Havana_Blue_06_Photo_by_Cheryl_MannHavana Blue me away!  With the opening number, Sabor, we journeyed through lush, dense Cuban rhythms  with sumptuous, lush music, costumes and dance, followed by the vibrant and eclectic Congri.  Lo Masculino was a standout dance performance and not just because of the sexy, shirtless men!  The performance was powerful and athletic, seemingly influenced by capoeira movement and punctuated by an all percussive musical accompaniment.  We continued across the nicely manicured and well-groomed landscape of ___, which, nonetheless betrayed its earthy roots.  As the program continued, I wondered:  How does Orbert Davis come up with this?!?!  One word of wisdom:  When the Havana Blue soundtrack is released - and, undoubtedly, it will be – buy it!  And get extra copies for gift-giving!

spot_445Havana Blue was the centerpiece of the Music + Movement Festival and completely exemplified the brilliance of Auditorium Theatre’s commission!  The Movement + Music Festival culminates on with a Showcase on Wednesday, May 15th that includes Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre with musicians James Sanders, Stu Greenspan and Joe Cerqua; Chicago Human Rhythm Project with Greg Spero; Kuumba Lynx with Urban Aspirations; Mexican Dance Ensemble with Los Condenados Huastecos; DanceWorks Chicago with Paul Wertico; and Thodos Dance Chicago with Amanda Batterson will revive their commissioned performances seen throughout the Auditorium’s Music + Movement Festival along with a special performance from Giordano Dance Chicago on the Auditorium Theatre Landmark stage.  Tickets are available for only $20!

The festival continues throughout June with various community performances on dates to be determined.

In the News: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater!



Artistic Director Robert Battle’s Second Season Brings World Premieres and
New Choreographic Voices During 21-City U.S. Tour 


Alvin Ailey Dance TheaterExecutive Director of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Brett Batterson, welcomes world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Chicago for an unprecedented 10 performances, March 8 – 17Robert Battle returns for his second year as Artistic Director to lead one of the most popular dance companies through a 21-city tour, continuing to inspire and delight audiences with both new, innovative work as well as traditional pieces that have made Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater a staple on the international stage.

“Seeing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on the Auditorium Theatre’s Landmark Stage is an experience like no other,” said Brett Batterson. “We are honored to welcome back Robert Battle and his ‘cultural ambassadors of the world’ to their home here in Chicago for a 10 day run. There is truly something for everyone in this eclectic program that features so much breadth and diversity.”

[caption id="attachment_1354" align="alignright" width="210"]Alvin Ailey Petite Mort Petite Mort[/caption]

“There is never a shortage of reasons to celebrate the arrival of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater…” (“Chicago Sun-Times”) and this year is no different. The rousing programs feature brand new pieces added to the Ailey repertoire and never seen by Chicago audiences including the world premiere of Kyle Abraham’s “Another Night;” Tony Award-winning choreographer (“The Lion King”) Garth Fagan’s “From Before,” danced for the first time by another company besides his own; Artistic Director Robert Battle’s inspiring and thrilling duet “Strange Humors;” the revival of Ronald K. Brown’s landmark piece “Grace,” originally created for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1999; “Petite Mort,” the first piece by renowned choreographer Jiří Kylián ever danced by the company; hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’ “Home,” set to a soul-lifting score of gospel house music and inspired by people living with or affected by HIV; Ohad Naharin’s inventive and highly improvised “Minus 16;” as well as classics from Alvin Ailey’s own body of work including his personal masterpiece, “Revelations.” 

[caption id="attachment_1355" align="alignleft" width="189"]Alvin Ailey Revelations Revelations[/caption]

Building on a successful first season with the company, Artistic Director Robert Battle continues to enhance the already rich repertory of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by combining a vibrant array of new choreographic voices with classical and traditional pieces. Battle stands by Ailey’s mission to inspire audiences in a universal celebration of the human spirit using the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.  Battle’s vision allows Ailey’s extraordinary artists to push their limits with a diverse repertoire while connecting to audiences on various emotional levels. 

“I’m thrilled to further expand Ailey’s diverse repertory with new voices and talented contemporary choreographers that showcase the depth and breadth of the dancers’ artistry,” said Battle. “Audiences will experience new treasures, along with encores of last season’s notable works and beloved pieces from Ailey’s rich history and to be dancing these pieces on the Auditorium Theatre stage for two weeks is a privilege and delight for the entire Ailey family.” 

Program Schedule and Ticket Information

Week 1
Friday, March 8 | 7:30pm: Another Night, Strange Humors / Petite Mort / Revelations
Saturday, March 9 | 2:00 & 8:00pm: From Before, Pas de Duke / Home / Revelations
Sunday, March 10 | 3:00pm: Another Night, Strange Humors / Petite Mort / Revelations    

Week 2
Wednesday, March 13 | 7:30pm: Grace / Minus 16 / Revelations
Thursday, March 14 | 7:30pm: Another Night, Strange Humors / Petite Mort / Revelations
Friday, March 15 | 7:30pm: From Before, Pas De Duke / Home / Revelations
Saturday, March 16 | 2:00pm: Another Night, Strange Humors / Petite Mort / Revelations
Saturday, March 16 | 8:00pm: Grace / Minus 16 / Revelations
Sunday, March 17 | 3:00pm: Grace / Pas De Duke, From Before / Revelations


Tickets are $32 - $92 and are available online at, by calling
(800) 982-ARTS (2787) or in-person at the Auditorium’s Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

Discounted tickets available to groups of 10 or more are available by calling (312) 341-2357.