SunSpots: The Nativity - A Joyful Noise!

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!


Congo Square Returns with The Nativity

A joyful noise was heard on Monday, December 5th at Congo Square Theatre Company's opening night of The Nativity at Goodman Theater!  Now in its seventh year, this annual production is inspired by Langston Hughes' Black Nativity and tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  While the vocals are consistently outstanding and the message consistently true to the Scripture, don't expect the same production every year!

In celebration of Congo Square's 2011-12 theme "Presence, Power, Perspective - Honoring the Black Woman," the role of Gabriel is performed magnificently by Alexis J. Rogers and, for the first time, the production is directed by a Black woman, Ilesa Duncan.  The performance opens with a beautiful arrangement of  "Two Thousand Years Ago," which definitely sets the stage for an evening of outstanding vocals and harmonies.  Jaret Landon, Musical Director/Composer/Arranger is to be commended for his unique take on some of the seasonal classics included in the production, including "O Holy Night," with stellar vocals by Bethany Thomas, and "What Child is This," performed by Byron G. Willis with amazing background harmonies.    

Kathleen Purcell Turner (Mary) and Kevin Dirckson (Joseph)

This year, The Nativity features the passionate choreography of Kevin Iega Jeff, the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Nicole Springer.  Kathleen Purcell Turner and Kevin Dirckson bring passion, grace and athleticism to the roles of Mary and Joseph.  Kevin's artistic touch is also seen in the choreography of the actors, bringing his signature fluidity to their movement across the stage.  (Don't miss Deeply Rooted's "Chicago's Women of Song" on December 9th at Harris Theater!)

Following the performance, a woman seated behind me commented that she really appreciated that The Nativity remained true to the Biblical story.  True, but, the performance manages to do so without taking itself too seriously, adding contemporary elements and humor to the story.  You'll likely be tickled when the Three Kings of Orient "go to church" with "You Ought to Try the Lord" and stirred up by "Go Tell It On the Mountain!"  And if you, like me, think that King Herod's "head-piece" is slickly consistent with "Honoring the Black Woman" - drop me a line and a wink! 

Be sure to visit our FaceBook page to enter our ticket giveaways!  The Nativity continues through December 31st at Goodman Theater.  Ticket prices are $35-45, or take in a Saturday matinee with two-for-one tickets, thanks to Target!  Don't make the mistake of parking at the lot across the street, 'cuz it'll cost ya $23!  Instead, take advantage of discounted, validated parking  at the lot on Lake Street between Dearborn and Clark Streets.

The Nativity The Ensemble



King Herod and Gabriel John Steven Crowley (King Herod) and Alexis J. Rogers (Gabriel)


To-Dos - Suburban Style: Happy Holidays

Seasonal Lights and Delights!

By Tracye Dee

Have a holly jolly Christmas; it's the best time of the year.  It’s the season for giving and remembering others by spreading some holiday cheer.  So, say hello to someone new and grab a friend you know. Get out and enjoy some of these holiday happenings, and let the spirit of the season flow!

It wouldn’t be Christmas without sparkling lights and outdoor fun. This weekend, several light festivals are taking place.  We couldn’t name them all here, but here are a few:

homewood holiday lightsCheck out The Holiday Lights in Homewood!  Get things started on the evening of Friday, December 2, from 6-9pm in downtown Homewood, at Irwin Park.  Once Irwin Park is aglow, walk 2 blocks west and watch as Hickory Road transforms into Homewood’s very own Christkindlmarket with delicious desserts, live reindeer, costumed carolers, hot cider and mulled wine, luminaries and exciting ice sculpturing.  It's downtown Homewood’s busiest time as residents travel from shop to shop on musical trolleys.  Riders hop on and hop off visiting merchants who are open late, hosting children’s holiday craft activities, serving up holiday hors d' oeuvres and offering generous discounts on unique gifts you won’t find in any mall.  Just look for the Open Flag!  Trolleys will stop at all downtown public parking lots, including St. Joseph’s Church, Irwin Park and Hickory Road.  This To-Do, including the trolley rides, is free!

As part of its Crete Country Christmas, the Village of Crete will be having The Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 3, starting at 6:30pm.   Get there earlier in the day and enjoy the Kris Kringle market and horse drawn carriage rides from 1pm to 3pm. This To-Do is free!  You can also enjoy the Symphony In Lights at The Bolingbrook Promenade for free!  The light show starts on the hour nightly from 6-9pm through December 31st.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield ZooIt’s the 30th anniversary of Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo!  Boasting to have the largest light festival in the Chicagoland area, Brookfield Zoo will feature over a million bright lights, animated light displays and a laser light show.  Many of the indoor animal exhibits will be open, including the newest: the Great Bear Wilderness.  Open Saturdays & Sundays through December 18th and Monday, December 26 through Saturday, December 31.  Hours are from 4pm to 9pm and admission for adults is $13.50, children (3-11) and seniors (over 65) are $9.50. Parking is $9.

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland ExpressTake a magical trip to a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, gingerbread village display, decorated trees, a 10,000 square foot exhibit of a miniature train display and holiday beauty and more at the Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express!  Young and old will be delighted by the sights, sounds and "Family Drop-In" activities.  This To-Do continues daily (except Christmas day) through January 1st.  The cost for adults is $10; children (3-12), and seniors, $8; children under 2, free.

There’s nothing like a traditional holiday play to fill your heart with joy! It’s A Wonderful Life, a live radio play, will make you feel like you've been transported to the 1940s.  The production continues through December 23rd on Thursdays through Sundays (and select Wednesdays) at The Main Stage Theater at Pheasant Run in St. Charles.  Tickets are $30-40.

You could just about spend the entire holiday season at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights!  Their Holiday Series includes music, theater and comedy.  Be sure to check out A Christmas Carol, which continues through December 24th.  It’s an exciting and magical musical retelling of the classic tale that’s the perfect addition to any holiday celebration. Appropriate for all ages.  Ticket cost is $15-30.

con funk shunThe South Suburban Chicago Links areGetting in the Holiday Groove this Saturday, December 3rd for their annual concert and luncheon. Con Funk Shun will perform at the Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park. The reception starts at 10:30am and lunch at 11am. Tickets are $100.

We hope your Christmas is filled with the magic the season brings. Wishing you love, peace, and joy!

Tracye Dee

To-Dos - Suburban Style: Are You Game?!?!

Who's Got Next?

By Tracye Dee

Many of us are so overworked, overbooked and overstressed that we don’t take the time we need to relax and have fun. When was the last time you had some uninhibited adult play time? Play time is not just for kids you know. Adults of all ages need it too. Participating in fun activities is a good way to hone skills, tap into your creativity, or just blow off steam. Fun combined with laughter has proven to be good for your mind, body, and soul which coincidentally leave you with extra added energy. Plan a play date for you and some friends today!

Here are a few adult play time ideas to consider.

Xtreme Trampolines in Carol Stream provides exciting indoor trampoline fun! There is absolutely nothing like it! Xtreme Trampolines is located in a large warehouse filled with commercial grade trampolines.  You can hop, bounce, twist and flip from one trampoline to another.  There are 5 separate trampoline courts, including a dodge ball court and a giant foam pit. Each court is dedicated to a specific age group.  I’ve been a couple of times and the staff is exceptional and the fun is unlimited!  Its open daily and you pay by the hour. The first hour is $11, and each hour after that is $5.  You must sign a liability waiver in order to participate. Xtreme Trampoline is located at 485 Mission Street, Carol Stream, Illinois, (630) 752-1400.

Calling all Mario Andrettis and Nicole Lyons wannabes, Go-Kart Racing at Melrose Park Grand Prix is waiting for you Hop into one of the 9 hp Go- karts and take to the track within their 130,000 sq. ft. indoor facility. All karts are fitted with transponders that track and record lap times throughout the entire session.  The times are displayed in real-time on the projection screen for spectators to monitor your progress. Following the session, drivers are provided with a printout of their lap times. You do not have to be an experienced racer to enjoy the fun.  The cost is $20 for your first race and subsequent races the same day are $15. There are other pricing incentives as well.  The Melrose Park indoor Grand Prix is located at 2225 West North Avenue Melrose Park, Illinois,  (708) 343-7223.

Be a major league hitter at the batting cages of the Bulls/Sox Academy in Lisle, Illinois.  With 13 different cages, including machine and non machine cages, people of all skill levels can practice their swings. I personally hit like grandma, but enjoy the upper body workout.  The Hack Attack Softball Pitching Machine is a favorite at the academy. The wheel speed can be adjusted to throw fastballs,, drops, right- and left-handed curves, screwballs, knuckleball changeups and more.  Individual non machine cage rentals start at $12 for 15 minutes and $14 for machine cages. Other rates with longer batting times and group rates are also available. 

Space Golf, located behind Orland Square Mall at 15611 South 94th Avenue in Orland Park, is a science fiction themed indoor miniature golf course played in black light for a colorful glowing effect.  The course is complete with life sized aliens and flying saucers.  Beginning Friday, November 25 Space Golf’s 18 hole indoor course will be transformed into a holiday greeting card with snow and holiday music. The price for adults is $8. Pay an additional fee for the 3-D glasses that allow you to see things pop-out at you on the course.

Paintball Explosion in East Dundee is the newest paintball park in the Chicago area – located at the former site of Santa’s Village.  There are seven professionally-designed outdoor paintball fields and one indoor filed that include different war game scenarios. You can come as a team or join other teams there. When you’ve been shot with paint, you must leave the field, but can rejoin when the next game starts.  Different packages can be purchased to participate. However, the basic prices include the park entry fee of $18. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent the semi-automatic marker, safety goggles and mask, and access to the 3000 psi air tank for $15. Paintball pellets have to be purchased starting at $25 for 500. The best advice any one gave me is to “layer up” with clothing. The pellets do hurt, but the paint washes out of your clothes with no problem.

Dodgeball, the favored team game played at school gym, is gaining popularity again among adults! Teams consist of 6 people with up to 4 substitutes and each team is responsible for providing retrievers. An 8-inch Gator Skin ball is the standard for the leagues and the strategies haven’t changed. Before the game, each team decides who is top on the hit list from the opposing team, and then teams up to get them out of the game. Don’t forget the six D's of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Drill, Dive and Dodge! Dodgeball, not just for kids anymore, is being played in leagues all over Illinois. You can contact the National Amateur Dodgeball Association for a league in your area. The next adult leagues begin in January 2012.  There are also Dodgeball meetup groups in the Chicagoland area.

I've got next!

Tracye Dee

Introducing Soleil's To-Dos - Suburban Edition!

Suburban Nightlife

By Tracye Dee

Fall is here and it’s time to gradually move our social activities indoors.  That’s not a bad thing at all because there are plenty of fun things To-Do inside.  Just ask the western suburbanites who now have a comedy club in the area!  Jus Jokes opened recently in Crest Hill, Illinois, (nestled between Plainfield and Joliet).  It’s a great location with ample parking that is shared with customers of Porky’s BBQ next door.  In fact, Porky’s provides the food menu for Jus Jokes.

Sonya D.

My friends and I decided to check out Jus Jokes recently and had loads of nonstop belly aching fun.  We especially enjoyed Host and Comedienne Sonya D., a Chicago native who has also made appearances on Def Comedy Jam, BET’s Comic View, Showtime at the Apollo, and Comedy Central.  Her series of setups and punch lines were well timed and effective.  She handled outbursts from the audience with colorful humor.  Jus Jokes is focused on bringing national and local talent to the club each week.  I suggest you visit soon and often!  Weekly shows are on Thursdays, starting at 8pm and Friday and Saturdays at 9:30pm (doors open at 8:30pm). Jus Jokes is located at 1835 Knapp Street (Off Weber Road) in Crest Hill, Illinois.  The price is $15 per person and a 2 drink minimum.  For reservations or parties contact Derrick at (630) 202-8678 or

We’ve heard of The Electric Slide, The Casper Slide and The Wabble, but did you know there are 100s of line dances?  Be the first on the dance floor this holiday season to lead others in the hottest new line dances.  Lines N Motion creator and owner Belynda Head teaches both men and women the most current line dances.  You will learn several new line dances each week including, Complicated, Groovy People, Bikers Shuffle, Full Circle and The Wop.  Classes are held on Mondays from 7pm to 8:30pm at the Bolingbrook Park District’s Annerino Community Center at 201 Recreation Drive in Bolingbrook.  The fee is $10. For more information contact Belynda at 630-254-3777 or

It’s better to enjoy a great stogie in the company of fellow cigar aficionados and enthusiasts than to smoke alone at home.  The Park Ridge Cigar Lounge (PRCL) opened recently in Park Ridge, Illinois and is committed to providing a comfortable and fun puffing club for all men and women to enjoy.  Spend an evening this week with Luis Garcia from Miami, Forida and his Oja Cigars on Friday, November 4 at 6pm.  PRCL is located at 1101 West Touhy Avenue in Park Ridge.

University Golf Club is providing something for everyone in the southern suburbs this month!  For starters, it’s Old Skool and R&B nights on Wednesdays, with DJ Opio “Ope-Ski” Latham, featuring all your favorite hits from “Back in the Day” from 8pm to 1am.  The cover charge is $5.  Then, on Fridays enjoy the Steppers Sets with DJ Lavelle C. from 9pm to 2am.  The cover charge is $5 before 11pm and $10 after 11pm.  Dress code is “Dress to Impress”.

Finally, Monday night is football night in America and at The University Club.  The NFL games will be shown weekly.  This Monday, watch the Chicago Bears play on a 120" Projection Screen & Four Flat Screen TV's.  Enjoy $1.00 Drafts and Chicken Wings, Burgers and Nachos.  "Wear Your Team Colors!" For more information contact the University Golf Club at (708) 747-0306 ext. 21 or visit the web site at  The University Club is located at 23520 Crawford Avenue in University Park, Illinois.

Nothing is as fine as wine at WineStyles in Glen Ellyn.  Winestyles Glen Ellyn is hosting a Happy Hour in honor of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Rho Zeta Lambda Chapter on Thursday, November 17 from 5pm to 7pm.  WineStyles Glen Ellyn is located at 715 Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn.  For more information call at (630) 469-9463.

Let’s get ready to rumble!  Midnight rumble, that is, at Rich City Skate in Richton Park on Saturday, November 5, from 12am to 4am.  They’ll be celebrating the Scorpios all night, including DJ Buddy Love.  “Whether it’s Skatin’ - Steppin’ – Sippin’ & Trippin,’ Rich City Skate has got it goin’ on.”  Rich City Skate is located at 4645 Sauk Trail in Richton Park.  Call for more details at (708) 748-7750. 

'Til next time!

Tracye Dee

To-DosLetter: Halloween and Dia de los Muertos To-Dos!

Just hanging around!



Spooky Sights, Sounds, Songs & Soirees!

Can you believe we're at the end of October already?!?!  The ghosts and goblins are coming out and we've got a bunch of ways that you can get in on the action!  Whether you have the kids in tow, want to get your party on, listen to some music or enjoy the last of the good weather, we've got you covered!

Nightmare at 63rd Street BeachNightmare at 63rd Street Beach Haunted House – One of my favorite beaches houses is being transformed for three days to give you a ghoulishly frightful experience!  Ten scenes are so horrific that children under twelve are warned to STAY AWAY!!  Adults, enter at your own risk of having night terrors FOR DAYS following this this hair-raising experience!  [Cue spooky music, please.]  Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Not recommended for children under 12

Dia de los Muertos Altar Walk - Have you ever wanted to peek inside one of those homes in the historic Pullman neighborhood?  Well, on Sunday, several owners/artists will open their homes so that you can view their Dia de los Muertos Altars and art!  Enjoy this at-your-own-pace walking tour of homes and learn a little bit about this Mexican holiday that celebrates loved ones - both living and deceased!  The tour concludes with a reception in one of the homes.  Reserve your tickets in advance and save!

Bengston's Pumpkin FarmBengston's Pumpkin Fest – Kids love this To-Do! (Okay, this adult did, too!) The pig race is a favorite, and as those pigs race around the track repeatedly, I don't know which is louder - the squealing pigs or the kids squealing with delight!  They've also got this contraption that hurtles huge pumpkins through the air.  I don't know why it's so satisfying to watch these mashing pumpkins, but do be sure to verify the pedigree of any pumpkin pies that you purchase!  You'll also find a corn maze, petting zoo and an all-around good time!  Be sure to take advantage of the unlimited rides - included with admission on weekdays.  Continues through Halloween!

Northalsted Halloween ParadeNorthalsted Halloween Parade - This is the fifteenth year for this evening parade that takes place on Halloween.  Whether you're a participant or a spectator, you're sure to get a kick out of folks competing in various categories, including Best Pet Costume, Best Drag Costume, Scariest Adult Costume, Most Original Adult Costume, Best Group and Audience Choice!  Line up on the sidelines for a look at the floats and costumes!  When the parade ends, the music begins on the Main Stage and the contest winner will be announced!

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) - The multi-cultural Chicago Sinfonietta presents this stirring program that combines classical compositions and guitar for a program that honors both the spirit of the holiday and ancestral spirits.  Priced at only $10-15, this program affords an opportunity for all to participate this cultural experience of reflection.  (Check out the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) XXV at the National Museum of Mexican Art, too - it runs through December 11th and includes some fantastic programming!)

Need More To-Do?

Dream ReapersMuseum of Science & Industry Spooky Science – Visit the MSI this Halloween season and participate in hair-raising Spooky Science!  Witness giant pumpkins dropped from the Museum’s balcony as an experiment in gravity and more! Continues through (and free(!) on) Halloween!

Connecting Over Candy - National Association of Women Business Owners presents a unique networking event that benefits the residents of Chicago's Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

Screams In the Park – Secret passageways, torture chambers, and vats of deadly acid . . . Not recommended for children under thirteen.  Continues through Halloween!

Dream Reapers Haunted House – Dream Reapers Haunted House is over 14,000 square feet of sheer terror, with over 22 rooms, 40+ animatronics and over 40 actors and actresses. Continues through Halloween!

Brookfield Zoo’s Creatures of the Night – Bear witness to an ancient ceremony where pumpkins found guilty of crimes against Halloween will be SMASHED by our 25 foot Gruesome Gourd Executioner. How far will the guts fly? Will you be safe? Continues through October 30th!

Spooky Pooch ParadeSpooky Pooch Parade – Cleverly costumed canines march the parade route to celebrate Halloween. Spectators are invited to line the parade route for a barking good time.

Trains, Tricks & Treats - Family Fun In the Model Railroad Garden! Families are invited to come to the Chicago Botanic Garden in costume and trick-or-treat throughout the Model Railroad Garden (decorated with spider webs, spiders, ghosts, goblins and other spooky horrors). October 29th and 30th.

Boo! at the Zoo - Little ghosts and goblins of all ages are sure to have a howlin’ good time! Our not-so-scary and fun-filled event has something for the entire family to enjoy!  October 29th and 30th.

Spooky Singalong Kids Concert - Calling all ghouls! Bring the whole family to this spooky, but not scary, sing-a-long featuring the Old Town School of Folk Music Wiggleworms faculty. Be sure to wear your Halloween costume!

Looking for more To-Do?  There's a lot more, so don't miss out!!! Visit Soleil’s To-Dos regularly for the most up-to-date listings!  Whatever you decide To-Do, make it a Happy Halloween!





Eyes Wide Shut
Monster's Ball

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