November in Chicago
The Holidays Are Here!
Your Chicago Correspondent
WOW! It’s really November already; autumn is roaring headlong towards winter and the Holiday Season is underway. We’re past the peak of beautiful colors in the trees, and the outdoors are donning their drab, gray, winter coats. We don’t care. It’s always time for fun and adventure in Chicago, so let’s dress appropriately and get the month started, shall we?
We can even start our adventures at home for a change. Today, Monday, November 7th, the 3Arts Award Gala is live on YouTube. Tonight, we’ll see life-changing grants awarded to 10 Chicago artists, while we learn about their work and how the grants will be put to use to enhance Chicago’s cultural landscape. A key part of the presentations will be four world premiere performances by artists such as Bethany Thomas, http://www.bethanythomasmusic.com/, the singer and actress who has been a sensation at The Hideout and other Chicago clubs. So, get here early, we’ll order pizza and put it up on the big screen TV. The show runs from 6:00pm to 7:00pm and its live on YouTube. You want to know the best part? Half of all donations will go to Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, https://uima.org. Register online at https://3arts.org/event/, it’s free, then come on over, we’ll turn it into a mini-fundraiser for a great cause.
Today, Friday, November 11th, is Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day. The Armistice of November 11, 1918, marked the end of violence in “The War To End All Wars”. It went into effect at 11:00am Paris Time, but was not a formal surrender, which took place later. Fighting continued right up until 11:00, with 2,738 men dying, and thousands more wounded, on that last day.
Let’s take a few moments of silence today, to think about the current war in Ukraine, about World War I, and all the wars that have plagued humanity since. Despite all of our efforts for peace, despite all of our prayers and donations and hard work, war continues. We must prevail against the forces of greed and the excessive hubris of generals and politicians that keeps us fighting like this.
Tonight, Saturday, November 12th, how about having dinner together? Meet us at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, 1073 W. Vernon Park Pl., about 5pm, and we’ll get a large table. Here is good, delicious Italian fare, in a modest restaurant that has been in this location and in this family since 1930. All that history and heritage show through in the service and the food. We can share an antipasto plate and some calamari, to start. I can heartily recommend either the ravioli or the eggplant parmigiano, but tonight I’m thinking I’ll try the orange roughy with broccoli. The Papa Joe’s Bolognese with angel hair pasta, for you? Doesn’t that look good! It smells even better, doesn’t it? Oh, this food is excellent, isn’t it? Everything, it’s all really good. Let’s take our time and relax. We need to chat and talk and catch up on everything while we make our holiday get-together plans. I’m so glad we did this; everyone, thanks for coming.
The holidays are already underway, Thanksgiving is this week. (Do you believe it?) To help us get into the spirit of the season, today, Saturday, November 19th, let’s get started on our Christmas gift shopping with a visit to Woolly Mammoth, https://www.woollymammothchicago.com/, 1513 W Foster Ave. The owners describe their shop as a “retail store and curiosity cabinet of odd, amusing & eclectic items resurrected from the past. We specialize in vintage & antique taxidermy, anatomy items, medical stuffs, books, toys, skulls, bones, skeletons, military, funerary, art, charts, maps, tools, specimens, natural history, science, culture, industrial.” What is in there? I don’t know either, but we have some weird friends and relatives so this sounds like a great place to start. Look at this: don’t we know someone who really deserves to have this real, mounted, piranha fish hanging on their wall? Or that skeleton?
Now here is something completely different: today, Sunday, November 20th, we’re going to the Harris Theater, www.harristheaterchicago.org/, 205 E. Randolph St., to see Chicago Opera Theater’s King Roger. This is the Chicago Opera Theater’s first ever Polish Language opera and it’s the Chicago premiere of the sweepingly romantic King Roger. Featuring two Polish opera stars and lots of home-grown talent including the Chicago Children’s Choir, Appollo Chorus, and Lyra Ensemble. The drama unfolds as a lowly shepherd is accused of preaching a philosophy of pleasure. He is arrested of course, but before punishment can be meted out, Queen Roxana begs King Roger to pardon him. He loves his queen, and the request leads the King into a heroic struggle against his own inner turmoil. As King, should he uphold the traditions and expectations of the crown, or choose a new path full of provocative ideas. Between societal expectations and the provocative ideas of the new stranger, King Roger must decide his path forward. Mysticism, romance, seduction and interconnectedness are the themes that course through the drama.
I understand not a single word of Polish, so this will be quite interesting indeed. Let’s hope that, in true operatic tradition, the music, staging, acting and singing will carry the message. Perhaps there will be subtitles screened above the action.
Now, of course, it’s Thursday, November 24th, and it’s my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving!
Gather the family, play with everyone else’s kids. Then cook the turkey, and pass the mashed potatoes around. Relax, play card games, and please, gentlemen readers, help the ladies clear the table and clean up. Watch your favorite football game. No, I won’t take that bet.
Today, Friday, November 25th, as everyone knows, is Black Friday, when the whole world goes crazy trying to get the very best deals on some silly toy or new piece of clothing. But that’s not us, no, not at all. We know that we already have all the very best gifts: good food, warm clothing, comfortable beds, roofs that mostly don’t leak and walls that keep out the winter cold. Best of all, we share this easily with friends and family whom we love and who love us, deeply, in return.
So instead of shopping, let’s all go see “A Christmas Carol”, live on stage at the MAC, McInnich Arts Center, College of DuPage. 425 Fawell Boulevard Glen Ellyn. The show starts at 3:00pm (there’s another show at 7:00pm). This adaptation of Dickens classic is presented by a cast of 50 local actors, of all ages, giving us a great excuse to dodge the crowds and have some fun together. As a bonus, we get to see the story live, in person, putting a new spin on an old tradition (instead of watching the same old Alistair Sim or Reginald Owen movie versions yet again).
Today, Sunday, November 27th, is just the right day to catch “The Sunday Fizz” at Rhapsody Theater, https://rhapsodytheater.com, 1328 W. Morse Ave., up in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Rhapsody Theater’s building was constructed in 1912, and has been through many different changes through the years. Now it’s back as a theater and soon-to-open restaurant, with a full bar (three bars, in fact). The acoustics are wonderful, with comfortable, reasonably spaced seating arrangements. While the Theater’s new owner, Dr. Ricardo T. Rosenkranz, intends to have a strong focus on magic, the place is just as well suited to world class performances; Civitas Ensemble recently debuted there, with a full program of beautiful, passionate music from César Franck, Mozart and Poulenc.
But we’re here for the Sunday Fizz, with WFMT radio host Robbie Ellis and a small group of exceptionally talented friends who will treat us to “a night of music, comedy, and musical comedy.” They will be playing, and playing on and around, the Rhapsody Theater’s Steinway grand piano to give us all a night of grand fun. It starts at 7:30pm, so let’s meet in the bar about 6:30 and have a well-deserved cocktail. When the doors open, we’ll get good seats and “kick back, have a drink, and enjoy some sparkling entertainment.” Isn’t this a great way to unwind after the Thanksgiving rush?
Tonight, Friday, December 2nd, we’re going back to the MAC, 425 Fawell Boulevard, Glen Ellyn, where Buffalo Theatre Ensemble will present: “Season’s Greetings” a play by Alan Ayckbourn. In this upbeat comedy, “friends and family gather at Neville and Belinda’s home to celebrate the holidays.” In a fresh and refreshing look at the bustle, anxiety, tensions, and pranks that come with the average family’s holidays, we’ll be treated to “a tryst under the Christmas tree, an unforgettable puppet show, and maybe even a murder”, according to the program. A tryst under the tree? How on earth will they manage that? Oh, look, that’s how! Yes! This is great fun. The ensemble never fails to put on a good show, do they?
Hey, it’s Sunday, December 4th already, do you believe it? Whew, it’s been a busy month. Let’s stay home and rest up for December, shall we? Until then my friends and readers, keep your own, personal lives full of adventure and happiness.