About the Town in April



By Philip Vidal




I recently came across on old German saying, “Der April macht, was er will,” meaning that April does what it wants.  Certainly, the weather can be fickle, and April is a transitional month, when much of the programming for the 2023-2024 season comes to an end.


Children’s author and illustrator Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad come to life on stage at Chicago Children’s Theatre, April 13-May 26. Photo by Amy Nelson.


Critters like bears, frogs and toads come out of hibernation in the spring.  This might be an inspiration for some, as Chicago Children’s Theatre wraps up its 19th season with “A Year with a Frog and Toad,” April 13-May 26.  Music of the Baroque presents “Birds, Frogs, Crickets & Dogs” on April 14 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, and the Harris Theater on April 15.


The Music Institute of Chicago welcomes back musical trio “Time for Three” on April 27 at Nichols Concert Hall. Photo by Shervin Lainez.


The final concert of the Chicago Chamber Music Society’s 88th season is a performance by the Verona String Quartet on April 6 at a private club on North Michigan Avenue. The 2023-2024 season of Nichols Hall Presents concludes with the Grammy Award-winning trio “Time for Three” on April 27.   Last year, I heard the brilliant Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero perform at a Music of the Baroque concert. She shared that it was a homecoming of sorts for her because her mother is from Chicago.  The final concert of the 2023-2024 Skyline Piano Series on April 28 at the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall features Gabriela Montero.


Chicago Opera Theater celebrates 50 years! Purchase your ticket now to attend their April 5th gala “Fifty & Fabulous: A Golden Night of Song and Celebration.” Photo by Chicago Opera Theater.


Marking 50th anniversary milestones this month, Chicago Opera Theater’s “Fifty & Fabulous: A Golden Night of Song and Celebration” gala is at Venue West April 5, which follows a performance of “The Weight of Light” at the Epiphany Center for the Arts.  A.J. Croce, son of Jim Croce, performs “Croce Plays Croce: the 50th anniversary tour” at the Auditorium Theater on April 6, which reminds me of course of Jim Croce’s 1973 hit “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” which opens with “Well, the South Side of Chicago is the baddest part of town.”  Sadly, the Bach Week Festival’s 50th season, with concerts in Chicago and Evanston, April 26-May 5, will be its last.


Another celebration! FACETS honors Jacqueline Stewart’s work in celebrating film with the Brilliance Award at the Screen Gems gala, May 1 at the Arts Club of Chicago. Photo by FACETS. 


FACETS is just one year shy of its 50th anniversary, but is celebrating its 49th in a big way. This year’s Screen Gems gala hosted by Chaz Ebert on May 1 at the Arts Club of Chicago honors Chicago-native Jacqueline Stewart.  Just a few things on the impressive list of her credentials are that she is an author, archivist, the director and president of the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures, host of Turner Classic Movies’ Silent Sunday Nights, and professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago    The gala benefits the John A. Bross Student Scholarship Fund supporting under-resourced youth with free access to FACETS’ Summer Film Camp and the annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.   Co-chairs of the benefit committee are Penny Brown and Judy Bross, my Classic Chicago Magazine editor and wife of the late John Bross.


Northlight Theatre presents its ‘rolling’ world premiere of “Brooklyn Laundry,” April 11-May 12. Photo by Greg Inda.


Just as the 2023-2024 season concludes for many artistic organizations, other new events are sprouting up this spring.   John Patrick Shanley is the Pulitzer, Tony, and Oscar-award winning playwright and screenwriter of hits like “Doubt: a Parable” and “Moonstruck.”  The ‘rolling’ world premiere of his “Brooklyn Laundry” comes to Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, April 11-May 12.  Star of “Seinfeld,” Jason Alexander, makes his Chicago stage debut in the world premiere of Rob Ulin’s comedy “Judgment Day” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, April 23-May 26.


Taking place April 11-14 at Navy Pier’s iconic Festival Hall, EXPO CHICAGO allows the audience to experience art from over 170 galleries across the world. Photo by Justin Barbin.


To see the latest in the art world, head to Navy Pier’s Festival Hall for the 11th edition of EXPO Chicago: the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, April 11-24.  Vernissage on April 11, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA)’s Women’s Board, is the opening night benefit at EXPO Chicago and supports the MCA’s learning programs.  EXPO Chicago is an international art fair, and is proof that it’s actually a small world:  EXPO Chicago is now under the auspices of Endeavor’ FRIEZE art fairs, which is owned by Ari Emmanuel, brother of Rahm Emmanuel, Chicago’s former mayor.


Another place to see the latest in the art world is the Venice Biennale, billed as the “world’s largest art exhibition.”  It runs April 20-November 24.   American Airlines brings back seasonal non-stop service between Chicago and Venice June 5-October 26, simplifying a trip to the biennale.


Hyde Park Art Center celebrates Robert Earl Paige with his largest exhibition to date including rarely seen parts of his collection at “The United Color of Robert Earl Paige,” April 6-October 27. Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center.


Closer to home, two exhibitions feature the works of Chicago artists.   The Hyde Park Art Center presents “The United Colors of Robert Earl Paige” April 6-October 27.  Curated by Allison Peters Quinn, this solo exhibition is the largest exhibition of the Chicago native’s work to date.  The Art Institute of Chicago hosts “Christina Ramberg: A Retrospective,” April 20-August 11.


The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame welcomes 3 inductees to their class of 2023. Statues will be presented during the ceremony on April 16th. Photo by Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and Annabelle Broeffle.


Chicago’s literary talent will be feted at the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Chicago History Museum on April 16.   The event is free and open to the public, but registration is strongly encouraged.  Don’t forget to support your local bookstore on April 27, Independent Bookstore Day.


And support your local record store on April 20, Record Store DayTM.  Seventy years after Nat King Cole performed at the famed Blue Note Jazz Club in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the original tapes from his performances have been restored and Cole’s “Live at the Blue Note Chicago” will be one of Record Store Day’s special releases on the 20th.


Why it took seventy years to hear recordings of Nat King Cole’s performances at the Blue Note is a Chicago mystery.   Host Geoffrey Baer will reveal other local mysteries in his “Chicago Mysteries” program on WTTW on April 16.


It might be the end of the 2023-2034 season for some institutions, but others, like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Court Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and TimeLine Theatre Company, have already announced their 2024-2025 seasons, all looks good, and I look forward to reporting on those performances that catch my eye!


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.