About the Town in March



By Philip Vidal



The 2019 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Chicago River Dyeing takes place March 16.


March.  Chicago.  St. Patrick’s Day.  The three are intimately linked.   When I went to the website for the 2019 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the tabs was “Guest of Honor.”  I clicked on it expecting to see a photo of actor Colin Farrell or an important Irish-American, but the guest of honor is St. Ignatius College Prep, my alma mater, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.  A terrific school, and a worthy honoree.


I am always amazed that fluorescent orange dye, dropped from boats into the Chicago River, makes the river turn green. The boats then become emulsion blenders, mixing the dye with the water. The dyeing of the Chicago River and the 64th annual Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Columbus Drive are March 16. The festivities continue the following day at the 16th annual Northwest Side Irish Parade, beginning at the Onahan School, 6634 W.  Raven, and the South Side Irish Parade, on Western from 103rd to 115th.


Even though everyone is allegedly Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, a deeper dive into citizenship can be found at “Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos.”  The U.S entry at last year’s Venice 16th International Architecture Biennale comes to the U.S. for the first time, to the Tadao Ando designed Wrightwood 659 gallery in Lincoln Park, through April 27.


View the world’s biggest digital art projection at theMart in March on Wednesdays to the following Sunday. Photo by Art on the MART.


The Merchandise Mart, now theMart, was an architectural marvel when it opened in 1930 as the world’s largest building.  I missed “Art on theMart,” the world’s biggest digital art projection when it was inaugurated last year.  Fortunately, it’s back this spring and summer, starting in March on Wednesdays to the following Sunday.


As much as I’d like to stand outside and see the Art on theMart, if the weather is raw and cold, I might seek a reprieve at “In The Tropics: The Orchid Show,” continuing through March 24 at the Chicago Botanic Garden, or the 103rd annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show, March 20-24, at Navy Pier.


By March the long Chicago winter gets to me and I need a break, so I am going to Naples, Florida.  Only related by name, Naples, Italy, was one of the stops on the grand tour that travelers took in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Guest conductor, Henry Bicket, artistic director of The English Concert leads the Music of Baroque on a different sort of grand tour, “The Grand Tour – Handel, Correlli, and Rameau,” March 3 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, and March 6 at Harris Theater.


New Music Chicago hosts their 2nd annual impromptu Fest, March 21-31. Photo by New Music Chicago.


Closer to home, Chicago composers will be showcased at the 2nd annual New Music Chicago’s Impromptu Fest, at Guarneri Hall, 11 E. Adams, March 21-31.


It’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 60th anniversary and their 50th anniversary in Chicago, March 6-10, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.


Help the Chicago Jazz Orchestra celebrate their 40th anniversary, on March 29, at a gala in the Empire Room at the Palmer House Hilton.  Over the years, the Empire Room has seen performances by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, so it’s fitting that the Chicago Jazz Orchestra chose this venue for their gala, with big band jazz music and singer Rene Marie.


The Lyric Opera of Chicago celebrates Renée Fleming’s 25 years since her debut at the Lyric on March 23. Photo by Andrew Eccles/Decca


Soprano Renée Fleming will be feted to mark the 25th anniversary of her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  The Women’s Board of the Lyric will host a concert at the Lyric and post-concert gala at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on March 23.  The dress code for the Lyric gala is white or black-tie.


The Museum of Science & Industry’s “Wired to Wear” exhibition opens March 21. Photo by the Museum of Science and Industry.


For a look at the merging of cutting-edge technology and clothing, check out the “Wired to Wear” exhibition which opens March 21 at the Museum of Science & Industry.  I recall that back in the 60s, the prediction was that we’d all be getting around with jetpacks, and that neck ties would be nowhere to be seen.  At least one of those predictions has nearly come true.


The clothes worn by the teens in the 1995 movie “Clueless” were part of its allure.  The stars of “Clueless” – Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd and Donald Faison, as well as Matt Smith from “The Crown” and “Doctor Who,” are in town for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), billed as “Chicago’s Home of Pop Culture,” at McCormick Place, March 22-24.


Years ago I saw Hell in a Handbag Productions’ “Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical.” The parody of the 1972 movie “The Poseidon Adventure” was absolutely hilarious.  I’m glad that it’s back.  This time it’s at The Edge Theater, March 15-April 28.  I saw “The Poseidon Adventure” at the Chicago Theatre when the movie was released in 1972.  The 1970s were a low point for Chicago’s downtown movie palaces, but now the Chicago Theatre is the venue for top drawer singers, bands and comedians.


“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” runs through March 17 at the Writers Theatre. Photo by Writers Theatre.


August Wilson’s classic “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” set in 1920s Chicago is back at Writers Theatre, Glencoe, through March 17.


For something brand new, the U.S. premiere of “DJEMBE! The Show,” billed as an “interactive theatrical event,” is at the Apollo Theater, March 19-June 9. I’m shy so normally do not like interactive theater of any kind, but I could make an exception for this show.


Captive State” a new movie set in a Chicago neighborhood taken over by an alien force (food trucks, coyotes, gentrification?) stars John Goodman and Vera Farmiga opens March 29.


The Goodman Theatre hosts Ike Holter’s “Lottery Day”, March 29-April 28.


The seventh and final play in Ike Holter’s series set in a fictitious Chicago ward is “Lottery Day,” which runs March 29-April 28 at the Goodman Theatre.


Jackie Sibblies Drury’s “We are Proud to Present a Presentation about Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915” continues at Steppenwolf Theatre through March 23.  Translated from Wolfram Lotz’ German radio program, Sideshow Theatre presents “The Ridiculous Darkness” at the Victory Gardens Theater.  This play also deals with colonization and runs March 24-April 28.


I’m a fan of G.K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” detective series running on WTTW, so I’d like to see the play, “The Man Who Was Thursday” based on G.K. Chesterton’s 1908 novel, which is at Lifeline Theater through April 7.


Ken Krimstein’s “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt” exhibit runs at the Spertus Institute, March 14-June 23. Illustration by Ken Krimstein.


Chicago-based cartoonist Ken Krimstein’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.  See original artwork, illustrations, and sketches from his new graphic biography “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt” at an exhibit of the same name about the great philosopher at the Spertus Institute, March 14-June 23.


The Jewish Film Festival Chicago is at the Music Box Theatre through March 17.  I’m not sure how the March 29 Brexit fits into this, but the Chicago European Union Film Festival runs from March 8 to April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.


A sure sign that winter is almost over is the sap rising in the trees.  So I am heartened that there are several maple syrup events this month: Festival of the Sugar Maples, Coral Woods Conservation Area in Marengo, March 3, 9 and 10; Maple Fest, Red Oak Nature Center in Batavia, March 16; and the Family Sugar Bush Day, at the River Bend Nature Center in Racine, Wisconsin, March 23.  Other signs of spring are the Cubs and Sox season openers on March 28.


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