About the Town in May







As I am writing this in mid-April, I’m reminded of the old adage, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Except that I’m now watching horizontal snow showers.  More apt, at least in Chicago: April showers bring May music and movie events.


Kevin Bell will be honored at the Screen Gems Benefit 2019: A Facets Celebration, May 8. Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Park Zoo.


May kicks-off with The Merit School of Music 40th anniversary  gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago on May 8.  The Merit School’s mission is to transform the lives of Chicago area youth through music.  That same evening Kevin Bell, president/CEO of the Lincoln Park Zoo, will be honored at the Screen Gems Benefit 2019: A Facets Celebration at the Arts Club of Chicago.  I am sure this is a fun event.  My editor, Judy Bross, is one of the gala co-chairs.  Proceeds from the benefit support the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and Facets’ educational programs.


Flautist Sir James Galway will be honored at Ravinia’s “Reach*Teach*Play,” May 11. Photo by Ravinia.


Ravinia’s “Reach*Teach*Play” educational programs are the recipients of the proceeds from The Ravinia Associates Board’s “Music Matters” on May 11 at the Marriott Marquis Chicago.  Flautist Sir James Galway will be honored.


The Music Institute of Chicago anniversary gala honoring Wynton Marsalis is May 20 at The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.  King and Caryn Harris receive the Cultural Visionary Award.  Susan Charles receives the Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence.  Music of the Baroque’s gala, concert and raffle “A Musical Feast” is May 31 at The Fairmont Hotel Chicago.  In addition to supporting Music of the Baroque’s programming, proceeds from the benefit fund art education programs at six Chicago public high schools.


Ramsey Lewis opens Ravinia’s 2019 season with Ramseyfest on May 31. Photo by Ravinia.


Chicago-native, legendary jazz composer and pianist Ramsey Lewis opens Ravinia’s 2019 season with Ramseyfest on May 31, joined by Philip Bailey, the John Pizzarelli Trio, and another Chicagoan, singer Ann Hampton Callaway.  I thought that Lewis was going to retire after last year’s Chicago Jazz Festival, but I’m glad he didn’t.


Chicago-born Grammy®, Golden Globe and Academy award-winner Common performs at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO)’s 30th annual Corporate Night on June 3 at Symphony Center.   The Joffrey Ballet Chicago performs at Symphony Center in “Stravinsky and the Joffrey Ballet” May 30-June 1.  That’s assuming that the CSO strike is over by then.


The Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO) wraps up its 40th season with CJO at 40: An Anniversary Celebration at the Studebaker Theater on May 18.


Catch a screening of Arthur Penn’s “Mickey One” at the Music Box Theatre on May 27.


Both music and  film are themes at a screening of Arthur Penn’s “Mickey One” at the Music Box Theatre on May 27.  The Jazz Institute of Chicago, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is presenting the movie along with the Chicago Film Society.  The 1965 movie, which I’ve never seen, stars Warren Beatty.  It was shot on the streets of Chicago and Detroit and features a jazz score by Eddie Sauter and Stan Getz.  Warren Beatty also starred in Penn’s more famous “Bonnie and Clyde,” which was released a few years later.


The Music Box Theatre hosts a screening of Stanley Donen’s “Funny Face” on May 2.


The Music Box Theatre screens Stanley Donen’s 1957 musical “Funny Face” with a panel discussion moderated by Chicago fashion maven Nena Ivon on May 2.  My favorite line in the movie, which stars Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, occurs when, after an extravagant five-minute musical number “Think Pink,” fashion magazine editor Maggie Prescott is asked why she’s not wearing pink.  She replies, “Me? I wouldn’t be caught dead.”  Patrons are encouraged to come in their best vintage clothing.


Chicago a cappella closes out its 25th anniversary season on May 17 with their annual gala “Hollywood a cappella,” celebrating music from Hollywood’s Golden Age at Venue West.


A bit of Hollywood comes to Chicago when actor Armie Hammer emcees and actor/director James Franco is the guest auctioneer at this year’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company Gala on May 11 at Rockwell on the River.


Music is a theme at the theater too this month.  I missed Sandra Delgado’s hit “La Havana Madrid” when it previously played in Chicago, so I want to catch it when it returns May 11-June 22 at the Den Theatre.  The play is the story about “La Havana Madrid,” a now long-gone nightclub that was located at Belmont and Sheffield in the 60s.  I grew up not far from there, but I was just a wee lad when the club was in its prime. The world premiere of Laura Eason’s “The Undeniable Sound of Right Now” at Raven Theater, May 2-June 16, takes us back to the music scene in Chicago 1992 — the year that Wax Trax Records on Lincoln closed, electronic music was on the rise, and vinyl was on its way out.   Vinyl records…remember those?  I still have the first record I ever bought, purchased at the Rose Records on Broadway, just south of Belmont: Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”


Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “SIX the Musical: Divorced. Beheaded. Live in Concert” runs May 14-June 30. Photo by Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


Two musical events with provocative titles are: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “SIX the Musical: Divorced. Beheaded. Live in Concert” about the six wives of Henry VIII at The Yard at Navy Pier, May 14-June 30, and “Notorious RBG in Song” on May 19 at the Spertus Institute, where the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be celebrated in song.  Her son James Ginsburg, the founder of Cedille Records, will join a post-concert Q&A.


There’s no musical theme that I know of, but I already have my ticket to see “The Adventures of Augie March” by David Auburn based on the novel by Saul Bellow, at Court Theatre, May 9-June 9.  Bellow taught at the University of Chicago for many years.  Arny Granat and former Illinois State Senator William Marovitz are the producers of the new musical “Miracle” about a North Side family during the 2016 Chicago Cubs Championship season. It opens May 8 at the Royal George Theatre.  Margaret Trudeau, former wife of Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and mother to the current Canadian Prime Minister, brings her one-woman show “Certain Women of an Age” to Second City over Mother’s Day weekend, May 9-12.


A remarkable woman who seems to have disappeared from history is pioneering filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché.  The Gene Siskel Film Center is screening a documentary, “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché” narrated by actress/director Jodie Foster, May 24-28.


Cirque du Soleil’s “Volta” runs May 18-July 6 at the Big Top, Soldier Field South Lot. Photo by Cirque du Soleil.


Cirque du Soleil begins its run of “Volta” in the Big Top, Soldier Field South Lot, May 18-July 6, just as the Chicago Philharmonic’s closes its season with “Chicago Philharmonic & Cirque de la Symphonie” at the Harris Theater May 26.


I love to travel, so I’m excited when there’s new non-stop service to and from O’Hare.  American Airlines starts seasonal, daily, direct, non-stop flights between Chicago and Athens, May 3-September 28.  TAP Air Portugal starts flying between O’Hare International and Lisbon five times a week on June 1.


As much as I like to travel and go out, I also like just staying home and entertaining.  I try to have friends over for dinner at least once a week.  When I do entertain, I like to keep things simple and seasonal.   After attending a reception for designer Marie Daâge at Kneen & Co. last month, I was inspired by the exquisite china that Mary Jeanne Kneen has to offer. Magnificent modern designs that put spring front and center.  Everything tastes better when presented on a beautiful plate.


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