Dubbing the theater “The Palace” when it opened in 1921, Chicago architect J.S. Aroner strove to capture a regal ambiance with a patchwork of diverse, though uniformly opulent, building styles. Patrons today can spot baroque, Greco-Roman, and even art-deco designs as they drift through the restored rose, blue, and cream entryway. But in 1959, The Palace was crumbling, and it seemed that future generations would miss out on this aesthetic experience. A concerned citizen by the name of Mrs. Ella Morris swooped in, though, purchasing the building for an undisclosed sum and then selling it back to the city for $1, which she promptly blew on gumballs. Newly named, the theater welcomed such acts as Louis Armstrong, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac in the ensuing decades until a major, two-year overhaul began in 1998. Now restored to its original condition, the venue hosts standup acts, Broadway musicals, big-name concert performances, and fully produced ballets.
Blackhawk boasts a history as flavorful as its food, starting in 1830 when Colonel Isaac Barnes built a crude cabin that would later develop into a multilevel trading post, then into an event hall, and finally into the current bar and grill. The historic restaurant, which was rebuilt in the 1970s after a devastating fire, continues to draw crowds with heaps of old-fashioned hospitality, as well as a monumental menu of fire-grilled pizzas ($9.95–$13.95), pastas ($6.95–$9.95), burgers ($6.95–$9.95), steaks ($12.95-$17.95), salads ($6.95–$8.95), and more. The Wet Burrito ($8.95) forms the saucy spine of Blackhawk's Latin American menu with mounds of meat smothered in colby jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and black olives. The pan-fried walleye ($14.95) is a house specialty, pairing perfectly with frosty suds from the bar.
• For $38, you get two tickets for the performance on Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m. (up to a $79.50 value) • For $36, you get two tickets for the performance on Sunday, July 24, at 7 p.m. (up to a $73 value) • For $36, you get two tickets for the performance on Tuesday, July 26, at 8 p.m. (up to a $73 value) • For $36, you get two tickets for the performance on Wednesday, July 27, at 8 p.m. (up to a $73 value) • For $36, you get two tickets for the performance on Thursday, July 28, at 8 p.m. (up to a $73 value)
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Chicago Sinfonietta was already markedly different from its counterparts when it played its first notes in 1987. Its founder and conductor Paul Freeman wanted to create a symphony that actually reflected the community in which it existed. The ensemble he formed brought together musicians from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, who interpreted both classical pieces and forgotten compositions from composers of color. His concept proved successful—the symphony toured Europe, played the Kennedy Center twice, and produced 14 albums, all while tunefully demonstrating the universality of music.
Today, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to perform unique programs, and supports music education and professional development opportunities for members of underrepresented communities. Freeman retired from his post at the end of the 2011 season, passing the reins new music director Mei-Ann Chen, but his legacy lives on in the music of performers he helped get started, including classical-music legend Yo-Yo Ma.