The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences introduces yearlings of all ages to the joy of live musical theatre, enchanting audiences with lavish musical productions of popular works. This season, the Marriott unveils a new musical entitled For the Boys, a story based on the Twentieth-Century Fox Film starring Bette Midler of two charming performers who entertained the American troops for more than 30 years. During Seussical, a young boy with a large imagination and unlikely friends brings together a cast of loveable Dr. Seuss characters that includes Horton the Elephant and the Cat in the Hat.
Filling the platform boots and spiked leather necklaces of KISS with passionate mimicry and spot-on panache, Strutter claims the intimate Viper Alley for a special night of costumes, makeup, and ‘70s rock. The tribute act satiates the needs of KISS followers, building a rabid fan base that other cover bands such as ZZ Bottom and Huey Lewis and the Blog could only dream of. Bravely tackling the band’s signature smoking guitars and blood spitting, Strutter rouses audiences with dynamic renditions of the group’s hits. However, the show does not include pyrotechnics or the original group's signature fire-breathing stunt.
Originally formed in 1980, Kenny y Los Eléctricos rock audiences under the leadership of singer and frontwoman Kenny Aviles. Framed by her bushy halo of hair and decked out in self-sewn leather outfits, Aviles growls out her Spanish lyrics with husky intensity as guitars churn on. Following the 2010 release of their latest album, Sex y Rock & Love, the band continues nearly three decades of touring throughout North America and South America. Chicago-based up-and-comers Castellano round out the night's lineup, mixing rock with Latin rhythms and soulful baritone vocals that can turn even a napping litter of puppies into a moshing frenzy.
Local publications extol Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's past performances, and Steadstyle Chicago excitedly anticipates After Dusk but Before Daylight. Four Metromixers give past shows a perfect five-star average, and five Yelpers give the venue four stars.
At the dine-in movie theater Star Cinema Grill, concession stands are obsolete. By pressing a button, guests signal a server and are able to order restaurant-style without disrupting their viewing experience or screaming at an usher for a lobster bib. From angus sliders to ice-cream floats, Star Cinema Grill's menu appeases all ages with its gourmet-pub cuisine served amidst the glow of screenings and first-run film releases.
Tressa Thomas has a résumé most performers would envy. She launched her career on stage with dozens of performances throughout Chicago as both a solo singer and band member. She landed a role in Robert Townsend’s film about 1960s R&B music, The Five Heartbeats, which led to a duet with the legendary Patti LaBelle on the film’s soundtrack.
This was all before Thomas turned 13.
Since then, her momentum hasn’t slowed—it’s just swerved in a few new directions. The Columbia College grad was cast in other movies (including Flatliners and Message in a Bottle), produced three independent shorts, and worked on a fourth that came just short of an Academy Award nomination. In the midst of her cinematic endeavors, she also pursued plus-sized modeling, eventually appearing in Ebony, Jet, the LA Times, and other national publications.
Given that she first started singing publicly at age three, when most children can’t yet tell the difference between music and the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, Thomas has never had an issue with confidence. But she realized that as a successful African-American, plus-sized female performer, she was a rarity. And so she decided to share her confidence with other women. She founded ThYck Troupe, a group that started modestly as a “modeling interest club” and grew into a nonprofit organization that creates performance opportunities for other plus-sized women.
Today, ThYck Troupe has gained the support of Secretary of State Jesse White and Governor Pat Quinn in its mission to enrich the Chicago arts community. In addition to mentoring young women and promoting size acceptance, the troupe produces an original web series, organizes fashion shows, and showcases performers in theatrical and musical productions. The company members represent nearly every medium of the creative arts—there are singers and dancers, poets and songwriters, models and actresses, journalists and radio personalities. With the Thyck and Fit Initiative, they broadcast a message of health as well as confidence, giving full-figured women and men the tools they need to achieve good exercise and nutrition habits at any size.
Hundreds of LEGO pieces scatter across C&A Robot Factory’s worktables, where kids follow plans or their own imaginations to build everything from programmable robots to remote-controlled vehicles. During the center's projects and camps, children work through projects that explore science, math, and creativity. They might build a LEGO space station, program the movements of a solar-powered robot, or use salt water to power a LEGO car. The stop-motion-animation project—where kids assemble LEGO bricks into a movie set and then take hundreds of photographs that are edited together to become a short movie—stretches the potential applications of LEGOs even further.
Creative opportunities, however, aren't limited to structured projects. During open-play sessions kids can use C&A Robot Factory’s thousands of LEGO blocks to assemble buildings or the world’s most uncomfortable carpet. The LEGO Ville area lets toddlers play as well, surrounding them with Duplo blocks, cars, and trains.