The door of the limousine opens and flash bulbs burst in a thunderstorm of press and paparazzi. The crowd shoulders each other behind velvet ropes, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the diamond-studded star at the head of the red carpet. When the sea of people parts, a self-assured third-grader is revealed as she greets her fawning public.
Popcorn Media gives kids the chance to experience strutting down the red carpet during their Movie Star workshops and weeklong camps. Attendees soak up the secrets of screen acting from a director who works with Disney and Nickelodeon studios while producing their own unique work. They oversee each production element that goes into a film's creation, from lighting and filming to rehearsing and giving their parents an autograph. At the end of each session, kids attend a red-carpet premier of their work amid the applause of friends and family.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre closed in 1989 and reopened its doors in 2001 after city funds helped 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee. But its most notable feature is the 2,200-pound chandelier, which gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
The Music Theatre Company's production of Merrily We Roll Along, a Stephen Sondheim composition based on the 1934 Kaufman and Hart play, weaves a show biz success story in reverse. The musical begins with Franklin Shepard’s wild fame as a film producer before unraveling nearly 20 years of his past to uncover countless love affairs, missed opportunities, and humble dreams.
Waukegan Yacht Club almost seems to float on Lake Michigan. Perhaps that’s befitting an outfit that started out as a houseboat. Though it’s since moved into a shore-side building that juts into the lake, the club still upholds its seafaring mission, laid out back in 1927, to promote the goodly fellowship of kindred yachtsmen. The aquatic association invites members to set sail on the harbor in the club’s two 420s or the Sunfish yachts, free of charge. It also hosts a slew of special events like Blessing of the Fleet and Chicago-to-Waukegan race. The venue is also available for weddings, graduations, and other business or family events.
Oh, and they whip up a mean planked whitefish in their harbor-side restaurant. Club favorites include an 8 oz. filet mignon, beer-battered cod fish n’ chips, and the half-pound Regatta burger.
Zip Fitness's staff strives to keep intimidation from creeping in to each of the five gyms. To welcome all exercisers—even those who have never had gym memberships before—Gym Geniuses stroll through each location donning bright-red shirts that signal their availability to help guests operate the various machines and guide them in drafting fitness goals and coming up with routines for the day. They've stocked each location with strength equipment from brands such as Precor and Life Fitness, and a guided strength circuit's 30-minute full-body workout takes the guesswork out of toning physiques. Rows of cardio equipment include treadmills, ellipticals, and upright and recumbent bikes, along with rowing machines and StairMaster step mills. For stretching and ab work, bands, balls, and body bars abound, and free weights include dumbbells, barbells, and tamed school bells.
Gold memberships unlock additional perks, such as unlimited access to Hex II tanning booths and the ActivTrax online fitness and nutrition coach, which plots out workouts and offers nutrition tools tailored to each user's goals, from slimming down to having the flexibility to comb your hair with your feet.
The Little Gym of Gurnee, a branch of the nationwide network of Little Gyms, fosters educational wonderment, physical development, and self-confidence in children aged four months to 12 years old through engaging, interactive classes. Trained instructors lead the classes and impart motor skills, language development, and leadership skills through karate and dance classes, as well as brain boost activities—all with the goal of encouraging age-appropriate development in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere.
At Fatman Sports Lounge & Lanes, bowlers hurl orbs down 12 automatically scored lanes. Illustrations of electrified neon balls and pins line the alley's walls, complementing the beat-heavy tunes and pulsing lights of nightly cosmic bowling. An arcade challenges guests with pinball machines, racing games, and a claw machine that beckons with the promise of winning a stuffed toy or permission to cheat at one round of bowling.
The restaurant proves far more ambitious than the standard bowling-alley snack bar, dishing out thick, slow-simmered chili, a score of piled-high sandwiches, broasted chicken, and house-made pizza. Bartenders spin cocktails that tend toward the elaborate, potent, and sweet, with a dozen different variations on a long island iced tea alone.