Helmed by Victor Muenzer, a Grammy-winning conductor and trumpeter, the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra breathes new life into classical masterworks, operatic favorites, and Broadway hits. Instead of hiring Shakespeare’s ghost to run a kissing booth, the orchestra delivers two tributes to his most famous love story, Romeo & Juliet, in its "Valentine Romance" program. A cadre of soloists who have played with venerable Chicagoland and international orchestras make hearts swoon during Prokofiev’s emotionally intense Romeo & Juliet, op. 64 and a star-crossed suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. In addition to performing a solo, local violist Dan Golden will premiere his latest composition, Eine Kleine Klezmer Musik, a danceable love song to Jewish music from Eastern Europe.
Pickwick Theatre, home to one of the Chicago area’s largest theaters, showcases the latest Hollywood blockbusters inside a historic, registered-landmark building. Patrons flood their visual and aural receptors with the theater’s current list of films displayed on one of three screens, including an expansive main auditorium that seats 1,000 people or mannequins comically brought to life. Popcorn and soda keep bodily hungers sated throughout films' airtime and prevent stomach growls from interrupting key dialogue.
In pubs across Ireland, the craic, which means enjoyable conversation and gossip, is everything. It's the same at The Curragh Irish Pub & Restaurant, with regular live music, Irish dancing, and live streaming of rugby and soccer matches from around the world. The Curragh's menu relies on its Irish ancestry, with traditional dishes such as corned beef and cabbage or chicken boxty. Beers follow suit, with dozens of Irish ales, including Smithwick's and Guinness, on tap. Whiskeys such as Jameson and Bushmills are also poured through tap-like spigots at the wood-paneled bar. In the summery months, The Curragh's patio radiates with warmth and conviviality, often humming with the cheer and snorted laughter of catered parties.
At a three-times-weekly gathering at A’s Bar, The Chubby Bullfrog combines fine cheeses and smooth sips of five 6-ounce import and craft beers with sausages provided by Perl’s All American Sausage Company and Chicago mainstay G.I. Joe, The Sausage Man, a traveling meat salesman featured on ABC’s 190 North. Sausages' smoky notes commingle with beers' bitter and sharp accents, sending a wave of flavor crashing over sleeping taste buds and destroying their sandcastles. If the Chicago Bears play during Sunday’s class, students receive free food.
A towering, 35-pound pile of Angus beef, American cheese, and bacon awaits those who accept the Da Big Hurt Challenge at Shoeless Joes Ale House & Grille, the 22-year-old sports bar that has won over Chicago diners and Channel 2 News alike. Diners who tackle the challenge are rewarded with a T-shirt and are automatically entered to win the next presidential election. Guests with smaller appetites can enjoy more reasonably sized selections from the sports bar's menu of 14 gourmet burgers, steak, ribs, and pizza. Meals pair with pours from an impressive wine list or the roster of more than 20 craft beers on tap. The restaurant's 36 flat-screen televisions beam sports into the pub throughout the week while guests shoot pool, and singers belt out karaoke tunes on Saturdays.
Overlooking the rolling fairways of Tam O'Shanter Golf Course, The Howard Street Inn serves up tasty plates of pub fare and helpings of crisply televised sports. Tongues waltz with morsels of deli and grilled sandwiches, a dozen different Angus burgers, pizza, and seafood during Friday's fish fry. Domestic and imported drafts, as well as specialty cocktails and bottled wines, wash down bitter memories of second-place finishes in the soapbox derby. A covered patio grants sweeping views of the links, while 15 flat-screen TVs afford unparalleled views of live games from NFL, MLB, and NCAA packages.