Spread across four arts venues, the school's performance program presents finely honed productions of new and classical dramatic works and hosts internationally acclaimed musicians of all genres. Catch violinist Rachel Barton Pine with piano accompaniment at the state-of-the-art, 13,000-square-foot Wentz Concert Hall (from $40), or exchange the smiley comedy mask for a frowny tragedy one with the Greek-inspired Phedre at the artsier, black-box-style Madden Theatre ($10).
Watching a movie should be a magical experience, one that transports the mind to places it wouldn't otherwise go. Nothing undercuts that faster than traipsing down a sticky aisle to squeeze into a creaky seat and watch a movie where some guy just staples paper for an hour. The experience couldn't be more opposite at Hollywood Blvd. and Hollywood Palms Cinemas, where people might start an action-packed new release or cult classic by meeting the film's stars. Fans of the theater have written tons of appreciative letters, recalling their experiences hobnobbing with Tippi Hedren before a showing of The Birds, or seeing a cast reunion of Back to the Future, which one mega-fan wrote was "one of the best experiences of [their] life."
But it's not just these meet-and-greets that elevate the experience at Hollywood's theaters. Instead of cramped row seating, there are high-backed swivel chairs encircling tables, and instead of concession stands, there're servers ferrying food and beverages to tables throughout the show. The extensive menu is mostly upscale casual dishes, including the Whoopi Goldburger with Angus beef, bacon, and barbecue sauce. From the bar, guests can order Rat Pack?inspired martinis, craft beers, or specialty cocktails such as the Tequila Mockingbird margarita with raspberry liqueur.
At each location, the architecture and decor rivals that of a film set. The lobby at Hollywood Blvd. is a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and at Hollywood Palms, individual screening rooms pay homage to Marilyn Monroe and The Wizard of Oz. Not surprisingly, the Hollywood Blvd. theater has an on-site museum with real movie artifacts, including costumes worn by the Munchkins, whom the theater successfully petitioned to receive their own star on the Walk of Fame.
Downers Grove Choral Society’s accomplished singers present classic choral works and contemporary masterpieces during concerts in Chicago’s western suburbs. Helmed by new music director Dr. Amy Weller, the choir will explore Rossini’s 149-year old Petite Messe Solennelle, a whimsical mass more playful than a beagle puppy wearing a propeller beanie. An award-winning lineup of guest artists, including soprano Christine Steyer and alto Laura Sauer, will fill each performance with pitch-perfect notes and rich vocal textures. A pair of vintage reed organs also joins the Society's lineup, with an 1884 Mason and Hamlin accompanying the performance in LaGrange and a Story and Clark organ backing the performance in Naperville. The Sunday matinee unfolds in a 13,000-square-foot concert hall designed by the Talaske Group, which perfected the acoustics at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. Here, sound ricochets off of two massive chambers and motorized curtains designed to help tune concerts, filling up to 1,210 ears and 650 trick-or-treat baskets with crisp, delicious melodies.
Within Studio Movie Grill's expansive auditoriums, towering screens enrapture audiences seated in plush leather recliners and at dining tables. As the familiar celebrity faces in blockbuster and cult-classic features deliver Oscar-worthy lines, sneakily quiet waiters deliver meals from a full menu decorated with more than 100 items, including gourmet pizzas, smoked ribs, and cocktails infused with the spirit of Daniel Day-Lewis. Bartenders at the lobby bar dole out glasses of premium liquors, wines, and draft beer before and after shows.
Beneath the night sky's smattering of stars, Keno Drive In projects double features of the latest first-run films. Customers tune car radios to 88.5 FM or attach celebrity impersonators to their car windows to hear audio synchronized to the narratives unfurling onscreen. Throughout the evening, moviegoers can chow down on Keno Drive-in's concessions or dump their own charcoal into the theater's onsite grill to simmer feasts for friends gathered in the picnic area.