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.
Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame inductee Marco Antonio Solís brings years of ballad-crooning mastery to his live shows, tickling ears and riveting eyes with his magnetic stage presence. Buoyed by the effervescent, folksy tunes of his backup band, Solís's honeyed tenor soars to rarified heights while his trademark flowing mane hypnotizes audience members and fills wigs with impotent rage. Drawing on a catalog of chart-topping hits from his solo career, Solís fills ears with such familiar melodies as "Asi Como Te Conoci," "Tu Amor o Tu Desprecio," and "Ojalá." Solís will be joined by Mexican singer-songwriter and fellow hit-maker Ana Gabriel. Euphonic masterpieces will be crafted in the cavernous Allstate Arena, which boasts stadium seating and a protective roof that prevents dulcet tones from floating away and napping geese from entangling themselves in people’s hair.
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Family fun and education
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Featuring 85 sessions in English and Spanish put on by more than 75 presenters and entertainers, including Radio Disney performers, author Heidi Murkoff, and nationally recognized pediatricians such as Dr. Joseph Wright, Healthy Children Conference + Expo entertains every member of the family. More than that, though, the organizers work to educate families about kids' health. The two-day expo, produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, features a truly diverse array of presentations focused on newborn care, bullying, fitness, and breastfeeding and parenting to allergies. When the panels and educational sessions conclude, visitors can then head to interactive pavilions and ample vendor booths to learn more about keeping kids healthy or to pick up fitness tips from Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel.
As part of their Shakespeare-Under-the-Stars series, First Folio Theatre will perform Romeo and Juliet, the Bard’s timeless tale of love, betrayal, and teenage angst. The play centers around two young lovers, born into bitterly feuding families, who risk their lives and their families’ wraths in order to launch a joint space program. As the plot progresses, smitten eyes give way to fighters leaping and lunging across the stage with swords drawn to defend loyalty and avenge loss. Audiences behold the saga in general admission arrangements on a scenic, sloping lawn. Set beside a Tudor revival manor and an Italian-replica chapel, the outdoor theater evokes the essence of Verona, complete with that region's legendary poison vendors.