SpotOnChicago Updates & News

Baldwin and Beethoven - Virtually

April 11. In a sign of the times, the arts community has harnessed its creativity and adaptability to significantly ramp up the production of online offerings. Below we’ve listed 30 events out of the 60 new "Virtual" additions this week to SpotOnChicago. The events span a wide range of interests – from theatre to magic to gardening. Highlights as follows...Tonight (April 11) Alec Baldwin and an all-star cast will host a worldwide presentation of Orphans written by Lyle Kessler. See our page for details. The play was staged by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in the mid-80’s and starred John Mahoney. This version is being hosted by Red Line Production out of Australia. Also, on Easter Sunday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will present Beethoven 9, a Facebook Premiere at 3:00 pm. This broadcast of a 2014 performance “features Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and distinguished soloists in one of history’s most powerful and inspiring artistic works.”

Other just-posted virtual events include a booktalk by Sarah Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski mystery series; a book club discussion of the Eric Larson work of non-fiction Devil in the White City; comedy improv at The Second City airing every few days through May 2; Fleabag – the stage version of the Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Emmy winning comedy; The Happiest Place on Earth, staged by Chicago’s Side Show Theatre; and the Metropolitan Opera’s nightly opera streams. There are also a number of of talks and seminars to “attend” including A New Normal: How Social Science Can Help us Cope with COVID-19; Chicago Architecture: Design is Storytelling; the Strong America tour with Charles Marohn which will discuss the economic challenges of city planning; Jason Rosenthal on Family and Resilience; and an artists talk sponsored by Mana Contemporary.

Pritzker and Lightfoot on Summer Events

Governor J.B. Pritzker said this week that entertainment providers will need to consider cancelling all large outdoor events this summer. Block Club Chicago quoted Pritzker, “From my perspective today, I don’t see how we’re going to have large gatherings of people, again, until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere,” Pritzker said. “And I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact.” If that turns out to be the case, the loss of jobs and  revenue facing the city would be enormous. Consider the summer lineup: Grant Park Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Air and Water Show, and on and on.

For her part, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said everyone should hold off on cancellation plans until the COVID pandemic plays out further in the Chicago area. ABC 7 quoted Lightfoot, "’Today's mid-April and I think we have a long way to go before we start looking at events in July, in August,’ Lightfoot said. ‘Like, I understand why the governor may have said that in passing, which is what I took the comments to be. But we clearly haven't had any substantive conversations about something that might happen in July or August.’"

Only the progress we make against the pandemic in the next few weeks will tell how this plays out. One thing that won’t change is the demographics of the city and the impact that will have on large events. Venues catering to an older crowd are likely to face a much more difficult path to reengaging their audiences in larger venues.

Steps Forward and Back:

This week, we saw the passing of a great voice in the Chicago music scene. John Prine, the hometown boy from the suburb of Maywood, passed from complications brought on by the coronavirus. Prine’s authentic voice, heartfelt empathy, and dedication to his craft made him one of Chicago’s greatest songwriters. We have assembled a few links to celebrate his life. Here is a link to an interview by Stud’s Turkel on the craft of songwriting. Here is a Rolling Stone article comparing Prine to Mark Twain. Here is a link to the Chicago Symphony’s tribute to Prine who appeared several times at the venerable institution. And here is a link on the relationship between Prine and Steve Goodman, the masters of Chicago’s singer/songwriters. On another sad note, the long-time Chicago jazz artist Judy Roberts is ill and her family has started a GoFundMe page. And in a bit of good news reported by Block Club Chicago – last week every animal was adopted by from Chicago’s Animal Control shelter.