Is Nothing Sacred?

Well after seeing the play Book of Mormon, in this case, no nothing is. It may not be for everyone and I could see how some might be offended, an average of fifty people walk out of a performance, but really Book of Mormon is from the creators of South Park. You have to know what you are walking into; surely one is not expecting a sequel to the Sound of Music. This play is not one for the kiddies.

Book of Mormon

In any case, be prepared to laugh until it hurts, and at other times to shake your head in in utter amazement, at what you are hearing and seeing. But remember, Book of Mormon is live theatre and weren’t you fortunate to get one of the hottest ticket on Broadway. If you think you are going to be offended – you probably will be. So my suggestion would be to not to go and let someone who will appreciate it – to have chance to nab one of those tickets. For me, it was a night of laughing until it hurts and shaking my head in utter amazement, at what the creators got away with.

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Shakespeare in the Park: A welcome [new] tradition for Park Districts

This summer I had the opportunity of attending one of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre “Shakespeare in the Park” productions in conjunction with the Chicago Park District and Boeing. The concept is to bring professional productions, such as The Taming of the Shrew, free of charge to Park Districts throughout the city so masses can enjoy. A new sort of summer tradition, if you will. The Summer 2012 schedule ran from North of the City at Welles Park to South of the City at Ridge Park, making classic drama accessible to all. Stellar acting lends a new take on Shakespeare.

Although the productions are done for the summer, keep an eye out for the 2013 season. It’s a great non-traditional tourist attraction while visiting the city. Plus did I mention it’s FREE? So pack a picnic and bring a bottle of wine, it’s perfectly acceptable. The Red Line El train, located 1 block from the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown, makes transportation to and from select Park Districts easy! To receive information on upcoming Shakespeare in the Park locations and productions, sign up for the email blasts, follow the hashtag #ShakesInTheParks on Twitter, or “like” them on Facebook.

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Free fun with Movies in the Park

All too often the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown has families looking for activities to do in the evening. One of my personal favorites is FREE… Movies in the park. From classic movies like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” to new movies like “Puss in Boots” or “Iron Man 2” play in park venues all over the city from June 11th to October 24th. Bring a picnic basket and a blanket and have a nice enjoyable relaxing evening watching a movie in one of Chicago’s 125 parks.

 Click here to find a list of dates and times that fit your trip into Chicago.

“New” releases this summer that will be available:

  • The Dark Knight (shot in Chicago) – June 23 at Churchill Field, 1825 N Damen
  • Grown Ups – July 1 at LaFollette, 1333 N. Laramie Ave
  • Inception – July 1 at Margate Park, 4921 N. Marine Dr.
  • Iron Man 2 – June 20 at Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
  • Salt – July 19 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • The Social Network – July 5 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • True Grit – July 28 at Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
  • Twilight: Eclipse – July 22 at Meyering Park, 7140 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

Animation for the Kids:

  • Despicable Me – June 17 at Winnemac 5100 N. Leavitt St
  • How to Train Your Dragon – Aug 9 at Touhy Park,  7348 N. Paulina St.
  • Megamind – June 23 at Graver Park, 1518 W. 102nd Pl.
  • Shrek Forever After – June 17 at Shedd Park, 3660 W. 23rd St.
  • Tangled – Sep. 9 at Athletic Field Park, 3546 W. Addison St.
  • The Princess and the Frog – Aug. 9 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
  • Toy Story 3 – Sep 16 at Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave.
  • Up – Aug. 2 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • Wall-E – Aug.31 at Willye White Park, 1610 W Howard St.

Classic Movies:

  • Airplane! – June 14 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • Back to the Future with Michael J Fox – Aug. 6 at Harold Washington Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – July 12 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – July 13 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – July 16 at Jonquil Park, 1023 W. Wrightwood Ave.
  • JAWS – July 12 at 63rd Street Beach, 6300 S lake Shore Drive
  • The Karate Kid – Aug 30 at DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Pl.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark – Aug. 25 at Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Dr.
  • Sixteen Candles – Aug. 17 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
  • Top Gun – Aug. 18 at Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St.

 

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Nothing’s Sacred

Kristen and I got back from the Big Apple in early March – after beating those mean streets.  The purpose of our visit was to make travel agents in NY aware of the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago/Downtown, for business and leisure travel.  Twenty – one appointments and touching 500+ agents in a week, we returned back to our home and our home away from home, Chicago and the Hampton Inn and Suites Chicago/Downtown.

Now you know what kept us busy during the day – but the evenings were ours for the asking.  What comes to mind when some people think NYC – if you resemble me – the theatre would be number one. And pray tell (no pun intended) what did I see “The Book of Mormons”.

The title of my “Blog” describes the tone of the play in a nutshell.  If you cannot take a joke – for no matter who you are you are going to get slammed.  No one is left unscathed.  It is written by the creators of South Park – come on – would you expect anything less – and no TV censors.

Performances in Chicago start in December of this year and I urge you to get your tickets now- because the run will sell out quickly.  Just remember “Nothing’s Sacred”, and do bring something to wipe away those tears of laughter.   This review does come with a warning – not for the easily offended.

Andrew Rannells plays the central character Elder Price in the Broadway...

Broadway in Chicago.

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Lookingglass’ hit production of The Great Fire has now been extended through December 4th! See my earlier blog post for my review! Go see this show, you have 4 more weeks.

http://blog.hamptonsuiteschicago.com/?p=164

Even better, you can get exclusive  HALF PRICE TICKETS half price tickets for every Thursday 3pm matinee for the rest of the run.  To redeem, simply use code THUMATBOGO when buying online at lookingglasstheatre.org or by phone at 312.337.0665.

Half price, need I say more?

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Jersey Shore: The Musical

To be a Jersey Shore fan or not to be, that is the question? MTV has once again successfully hooked millions of viewers to the reality show which follows 7 (really tan) strangers from the east coast who try to live together in a ridiculous house on the Jersey Shore. Sounds like just another season of “The Real World” right? WRONG. The Jersey Shore has not only captured its audience with the intense arguments and dramatic “hook ups”, but they have made up their own nicknames and contagious vocabulary that has taken the nation by storm. If these words confuse you: GTL, Grenades, T-Shirt Time, Fist Pump, Juice heads, GFF, or MVP, than you have not tuned in on Thursday aka “Jersday” to see what shenanigans Nicole “Snookie” , Mike “the Situation”, DJ Pauly D, Vinny, Jenni “JWOWW”, Ronnie, Sammy “Sweetheart,” and Angelina are getting in to.

After the first season, the show just exploded and the cast became famous for doing absolutely nothing.  The demand for leopard print and big hoops skyrocketed; they are appearing on TV shows i.e. Dancing with the Stars, JERSEY SHORE Halloween costumes were a #1 seller, and our very own Hampton Brand is using Jersey Shore for their TV commercials. Just when I thought the pandemonium was over, the Jersey Shore Musical launched in Chicago.

 

Poster of Jersey Shore: The Musical

Jersey Shore: The Musical

Jersey Shore: The Musical is written by 4 Days Late with a hilarious tone and perfectly selected cast. Snookie had her poof, JWOWW had her extensions, Sammy and Ronnie had their fights, Angelina instigated those fights, Pauly D and Vinny had their “T-Shirt” time, and the Situation had his “Situation.” The Music was directed by Matt Griffo and definitely didn’t lack originality with songs like “We’ve got no shame” and “Snookin’ for Love.” Along with talented actors and creative songs, there were some impressive dance numbers which did not include fist pumping.

The show plays every Friday and Saturday night at 7:30pm at Studio BE located at 3110 North Sheffield. You can purchase tickets online at http://www.studio-be.org/buy-tickets or at the door for $23. The show runs about 2 hours and the venue is a BYOB. The show recently got extended to play until December 3rd so round up your friends, call a cab, and brace yourself for the madness at the Jersey Shore.

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The Great Fire Chicago of 1871 inspire a play at Lookingglass Theatre

“The Great Fire” is the newest production at The Lookinglass Theatre in the Waterworks Building on Michigan Avenue. If you don’t know, these buildings are just a few of the buildings that were not destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire started buying on October 8th, 1871 destroying 4 square miles of Chicago, burning the neighborhoods now known as the Loop, River North, Streeterville, & the Near North. The fire burned the site where the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago – Downtown now stands.

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of that tragedy, Lookinglass member John Musian has reworked his 1999 play. Expecting pure tragedy, I was quite surprised at the many humorous numbers interspersed in the story. That is not to say that this is a lighthearted comedy, at it’s heart the show still tells the story of the fire that claimed hundreds of lives of the young city of Chicago. You will learn the fate of two families: the family of a rich & highly influential judge & poor immigrant family. Needless the say, the fire does not discriminate.  You will learn that the phrase “fiery red-head” will take on a whole new meaning as you see a young redhead as the personification of the fire. She torments her victims with dance, fighting & choking them with smoke. This abstract way to show the fire gives some interest in the story even showing a very interesting “death waltz.”

I would highly recommend this show to history buffs (I learned a few new facts about the fire). The show is even more enjoyable if you are familiar with either the fire of Chicago history. I would say kids as young as 10 would also understand and enjoy the show. Running about an hour & 30 minutes with no intermission, you will be surprised how quickly the show is paced. Through November 20th, you can buy tickets at the Lookingglass Theatre.

Just a 15 minute walk from the hotel, the Water Works & Water Tower are a Chicago landmark are work a look. The Chicago’s Visitor Information Center is even located in the Pump House along with the theatre & the still in use pump, pumping in the city’s drinking water.  The tower is the 2nd oldest waterpower in the US. From a time when public buildings were built not just for their use, but as an icon for civic pride.

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Broadway Playhouse: Great theatre for a Girls’ Night on the Town!

“Love, Loss & What I Wore” is currently playing at the Broadway Playhouse through December 4th, 2011. A group of monologues by women telling how that clothes that they wore affected the memories of their lives. The show starts off quite poignant, describing clothes that have some important meaning in the their lives. I was quite surprised how much I was enjoying the show with these poignant moments. The second half had quite a bit more humor, including at bit called “my first bra.” The humor definitely moved the intermission less show along, but I longed for the stories found earlier in the show. The bra stories were part of the show called “the clothesline” where all 5 women on stay spoke telling their story.

 

I would highly recommend this she for women whether they be fashion concious or not. I would say that the crowd was easily 12 to 1 women to men. I undoubtedly was sure that the men in attendance were the supportive husband that tagged along or the brave soul that surprised his wife with tickets. Perhaps there were some gentlemen, like myself, that were there seeing the show as part of his Broadway In Chicago subscription. I am glad I saw the show, although I would not have without my season tix! This show is also very easy for the non-theatre goer to see since it is a collection of vignettes. The show is about an hour & 40 minutes with no intermission, so keep this in mind when buying drinks beforehand (I had two beers 7 could not make it all the way though)!

 

Playing through December 4, 2011, tickets are $68 & can purchased at Broadway in Chicago  Photos from opening night

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Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago second to ?

Kirsten Fitzgerald and ensemble member James Vincent Meredith, Credit: Michael Brosilow

 

I have been a season ticket holder, with Steppenwolf Theatre for several years, and lately have been questioning why.  Well, this first production of the new season, currently in previews, “Clybourne Park”, was enough for me to remember why I subscribed in the first place.

Not only was the play sensational, the subject matter interesting but the caliber of the acting was exceptional.  I refuse to say more, as I feel it would ruin the theatre goer’s experience.

Steppenwolf is known for premiering many plays, of Chicago playwrights, that have found their way to the Great White Way – even to include winning Toni’s for both the play and the actors.

If you happen to be staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago, the theatre is easily accessible from the Red Line “El” train – take a right out of the front doors, left onto State St (the 1st light), at Grand & State just board a Howard bound train going north. Get off at the North & Clybourn stop. Then travel north on Halsted for a half a block, you cannot miss it, no pun intended.

Exterior Image of Steppenwolf Theatre

Exterior Image of Steppenwolf Theatre

 

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