Friday through Monday, the Great Performers of Illinois festival will take over Millennium Park (Michigan & Randolph) for performances by more than 50 artists and entertainers from across the state. While the selection of former Styx member Dennis DeYoung for this year's Great Performer of Illinois Award recipient doesn't bode well for hipper attendees, there are enough shows and activities to satisfy a range of tastes. Some highlights:
- The Silent Theatre Company performs classic scenes from Charlie Chaplin films in the Pritzker Pavilion from noon to 12:45 PM (repeat performance Sunday).
- Indie rock duo the Fiery Furnaces play at the Wrigley Square Stage from 4:45 to 6 PM. Reader critic Jessica Hopper calls their upcoming album "a solid addition to the band’s polarizing discography."
- A repeat opera performance by the Grant Park Orchestra & Chorus at 7:30 PM in the Pritzker Pavilion.
- Former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung--who's supposedly "enriched the pantheon of American music with new classics including 'Lady,' 'Come Sail Away,' 'Mr. Roboto' and 'Babe'")--receives the 2009 Great Performer of Illinois Award and performs from 7:30 to 9 PM in the Pritzker Pavilion.
- "SHELebration: A Tribute to Shel Silverstein": The famous Chicago poet and children's writer gets a tribute from a huge lineup of musicians, including Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket and Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy), at 6:30 PM in the Pritzker Pavilion.
In case the performances aren't enough, an "a-maize-ing" urban corn maze will be constructed from 6,000 stalks and populated by "giant ears of walking corn." And Fritz Klein, one of the more prominent Lincoln impersonators in the country, will be wandering around daily in Emancipator garb. (His wife will be on hand as Mary Todd Lincoln.)
For more information and a complete lineup of shows, click here.