When Light Opera Works staged She Loves Me in 1999, Reader critic Lawrence Bommer described the 1963 work, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick--the Fiddler on the Roof team--as "arguably Broadway's most intelligent, warmhearted musical." Tonight, Circle Theatre begins previews of its own production directed by Bob Knuth, who won kudos last year for Circle's The Secret Garden. Set in a European perfume shop in the 1930s, She Loves Me is based on Miklos Laszlo's Parfumerie, the 1936 play that also inspired the movies The Shop Around the Corner and (much later) You've Got Mail. Previews are tonight, November 1, and November 4 at 8. Regular performances begin November 5 at 8 and continue through December 14; curtain is at 8 on Friday and Saturday and 3 on Sunday. There'll also be Thursday performances at 8 on Decem-ber 4 and December 11. Preview tickets are $11; regular admission is $22, $20 for seniors and students (November 4 is industry night--$5 for actors with head shot and resume). Circle Theatre is located at 7300 W. Madison in Forest Park. Call 708-771-0700.
You could spend Halloween getting shit faced at a club. Again. But why spend ghouldom's night of nights too numb to feel a shiver? (Anyway, bars are nicer on All Souls' Day, when the other drunks are in bed sleeping it off.) Instead you could wallow in the roar and creep of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette, and Bach's Toccato in D Minor, all played on the Music Institute of Chicago's 1913 Skinner organ. The concert begins tonight at 10:30 PM in Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago in Evanston. Featured organists are James Russell Brown, Richard Barrick Hoskins, David Schrader, and L. Richard Sobak. Tickets are $25, $15 if you come in costume, and proceeds go toward restoring the Skinner. Call 847-905-1500.
Meanwhile, down in Hyde Park, the Academy of Ancient Music presents Bach-analia, an all-Bach program that includes the Suite no. 2 in B Minor and the Brandenberg Con-certo no. 5 in D Major. It's at 8 PM in the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th in Chicago. Tickets are $30, $11 for students; call 773-702-8068.
When Chicago's Department of Environment took possession of Garfield Park's Sacramento Crushing facility in 1997, the 17-acre site was covered with mountains of illegally dumped construction and road debris. It took the city 18 months and $9 million to clean it up, and another three years
to rehab the existing building using energy-efficient technology. Now it's the Chicago Center for Green Techno-logy, which has been preaching the gospel of green living since it opened in May 2002. Today's free Healthy, Smart, and Green Products Fair is designed to teach home owners about the latest in environmentally friendly building and maintenance products--from green roofs to solar power to nontoxic pest control. (A companion expo on Friday, October 31, is targeted toward commercial building owners and developers.) It's from 9 to 4 at the CCGT, 445 N. Sacramento in Chicago; call 312-746-9642.
When you say Nighties at the Bottle Top, the first thing I think is "I can't afford that kind of dominatrix," but the phrase is really just the name given to a new series of art exhibits in the space above the Empty Bottle. Organized by an as yet unnamed collective of artists, "Nighties" will run the first Saturday of every month for one night only. Tonight's show, a "free-for-all" curated by Thea Liberty, includes photography, prints, drawings, paintings, and 3-D paper dolls by a dozen or so contributors. Upcoming months will feature shows with themes like "portraits of women by women" and "memory against history." Shows open at 8 and run until the bar downstairs closes; they're free with admission to the club, though donations will be accepted. Tonight's lineup downstairs includes Stones Throw hip-hop artists Peanut Butter Wolf, Wildchild, Dudley Perkins, and DJ Romes; tickets are $15, $12 in advance. The Empty Bottle is at 1035 N. Western in Chicago; call 773-276-3600.
You can't usually expect a bargain on benefit tickets, but Opera Theatre Highland Park is offering one: half-price admission to the company's gala performance of The Romeo and Juliet Story. For $37.50 you won't get into the postperformance reception and raffle, but you'll see the important part: soprano Stacy Tappan and tenor Michael Sommese, backed by a 25-piece orchestra, in a program of excerpts from Shakespeare's play, Charles Gounod's opera, and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. Sommese, who won the 1998 Mario Lanza Com-petition, has sung with the Metropolitan and Lyric operas, and just returned from a stint as West Side's Tony at Milan's Teatro alla Scala. It starts at 2 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie. Full-price admission (for those of you who don't like math) is $75. Call 847-673-6300.
If somebody's taking a road trip from New York to Chicago in search of salvation, it must be fiction. Then again, M. Dylan Raskin claims his new novel, Little New York Bastard--in which the title character does just that--is at least in part a memoir. Before hitting the road, his Queens-bred protagonist drops out of college, gets disgusted with his peers, and is flattened by the workingman's blues. Raskin, himself a Queens native, will appear tonight at 8 to read from and sign copies of the book at Quimby's, 1854 W. North in Chicago. It's free; call 773-342-0910.
At times British author Julian Barnes seems a scholar from another age. In satiric novels like England, England--in which a bunch of marketers reproduce the Merrye Olde empire on an island theme park--Barnes shows enough familiarity with contemporary times to feel contempt for them. But when interviewing him for Salon in 1996, Carl Swanson claimed this "product of three generations of schoolmasters" worked on an IBM Selectric and hadn't yet heard of the World Wide Web. Barnes's first novel, the autobiographical Metroland, appeared in 1980; since then he's published a dozen more novels and short-story collections, as well as translations and analyses of French literature and four crime novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Today, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, he'll appear at a program titled "I See France," in which he'll read from his work, including a recent translation of Alphonse Daudet's In the Land of Pain, and be interviewed by CHF president Eileen Mackevich. It's at 7 PM at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut in Chicago, and costs $6, $5 in advance; call 312-494-9509 for tickets.
Is there something sublime in the blue bath towels that hang against your wall while you shower in June? Can the rotten glamour of cliffs of junked tires justify the space they hog? At today's panel discussion Pretty, as a Picture: Beauty and Banality in Contemporary Photography--which accompanies the exhibit of the same name currently running at Carrie Secrist Gallery--Museum of Contemporary Photography curator Rod Slemmons, Artforum critic Jim Yood, LaSalle Bank Photography Collection curator Carol Ehlers, and photographer Todd Hido will discuss photographic depictions of the mundane. It's tonight from 7 to 8:30 at the gallery, 835 W. Washington in Chicago, and it's free. The exhibit runs through November 15; call 312-491-0917.
Poor superfans--your Chicago Bears are already waiting for next year. But there's always memory lane: tonight local sports talk radio heroes the Wise Guys (aka Mike North and Doug Buffone, who broadcast on the Score, 670 AM, every weekday afternoon from 2 to 6:30) continue the Mike Ditka Dinner Series, their Thursday night on-air parties held with da coach at the Chicago location of his namesake restaurant, wine bar, and cigar shop. The series began October 23 and will continue through the NFL season. Ditka will be on hand from 5 to 6:30. Listening to the broadcast costs only your tolerance for umpteen used-car and diet commercials, and there's no cover to attend the event at the restaurant, 100 E. Chestnut in Chicago--but dishes like the Kick-Ass Paddle Steak will set you back more than $30. Reservations are required; call 312-587-8989.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Greg Kolack.