"I've never been there and seen something that was ordinary or didn't strike me," says Other Voices executive editor Gina Frangello of Flatfile Galleries. Tonight the UIC-based fiction magazine is hosting a release party for issue 39 at the near-west-side space. The event will include readings by contributors Laura Ruby and Barbara Shoup and an exhibit of work by OV cover artists Claire Prussian, David Hernandez, Teresa Mucha, Chuck Rowling, Burt Menco, Mark DeBernardi, Sioban Lombardi, and cofounder and former executive editor Lois Hauselman--who stepped down last April in order to devote more time to writing and painting. The free party's a first for the magazine, which usually does "straightforward readings at places like the Guild Complex." It runs from 6 to 9 at Flatfile, 118 N. Peoria in Chicago, and coincides with the gallery's annual art sale and the exhibit "A Global Language." For more call 312-491-1190 or 312-413-2209.
Forget the crummy script for Jammin' With Pops at Apple Tree Theatre; forget the attempts at acting based on it. If this is what it takes to get Felicia Fields and Joe Plummer to team up on two dozen Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Arm-strong songs, I can get past it. Director Chuck Smith asked Fields and Plummer to sing "in the style of" Fitzgerald and Armstrong, and they do it superbly, aided by a mellow onstage trio led by pianist and musical director Francesco Milioto. Essentially cabaret with a great set (by Keith Pitts), it's a nice change of pace from the usual holiday fare. Performances are Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 5 and 8:30, Sundays at 3 (with an additional show at 7 on December 28 and January 4), and Wednesdays at 7:30 (no show Christmas Eve) through January 4; tickets are $38. On the 31st there'll be special performances at 6 and 9:30; tickets are $50. Call 847-432-4335 for more information.
American Theater Company hopes to make its production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play--which is meant to be performed onstage with live sound effects and an ensemble of six--a holiday tradition. But though audience members are encouraged to sing "Auld Lang Syne" with the cast, artistic director Damon Kiely promises not to "clamp you to your seats and make you drink eggnog and sing carols." The show, adapted by Joe Landry from the movie's screenplay, opened Thursday, December 18, and continues through Sunday, December 21, at the ATC, 1909 W. Byron in Chicago. Tonight's performance is at 8 and will be followed by nog, cookies, and caroling--if you're so inclined. The suggested donation for adults is $15 plus a canned food item (to be given to the Common Pantry), $10 for children. Call 773-929-5009 or see www.atcweb.org for more information.
"On Christmas morning we would run eagerly to the playroom fireplace where we had hung our stockings the night before," wrote Frank Lloyd Wright's son John Lloyd Wright about the happy days in Oak Park before daddy ran off with a client. "On the floor, under the tree, small gifts were done up in enormous packages. The longer it took for the present to be found, the more Papa laughed." Visitors to Wright's home and studio today will hear stories of the family's turn-of-the-20th-century Christmas celebrations and see the house as it would have been decorated, with a 12-foot tree under the playroom's vaulted ceiling. The free tours, led by members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust's Junior Interpreters (fifth through tenth graders), run today from 9 to 11 AM at the home, 951 Chicago in Oak Park. Call 708-848-1976 for more.
To celebrate the near completion of a life-size model of an iguanodon in 1853, sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and anatomist Richard Owen hosted a New Year's Eve dinner party in the belly of the beast, which was constructed of iron, brick, and cement. The iguanodon was part of the very first dinosaur exhibit, mounted at London's Crystal Palace exposition hall--until now the only time the "terrible lizards" have been displayed in a botanical setting. The new exhibit Giants: African Dinosaurs at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which opens today, consists of six dinosaur skeletons installed amidst the foliage, including a new species of pterosaur--an African flying reptile with a wing-span of over 16 feet--discovered in 2000 in the southern Sahara by Uni-versity of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team. The exhibit also includes the first-ever life-size flesh model of an African pterosaur, fossils, and conceptual art created with casts of dinosaur bones. The conservatory is at 300 N. Central Park in Chicago and is open today from 9 to 5; the exhibit's up through September 6, 2004. Admission is a suggested donation of $3. Call 312-746-5100 or see www.dinogiants.org for more information.
Jim Sikora's 1998 film Rock & Roll Punk tells the story of the rise and fall of a band called the Out-Patients whose members were once outpatients at an Elgin mental hospital. In a twist on the expected narrative, however, things go downhill once the perpetually stoned musicians go straight. Written and produced by former SST Records manager Joe Carducci, with appearances by indie icons David Yow, Steve Albini, John Haggerty, and Dave Pajo, the film will be shown tonight at 5 and Tuesday night at 8 (and again at 8 on Tuesday, December 30) at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State in Chicago. Tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800 or see www.siskelfilmcenter.org for more information.
Though the film was a commercial flop in 1984, French leading man Alain Delon won a Cesar award for his role in Bertrand Blier's Our Story, in which he shed his tough-guy persona to play a middle-aged alcoholic mechanic who meets a mysterious woman (Nathalie Baye) on a train. The film will be shown tonight at 6:30 and 8:45 as part of the ongoing series A Man in the Shadows: The Films of Alain Delon, which started December 13 and runs through December 23 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton in Chicago. Tickets are $7. Call 773-281-4114 or see the Critic's Choice in Movies for more.
A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning 1973 operetta about mismatched lovers, was loosely based on Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night. For this production by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Gary Griffin, a 14-piece orchestra backs a cast of Sondheim vets that in-cludes locals Kevin Gudahl and Barbara Robertson. The show opens tonight at 7:30 and runs through February 15 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 600 E. Grand in Chicago. Tickets range from $48 to $62; call 312-595-5600 or see www. chicagoshakes.com for more information.
There's not a lot going on today beyond last-minute shopping and mad dashes to the airport, but the nice folks at the Music Box are refusing to take the day off. The theater's 20th annual Double Feature and Christmas Sing-Along wraps up its run today with screenings of White Christmas (1 PM) and It's a Wonderful Life (4 PM); before each, Santa will lead the audience in a round of carols. Tickets are $12.50 for an individual movie, $18 for the double feature; they're available through Ticket-master, 312-902-1500, or at the theater's box office, 3733 N. Southport in Chicago. In the past, most shows have sold out; call 773-871-6604 or see the movie listings for additional showtimes.
"Believe it or not, we fill it to capacity," says promoter Gabriel Segura of the House of Blues' annual Christmas Groove dance party, which starts tonight at 10:30--presumably after most people have dealt with the family and are ready to blow off some steam. The DJs will spin "club beats--house, hip-hop, whatever," says Segura. It's at the HOB, 329 N. Dearborn in Chicago, and you must be 18 or over to attend. Tickets are $17; call 312-923-2000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Laurie Savin, Jim Caufield, courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.