Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spring Dance at the Auditorium Theatre

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The Auditorium Theatre is excited to present three unique dance companies this spring, offering a wide-range of performances for any dance fan. We invite you to come to our landmark theatre to experience an old favorite or see something completely new!

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Batsheva Dance Company

Max and B/olero by Ohad Naharin
March 17 at 7:30 pm and March 18 at 2:00 pm

Get lost in Naharin’s movement world, Gaga, as his dancers search and explore the origin and essence of movement, examining formations, time and space. "…this is as max as it gets." -The New York Times

“Max transports and confounds, confuses and elucidates.”
– San Diego Arts

Batsheva Dance Company photo by Gadi Dagon.

American Ballet Theatre

March 22-25, Times vary

In a perfect fusion of music, movement and drama, this quintessential Romantic ballet epitomizes the transcendent power of love and forgiveness. American Ballet Theatre’s unrivaled roster of international ballet stars brings Giselle’s mystery and ethereal beauty vividly to life in this universally acclaimed production, performed with live music by the Chicago Sinfonietta.

“To see American Ballet Theatre at its best, is to see it in Giselle.”
–The New York Times

For casting*, please visit our website.
*Casting subject to change. Photo: David Hallberg in Giselle. By Rosalie O’Connor. © American Ballet Theatre. All rights reserved.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
April 11-15, Times vary

Let Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's gorgeous dancers lift your spirits as they perform thrilling premieres and new productions plus returning audience favorites. Experience the power of Ailey and see for yourself why this extraordinary company is hailed as America's cultural ambassador to the world and "possibly the most successful modern dance company on the planet." (The New York Times)

For programming*, please visit our website.
*Programming subject to change. 2011-2012 SEASON IMAGE - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Kirven James Boyd. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

Ways to order:

Phone: 800.982.Arts (2787)
Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy
Groups 10+: 312.431.2357

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Hot to Handel, Year 5 [Stories from the Choir Part 2]

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Save $10 on tickets to Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah by using code SOCIAL. Click HERE to purchase.

By Althea L. Ward-Curtis

Welcome to my story of my history with Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah. This is the fifth year that I have been a choir member with this diverse volunteer group. Five years!? It hardly seems that much time has passed.

Five years ago I received an unsolicited invitation from the Auditorium Theatre to audition for an upcoming performance called Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah. I was flattered that someone must have heard my melodic vocalizing while I was pumping gas, or perhaps as I was walking my dog, or maybe it was all of those years singing under the direction of Herman Spier (miss you and Anne, man!!) who held a position at the Music Conservatory that had got me this lucky (but well deserved, of course), audition break. Whatever the reason (it wasn't Herman), whomever the connection, my name was located, an email was sent, and I was invited to audition for a performance that would be delivered from the world renowned stage of the Auditorium. My big break was finally about to become a reality!! Who could possibly have known that I belonged on stage? I couldn't respond quickly enough to confirm my desire to audition and participate in a musically diverse performance of the Messiah.

I auditioned. Then, self-doubt arose and I thought maybe they had me confused with another Althea and that she showed up and pretended to be me and...

I sat in front of my email, refusing to work, sleep, eat or drink with my hand positioned on the phone in case the good news be delivered via a faceless voice in my ear. I left a note on the mailbox inviting the mailman to walk right in and place the results of my Auditorium audition in my free hand in the event that it came by mail. I was determined to receive my good news fresh from the sender with no lapse in time. I had considered camping out at the audition location, or at the Auditorium, but decided that unless I sang while waiting, they wouldn't know it was me and my answer would be sent to my home anyway. My decision to stay home was the right choice, and my waiting in the aforementioned state was rewarded with the official invitation to accept the role of volunteer choir member in the THTH Choir. YAHOOO!!! This was a "BIG TO DO". It was going to be me "LIVE from Congress Parkway" singing Handel with variation!

I was completely thrilled, told everyone I knew and threw myself into learning the music. Five years ago.

I have auditioned every year since then and pray my voice remains an asset to this moving, exciting, fun composition. The people that I invited the very first year I performed with this choir have been audience members ever since. They tell their friends, who tell their friends know the rest. This performance continues to be a source of pure joy for those that experience it, whether as an audience member or as choir member. I have been tempted to become an audience participant, but I just love singing it too much.

Next year when I audition, I will look for you, dear reader, to join me in learning and performing this version of the Messiah. It is a piece that creates harmony, not only in its natural musical form, but also in the hearts of those that attend and participate in the performances. It is pure delight. I cannot thank the unknown connection enough for bringing this music into my life five years ago. Thank you Auditorium Theatre for listening to that unknown connection and offering an audition invitation to this woman to be a part of harmony beyond measure.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Celebrating MLK Through Music [Stories from the Choir Part 1]

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Save $10 on tickets to Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah by using code SOCIAL. Click HERE to purchase.

By Michelle Rathel

Picture this: there’s a new show premiering at the Auditorium Theatre in January 2006 with soloists Rodrick Dixon and Victor Trent Cook; we’re not too familiar with Alfreda Burke at this point, but it all sounds promising. There is also a birthday outing planned for a group to attend the premier of this new show. One of the birthday group members is a singer who loves Cook, Dixon and Young and is totally excited about this musical production. She also knows some of the choir and orchestra members in the show as well. Somehow, she missed the chance to be part of the choir, but wanted to not only see this one-time event, but to also support her fellow musicians and singers. She’s sitting in the audience, totally mesmerized and blown away by what she hears in front of her. She has done the Messiah more times than she can count and has even done some of the Quincy Jones’ version with vocal groups. But now there’s this new version – part jazz, part gospel, part original Handel, all great sounds that mesh together into a foot-tapping, hand-clapping, celebration that totally blows her away. Rodrick, Alfreda and Victor are totally off the chain. So begins the Too Hot to Handel “bug” that has taken Chicago by storm in the past few years, and that particular singer in the audience on that cold January afternoon has now been singing in Too Hot every year(except last season due to family challenges.)

And so the journey begins. She not only helps to spread the word about this marvel of a production, but also signs up to work as an Ambassador to assist the staff with marketing ideas, ticket sales and spreading the word. She has totally caught the “bug” and she comes back every year. She eagerly tells everyone she knows, and many she doesn’t know, about the best Messiah version since the original Handel. This “bug” is infectious – and it spreads each season, so there are many new faces in the audiences each year—and they keep coming! So here she is in January 2012 sharing her experiences with any who will read! She’s looking to keep this “bug” in circulation. It’s one that heals and spreads joy to all who attend, and it just keeps getting better and better.

This season has been especially special for me, as I had to miss singing in last season’s performances. But, I was in the audience with bells on, singing right along with my choir. It’s a good experience to be able to sit out to see how the music affects the audience, as we can barely see them depending on where the lights hit us while we’re on stage. I also got to see what the audience sees, and that helped me get back up there next time.

We’ve had some great “newbies” this year who have caught the “bug” and it’s been a pleasure working along them to rehearse each week. I’ve adopted several new members, coaching them, encouraging them, and just sharing with them to get them pumped and primed for the upcoming weekend. It’s a great feeling to be able to help the new members along and let them know that yeah – it’s a lot of music, and yeah we have to memorize some, but you’ll get it. I promise! You can’t help but get it – it’s so much fun! And soloist Karen Marie has been with us for, I think, her 3rd season and is doing a great job. She’s so much fun and the choir loves her energy.

Working with the Auditorium staff is the best. They take good care of their choir and Ambassadors, and keep things moving in the background. It’s so great to work with the Ambassadors and get groups in to see this production every year. On the Friday before the run, we have school groups come in to get a taste of this awesome music, making it an educational experience for them as well.

I would encourage everyone to at least see this show once in their lifetime. It literally sends you out feeling different from when you entered the theater. You drop all of your cares and just relax, release and get into the music. You smile for most of the show because the music hits you like that. And you might even shed a tear as one of the soloists hit notes that seem to float in the air, landing in every ear in the audience - moving them, inspiring them, encouraging them, embracing them, ministering to them and making them happy and carefree. As many times as I’ve done this show, I always learn something new, and I always hear something different that I didn’t hear before. This music keeps you moving and makes your whole being tingle and jump for joy when you hear it. Some of us come to rehearsals after a hard day at work and by the time we leave rehearsal we have a renewed energy and a second wind. The pressures of the day have floated away and we hum this music all the way home. And we keep humming all week, because it just hits you like that. You can’t let it go or put it down. That’s how you know you’ve got the “bug” and you can’t wait for next year. You don’t want to say goodbye to each other, and some of us choir members connect on Facebook and keep in any way possible until we come back together again in the Fall. The “bug” gets air born once again until next year, where new folks catch it and either sing or attend. And so on, and so on, and so on.

So here we are approaching the 2012 production. The choir has rehearsed, and Bill is working out some last minute details so that we are as polished a possible. Bill tends to bring something new to the table every year, so even the veterans don’t get bored with doing this show each season. You get hooked in a good way and you have to come back. Suddenly, it’s like you’re not complete until you get back to Too Hot choir rehearsals.

So we’ll see you there. Because you just have to experience this! You have to check it out. And you don’t have to call the doctor to take care of this “bug.” The music is all the “medicine” you’ll ever need.

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