Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nutcracker at #theAud [By Rogue Ballerina]

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By Rogue Ballerina

I’ve been coming to see performances at The Auditorium Theatre since 1999. I’ve seen everything from the American Ballet Theatre to singer Michael Buble, but my favorite outing is to see Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”. It’s a tradition. The beauty of the ballet and seeing the little girls dressed up is part of the magic, but the grandness and detail of the theater is what really makes it special. It wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.

Kindness ushers you through the front doors into the bustling lobby with marbled mosaic floors, a children’s choir singing carols and holiday decorations adorning 123-year-old walls. Once inside the theater, I can’t wait to look up at the gorgeous details of the painted murals and gold leaf designs on the walls and ceiling. Right before the conductor comes out, I take a moment to read the quote painted at the top of the proscenium - “The utterance of life is a song, the symphony of nature.” – and I think of all the people before me who have come here to appreciate the arts and be entertained.

In “The Nutcracker” there is a specific moment at the end of the Snow Scene in Act I, when the music and dancing all stops for a brief moment. That lull was always filled with Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino yelling “Bravo!” at every show. He passed away in 2008, yet I can still hear his voice in my head at that moment every time I watch and it makes me smile. He is part of the theater and my memories created at The Auditorium.


My real name is Vicki Crain.  I’m a freelance writer, mainly arts and culture, in Chicago and a former dancer and dance teacher.  I danced with a semi-professional regional ballet company in Central Illinois for over ten years (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker…the usual), where I also taught at the affiliated dance school while finishing up college (B.A. in English).  After moving to Chicago, I danced for a season with Zephyr Dance and did freelance work, including six years dancing and touring with a Chicago-based production company. I’ve worked with a range of choreographers including Randy Duncan, James Kelly, Jan Erkert and Dame Libby Komaiko.  My age is irrelevant except for the times when I’m getting out of bed and need to use my dog Giselle’s steps for help.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Taste of Tesori

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Hello Auditorium Theatre Friends & Subscribers!

I would like to take this guest blogging opportunity to introduce you to the newest dining destination in the loop – tesori.  Tesori opened in mid-September and we have been enjoying the positive feedback so far.  We must say, we love our Loop neighbors. They’ve made us feel so welcome over the past several weeks.

The kitchen is led by Chef Andrew Deuel, who recently relocated from New York to bring his Italian-inspired flavors to Chicago.  He uses French techniques and fresh ingredients to evoke complex flavors in simple, approachable food.  All our house made pastas including our Agnolotti are becoming fast favorites.  Agnolotti resembles ravioli when the small pieces of flattened pasta dough are folded over the main ingredient.  Ours are filled with duck confit and served in decadent foie gras truffle butter.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Tesori offers both a dining room and lounge.  The lounge has been full of energy with so many friendly faces from the area.  They have especially been enjoying our wine on tap. While it’s new to most people, they are pleased to find the level of quality and freshness it brings to the pour.  Another exciting element of this new restaurant venture has been the addition of artisanal pizzas.  Have you ever thought about what goes into creating the perfect pizza?  The team spent months pouring over dough recipes to find the exact taste and texture they were looking for.   And you know what?  They found it!  The result is a delicious pizza like you’ve never tasted.  Be sure to try the Salsicca, which includes homemade fennel sausage, broccoli rabe and parmesan.  And pairs perfectly with a selection of our local beers or craft cocktails

With all that’s been going on at tesori, it’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner.  Those of you lucky enough to be attending the Nutcracker must be getting excited already.  If you are looking for lunch or dinner options, tesori just may be just the place.  In fact, show us your ticket stub and we’ll offer you a complimentary dessert.   Being so close, many of our guests have been joining us pre- and post-performances at the Auditorium Theatre.  If you plan on joining us before a show, just let us know when curtain call is and we’ll ensure you leave tesori so you can arrive with time to spare before the lights dim.

Want to get to know us a little more?  Click here for an introduction: Introducing tesori.

And don’t forget, if the holidays are near, that means New Year’s Eve planning isn’t far behind.  Tesori has an amazing party planned.  Our $85.00, 5-course tasting menu will end your year on a culinary high note.  The festivities continue as popular Chicago entertainers Lynne Jordan and the Shivers perform to help countdown to January 1st.  Once the confetti has fallen and the toasts have been made, end the evening with a complimentary Chicago Trolley ride to your doorstep, within a 3 mile radius.   If you’ve already snagged a party invite elsewhere, know that you can join us for our first seating beginning at 5:00pm.  This way, you can enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner before heading off to your celebration.

Tesori is located at the corner of Adams & Wabash.  Click here for our contact information, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ll see you soon.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Singing in the Choir of #TooHotChi

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By Norm Cratty, Tenor

I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the Chicago Too Hot Choir.  This will be my 6th year singing in this annual celebration of the legacy and birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  A former co-worker forwarded the audition and rehearsal announcement to me, so I thought, “Why not just try to see if I am good enough to sing in this.”  I have yet to see the show from the audience's perspective.

At the audition, I tried as best I could to come close to the level of professionalism I was hearing from the other choir members.  I sat through the first run-through of some of the music that first night and thought, “Oh no.  This is entirely too fast and I’m never going to get any of this.  It is beyond my capability to do this.”  I was floored and exhilarated when I received the call that my voice was accepted into the tenor section.  I returned the following Monday, but with not much confidence in my ability; I didn’t believe in myself.  Who was I trying to fool with thinking I could actually pull this off?  At each rehearsal I kept at it and was introduced to more songs in the performance.  It started becoming comfortable to me; the music engrained in my head and heart, and I started feeling accepted by all the other singers.  Words cannot convey what I felt while sitting for the first time at dress rehearsal on the Auditorium Theatre stage.  I thought, “What have I done?  How did I get myself into this?”  Then I started reflecting on all those artists and musicians who set foot on that stage before me.  I was in awe of the entire experience and I soaked it in.  Yet not once was I ever fearful of the experience I was subjecting myself to.

Then something clicked after that first year.  I got it!  I was becoming more comfortable and familiar with the music and being a part of making that incredible sound.  I was getting the beat and rhythm down (it became intuitive).  All that was needed now was to memorize the words.  And memorize I did.  I stuck with it.  After my first year in Too Hot To Handel, Bill and Suzanne felt I was good enough to be placed in the front row.  (One of the requirements of being in the front row is that you must be off-book.  Completely memorized!)  It was such an honor and thrill for me to excel in something that now, in hindsight, felt absolutely right to me and natural.  I was completely comfortable and confident in that position.  I was feeling Too Hot in my bones!  That experience invigorated and ignited my heart and soul and the warmth I experienced from that lasted for several months after.  I was (and am) hooked on being part of Too Hot!

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

Venue: Auditorium Theatre
Dates: Saturday, January 19 - Sunday, January 20, 2013
Times: Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3:00 pm
Price: $74-$30
Honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Handel’s classicalMessiah, the Auditorium welcomes backToo Hot for its 8th year. Too Hot packs the stage with more than 200 musicians, including some famous Chicago jazz favorites. They are joined by soloists Alfreda Burke, Rodrick Dixon and Karen Marie Richardson, as well as the city-wideToo Hot choir to create the jazziest Messiahyet.
Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy. | Groups of 10+ 312.341.2357

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Nutcracker - A Joffrey Dancer's Perspective

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By Rory Hohenstein, Joffrey Dancer

When the holidays approach, as a ballet dancer that means The Nutcracker. If not the first, then it is definitely among the first ballets you perform. And like our craft, it takes time to grow, through the years moving from party child, to toy soldiers, then professionally progressing in roles as well until you can look back and successfully know you've performed almost every part. Besides the amazing score played by the orchestra, what makes this experience even more fun is having the chance to perform in such an historic and beautiful theater like the Auditorium. 

As artists in the theater, we experience the complete opposite side of what the audience sees, such as the quiet empty lobby, with all its grand marble and tiles. Or the smell of the popcorn seeping through the dressing room halls as the ushers start preparing before the doors open. But mostly, as the audience sits in their seats staring at the life and art happening onstage, we the artists are living the story, looking out at the opposite side of the theater. 

The House of the Auditorium is beautiful and stunning from where we stand. Looking out into soft glowing arches that surround everyone, it is a privilege to perform here. As dancers, every year heading into Nutcracker season, we have grown accustomed to working through the holidays, but perhaps the best part of that is knowing that it has come as a tradition for most families and friends to celebrate the season with Nutcracker. And to be a part of others' yearly traditions feels quite special. So the next time you're in your seat, be sure to look up and all around and take in the beautiful sights of the theater. Know that that our view is quite beautiful as well. 


Rory Hohenstein was born in Washington, D.C. At age six he began dancing jazz, tap and modern. At 12 he began training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in D.C. In his senior year of high school, he joined Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris, while completing his studies overseas. In July of 2000, Rory joined the San Francisco Ballet as a member of the corps and was promoted to a soloist in 2006. In 2008, he moved to New York City, joining choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s new company, Morphoses. As a member of Morphoses, he performed in their home season and toured with the company to Sadler Wells London and the Sydney Festival in Australia. Rory spent 2010 as a freelance dancer working on several projects with different companies, most recently finishing a season with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Rory has had the pleasure of working with many esteemed choreographers including Helgi Tomasson, Wayne McGregor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, Lar Lubovitch, Alexi Ratmansky, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Jorma Elo and Wade Robson, from T.V.'s "So You Think You Can Dance." This is Rory’s first season with The Joffrey Ballet.

The Joffrey Ballet

The Nutcracker
Venue: Auditorium Theatre
Dates: Friday, December 7, 2012 - Thursday, December 27, 2012
Times: Times Vary - See Below Schedule
Price: $117-$31
Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes(including a 20 minute intermission)
Collaboration conceived and directed by:
Robert Joffrey
Music: Peter llyich Tchaikovsky 
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of America’s #1 Nutcracker! A grand production with Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live by a full orchestra, this is sure to be an evening of pure enchantment.
“The perfect ballet” – Washington Post
Phone: 800.982.ARTS (2787) | Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holidays at #theAud Photo Contest

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Holidays at #theAud Photo Contest

Enter to win a pair of tickets to
A new winner chosen every week!

Katie and Brandae Stocking
How to Enter: Photograph yourself, your friends, or your family in the Auditorium Theatre lobby this holiday season. Post the photo on your favorite social media site and tag us to enter. Be sure to make your post "public" so that we can see your entry! You may enter as many times as you like - the more photos, the more chances to win!

There are three ways to enter:

Twitter - tag @auditoriumchgo and #theAud
Facebook - tag Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University 
Instagram - tag AuditoriumTheatre

Prizes: One winner will be randomly selected each week until the end of 2012. Each winner will receive two (2) free premium tickets to Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah, January 19 & 20 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Plush Holiday ToysContest Rules: No purchase or payment necessary to enter or win a prize.  Must be 18+ years of age. Contest ends December 31, 2012 at noon. The submitter certifies he or she has obtained permission from all persons appearing in the entry; however, only the entrant submitting the entry is eligible to win the prize. Photo must not contain material which is sexually explicit, obscene, violent, illegal, or offensive. Photo must not include 3rd party trademarks, logos, or insignias. You must tag @auditoriumchgo or #theAud in your Twitter post to enter.  If you enter on Facebook, you must tag the Auditorium Theatre Facebook page, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Tag @AuditoriumTheatre on Instagram to enter. Posts must be made "public" to be entered to win. Weekly contest winners will be chosen and announced on Mondays during the month of December. Auditorium Theatre staff will contact winners via Facebook or Twitter; failure to respond after 48 hours of notification may lead to the forfeit of prize. Photo entries will be used by the Auditorium Theatre to promote the contest, the Auditorium Theatre, and the programming at the Auditorium Theatre. This contest is in no way sponsored by Facebook or Twitter and is being run exclusively by the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Void where prohibited. 

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