Friday, May 30, 2014

TIDES Flamenco This Friday Through Sunday at Vittum Theatre #ChiILPicksList #Multicultural #Dance #FamilyFriendly

ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List for This Weekend:

Chiara Mangiameli, founder of Studio Mangiameli and female lead in Rick Bayless's acclaimed Cascabel, will be presenting her annual show at the Vittum Theater, May 30-June 1. 

ChiIL Mama has an exclusive video interview with Marina Claudio, one of the Flamenco dancers who is a friend of ours. She is not only a dancer, but also a doctor and a mom!  Hear her take on the show and also how she balances all of her roles. We're adding her interview to our long running series on How Creatives Parent and How Parents Create.

Check it out right here:

Tides will feature more than 40 dancers, of all ages and from various backgrounds, addressing the events that changed their lives through flamenco dance and song forms with live accompaniment by musicians including Carlo Basile (Las Guitarras de Espana) and percussionist Bob Garrett, soon to appear in Sting’s new musical, The Last Ship.  

ChiIL Mama will be there... will YOU?!

May 30th and 31st at 7:30pm
June 1st at 4:30pm
Tides - Studio Mangiameli Annual Show
Vittum Theater
1012 N Noble St in Chicago

Tides, directed and created by Chiara Mangiameli, is not only Studio Mangiameli's third annual student showcase but an exploration of the moments that leave indelible marks on human lives and alter the landscape of identity.

Mangiameli, whom the Chicago Tribune hailed as a "formidable flamenco dancer" for her work alongside Rick Bayless in the Lookingglass Theater production of Cascabel, has assembled over 40 dancers including a children's “Mini Flamencas” group. (*WORLDS COLLIDE ALERT:  We just found out the child of an old friend of mine is in the Mini Flamencas group too! Chicago's 6 degrees of separation is FAR closer than you think.)

Tides will also feature original live music from some of Chicago's most recognized flamenco and world music players, including Carlo Basile (Las Guitarras De España), guitarist Diego Alonso and percussionist Bob Garrett, soon to appear in Sting’s new musical, The Last Ship. World-renowned flamenco singer Vicente “El Cartucho” Griego (pictured below) will be this year’s very special guest.

Tickets $25, $15 for children 12 and under.
Free parking.

Tides - Promo Video from Chiara Mangiameli on Vimeo.


July 30th through August 24th, 2014
Cascabel with Rick Bayless featuring Chiara Mangiameli
Goodman Theater

ChiIL Mama was elated to be included in a private press breakfast with Rick Bayless & Chiara Mangiameli,when the Cascabel remount was first announced, and we can't wait to see it this summer!  Check back early and often for our original content, video interviews, stills and write ups leading up to the show.  Check back soon for our photo filled recap of TIDES.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Magic of Musicals Via Netflix #StreamTeam #NetflixKids #Ad

This month our Netflix Stream Team Theme is school plays and spring musicals. 

It couldn't be more timely. My 11 year old daughter, Sage, was just in her first musical, Fiddler on The Roof, as the fiddler!  They had no budget and cardboard scenery, but these kids put their hearts and souls into the show and it was awesome. 

Sage got to do the infamous "bottle dance" and show off her mad gymnastics skills with splits & a back walk over, in addition to singing and dancing all the chorus numbers. Most of all she had a blast with the cast!

Disclosure:  ChiIL Mama is a proud member of the Netflix Stream Team. We've been compensated for sharing monthly posts with our readers.  All opinions are our own.

Back in high school, I too was in Fiddler on the Roof and Annie Get Your Gun.  Though not a musical, in college I was also in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Now I generally stick to reviewing musicals and plays and/or shooting stills & video interviews with the performers for ChiIL Mama (family friendly) and our sister site ChiIL Live Shows (adult).

Whether you were Sandy in your high school's adaptation of Grease or have two left feet and sing off-key (we're not judging!), we have some titles that will get you and your kids singing along to some popular show tunes. And although you may not realize it - or be willing to admit it - you probably know the words to more than you'd think!

Check out our list of titles to stream on Netflix, then share one of your favorites with your kids. For older kids, we've pulled a list of our favorite musicals, and for little ones, we have a few fun sing-a-longs (perfect if you need something other than Let It Go in your head).

And speaking of Let It Go, moms, dads and older teens, check out Rent, starring Idina Menzel.  I've had press tickets to see the Broadway touring production of RENT twice, during different Chicago runs, and it's fantastic. Now Netflix lets you catch it on your own time. 

12 Musical Titles Available on Netflix:
For your big kids:

1. Shrek the Musical 

Here at ChiIL Mama we LOVE this one and have seen & 
reviewed both the Broadway touring version and the awesome Chicago 
Shakespeare Theatre production LIVE on stage and the Dreamworks version shown here as well!  Before I take the kids to theatre we love to play the "SAME/DIFFERENT GAME".  This means we check out the movie on Netflix if possible, read the book as a family, then go see the live show and compare what elements stayed the same and what changed. Fun fun.  

Click here to check out loads of ChiIL Mama's Shrek the Musical coverage.

Shrek Parfaits!
(Mmmmmmm kiwi)

Remember that scene in Shrek when Donkey says, "Parfait’s gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole planet!"? We agree. Click here to learn how to make your own Shrek-inspired parfait!

3. Grease

4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 
This is another of our family's all time favs, as we raved about here last month *see below.
(I love it as a kid but didn't fully appreciate it till I rewatched it with my own kids. Remind you of James Bond a bit... with the goofy girls' names and wacky inventions? There's a reason. It was written by Ian Fleming, too, and produced by Albert Broccoli, who produced many of the Bond films! Road Dahl adapted it for the screen. Didja know Benny Hill is in it, too?)

6. The Phantom of the Opera 
"He's here... The Phantom of the Operaaaaaaaa!" It was my great pleasure to take my daughter to see the Broadway touring production in Chicago a few months ago. We even got a signed poster!  It was beyond awesome with stellar stage effects and songs that have become beloved, timeless classics.

It was a pleasure to be serenaded by some of the Broadway touring cast of Phantom of The Opera, at a Women Driving Excellence Event later that week. They had a post performance Q &A and I was one of the lucky few to score an autographed Phantom of The Opera poster. Sage and I had press tickets to review opening night and we loved it! Sage raved about all the parts she enjoyed, but conceded she was also a bit creeped out by the Phantom.  She even coined a new term and told me she'd been "dramatized" ie: traumatized by drama.

And your little ones:
(though my big ones still dig Mulan & Pocahontas at ages 11 & 13)

1. Mulan
5. Rock-A-Doodle

PS:  If you've been following along on our monthly Stream Team updates, we were last heading for The State History Fair in Springfield.  My 13 year old son, Dugan, wasn't picked to advance to nationals, but he still rocked state and came home with a blue ribbon for a "Superior" presentation. 

ChiIL out with us this summer in Chi, IL and beyond.  Check back with ChiIL Mama for more cool Stream Team Themes every month!  Stay cool and stream on...

Disclosure:  Once again, ChiIL Mama is a proud member of the Netflix Stream Team. We've been compensated for sharing monthly posts with our readers.  All opinions are our own.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Alvin Sputnik & Kaguya Rock Stages, Sights and Sounds #ChiILPicksList #OriginalPhotos

Gone but not forgotten:
We're marking our calendars NOW for next year's Stages, Sights and Sounds component of the infamous Chicago Humanities Festival.  Every spring their annual International Children's Theater Festival is one of our favorites. Their offerings are truly multicultural magic and world class! 

Check out ChiIL Mama's show reviews and our photo filled recap below, along with official video clips.  We had a crazy busy spring so we could only catch 2 of the shows this year, but boy were they excellent picks!

We caught the first show of the fest,The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer and one of the last, as well. Kaguya, a hybrid Japanese/European puppet show created in Prague, was truly a treat! 

The crazy Aussie creativity of Alvin Sputnik, and the Windy City collided in the best possible way, to kick off The Stages, Sights and Sounds Festival 2014. 

It was our great pleasure to be invited to a sneak peek, press preview and reception again this year. We were especially stoked to see The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, since it sold out, as did most of the other shows!  

Seas have risen; many people have died. Alvin Sputnik is our only hope. This wee survivor of extreme climate change must venture to the bottom of the ocean to save humanity, even as he tries to heal his broken heart. Using a beguiling blend of puppetry, animation, and music, this performance carries us along on Alvin’s momentous undersea journey. This enchanting micro-epic has charmed audiences around the world and garnered awards on three continents.
Recommended for ages 12 and up

"An endearing Australian solo show . . .
akin to a theatrical Wall-E."—The New York Times

Kaguya: The Bamboo Princess was a fabulous way to wrap up the fest. The audience was entranced and Nori Sawa left everyone wanting more. He is one of the most endearing, charming characters I've ever met, and he's quite impressive with his command of puppetry, physical theatre and story telling. Both shows inspired us, enlightened, entertained and rocked our world.

The runaway favorite performer of 2012, Nori Sawa brings a new show to this year's festival—Kaguya: The Bamboo Princess, his unique version of a legendary Japanese folktale. This tenth-century story is likely Japan's oldest narrative, and it tells the tale of Kaguya, who was discovered as a baby inside a bamboo shoot. Her story—from her adoptive parents to her many admirers, among them the Emperor—is one of loyalty, magic, and transcendence.
Recommended for ages 10 and up

"Nori Sawa's art has always been a fusion of East and West."—The Prague Post (Czech Republic)

Nori Sawa
Born in Japan but now based in the Czech Republic, Nori Sawa began his professional activities in Europe for the Cultural Ministry of the Japanese Government. He has performed and taught theater arts in more than 20 countries and was last seen in Chicago at Stages, Sights & Sounds in 2012. In 1999, he was awarded the Franz Kafka Medal for his global artistic activities.

ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List: 
Chicago Humanities Festival's annual 
International Children's Theater Festival 

Hope you got to check it out before it sold out. We gave you the heads up on Stages, Sights & Sounds on ChiIL Mama's Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google + for months.  

Stages, Sights & Sounds brims with possibilities, offering lively theatrical and hands-on experiences for every age. You can see performers from faraway countries and also discover Chicago gems. You can find inspiration in stories classic and new told through puppetry, theater, words, and pictures.

This year we celebrated our 15th year of presenting fresh, original performances from around the world with 48 performances May 6–24 at three Chicago venues. Watch a video trailer on the CHF blog.

CHF welcomes school and educational groups of 10 or more students, teachers, and chaperones. To make reservations, call the CHF Box Office at 312-494-9509 or email Some schools may qualify for free tickets and subsidized bus costs.

Plan ahead for 2015.  Sign up for Stages, Sights & Sounds emails to get the inside scoop.

Get Social & ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama all summer long:

Follow us on FACEBOOK and TWITTER so you don't miss out. Follow us by RSS feed (add your address in the side bar to the right) to get an easy e-mail digest and/or on social media.

ChiIL Live Shows (adult)  FACEBOOK PAGE and TWITTER
ChiIL Mama (family friendly) FACEBOOK PAGE and TWITTER 

YOUTUBE (We have 240+ original videos on our YouTube Channel including video interviews with musicians, theatre people, parents in the arts, live show footage & more!)

Check back with ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often. 
We have photo & video filled features, loads of great reviews and interviews, and lots of weekly giveaways--nationwide toys/games/products and Chicago based music and theatre tickets.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FOODIE TUESDAY: Holy Aioli Batman! WIN a $250 Aioli Party Prize Pack from Red Gold #freebie #recipes #giveaway

LAST CALL:  Vote for your favorite Red Gold Easy Aioli flavor for a chance to win a $250 Aioli Party Prize Pack.  Contest ends May 28, 2014.

It's Foodie Tuesday again here at ChiIL Mama. One of the fun perks of being a top blogger is all the sample deliveries that arrive on our doorstep. 

Today we're featuring Red Gold and their rockin' Aioli Sweepstakes.  
We've been giving you the heads up on this one via our social media channels, but this is a good one and we don't want our readers to miss out. Enter today.

Disclaimer: ChiIL Mama is happy to partner up with Red Gold and share this sweepstakes with our readers.  We have been compensated with an Aioli Party Pack.

Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will receive a Cuisinart® Elite Griddler, a Red Gold® Apron, a 5 pack of Red Gold® products and an Aioli spreader.

Click Here to enter the sweepstakes!

These are a few of our favorite recipes from Red Gold:

Looks like we backed a winner.  Garlic is our fav as well as the current frontrunner. Vote for your fav and get a chance to win THIS smokin' prize pack.

Summertime is coming up fast... and Red Gold has loads of tasty recipes for you.  For summertime and beyond... 

Disclaimer: Once again, ChiIL Mama is happy to partner up with Red Gold and share this sweepstakes with our readers.  We have been compensated with an Aioli Party Pack.

OPENING: Family Friendly Circus Fun For All Ages Cirque Shanghai: Warriors at Navy Pier


ChiIL Mama can't wait to see “CIRQUE SHANGHAI: WARRIORS” at the press opening this Wednesday. We'll be back shooting stills once again, for the 5th year in a row! Check back like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often for our reviews, news, giveaways and features. We're your source for photo/video filled original content on Chi, IL and beyond!

Click here to check out 4 years of our exclusive photo filled Cirque Shanghai recaps!  Then book your tickets and see them LIVE. (We've also included more of our favorite original stills from last year at the end of this post. Loads of favorite acts from last year will be back again, with a hot, new warrior twist!)

Tickets now on Sale for 
“Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” 
with New Acts Including 
the Martial Prowess of Chinese Kung Fu 
and Wu Shu Masters

Cirque Shanghai” is proud to return this summer to Chicago’s Navy Pier with a brand new show, “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors.” Performances begin Wednesday, May 21 and run through Monday, Sept. 1 at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage, a 1,500-seat, canopied, open-air theater on Navy Pier® (600 E. Grand Ave).

Tickets are on sale NOW and will be available via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or

Now in its ninth consecutive summer season at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage, this latest installment of “Cirque Shanghai” combines the impressive acrobatics audiences have enjoyed in the past with the martial prowess of Chinese Kung Fu and Wu Shu masters. The result is powerful display of athleticism and the mastery of disciplines that formed the backbone of military might in ancient China for thousands of years.

This summer’s production of “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” brings an extraordinary line-up of thrilling acts to the stage, including The Kinetic Poles, the powerful Water Meteor and the heart-pounding Pageant of Arms. Returning to the production from last year is the fate-tempting “Wheel of Destiny,” and China’s premier daredevil steel-globe motorcycle troupe, “Imperial Thunder”.

Directed by Miao Miao Chen, “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” is presented in this exclusive U.S. engagement by Navy Pier in conjunction with International Special Attractions, Ltd. (ISA) production headquarters in Shanghai, China. 

“Cirque Shanghai” will perform May 21 – September 1. Performances will be held at 10:30 a.m. May 21 and 29. Beginning May 23 the regular performance schedule is:
  • Wednesday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. 
  • Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Friday at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.
  • Saturday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.

Tickets are on sale NOW via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or Tickets are $19.50- $39.50 for adults and $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are also available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting

  • Special Packages for summer 2014 include: The Navy Pier Fun Package containing, a Emperor’s Court “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” ticket, a 40 min Skyline boat cruise, a Ferris Wheel voucher, a Pepsi Skyline Stage $5 concession voucher and a 20% off RIVA coupon for $43, with a children’s version available for $28. 

  • In addition, the Navy Pier Nightlife package combines a “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” Emperor’s Court ticket, a Landshark Beer garden $10 voucher and a Hagen Daas double scoop cone/cup voucher for $36.50.

ChiIL Tips:   Go on a Wednesday or Saturday night and catch a free Navy Pier fireworks show every week!   We also recommend buying the glossy, photo filled program.   The performers will sign it after the show and it'll be a fun keepsake for the kids to reminisce over.

International Special Attractions (ISA) was established in 1996 and over the past two decades has become a world leader in the production of large scale special attractions, events and theatrical productions. In addition to presenting Cirque Shanghai, ISA was the first company to bring Chinese acrobats to Broadway.  For the past two years, ISA has presented The Ice Kingdom, a 14,000 square foot experience made entirely of ice, at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  ISA’s other ICE! attractions are mounted annually at four Gaylord Hotel locations throughout the United States, and are enjoyed by over 1 million people each year. ISA also produces Luminasia, the larger-than-life lantern attraction, which was seen last year at the Washington State Fair, and for the past four years at The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.  In 2014, ISA is adding two additional Luminasia locations, one in Blackpool, England, and another in conjunction with the LA County Fair.  ISA clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Gaylord Entertainment, The Queen Mary, The New Victory Theatre in New York, Navy Pier Chicago, The Galt House Hotel, Busch Entertainment Corp and Six Flags, Inc.  Featured Television coverage has aired internationally, on networks including NBC, CBS and ABC to name but a few.

Drawing from his classical music background, Haiping Ge was one of the earliest producers serving in the Shanghai government’s Office of Cultural Exchange Affairs. From that office, he hosted many of the first Western entertainers performing in China.

For the last two decades, Haiping Ge has been producing shows with ISA for the world’s premium venues. His current productions include: Cirque Shanghai for New Victory Theatre on Broadway; ICE! Attractions in Dallas, Nashville, Orlando and Washington D.C. in association with Gaylord Resorts; Luminasia at The Galt House in Louisville, KY, USA. Haiping also produced a Chinese acrobatic show for Disney World, Florida which will run through the end of this year.

Miao Chen is a second-generation performer as well as the show’s director.  She studied with the internationally famous Shenyang Performing Arts Academy beginning at age five, and joined the acclaimed Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe, one of the top ten troupes in all of China, at age 13.  Chen is the recipient of a Gold Lion Award from the International Acrobatics Competition in France, and received the top award for Best Innovative Performance in Uruguay. Chen has performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. In 2006 and 2007, Chen worked as a choreographer for “Le Grand Cirque” which has toured in cities across Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. Chen previously directed hit productions of “Cirque Shanghai” in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Located on Lake Michigan, just east of Chicago’s downtown, Navy Pier is the most-visited tourist and leisure destination in the Midwest, welcoming nearly 9 million annual visitors.  Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, it is now one of the country’s preeminent recreation and exposition facilities, showcasing 50 acres of parks, gardens, restaurants, shops, attractions, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exhibition facilities and more.