Tuesday, May 31, 2016

REVIEW: Cush Cushion Review and 10% Off Code

Is it an oversized travel neck pillow... umpire's gear... a cool contraption for hot yoga?!

It's your new best friend, the Cush Cushion!

Sometimes I feel like I spend my life sitting in the car, at my desk, waiting on my kids' extracurriculars... 

That's why I was elated to be chosen to review the Cush Cushion for this sponsored post and share a discount code with my readers. I have been compensated, but as always, all opinions are my own.

See that stitched smile? There are a few a great reasons for that, namely comfort and pain relief. Yes, I'm grinning from my head to my... well, you get the point. 

I've been trying out the Cush Cushion for a few weeks now and it's pretty amazing. My posture is better and my back aches less. It's like having a new, ergonomic office chair for a fraction of the cost. It's quite well made and doesn't flatten out. And it's quite cushy, and does live up to it's name. We highly recommend it.

I'm a freelance writer and blogger, so I sit at my desk at home working pretty much non stop. I've got a fun, little under desk elliptical machine for exercise, but sitting for long stretches, hunched over a keyboard is tough on the back and harder than it sounds. I also spend a lot of time on my butt, even when I'm on the go! As a mom of two pre-driving teens in Chicago, a city with one of the worst traffic congestion problems in the nation, I'm stuck sitting even when I'm running errands or driving the kids around.

My husband and kids have been digging the Cush Cushion too. My husband is a location sound guy who has to carry loads of heavy gear around and spend lots of time in transit internationally in planes, cars, and traffic jams across the planet, so he suffers back pain and numb, tingling legs fairly often. My 13 year old daughter's a competitive gymnast who has fallen on her tailbone before, and come home from practice with a bruised butt more times than I can count. She too appreciates a bit of cush for her tush, especially while healing. In fact, I may have to spring for a couple more Cush Cushions so they quit snagging mine! Want one of your own?

ChiIL Mama's Readers can SAVE

Disclosure: ChiIL Mama is pleased to partner up with Cush Cushions on this sponsored post via US Family Bloggers. We have been sent a Cush Cushion for review purposes and/or compensated monetarily. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hard Rock Cafe Giveaway and World Burger Tour

It's burger season, ya know, and warm weather rocks, so kick off your spring and summer beef eating with a trip to your local Hard Rock Cafe for this year’s World Burger Tour! ChiIL Mama loves to ChiIL out with some foodie fun in Chi, IL and beyond. 

We're thrilled to be partnering up with Hard Rock Cafe to offer our readers a fun giveaway for your home grilling enjoyment. We have been compensated for sharing this information with our readers.

ChiIL Mama will be heading out to our iconic Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago with the family soon, to join in on the Hard Rock Cafe World Burger Tour! So check back for our photo filled recap and food review.

Follow along on our adventures and add a few of your own with the hashtag #worldburgertour on ChiIL Live Shows' Twitter (Chi, IL entertainment & more), ChiIL Mama's Twitter (Family Friendly Fun in Chi, IL and beyond) and 
Hard Rock Cafe's Twitter (rockin' food with attitude).

Don't wait! Like all great tours, this one will come to an end, so get to a Hard Rock Cafe from now through June 30th and make some tasty memories. Mouth watering details are below.


Want this sweet set for the frontman or woman who steals the show at your grill outs? One of our lucky readers will win this star worthy Hard Rock Cafe branded merch grill set including:

    One (1) oven mitt
    One (1) apron
    One (1) spatula

ENTER HERE, early and often through midnight, June 8th for your chance to WIN! Open to US residents nationwide.

Hard Rock World Burger Tour

VIRTUAL WORLD TOUR: Hard Rock Cafe locations in North America are celebrating the start of burger season with a menu showcasing international Local Legendary™ Burgers. Travel the culinary world without leaving town. The limited-time *World Burger Tour menu is available now through Thursday, June 30, 2016.
*World Burger Tour menus may vary by location; guests should consult their local cafe for a full list of featured burgers

Backstage Burger Pass
Hard Rock gives chefs at their cafes the freedom to create a unique Local Legendary Burger that captures the flavors of their city. This year more than 160 local burgers were evaluated by Hard Rock’s culinary team with fan favorites selected to headline the World Burger Tour menu. Throughout May and June, Hard Rock Cafe menus* will feature the following World Burger Tour offerings:

English Breakfast Burger (London, England) – a Certified Angus Beef® patty topped with sliced ham, a sausage patty, a fried egg, a portobello mushroom, arugula and garlic aioli and served with a side of baked beans

Java Lava Burger (Seattle, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty grilled and dressed in a house-made espresso rub and topped with lava sauce, crunchy java onions, bacon, melted Cheddar cheese and garnished with a fried jalapeño

Tandoori Chicken Burger (Mumbai, India) – a dark meat chicken patty seasoned with aromatic spices and fresh herbs, topped with mint mayonnaise and served with a side of cucumber

Jamaican Jerk Burger (Montego Bay, Jamaica) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with banana pepper rings, mango jalapeño cream cheese and jerk mayonnaise

ATOMIC! Burger (Las Vegas, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with Atomic beer-battered peppers, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, garlic chipotle ketchup and chipotle mayonnaise

Tango Salsa Burger (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with andouille sausage, Monterey Jack cheese, chips de batata, a fried egg, salsa criolla and garlic aioli

Greek Burger (Athens, Greece) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with arugula, feta cheese and a tomato slice

Aloha Burger (Honolulu, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with SPAM, Monterey Jack cheese, a grilled pineapple ring with sweet soy glaze, guacamole and pico de gallo

Hard Rock Cafe has created cocktails that perfectly complement World Burger Tour offerings. Served in Hard Rock’s iconic mason jars, adult guests can order with the suggested pairing or mix it up with any other burger from the limited-time menu. New cocktails include: 

All Jacked Up – created to balance the Jamaican Jerk Burger’s spicy flair, this cocktail features a mix of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, PJ, Orgeat and lime juice, garnished with orange and pineapple wedges and a cherry

Crisp Sipper – inspired by the Aloha Burger’s sweet and savory taste, this cocktail features a mix of Hendrick’s gin, Monin Cucumber, lemon, orange and raspberry, topped with tonic and garnished with rosemary and thyme

MelonPalooza – designed to complement the fresh flavors of the Greek Burger, this cocktail features a mix of Midori Melon Liqueur, Malibu Rum, Hard Rock’s house-made sour mix and PJ, garnished with slices of pineapple and strawberry

Sweet & Fiery – inspired by the ATOMIC! Burger’s spicy flavor, this cocktail features a mix of Absolut Peppar Vodka, Canton Ginger Liquor, Blue Curacao, lemonade and ginger beer, garnished with a red pepper

Black Cherry Melonade (non-alcoholic) – created to complement the rich espresso of the Java Lava Burger, this mocktail features a mix of Black Cherry Real and Monin Cucumber, topped with ginger beer, garnished with a cucumber slice and a cherry

ACTUAL WORLD TOUR: This year, Hard Rock is also offering a literal World Burger Tour, a travel package that takes the most adventurous burger enthusiasts on the road (and the skies) to sample offerings from the World Burger Tour menu at Hard Rock Cafe locations in London, Athens, Buenos Aires and Seattle! Ready to book your ticket? Click here: Hard Rock World Burger Tour.

Burger Tour for the Roadie
For those a little more hungry, Hard Rock will bring its menu to life and offer a unique burger experience that takes guests’ taste buds on an international journey.

Hard Rock, in conjunction with global experience agency RPMC, is offering a World Burger Tour travel package that includes stops at iconic cities including London, England; Athens, Greece; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Seattle, United States. This four-stop, once-in-a-lifetime excursion celebrates the cities that inspired Hard Rock’s World Burger Tour.

The World Burger Tour travel package is a private, 10-night trip that includes flights, first class hotel accommodations, ground transportation and exclusive dining and music experiences at Hard Rock Cafe locations in each city not typically available to the public.

Disclosure: It's our pleasure here at ChiIL Mama to partner up with Hard Rock Cafe on this giveaway and sponsored post. The information, gift card, gift pack and giveaway have been provided to me by Hard Rock International. As always, all opinions, photos and experiences are my own.

Monday, May 23, 2016


ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List:


Multi-media concert features classical works set to breathtaking films including
a World Premiere and Chicago Premiere by Dr. Salgado
plus the World Premiere of Michael Abels’ “Victory Road” written for founder Paul Freeman

Family Friendly Symphony
Chicago Sinfonietta concludes its 2015-2016 Season with Cosmic Convergence, a special multi-media concert honoring a decade of collaboration with Chicago-based, KV 265 Emmy-nominated astronomer and visual artist Dr. José Francisco Salgado including encore performance of their “greatest hits” plus the World Premiere and Chicago Premiere of two films by Dr. Salgado. The Sinfonietta performs Cosmic Convergence tonight in its downtown Chicago home venue of Symphony Center, Monday, May 23 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets: Single tickets range from $18-$60 for concerts at Symphony Center with special $10 pricing available for students. Tickets can be purchased by calling Chicago Sinfonietta at 312.284.1554 or online at www.chicagosinfonietta.org.


The Planets – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
Borealis featuring Chicago Premiere by Dr. José Francisco Salgado
Mvt. 2, Un bal, from Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 featuring World Premiere by Dr.  José Francisco Salgado
MUSSORGSKY (arr. Ravel)      
Excerpts from Pictures at an Exhibition- Hut on Fowl's Legs and The Great Gate of Kiev
The Planets – Mars, the Bringer of War
Global Warming
Capriccio Italienop.45    
Victory Road

Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
José Francisco Salgado, astronomer & visual artist 

Ten years ago, Chicago Sinfonietta first collaborated with Dr. Salgado and the Adler Planetarium with the debut performance of what soon became an award-winning suite of seven short films set to Gustav Holst’s most famous work, The Planets. As a result of this collaboration, Dr. Salgado co-founded KV 265, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting science through music. Throughout the last decade, this highly acclaimed creative partnership was renewed with performances of works by Mussorgsky and Ravel set to Salgado’s films, opening the Sinfonietta to an even-broader international audience including a multi-media experience performed for over 12,000 people at Millennium Park in 2008. 

To mark this special anniversary, Chicago Sinfonietta presents an encore performance of its “greatest hits” from this partnership while introducing a World Premiere film by Dr. Salgado produced specifically for Hector Berlioz’s epic Symphonie fantastique as well as the Chicago Premiere of Dr. Salgado’s work for John Estacio’s lyrical, contemplative Borealis. The program begins as this partnership did ten years ago with a performance of the Jupiter movement from Holst’s epic work, The Planets. A thunderous performance of Holst’s the Mars movement from the same work will also be featured. The second half of the concert will feature orchestral works including Sierra’s Júbilo, Abels’ Global Warming and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien. Victory Road, a work written by composer Michael Abels to honor the life and legacy of Sinfonietta’s late founder, Maestro Paul Freeman, will also make its World Premiere during these performances and will bring the organization’s Season of Celebration to a fitting conclusion.

Pre-concert and during intermission audience members will be invited to touch, hear, and observe the universe up close and personal with diverse astronomers from across the city including the Naperville Astronomical Association during the Wentz Concert Hall performance and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the Cernan Earth and Space Center, and the Chicago Astronomical Society during the Symphony Center performance.

“Maestro Freeman and Chicago Sinfonietta approached me to produce astronomy visuals for their performances in 2006 of The Planets by Gustav Holst,” recalls Dr. Salgado. “I immediately realized that I could make more than just a pretty slide show. I could produce a film to support the music that would also stand alone as artwork,” he said. “I have long felt creativity was crucial to both art and science, and this was the motivation I needed to start making films combining music with science.”

“We are thrilled to have been the inspiration leading to the creation of KV 265,” said Jim Hirsch, Chicago Sinfonietta’s Executive Director. “It is a testament to the Sinfonietta’s commitment to original and innovative programming. The Chicago Sinfonietta has premiered three of José Francisco’s critically-acclaimed Science & Symphony films which have been an inspiration to thousands of people in Chicago and around the world.”

“The first Science & Symphony production I conducted was the premiere of Moonrise set to Ravel’s lush score of Daphnis and Chloe. It was innovative and beautiful,” said Maestro Chen. “Dr. Salgado’s works always show a great sensitivity and understanding of the music - his incredible films with amazing images and videos, combined with the masterpieces of music, creates very unique artistic experiences our concert audiences are sure to enjoy!"

About Chicago Sinfonietta
In its 28th season, Chicago Sinfonietta has pushed artistic and social boundaries to provide an alternative way of hearing, seeing and thinking about a symphony orchestra. Led by Music Director Mei-Ann Chen since 2011, each concert experience blends inventive new works with classical masterworks, each from a diverse array of voices, to entertain, transform and inspire. Learn more at www.chicagosinfonietta.org.

Chicago Sinfonietta is grateful to its season sponsors including Nicor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Southwest Airlines, Fairmont Hotel, and Hotel Arista. Chicago Sinfonietta also thanks its concert media sponsors including WXRT, Chicago and Naperville Magazines, and Chicago Reader.

About KV 265
KV 265 is a non-profit organization whose mission is the communication of science through art to communities in the United States and worldwide. It seeks to heighten appreciation and understanding of art, music, science, and technology, and to inspire further exploration of these disciplines among its audience members through multimedia concerts, lectures, and educational workshops. KV 265’s flagship Science & Symphony films have been presented in more than 120 performances and have reached 265,000 people in more than 50 cities in 9 countries worldwide. For more information, visit KV265.org or call 312-565-1028.

KV 265 would like to thank their season sponsors: Exelon Corporation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Reva & David Logan Foundation, and the Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation.

Saturday, May 21, 2016




Welcome to “the Alice.” This week Goodman Theatre opens its Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement—a new addition that exponentially expands the theater’s ability to use its practice of art as education in service of positive social change in Chicago. The Goodman becomes the first theater in Chicago to establish a facility expressly dedicated to education and engagement initiatives—efforts which evolved when Robert Falls became Artistic Director in 1986, and currently serve more than 8,000 youth and lifelong learners. Falls and Board of Trustees Chair Joan Clifford, Executive Director Roche Schulfer and Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor announced two ground-breaking artistic collaborations at the Alice: Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award-winning playwright/performer/poet Dael Orlandersmith (Lady in Denmark in 2017; Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men in 2012 and Stoop Stories in 2009) becomes a Goodman Artistic Associate/Alice Artist in Residence, and Michael Rohd and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) begins a three-year residency at the Alice.

“This is an incredibly proud, game-changing moment for all of us at the Goodman Theatre,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “Our work in education and engagement has always begun with the art itself—as practiced on our stages and as created by hundreds of distinguished artists each season. With the Alice, we are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Dael and Michael—two artists whose belief in the transformative power of the theater and the processes used to create it will help us reach many more members of our Chicago community, and to communities nationwide.”   

The Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is named for Alice B. Rapoport, a Goodman Trustee and chair of the theater’s Education and Community Engagement Committee, who championed the theater’s outreach efforts for more than 15 years, until her death in 2014. Rapoport’s husband, Chicago civic leader Michael A. Sachs  of the investment advisory and consulting firm TLSG, Inc., named the new Center in her honor. The Alice realizes the theater’s 30-year commitment to using its art as education—using the process of artistic creation to empower and inspire youth and lifelong learners. Working with Wheeler Kearns Architects, 10,000 square feet were transformed into classrooms, a learning lab and more. Patrons access the Alice though the Goodman’s mezzanine lobby. 

“When the current Goodman facility opened in 2000, we knew that expansion would be necessary for our youth, adult, audience and artist programs. The groundwork for the Alice was laid at that time, thanks to the strong partnership with noted Chicago developer Albert Friedman, making this expansion of the Goodman Theatre possible,” said Executive Director Roche Schulfer. “An extraordinary group of donors and supporters stepped forward to make today a reality—and I am pleased to announce that we’ve exceeded our $15 million goal, 80% of which supports expanded programming.”

Entirely funded by private contributions, the Alice features spaces named by the theater’s longtime education and engagement champions, in addition to Sachs’ gift, contributions include Trustee Roger and Julie Baskes (naming the “Baskes Rotunda”); Trustee Joan and Robert Clifford (naming the “Clifford Family Lobby”); and Trustee Kimbra and Mark Walter (naming the “Walter Family Foundation Lab,” the Director of Education and Engagement’s position and endowing PlayBuild Youth Intensive); and The Pritzker Foundation, who as the Lead Impact Investor and Digital Assets Partner, provides technological capacity in the Alice.

Starting May 19, the Goodman invites Chicago audiences to sample the newly dedicated space for classes, lectures and discussions with free activities—including family playmaking, a stage combat workshop, meet-the-artist events with Mike Nussbaum (Smokefall) and Mary Beth Fisher (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and more. May 19 is “Lorraine Hansberry Day” featuring events connected to the critically acclaimed current mainstage production, Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, directed by Anne Kauffman (on stage through June 5). On Friday, May 20, a youth spoken word event and open mic takes place pre-show, and Saturday, May 21’s open house begins at 9am with actitivies for all age. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org for a full schedule and reservation information. The opening weekend culminates in the black tie gala fundraiser, “Daring. Dazzling. Dynamic. A Night with Broadway’s Norm Lewis” (ABC’s Scandal, and the first African American to star in the title role of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway), with Lewis performing a repertory of song and dance. The event takes place on Saturday, May 21 at 6:30pm at The Fairmont Chicago; tickets start at $1,000, and all proceeds benefit education and engagement initiatives. Contact GoodmanGala@GoodmanTheatre.org for tickets and more information.

About the Artists in Residence and Creative Leadership of the Alice

Dael Orlandersmith, “a poet possessed of an exciting new voice” who “has long demonstrated a theatrical intelligence, ferocious stage presence and gift for staccato language” (New York Times), is known for creating unflinching portrayals of marginalized characters desperate to create their own identities, despite overwhelming obstacles.  A Pulitzer Prize finalist and Drama Desk Award nominee (Yellowman), Orlandersmith’s most recent play, Lady in Denmark, appeared in the Goodman’s 2015 New Stages festival; previous works at the Goodman include Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men (2012/2013) and Stoop Stories (2009/2010). Her other plays The Gimmick, The Blue Album, Beauty’s Daughter (Obie Award), Bones and Horsedreams, have appeared at major theaters across the country, including the New York Theatre Workshop, Mark Taper Forum, New Dramatists, McCarter Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre and Wilma Theater. She is currently working on a play about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, for the Repertory Theatre of St Louis. She has toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Café (Real Live Poetry) throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. Orlandersmith attended Sundance Institute Theatre Lab for four summers and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a Guggenheim and the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for a playwright in mid-career.

The nationally acclaimed Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) will begin a three-year residency at the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre this summer. The CPCP, led by Michael Rohd, is a national resource supporting artists and communities working together to build civic health, equity and capacity. Through this residency, the Goodman aims to expand its own capacity for community-based engagement towards positive social change, and establish a template for other U.S. arts institutions to emulate. Civic Practice is an approach in which artists use their core skills—such as design, collaboration and expression—to help communities address needs they have identified for themselves. Together, the Goodman and CPCP seek to participate in and promote authentic, lasting solutions to Chicago’s most challenging issues.”

"I have been working with Willa and her team at Goodman for several years now. They are a passionate, dedicated of group of artists/organizers working in community contexts around Chicago and committed to issues of equity, access and social justice,” said Michael Rohd. “We at CPCP are tremendously excited at the opportunity to deepen our collaboration and explore new ways to partner with and positively impact Chicago neighborhoods and residents."

Artist, educator and activist Willa J. Taylor, Walter Director of Education and Engagement, has led the Goodman’s programs since 2007. Taylor and her team of associates—Bobby Biedrzycki (Curriculum and Instruction Associate), Elizabeth Rice (School Programs Coordinator), Brandi Lee (Education and Community Engagement Associate) and Adrian Azevedo (Education and Engagement Assistant)—will collaborate with the Goodman’s artistic and executive leadership to oversee programmatic efforts in the Alice.

Taylor began her career in arts education at Arena Stage where, under founding director Zelda Fichandler, she established the Allen Lee Hughes Fellows Program—one of the first theater-run apprenticeships designed to increase participation by people of color in professional theater. She then went to Lincoln Center Theater where she created The Urban Ensemble, a multidisciplinary project that served at-risk youth. This collaboration between Lincoln Center and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and The Public Theater was cited by President Clinton’s Council on the Arts and Humanities in its 1996 report, Coming Up Taller. At Lincoln Center, she consulted for New Victory Theatre, where she designed the arts education program for their inaugural season. Taylor also served as cultural director for Gay Games IV, where she oversaw the production of more than 200 cultural events, including the Broadway production of Sir Ian McKellen’s A Knight Out. In addition to a longtime career in the arts, Taylor served for 12 years as a Russian and Arabic linguist in the US Navy. While overseas, she oversaw productions for the United Service Organization in Greece and managed Armed Forces Radio and Television in Turkey where she created the Profiles in Black history series. Following her graduation from Kendall College’s culinary program in 2001, Taylor opened Taylor-Made Cuisine, a gourmet catering company as well as Home Café, a neighborhood bistro. In 2005, she helped open and served as the catering chef for Chicago’s EatZi’s Easygoing Gourmet, a chain of gourmet bakeries, take-out markets and restaurants based out of Dallas, Texas.

About the Education (including Curriculum Development) and Engagement Programs at Goodman Theatre


SUMMER MUSICAL THEATER INTENSIVE – A new eight-week program that provides pre-professional training for young artists wishing to pursue a musical theater career. Led by a staff of some of Chicago’s leading artists, the program culminates in a showcase of original and classic show tunes.

STUDENT SUBSCRIPTION SERIES – Established in 1986 as one of the first comprehensive arts education theater programs in the country, this unique process-oriented series currently serves 2,700 students and 70 teachers, primarily from Chicago public high schools. Teachers attend professional development workshops to learn how to use the tools of theater to differentiate instruction, build curriculum that connects the plays on stage with students’ classroom studies and activate student engagement.

CLASSROOM AS COMMUNITY – This professional peer-learning teacher development series teaches artistic practices and habits of mind to enhance teachers’ pedagogy, such as listening with understandingand empathy, thinking flexibly and communicating with clarity and precision.

DRAMATIC INTEGRATION – This interactive, hands-on course explores how educators can use artistic praxis (the what, how and why of what artists do) in the classroom.

PLAYBUILD | YOUTH INTENSIVE – A comprehensive seven-week summer workshop that empowers young people through the act of creating theater. This program currently serves a demographically diverse group of Chicagoland youth between 14 and 18 years old.

CINDY BANDLE YOUNG CRITICS PROGRAM (CBYC) – Named for the Goodman’s late press director, CBYC is designed to increase awareness of arts journalism in collaboration with the Association of Women Journalists. Mentored
by professional journalists, 25 to 30 Chicagoland young women learn the art of theater criticism and improve their writing skills by reviewing each Goodman production and interviewing theater artists.

INTERNSHIPS – The Goodman helps train the next generation of arts professionals through internships in all areas of the theater, offered in one of three annual terms.


STAGE CHEMISTRY - Goodman Theatre’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards-based curriculum developed in partnership with Chicago’s GCE Lab School. Stage Chemistry introduces teachers and students to the math, science and technology of theatrical production.

TEACHING AUGUST WILSON - A multi-week blended learning course for teachers to develop the skills and techniques necessary to incorporate the plays of August Wilson into their high school curricula.

INTRO TO THE THEATER – Developed in partnership with Chicago Virtual Charter Academy, “Intro to the Theater” is a blended learning course designed to introduce students to the art, craft and business of theatrical production.


PLAY ‘N 90 - This interactive program encourages children ages eight to 12 and their families to build a show together in just 90 minutes.

GOODMAN YOUTH ARTS COUNCIL - A leadership development program for alumni of Goodman programs to stay involved with the theater by serving as ambassadors in their communities and schools. Council members promote young audience development events and volunteer at Goodman events, such as opening nights and benefits.

POETRY PERFORMANCE TEAM – Young alumni of Goodman programs develop and perform original solo poetry pieces.

GENARRATIONS - This personal narrative performance workshop for adults ages 55+ uses themes connected to Goodman productions to develop personal performance pieces, which participants then present to an audience.

INTERGENS - In this intergenerational summer program, participants in GeNarrations collaborate with youth in the PlayBuild program to create performance works.

CONTEXT: DISCOURSE AND DISCUSSION – A series of community conversations exploring how the themes of Goodman productions intersect with the issues making headlines today. 

About Wheeler Kearns Architects and Chris-AnnMarie Spencer, Alice Architect
Wheeler Kearns Architects (WKA) is devoted to a critical pursuit and practice of architecture, believing in the search for spaces which define a full, rich, and dignified life. Kept purposefully small, WKA endeavors to focus attention on every detail throughout a project, no matter how small. Relying on the participatory atmosphere of a studio, WKA’s process involves clients, engineers, consultants, and contractors in the development of structures which respond to desire, function and budget. After devoting efforts to finding the "emotional center" of a project early on, WKA collaborates to develop solutions that reinforce it. Simple, direct solutions are held in high esteem. WKA’s work ranges in scale and type—from the design of a door lever to a theater arts center for a college; from an elementary school to an indoor ice rink; from a children's museum to a painter's studio. Their work includes residences of various scales, programs, budgets for all walks of life. WKA remains committed to the optimistic pursuit of architecture in the design of buildings, interiors, landscapes, furniture, and urban design to ensure the realization of unified projects, regardless of their magnitude.

Chris-AnnMarie Spencer, Jamaican by birth, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies from the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology in 1998. Shortly after receiving her degree, her family relocated to Massachusetts and in 2001 she moved to Chicago to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago. During her studies there, Spencer spent a semester in Rome studying historical design and its application to contemporary design. During graduate school, she interned at Xavier Vendrell Studio and Worn Jerabek Architects working on single family residences and landscape projects. Before graduating in 2004 with a Master of Architecture, she was awarded several design and academic merit scholarships, a teaching assistantship position, and was nominated for the SOM and Schiff Foundation fellowships. In 2004, she was awarded the Martin Roche Fellowship for Independent Study which allowed her to travel to and continue her studies of urban and housing strategies for South African cities. Spencer has served as Project Architect for renovations of residences in Glencoe and Chicago. She recently completed an award winning project for Inspiration Kitchens and the Chicago region’s only high school for students with Learning Differences. In 2008, Spencer and her husband Grant Gibson, an architect at Garafolo Architects won third place in the White House Redux Competition. In 2012, she was recognized as a local innovator by the Chicago Urban League during their Economic Empowerment Summit. Most recently, she received the 2015 AIA Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award.  Currently she is Project Architect for a new Noble Charter High School and the Chicago Urban League. 

LAST CALL: 2 For 1 Tickets for Seedfolks at Chicago Children's Theatre Closing This Sunday

ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List

Don't miss this! Highly recommended for ages 7+. This show is part of Chicago Children's Theatre's Later Stages shows for older children. I went with my whole family for Mother's Day and my 13 & 15 year olds loved it as much as the adults. Sonja Parks is a consummate story teller and a true joy to see in action. We adore this story of a literal garden and the perfect metaphor it provides of growing community, growing friendships and growing hope. 

One woman plays 14 characters to tell the story of the founding and first year of a community garden in a gritty, immigrant neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Each character is from a different ethnic group, and describes the transformation of the empty lot into a vibrant garden. While doing so, each one of those characters experiences his or her own transformation.

“14 characters, 1 amazing actress” – 
**If you have special seating accommodations, please inform the Box Office 72 hours before the performance.
*Run time 60 min. including Q&A session.
*Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office one hour prior to performances with no additional fees.
*Children under 2 years of age will be admitted without a ticket provided they sit on another guest’s lap and do not occupy a seat. Any child 2 years of age and older will require a ticket to enter.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Check Out Family Friendly Improv with Storytown at Lickity Split Ice Cream Parlor as Part of Pivot Arts Fest

Join Storytown Improv At Pivot Arts Fest 
For A Sweet Adventure

Storytown Improv will be performing a special show at Edgewater’s favorite ice cream stop, Lickity Split, on Sunday June 12 at 11am.  The frozen treat store will provide the perfect backdrop to Storytown’s mix of music, theatre and comedy, where the children run the show and get to decide the fate of their heroes and heroines.

The show is part of Pivot Arts Fest: the annual celebration of innovative performance throughout Chicago’s Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. The festival includes performances of live music, puppetry and new plays throughout the area.

Storytown Improv founder and Artistic Council for Pivot Arts member, Jill Olson, said: “Pivot Arts has a mission to raise awareness of the arts and support local businesses in the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods. Improv and ice cream seemed like the perfect partnership for a summer Saturday morning.”

In this fully interactive, improvised adventure with Storytown, performers will use audience suggestions and ideas for the characters and storyline. The show is best suited for children aged 3-10 years old, along with their whole family.

"Ice Cream and Improv" presented by Storytown
June 12 at 11AM
Lickity Split Frozen Custard and Sweets
6056 N. Broadway

From superheroes to undersea adventures, princesses to dinosaurs, Storytown takes kids on an interactive, fully-improvised adventure. When the possibilities are endless, no two stories are ever the same.

Presented as part of the 2016 Pivot Arts Festival. 
To view all Festival Events, please visit: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/1625986

Storytown Improv will also be taking part in Pivot Arts’ ‘Celebrate Community’ Parade on Saturday June 4. The event will take place at Swift School Playground, 5900 N Winthrop Ave, beginning at 12.30pm with a puppet making workshop, the parade at 1.30pm, and performances from 2-3.30pm.  In case of rain the event will be held inside the school.

About Pivot Arts:

Pivot Arts is a home for innovative music, theater and dance on Chicago’s far north side.  It develops new work and presents performances throughout the year culminating in a large-scale, multi-arts festival. Its vision is that of a vibrant community where unique collaborations between artists, businesses and organizations lead to the support and creation of innovative performance events. 

About Storytown Improv:
Storytown is an interactive improvisational musical that gives children hands on ownership of the arts. Children are encouraged to take an active role in Storytown. They can choose the location, design the backdrop, give suggestions for characters and plot, become characters themselves, and aide our performers in any way they can imagine. Storytown becomes the canvas for their imaginations. We honor, embrace and elevate their ideas.

Regular shows take place every Saturday at 10.30am, at Stage 773 – 1225 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, 60657. Tickets are $10 (free for children under 2). Shows are recommended for children age 3-10 and their whole family.

Top Picks For The Spring and Summer Theatre Season Via The League of Chicago Theatres

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we review multiple shows every week, so we know Chicago's theatre scene is second to none. Summer is a great time to get out and see a plethora of shows. Take the visiting relatives and friends. ChiIL out this summer in Chi, IL and be sure to check back with us early and often for theatre news, reviews, and even ticket giveaways! 
ChiIL Mama (family friendly) and ChiIL Live Shows (for the big kids, AKA: adults).

ChiIL Mama's kids ChiILin' in Chi, IL at SEEDFOLKS at Chicago Children's Theatre. 

Unless otherwise stated, all photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

The Chicago theater community will present a wide variety of plays and musicals, as well as dance and concert offerings this summer.  In support, the League of Chicago Theatres will once again create a comprehensive Summer Theater Guide that will be available at hotels, theaters, events, and destinations across the Chicago area.  A full list of shows with additional details about each production is available throughout the year at ChicagoPlays.com.  Additionally, many shows will be available for half-price at HotTix.org, Chicago’s local discount ticketing service.

The following is a selection of notable work playing in Chicago throughout the spring and summer. For more, visit ChicagoPlays.com.

We've highlighted our favorite shows that we've seen and reviewed in red below. Many more must sees have not opened yet. We'll be there for the press openings of THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE,THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE, XANADU, WAR PAINT, THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND and more. So check back soon for our full reviews.

New works and adaptions include:

Steppenwolf Theatre Company premieres Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Tracy Lett’s new play MARY PAGE MARLOWE, directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. Runs through May 29, 2016.

by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Writers Theatre and The Second City collaborate on DEATH OF A STREETCAR NAMED VIRGINIA WOOLF: A PARODY and explore “What happens when the most recognizable characters from some of the greatest 
American plays of the 20th century suddenly find themselves sharing the same stage?” Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Stuart Carden, the production runs April 27 - July 17, 2016 at Writers Theatre in Glencoe.

Chicago Playwright Ike Holter’s newest play SENDER premieres at A Red Orchid Theatre in Old Town. Directed by Ensemble Member Shade Murray. The world premiere production runs April 14 – May 29, 2016.

Lookingglass Theatre Company presents THADDEUS AND SLOCUM: A VAUDEVILLE ADVENTURE written by Ensemble Member Kevin Douglas and directed by Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks and Krissy Vanderwarker and featuring Ensemble Members Lawrence E. DiStasi and Raymond Fox, along with “Chicago Fire’s” Monica Raymund and a cast of Chicago favorites. The world premiere begins June 1, 2016.

Musicals include:

A legendary roster of Grammy Award winners. A visionary director and Tony Award®-winning design team. One of the world’s most beloved and unforgettable characters. Turn them all loose on Broadway and what do you get? Broadway In Chicago presents THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL, running June 7 - July 3 at the Oriental Theatre.

Goodman Theatre premieres WAR PAINT, June 28 - August 14, 2016. Two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole star in a world premiere musical about two business titans—and their infamous rivalry.

Production Photos

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents one of the most beloved musicals of all time, THE KING AND I. (*It was our great pleasure to partner with Lyric Opera and give away a pair of tickets to THE KING AND I for one of our lucky readers.) This Tony-winning musical will capture your heart as they discuss, debate, and ultimately grow in understanding and respect. The musical plays April 29 - May 22, 2016.

As a tribute to its late artistic director PJ Paparelli, American Theater Company closes its Legacy Season with a musical spoof of his all-time favorite movie. XANADU celebrates the artist's muse, even when it comes from the most unlikely of places. Lilli-Anne Brown directs the 1980’s camp classic, running May 2 - July 17, 2016.

by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

Mercury Theater Chicago presents Mel Brooks’ musical comedy THE PRODUCERS, directed by L. Walter Stearns. Runs through June 26, 2016.

Dramatic works include:

The epic TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE, adapted and directed by Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, opens at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The first installment of the electrifying adaptation features Edward III, Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1. The production runs May 11 - June 12, 2016.

Profiles Theatre’s hit production of JERUSALEM by Jez Butterworth, directed by Joe Jahraus, continues at The Main Stage through May 22, 2016.

Production Photos
The House Theatre of Chicago remounts its hit DEATH AND HARRY HOUDINI, (This is one of our all time favorites and even after seeing it for the 3rd time over the years, we're still completely entranced! Oh SO highly recommended!) Check out our original video interview with Dennis Watkins (AKA: Harry Houdini) right HERE: Written and directed by Nathan Allen and featuring magic by Dennis Watkins, May 12 – July 24 at The Chopin Theatre.

Lucy Kirkwood’s acclaimed play CHIMERICA, directed by Nick Bowling premieres at TimeLine Theatre Company May 3 – July 31, 2016.

Teatro Vista presents IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES, Caridad Svich’s new play based on Julia Álvarez's acclaimed novel at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. Runs through May 22, 2016.

THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND by Marcus Gardley, directed by Chay Yew will run June 10 – July 10, 2016, at Victory Gardens Theater.

The comedy THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD by Scott Carter, directed by Kimberly Senior, runs at Northlight Theatre, May 6 – June 12, 2016.

Children’s/Family works include:

The Chicago summer tradition Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks’ TWELFTH NIGHT brings a free 75-minute abridged production to neighborhood parks across the city all summer.

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' in Chi, IL at SEEDFOLKS at Chicago Children's Theatre. 

Chicago Children’s Theatre presents SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman (*It was our great pleasure to partner with Chicago Children's Theatre and give away a family 4 pack of tickets to SEEDFOLKS for one of our lucky readers.) We highly recommend this Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis production directed by Peter C. Brosius at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts May 5-22, 2016.

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the smash hit Broadway musical, is returning to Chicago, May 24 – 29, 2016 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, presented by Broadway In Chicago.

Emerald City Theatre Company presents SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! at the Apollo Theater through June 5, 2016 and then at the Broadway Playhouse July 8 – August 28, 2016.

About Hot Tix
Serving Chicago for over 35 years, Hot Tix offers half-price tickets to a wide variety of theatre productions for the current week, as well as future performances. Hot Tix has three convenient downtown walk-up locations and half-price tickets are also available online at HotTix.org, easily searchable by date, show, theatre, or genre.

Hours and Locations
Expo 72: 72 E. Randolph (across from the Chicago Cultural Center)
Tues – Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Water Works: 163 E. Pearson (along the Magnificent Mile)
Tues – Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Block Thirty Seven: 108 N. State (at the first floor Guest Services desk)
Mon – Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm

                        Cadillac Palace by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara ©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

About Chicago theatre
Chicago theatre is a leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 that have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In the 2014-2015 season, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year, Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.

About the League of Chicago Theatres
The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to promote, support, and advocate for Chicago's theatre industry locally, nationally, and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, ChicagoPlays.com.  Half-price tickets are available year-round at HotTix.org

We also highly recommend The Last Defender at The House Theatre. My son had his 15th birthday party there and I also played the interactive theatre game the month before with my son and two of his friends when they first opened. It's too much fun! (*It was our great pleasure to partner with The House Theatre and give away 2 pairs of tickets to The Last Defender for 2 of our lucky readers.) 

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows

We also highly recommend checking out the Shakespeare 400 Shows all over Chicago for the 400 year celebration of the bard's works.

©2016 all rights reserved ChiIL Mama/ ChiIL Live Shows