Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Chi, IL Mama's ChiIL Picks List:
What We're Playing


Are you and your kids enthralled with Kubo and the Two Strings, the epic action-adventure from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA? You can download the album on iTunes and Amazon!

The movie's original score was written and conducted by composer Dario Marianelli, Academy Award winner for his score to Atonement, for which he also earned a Golden Globe Award. Also from the movie, the soundtrack features the performance of George Harrison's classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Sire Records artist Regina Spektor, whose vocal performance is produced by Alex Williams.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen - a magical musical instrument - Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny. Kubo and the Two Strings is directed by Travis Knight; is MPAA-rated "PG;" and is being released nationwide by Focus Features on Friday, August 19th.

Watch the trailer for Kubo and the Two Strings HERE.

The track listing for Kubo and the Two Strings: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is as follows:

The Impossible Waves
Kubo Goes To Town
Story Time
Meet the Sisters!
Origami Birds
The Giant Skeleton
The Leafy Galleon
Above and Below
The Galleon Restored
Monkey's Story
Hanzo's Fortress
Showdown With Grandfather
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Written by George Harrison,
       Performed by Regina Spektor)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WIN 4 FREE Tickets to Opening Night of Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream at Chicago’s United Center

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List

Disney On Ice presents 
Dare to Dream
Set to Glide into Chicago, Sep. 7-11

Here at ChiIL Mama, we've been thrilled to partner up with Feld to offer our readers ticket giveaways and original photo filled recaps for years now. Once again, we're offering our readers an exciting chance to WIN 4 tickets to opening night on September 7th at 7pm.

ENTER HERE through midnight September 4th. 

Bringing Disney’s princess stories and most beloved fairytales to life on ice, Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream is set for a limited, nine-performance engagement at Chicago’s United Center, Wednesday, Sep. 7, through Sunday, Sep. 11. This sensational live production features scenes from a cross-generational mix of Disney’s most beloved classics, Tangled, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and The Princess and the Frog.

Hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse share the heroic stories of four of Disney’s all-time favorite princesses. Audiences laugh along with Disney’s hair-raising escapade, Tangled, as Rapunzel, Flynn and Maximus embark on an uproarious expedition that soars to new heights; travel to the enchanted forest with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as she escapes from the Evil Queen; watch as Cinderella’s dreams come true with a little help from her animal friends and the Fairy Godmother, and boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, in a magical, musical journey. Nothing can stop a princess from a courageous adventure when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream skates into town.

United Center performances of Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream are scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sep. 7, Thursday, Sep. 8, and Friday, Sep. 9, and 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 10, and Sunday, Sep. 11. Tickets are available at the United Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations, on-line at, and by phone at (800) 745-3000. Fans can learn more at and stay current on the latest developments through social media:

Get Social:
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #DaretoDream
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

About Feld Entertainment 

Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at

Disclosure: Thanks to FELD for providing us with complimentary tickets for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 29, 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS: Save 25% on Label Daddy Washable Name Labels

I've got 2 kids going back to school and a zillion dollars invested in gear, school supplies and new clothes. I've found washable labels are the best guarantee that our stuff that gets lost also gets found. Labels also help with lookalikes when half the kids in class show up with the same water bottle, lunch box, or jacket. Check out Label Daddy and save.

Disclosure: We're pleased to partner up again with Label Daddy and US Family bloggers. I've been compensated with complimentary review samples. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Get ready for school and save 25% on Label Daddy peel and stick custom name labels! Label Daddy is the number one solution for labeling your belongings! No ironing or sewing . . . just peel and stick. Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for school! Remember to label all clothing, books, bags, sports equipment, electronics, and other personal belongings your kids bring to school, camp, sports leagues, day care, vacation, and other places Label Daddy labels keep them from getting lost or mixed up with others. These convenient labels are great for adults too! -- Put them on your sunglass/eyeglass case, phone, camera, sports equipment, tablet, e-reader, hats, clothing, and more.

These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide. 

Save 25% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFG25 at checkout.

Disclosure: We're pleased to partner up again with Label Daddy and US Family bloggers. I've been compensated with complimentary review samples. As always, all opinions are my own. 


Culmination of Barbara Gaines' thrilling saga
Henry VI, Parts 2 & 3 and Richard III
Centerpiece of yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration
Infused with live music and inventive storytelling

Last spring, my teenage son and I caught the first 6 hours of TUG OF WAR: Foreign Fire. I can't wait to see the grand finale. Theatre of this magnitude and length is nothing short of cathartic. It's a commitment well worth making. The first installment more than earned the adjective, epic, and we expect no less of Civil Strife. Check out our review HERE. Then experience TUG OF WAR for yourself.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) culminates Artistic Director Barbara Gaines’Tug of War with Civil Strife, where family divisions launch a country into civil war through Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3 and into his notorious tragedy Richard III. This epic theatrical endeavor, which has distilled six Shakespeare histories into two action-packed six-hour marathon dramas tracing the injustice and intrigues of war, is the Theater’s centerpiece of the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival. 

The adventure began in the spring with Foreign Fire—focusing on England’s Hundred Years' War with France in Edward III, Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1. Fueled by live music and stunning staging, Tug of War: Civil Strife is presented on the Courtyard Theater stage for a limited run of only 14 performances, September 15–October 9, 2016.

Civil Strife opens in a period of lawlessness and turbulence in England as the country’s leading families—the Houses of York and Lancaster, embroiled in the Wars of the Roses—scheme for the English throne. The Duke of York manipulates the beleaguered King Henry VI’s weakness. The country spirals further into chaos when the King is murdered, and his brother Richard—one of Shakespeare’s most diabolical villains—seeks the crown. Embittered by his own physical deformities, the power-hungry Richard will stop at nothing to gain control of England, seducing and murdering his way to the throne. A new age dawns for England as this chronicle comes to a dramatic close.
Featuring some of Chicago’s most celebrated actors, the ensemble cast of 19 performs over 100 characters throughout the electrifying drama. Shakespeare’s stirring poetry is complemented with live music performances across genres, from classics and blues to contemporary pop and rock anthems—including songs from Pete Townshend and Tim Buckley. In the spirit of addictive sagas like Scandal and House of Cards, Tug of Warencompasses multiple episodes of Shakespeare’s stories for a live binge-watching experience. The six-hour theatrical event is punctuated with several short intermissions and an extended meal break, during which pre-ordered meal options are available.

Tug of War: Civil Strife introduces Timothy Edward Kane (Richard III), Elizabeth Ledo (Somerset/Lady Anne),Michael Milligan (Young Clifford/Rivers/Tyrell), Derrick Trumbly (Peters/Salisbury/Stafford) and Alison Chesley(Soldier/cello) to the ensemble. Returning to the company from Tug of War: Foreign Fire are Karen Aldridge, David Darlow, Matt Deitchman (also the production’s Music Director), Jed Feder, Kevin Gudahl, Shanna Jones, Heidi Kettenring, Daniel Kyri, Michael Aaron Lindner, James Newcomb, Steven Sutcliffe, John Tufts and Larry Yando.

Seven-time Jeff Award-winner Lindsay Jones serves as the production’s Sound Designer and also creates Original Music and Musical Arrangements for the piece, working within the wide range of musical styles and performance central to Gaines’ vision. The award-winning team of Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Susan Mickey and Lighting Designer Aaron Spivey have re-imagined the physical world of the saga for Tug of War: Civil Strife, complete with dramatic new effects from Projections Designer Mike Tutaj and Special Effects DesignerSteve Tolin. Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal has created a line-up of over fifty wigs and hair pieces—many of which have been built especially for the production.

Rounding out the creative team is Music Director Matt Deitchman, Assistant Director Geoff Button, Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins, Movement Director Harrison McEldowney and Verse Coach Kevin Gudahl. Scholar Stuart Sherman, Professor of English at Fordham University and currently Bain-Swiggett Visiting Professor of Poetry at Princeton, serves as the Scholar-in-Residence for the project.

Tug of War returns in the midst of one of the busiest months of the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival, with every day of September featuring events and performances across disciplines, and from renowned companies from China, Poland, Mexico and India. From Poland, Song of the Goat presents their ensemble-driven Songs of Lear, exploring the rhythms of Shakespeare’s King Lear. One of Mexico City’s most innovative theater companies, Foro Shakespeare partners with acclaimed Chilean playwright Eduardo Pavez Goye to create Enamorarse de un incendio, drawing on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. India’s Company Theatre Mumbai presents their award-winning Hindi translation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Piya Behrupiya, as part of the 2016 Eye On India festival. Internationally renowned Shanghai Jingju Theatre Company transforms Shakespeare’s Hamlet into highly stylized and ornamental Peking opera with The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan. Culinary Complete Works chefs headline the prestigious Grand Cru at Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet; The Newberry launches the “Creating Shakespeare” exhibition and, along with Chicago Shakespeare, present a lecture series from award-winning scholars; the Battle of the Bard high school Shakespeare slam bringing together students from Chicago Public Schools and across Chicago; and more.

Tug of War: Civil Strife
adapted and directed by Barbara Gaines
September 15–October 9, 2016 | CST's Courtyard Theater

  • September 15, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
  • September 17, 2016 – 4:00 p.m.
  • September 18, 2016 – 1:00 p.m.
  • September 21, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
  • September 24, 2016 – 4:00 p.m.
  • September 25, 2016 – 1:00 p.m.
  • September 28, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
  • September 30, 2016 – 5:00 p.m.
  • October 1, 2016 – 4:00 p.m.
  • October 2, 2016 – 1:00 p.m.
  • October 5, 2016 – 5:00 p.m.
  • October 7, 2016 – 5:00 p.m.
  • October 8, 2016 – 4:00 p.m.
  • October 9, 2016 – 1:00 p.m.
For more information about the production, visit
Tug of War: Civil Strife will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater September 15–October 9, 2016. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. During 2016, CST has spearheaded the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival in addition to announcing the creation of an innovative performance venue, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.

Shakespeare 400 Chicago is a yearlong international arts festival in 2016 celebrating the vibrancy, relevance and reach of Shakespeare. As the world commemorates the four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Shakespeare 400 Chicago engages more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors to the City through 850 events. Spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and with leading support from the Julius Frankel Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, this quadricentennial celebration is anticipated to be the world’s largest and most comprehensive celebration of Shakespeare’s enduring legacy.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review & Photo Feature: ChiIL Mama's Adventures At Bristol Renaissance Faire 2016

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:
Family Friendly Fun a Short Road Trip North of Chicago

Welcome to the 
Bristol Renaissance Faire

We've been avid fans of Bristol Renaissance Faire for decades and it's been fun to watch the faire evolve and grow over the years. I've probably been there upwards of 50 times. My teens have grown up with "Ren Faire" and eagerly anticipate our annual treks up to the border of Wisconsin and back in time. We have a blast dressing up, shopping, exploring the people powered rides and catching the shows. Highly recommended! And we're not the only ones who adore it. Bristol is THE #1 Renaissance Faire in the United States five years running!

All Photos of Mooney by Sage (13)

It's been our great pleasure to partner up with Bristol Renaissance Faire for years. I have been compensated with review tickets. As always, all opinions are my own.

The kids and I caught Bristol Renaissance faire on opening weekend with an artist neighbor of ours who loved the faire back in the day, but hadn't been since the early early days when it was dubbed King Richard's Faire (1972-1988). She was thrilled to be back. We plan to return for one more visit this summer on closing day, Labor day Monday. Don't miss this!

Check Out ChiIL Mama's Full Photo Feature Here:
More favorites are embedded below.

Our Top Picks and Hot Tips:

We've been drooling in anticipation of a "Mile High Chocolate Crepe" all year!

Pickle on a stick, butterfly potato chips, and jerky roses at the joust are old favorites and top picks. The beer selection has expanded for 2016 too. Check out the map for best beer selections (not all bars are equally stocked) and loads of faire foodie fun.

Ye Olde Flush Toilets are now plentiful just to the left of the front gate when you enter and also straight back from the action stage.

You can buy a day pass to the Friends of the Faire garden and stock up on unlimited refills of water and sports drink or enjoy the seating and shade. They also have a couple private porta potties that are a luxury when the lines are long. 

Pick up a Bristol Ren Faire Newspaper. They're chalk full of useful information and double as a stylin' hat!

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:

It's sword fighting, whip cracking, fire juggling, jousting and circus arts season. Huzzah! We love to revisit old favs like Adam Crack, The Swordsmen, Barely Balanced and Mooney the Magnificent, and to discover new acts too. 

Chi, IL represents: 
Numerous Bristol Ren Faire entertainers, shop owners, and employees share sweet home Chicago with us. Ya didn't think they lived in the renaissance period 24/7, didja?! Here are a couple of our favorites Chi, IL natives. 

David Wooley, AKA Guido Crescendo of The Swordsmen. He's a Jeff Award winning fight master who's had a hand in over 400 productions since 1982. When he's not back in the 1500's entertaining peasants, he teaches and choreographs at Columbia College, home of the only stage combat minor in the US!

Tina Haglund Spitza, runs Gemini Glass at Bristol Ren Faire. In true Gemini fashion, she has twin interests as shopkeep and Chicago based actress/writer with ARFTCO (A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company). She's a real renaissance woman... artisan, actress, wordsmith and store manager. Gemini Glass features handmade stained glass by Carol Kurtz and Steve Mudd who have been crafting gorgeous pieces for 25+ years.

Merging Old With New:
One never knows what they might find at the faire! Rare Pokemon are as likely to pop up as dragons and mythical creatures, Dr. Who, or the historic Queen of England.

Bristol contains 12 pokestops and 3 gyms! Walk the tranquil shores of lillypad strewn, frog filled Lake Elizabeth, and you might just find this little guy! Didja know, unlike most Pokemon whose names have been translated from Japanese, Pikachu kept his original name. “Pikachu” comes from the Japanese words pikapika (“sparkly”) and chu (onomatopoeia for the sound a mouse makes). In other words, Pikachu’s name literally means “sparkle-squeak” in Japanese. (Jill Bishop, Chicago's Multilingual Connections).

Via Bristol Renaissance Faire: Well met, Pokemon trainers! Becoming the very best trainer takes dedication, but it also takes kindness. Please do not walk through seated audience members during performances, on to stages, or attempt to enter employee-only areas. Show the same respect and care to the cast and guests of Bristol that you would to your own Pokemon!

More of ChiIL Mama's Ren Faire 2016 Photo Favs:

Once again, it's been our great pleasure to partner up with Bristol Renaissance Faire for years. I have been compensated with review tickets. As always, all opinions are my own.