There’s plenty to see and do online and in-person in the Chicago area in the week ahead.
Bard’s b-day party
Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrates its namesake’s April birthday with “To Be 4/23,” an evening of performance recorded on the theater’s rooftop and set against the city skyline. The free event at 7 p.m. April 23 “celebrates the power of the arts to inspire, heal and unite us.” The evening features actor-rapper-activist Common in conversation with artistic director Barbara Gaines and event co-chair Binta Niambi Brown, a number by singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson from her upcoming musical version of “The Notebook,” and performances by Joriah Kwamé, Susan Moniz and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater plus Ariana Burns, Lucy Godinez, Alexa Moster, Juwon Tyrel Perry, Brandon Pisano and Sawyer Smith. Visit chicagoshakes.com/tobe.
A sound environment
The syndicated radio program “eTown” was launched on Earth Day in 1991 and has since produced musical, social and environmental programming all geared to its mission to create a responsible and sustainable world. Now founders Nick and Helen Forster are hosting “eTown’s 30th B’Earthday,” an online concert featuring Black Pumas, Nathaniel Rateliff, Lyle Lovett, Bob Weir, Los Lobos, Sam Bush, Sarah Jarosz, City and Colour, The Way and Treaty and Raquel Garcia plus interviews with environmental advocate Tim Wirth and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.). Streams free at 7:30 p.m. April 22. Visit etown.org/30.
Medieval Times in Schaumburg reopens April 22. Adhering to the latest statewide pandemic restriction easements, each performance will allow 350 guests inside the castle. Some of the safety protocols in place include the wearing of masks at all times by guests and staff/performers, and temperature taking upon entry. Parties will be seated six feet apart in the tournament arena. Digital menus will be accessible through smartphones; disposable silverware will be available upon request. Information on upcoming show times through May 2, as well as tickets are available at medievaltimes.com.
Break a leg
Emmy Award-winning actress Rachel Brosnahan emcees “The Show Goes On,” a fundraiser for the outreach program and scholarship fund of the Actors Training Center in Wilmette. The event also includes greetings from Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”), Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton”), Matt Shively (“The Real O’Neals”) and Jason Ralph (“The Magicians”) plus performances from Jos N. Banks (“Kinky Boots”), Nick Blaemire (“Glory Days”), singer-songwriter Justin Jesso and (performing together) singer-songwriter Carson Rammelt and singer Sabrina Fosse. The free stream debuts at 4 p.m. April 25 and continues on demand to May 2. There’s also an actor-themed raffle ($50). Visit actorstrainingcenter.org.
Traditions in music
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Aurelio Martinez and his six-member Garifuna Soul Band perform a concert filmed in La Ceiba, Honduras, as part of the University of Chicago Presents series. With his upbeat, irrepressible style, Martinez celebrates Garifuna music and culture. The Garifuna culture originated on the island of St. Vincent and spread throughout the Caribbean and to the Central American coast in the 18th century. The music reflects a mix of cultures and French, Spanish and English folk music traditions blended with Afro-Caribbean rhythms. “We’re not going to let this culture die,” Martinez says. “I know I must continue my ancestors’ legacy and find new ways to express it.” The concert streams at 7 p.m. April 23. Tickets: $15. Visit tickets.uchicago.edu.
Drama on court
Writer Theatre’s staging of Anna Ziegler’s “The Last Match” was canceled in March 2020 just days before it was to begin preview performances. Fast-forward to February 2021 as the actors began rehearsals once again. With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect for in-person theater, a filmed version of Ziegler’s drama is now ready for streaming. A young Russian tennis phenom and an American superstar in his prime meet at center court during a U.S. Open tennis final in this fast-moving story that explores family, sacrifice and legacy. Kayla Carter, Heather Chrisler, Ryan Hallahan and Christopher Sheard star; Keira Fromm directs. “The Last Match” streams April 28-May 30. Tickets: $40-$100. Visit writerstheatre.org.
Mana Contemporary Chicago presents a Material Reuse Community Event, an in-person, free afternoon of socially distanced public programs focusing on themes of resource use and reuse. The event includes an exhibit of photographs by artist Jonas Becker, who has developed a process in which he uses coal dust to depict projects such as prisons, malls and former Appalachian mining sites; a papermaking demonstration using recycled paper waste, seeds and plant matter; a workshop on how to grow indigo and the history of indigo blue; demonstrations by the Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange; information from the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization on new initiatives for dealing with lead contamination in water lines; and a performance by Lional “Brother El” Freeman. From noon-4 p.m. April 24 at Mana Contemporary Chicago, 2233 S. Throop. To register for a timed admission, visit manacontemporary.com/event/material-reuse/
Grammy-winning Third Coast Percussion performs the unexpected — chamber music on percussive instruments. Streams free at 3 p.m. April 25. Visit musicinst.org/nch-live. … Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra’s Showers of Sound Gala features performances by baritone Jeffrey Mattsey, clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinist Rachel Barton Pine and harpist Lisa Tannebaum. Livestreams at 7 p.m. April 24. Tickets: $175. Visit ipomusic.org/gala2021.
Porchlight Music Theatre and KB Productions stream “Call Me Elizabeth,” Kayla Boye’s one-woman show about the early life of actress Elizabeth Taylor as she grapples with celebrity and her place in Hollywood. Streams April 23-30. Tickets: $25. Visit porchlightmusictheatre.org. … The Goodman Theatre presents Robert Falls’ 2013 staging of Shakespeare’s dark comedy “Measure for Measure.” Streams free April 26-May 9. Plus Chay Yew directs a free staged reading of Max Yu’s “Nightwatch,” a drama about a family’s unknown history and generations of hidden stories. Streams at 7 p.m. April 24. Visit goodmantheatre.org. … Sideshow Theatre presents a reading of Dawn Renee Jones’ “A Heap See,” about a Laotian mother determined to give her six children a better life. Streams at 7 p.m. April 23. Tickets: pay-what-you-can. Visit sideshowtheatre.org/house-party.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.