Not just flowers but the arts are also in full bloom in May. If you are scouting for something different to do this month besides the old stand-bys (movies, touring museums or club-crawling), here are six events sure to inject some added spark in your social calendar.
1. Spring Humanities Festival —May 3-15— Chicagoans flock every Fall to the Chicago Humanities Festival. A lesser-known fact is that the festival has a sister version each Spring. This year’s festival is titled “Stages, Sights and Sounds” and features 40 performances by 4 theater companies from Scotland, Italy, Canada and The Netherlands. The companies will perform at the Museum of Contemporary Art and on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. For more information on the troupes, dates and tickets, see www.chicagohumanities.org or phone 312/494-9509.
2. Chicago Opera Theater—MAY 7 & 8—When art, like life, hands you a lemon, make lemonade. That’s precisely what Chicago Opera Theater General Manager Brian Dickie did when the previously announced production, Shostokovich’s opera,”Cheryomushki,” was put off to next season. Dickie then had an inspired notion: stage two song cycles about obsessive love and add visual special effects by the Chicago Symphony’s “Beyond the Score” team of Gerard McBurney and animator Hillary Leben. The dream images, Leben says, are “meant to lead the audience through the expressive emotional content of the songs. It’s a chance to experience them on a deeper level.”
COT will present Robert Schumann’s “A Woman’s Love and Life” and Leos Janacek’s “The Diary of One Who Disappeared.” Go to witness the fascinating interplay of images and song. But hurry. There are only two performances at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Tickets range from $25-75 with half-price seats for students. For more information, go to www.chicagooperatheater.org.
3. “After Five” Walking Tours—Are you new in town or simply want to know the story behind some of Chicago’s most famous structures? The Chicago Architecture Foundation will begin a series of 11 “After Five” walking tours this month through September. Learn more about our city’s heralded architectural heritage after work and be home in time for dinner. Some offerings include “Downtown Deco,” “Modern Skyscrapers,” “Gold Coast: Astor Street.” Tours are led by the foundation’s trained docents and cost a modest $15. For a full list of tours, go to www.architecture.org.
4. The Front Page—Now Thru July 17—At a time when blogging passes for reporting and newspapers are in financial peril, relive what Chicago journalism was like in its 1920s heyday while laughing your head off. “The Front Page”, by Chicago legends, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, draws on their exploits (more like shenanigans) at City News Bureau in this landmark comedy that exposes the rampant corruption and hi-jinks synonymous with Windy City politics and journalism of that era. The crack TimeLine cast bring the madcap antics of star reporter Hildy Johnson Death Row inmate, Earl Williams and the paper’s tyrannical managing editor, Walter Burns, to life. To book tickets, go to www.timelinetheatre.com.
5. Bill Cunningham New York—Starts May 20—Some people read The New York Times for its political coverage, others for its business news or op-ed pundits, but the city’s entire fashion and society world read it for Bill Cunningham’s weekly photo essays. However, everyone will find the documentary, Bill Cunningham New York, enchanting for its portrait of a delightful 82 year-old, humble gentleman who gets around New York by bike and whose singular passion is capturing Manhattan’s street and night life on film. Make this movie a top priority. You will exit the Music Box on a high note. For more details, check out www.musicboxtheatre.com.
6. Artspeaks—MAY 16—This University of Chicago program, now in its seventh season, gathers renowned artists from various disciplines in conversation for the benefit of the campus and Hyde Park community. But I’m sure they won’t ask for your passport if you venture to Hyde Park from the North Side. Director Peter Sellars, playwright Tony Kushner, choreographer Bill T. Jones and artist Kara Walker have been past participants.
The May program features playwright/producer David Henry Hwang, best known for the play, M.Butterfly and Producer/Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, former head of New York’s Public Theater, who now teaches at New York University. They will discuss their craft and Hwang’s upcoming Goodman production of Chinglish. The duo will appear at International House, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and $5 for students. To order tickets, call 773-702-8068.