Elgin Symphony Names Erik Malmquist Executive Director

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra has named Erik Malmquist to the post of executive director effective May 15th. Erik has been the ESO’s director of artistic planning and operations since January 2020. Prior to joining the ESO, he spent six years as artist manager and director of operations at Zemsky Green Artists Management in New York City, managing a roster of some of today’s most prominent operatic talents, and general manager of Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity on New York’s Upper West Side.

Read more

Hyatt Hotels to Unveil Landmark Cook County Hospital Restoration

With significant roots in Chicago dating back to 1857, the wonderfully preserved hospital has been transformed into a 210-suite and guestroom Hyatt House and Hyatt Place Chicago Medical/University District, set to debut this summer.

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District, the first combined Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels located in Chicago, is set to open this summer in the Beaux-Arts classical-style landmark formerly the site of the remarkable 106-year old structure, Cook County Hospital, at 1835 W. Harrison St. on the Near West Side. This 342,000 square foot adaptive reuse project, part of a $150 million multiphase plan spearheaded by Murphy Development and SOM, in a design-build collaboration with Walsh Construction, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., and KOO, will also feature over 4,000 sq. feet of meeting space, open concept public spaces, a 24-hour fitness center, a food hall, medical offices, and a museum paying tribute to the hospital’s legacy. Upon opening, the hotels will be operated by Aimbridge Hospitality. 

Read more

Victory Gardens Theatre Announces Lineup for Now Virtual 2020 Ignition Festival

Victory Gardens Theater has announced the lineup for the 2020 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including Black Like Me by Monty Cole, North Star by Georgette Kelly, Last Hermanos by Exal Iraheta, and Pivot by Alex Lubischer. The annual festival of new plays, now online for Summer 2020, will run from mid-June to mid-July with free readings of four new plays from Chicago playwrights on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Each reading will be followed by a “Coffee with the Creators” chat at noon the following day.

Read more

Porchlight Music Theatre Celebrates Sondheim’s 90th Birthday with Weekly Series

Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre present Sondheim @90 Roundtable, created and hosted by Porchlight’s artistic director, Michael Weber and special guests celebrating theater icon Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday this year. The series runs every Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST) via Porchlight’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PorchlightMusicTheatre/). Upcoming guests of the series include, Klea Blackhurst, David H. Bell, E. Faye Butler, Jim Corti, David Girolmo, Gary Griffin, James Earl Jones II, Sean Allan Krill, Hollis Resnik, Marc Robin and Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller and David Cromer.

Read more

Red Clay Dance Launches Dance Pamoja Challenge in Response to COVID-19

Red Clay Dance Company (RCDC), a nonprofit dance company that creates and performs a diverse repertoire of Afro-contemporary dance, is stepping up in the fight against the threat of COVID-19 in its community with the Dance Pamoja Challenge, a 12-month project beginning June 1 that focuses on controlling blood pressure, building resilience, and preventing death from COVID-19 among African-American families living on Chicago’s South Side.

Read more

Neo-Futurist Production Sets Model for Post Pandemic Theater Creation

Chicago prepares for its next phase of recovery without a firm date for resuming indoor performing arts events, The Neo-Futurist Theater has pioneered a new model of operation. Rather than sharing content from past productions, the company has moved its flagship show The Infinite Wrench to a digital platform, now called The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, presenting 30 digital plays in 60 minutes each week. The Neo-Futurist ensemble of writer-performers continue to work from home and produce new plays weekly, which are then filmed and shared with patrons who subscribe via the Patreon platform.  

Since its launch in late March, the new digital theater-making model has proven successful, with The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral currently bringing in 50% of the production’s pre-COVID-19 revenue. The production has more than 650 weekly subscribers from Chicago and across the country, significantly more patrons than The Neo-Futurists’ 147-seat theater can normally accommodate over a performance weekend. As a result of the success of this digital theater platform, The Neo-Futurists’ ensemble members, contracted artists and staff continue to receive payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are overjoyed by the response thus far, and thrilled to be sharing our uniquely personal, non-illusory theater with a broader audience,” said Artistic Director Kirsten Riiber. “For 31 years, The Neo-Futurists have provided a space for audiences to come together and see their experience reflected to them with honesty; and this is one of those times where staying present with our audiences, who we’ve never been able to do our work without, is vital. We chose the low price point to make our work as inclusive as possible. Accessibility is central to our mission and we know many people are struggling financially right now.”

The Neo-Futurists are the creators of Chicago’s longest-running late night show and normally perform live 50 weeks per year. For The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, the Neo-Futurist ensemble continues to produce personal, of-the-moment content that speaks to the performers’ lives in isolation and other current events. Recent digital plays span from the humorous to the insightful, and have included topics such as murder hornets, singing from balconies, penguins exploring new environments, socially distanced Olympic training, and early retirement.

Read more

Mercury Theatre Mounts Online Video Series, “Backstage Stories”

L. Walter Stearns, executive director of Mercury Theater Chicago, recently announced an ongoing lineup of three video series featuring past and present Mercury talent, to include actors, musicians and members of several creative teams. The three series of videos will be entitled “Backstage Stories,” “On the Air with Mercury Theater Chicago,” and “On the Road to Priscilla,” and will be posted on an ongoing basis on the theater’s social media pages. The theater will also be coordinating a city-wide initiative video entitled “Stay Home Chicago” in response to the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 crisis, featuring performers from previous Mercury Theater Chicago productions.

Read more