Chicago’s arts scene is flush with diverse offerings for fall

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THE JAZZY, MULTIPLE Blues Music Award-winning and Grammy-nominated artist Ruthie Foster strums up a funky guitar in a set that blends Blues and Gospel.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Joseph Jefferson Citation Award Winner Darryl Maximilian Robinson returns to Chicago in the Saint Sebastian Players Revival of Rupert Holmes’ marvelous Tony Award-winning, solve- it-yourself musical whodunit “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at St. Bonaventure Church from October 26 through November 18.

Darryl Maximilian Robinson, who won a 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Award as Outstanding Actor in a principal role in a play for his noted dramatic performance as Sam Semela in the ESC’s revival of Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold and the Boys” at Rogers Park’s Heartland Café Studio Theatre, and who has spent the last several years appearing  in leading and featured stage roles in both plays and musicals in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, will return to Chicago this fall for his first appearance on stage in 17 years to play the marvelous dual roles of Mr. William Cartwright, the Chairman of the Music Hall Royale and the Honorable Mayor Thomas Sapsea in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” This production is being staged at the lovely and intimate Black Box Theatre of St. Bonaventure Church, 1625 W. Diversey St.

The wacky and hilarious actions of the Music Hall Royale Victorian Acting Company allows the live audience to select and vote for “The Murderer” at each and every performance, providing for multiple climaxes and endings. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. For tickets and info, call (773)404-7922 or email http://www. -saintsebastianplayers.org.

Caroline, Or Change

Caroline, Or Change is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana at the end of 1963. America is changing. Caroline Thibodeaux is a mother of four and a maid, working for the southern Jewish Gellman family. Caroline struggles with changes monumental and mundane, as well as with her relationship with the young, grieving boy who lives in the house she cleans. Riveting, moving and awe-inspiring, Caroline, Or Change features a virtuosic score by Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home” and “Violet”) and a breathtaking book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”). The music ranges from Motown to Klezmer, the storytelling from political to magical. This play is presented by Firebrand Theatre & TimeLine Theatre and runs through October 28.

Eclipsed

Pegasus Theatre Chicago announces its production of “Eclipsed,” written by Danai Gurira and directed by Producing Artistic Director Ilesa Duncan, October 4 – November 4 at Pegasus’ resident home Chicago Dramatists, 773 N. Aberdeen St. The performance schedule is Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. with added Saturday 3 p.m. or Sunday 7:00 p.m. performances (TBD). Tickets are $18 – $30 and are available at www.pegasustheatrechicago.org. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by contacting boxoffice@pegasustheatrechicago.org.

“Eclipsed,” the first play to premiere on Broadway with an all-female and Black cast and creative team, was inspired by a photo that Gurira saw in The New York Times. “I was raised in Africa and I had never seen anything like it, women with AK-47s, dressed very hip and looking formidable,” she said. “I was keen to one day pursue that story and put it on the stage.” Taking place in a bullet-ridden rebel army camp during the Liberian Civil War in 2003, the five “wives” of a commanding officer band together to form a fragile community and care for a 15-year-old girl who has been abducted. The balance of their lives is upset by the return of a former “wife” turned rebel soldier and, as the war draws to a close, each woman must discover her own personal means of survival in this deeply felt portrait of women finding and testing their own strength.

La bohème by Giacomo Puccini

Sung in Italian with projected English translations.

Why have audiences been falling in love with “La bohème” for more than 100 years? Because, in the most captivating music Puccini ever composed, he shows us exactly what love is about. Mimì and Rodolfo are young lovers we all understand and, when they suffer, our hearts break for them. Their romance ultimately leads to tragedy, but along the way are treasured moments of pure ecstasy. We get to know this endearing pair and their Bohemian friends, and we totally connect with their feelings. “La bohème” remains forever youthful, eternally fresh.

Tamiko Acevedo, an avid Opera fan, was elated to be able to see “La bohème” on opening night.

“From the majestic staircase of the Grand Hall, to the breathtaking performances on stage, Lyric Opera always makes for a beautiful evening. Lyric Opera is bridging the gap between timeless classic operas and the relevant topics of the headlines today–poverty, wealth, love and war,” Acevedo said. “At a time when it is so critical to embrace rich culture, diversity and stories of hope and love, Lyric Opera continues to bring internationally celebrated talent to grace its stage. From Chicago native Janai Brugger (Lui Turandot) to Australian born Danielle De Niese (Musetta, La bohème), their talented performances pierce to the very core of my soul.” Acevedo believes that Chicago offers many opportunities for diverse arts offerings. “The integration of award-winning talent such as Lyric debut singer Michael Fabiano (Rod- olfo, La bohème) and magical young voices of the Chicago Children’s Choir illustrates the power of diversity and the importance of early exposure to the arts.”

This production runs at the Lyric Opera Chicago with a final October performance schedule for October 20; additional performances are set for January 10, 13, 16, 19, 22 and 25. For more information, visit www.lyricopera.org.

2nd Logan Center Bluesfest

The 2nd Logan Center Bluesfest presents a jam-packed weekend of concerts, workshops, film, poetry and conversation – mostly free of charge – taking place at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., October 19-21. Highlights include concerts by Grammy Award®-winners Chris Thomas King and Charlie Musselwhite, plus Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and John Primer with Steve Bell; a night with Sisters in the Blues: Deitra Farr, Leanne Faine and Ruthie Foster performing at the intersection of Blues & Gospel; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess with legendary Blues poet Sterling Plumpp and beloved Chicago Blues ambassador, harmonica master Billy Branch. Also included are Tony Award®-winning actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson and musician Bill Sims Jr. exploring the influence of the Blues on playwright August Wilson; plus programs for youth, including a poetry workshop with avery r. young and performance by Fernando Jones’ Blues Kids of America; a Blues Brunch and more! For more information visit https://www.log anbluesfest.org/.

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