By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes: A Celebration In Poetry, Prose And Song
City Winery Chicago; Thursday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m., $35-$45.
Start Black History Month by celebrating the 116th birthday of legendary American author, activist and thinker Langston Hughes. The evening will include readings of Hughes’ poetry and music that he wrote, inspired and/or enjoyed. Special guests include Regina Taylor, Terisa Griffin, Malik Yusef, Felicia P. Fields and many more to be announced. For info, visit http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/tickets/happy-birthday-langston-hughes-2-1-18.html.
Sunday Cinema: Body and Soul: An American Bridge (Chicago premiere).
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership; Sunday, February 11, at 2:00 p.m.; $8 for students; $18 general admission.
Spertus Institute presents its fourth annual documentary film series Sunday Cinema over three Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m., February 11-25, 2018. Exploring the theme of “Jews and Music,” Sunday Cinema will kick off with the Chicago premiere of Body and Soul: An American Bridge (Best Music Documentary, San Francisco Black Film Festival). This film explores how the jazz standard “Body and Soul” smashed the color barrier in popular music. Following the film, special guest Orbert Davis, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, will share both his musical knowledge and his trumpet playing to “discuss” Body and Soul. Davis is a master trumpeter, Emmy-winning conductor, and gifted composer, recording artist and educator. A leader in Chicago’s arts and culture community, he has been called one of the “most admired Jazz artists” by Arts Critic Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune and a “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Magazine. In 2011, Davis was named Artist-In-Residence for the Chicago Jazz Festival, an honor held by only one other Chicagoan in its history. He has played key roles in film and television, including serving as consultant to Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes for the feature film “Road to Perdition,” starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. His latest album release, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Havana Blue, is the result of an extraordinary residency with Cuba’s Universidad de las Artes (ISA). He hosts “The Real Deal with Orbert Davis,” a weekly three-hour program airing on WDCB-FM. For info, visit https://www.spertus.edu/programs-events/body-and-soul.
Lyric Unlimited Presents: Cycles of My Being (Chicago premiere).
DuSable Museum of African American History; Thursday, February 22 at 7:00 p.m.; $15 General Admission; $10 for DuSable members.
Lyric Unlimited, a division of Lyric Opera of Chicago, presents Cycles of My Being, a song cycle exploring the realities of life as a Black man in America inspired by Trump’s first 200 days in office. Cycles of My Being is a co-commission with Opera Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall. Composed by Tyshawn Sorey, with lyrics by Terrance Hayes, the Chicago premiere event will star celebrated tenor Lawrence Brownlee in a solo recital. Brownlee can also be seen on Lyric’s main stage at the Opera House in the role of Arturo in Bellini’s I Puritani (Feb. 4-28). For info, visit https://lyricopera.org/concertstickets/calendar/2017-2018/productions/lyricopera/cycles-of-my-being.
The Second City’s Black History Month Show; Wednesday, February 14, 21 and 28 at 8:00 p.m.
The Second City proudly celebrates Black History Month with a special engagement of The Second City’s Black History Month Show, featuring iconic scenes written and created by the theater’s lauded African-American alumni, which include Keegan-Michael Key, Sam Richardson, Amber Ruffin and more. The show is directed by Second City alum, Resident Director, and Associate Artistic Director of the Training Center, Anthony LeBlanc. The cast features performers Andy Bolduc, Terrence Carey, Asia Martin, Maya Haughton, Seth Thomas, Rob Wilson, and Lilliana Winkworth. The creative team also includes Dionna Griffin-Irons (Producer), Marques Stewart (Music Director), Abby Beggs (Stage Manager), Claudia Michelle Wallace (Casting Director) and Joe Ruffner (Line Producer).
Featuring archival scenes dating back to the 1990s with poignant relevancy about race, class and gentrification, The Second City’s Black History Month Show will include classic scenes like “Porches,” written by Keegan-Michael Key and Nyima Funk; “Gourds,” written by David Pompeii and Craig Cackowski; “Rasheeda,” written by Angela Shelton; “Mother Son,” written by Sam Richardson and Edgar Blackmon and “Outblack,” written by Amber Ruffin.
Other notable African-American alumni who started their early careers in comedy with The Second City include Robin Thede and Chris Redd.
“Audiences in 2018 will be surprised to see that material created by our alumni is ever more relevant and topical now,” said Donna Griffin-Irons, show producer and The Second City’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “This show is a timeless treasure and reason to celebrate our alumni during Black History Month.”
The Second City’s Black History Month Show will be performed on Wednesdays, February 14, 21 and 28 at 8:00 p.m. at The Second City e.t.c. Theater, located at 230 W. North Ave, 2nd Floor of Piper’s Alley, Chicago. Tickets, priced at $20, are available at the Second City Box Office, by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at www.secondcity.com.