Of the many fabulous productions in Chicago this year, these holiday highlights reflect some of the season’s finest performances.
Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire
10 Marriott Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
Dates: Now through Jan. 5, 2014
An absolutely splendid theatrical rendition of the Walt Disney classic film, “Mary Poppins” makes its Chicago Broadway debut at the acclaimed Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Based on the creative stories of P.L. Travers, the play is set in Edwardian London and is about the wealthy Banks family, whose preoccupation with career and social concerns necessitate a nanny to look after the household and their two children. However, this seems to be a nearly impossible task when hundreds of potential nannies awaiting at the door are blown away by a gust of wind. But much to the children’s good fortune, Mary Poppins appears through the air with her umbrella in hand, changing their lives forever! This is a supercalifragilistic must-see holiday musical for the entire family.
“The Little Prince”
821 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Dates: Now through Feb. 2, 2014
An imaginative variation of the bestselling French novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince” is a wonderful story about a would-be young artist who grows up to become a pilot. One ill-fated day, his plane falls out of the sky and he is stranded in the Sahara desert. Suddenly, a little prince magically appears out of nowhere and the two become friends. The prince reveals that he came from an asteroid where a beloved rose had encouraged him to explore the universe. He then helps the thirsty pilot find a water well before mysteriously departing back to his world, leaving the time traveler spellbound. A symbolic tale suitable for children of all ages, the “The Little Prince” is playing at the historic Water Tower Works building.
100 Drury Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Dates: Now through Jan. 5, 2014
Performed at the magnificent Drury Lane Theatre, the legendary Broadway musical “Hello Dolly” tells the endearing story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow and vibrant matchmaker with an eye for millionaire shop owner Horace Vandergelder. When he recruits her to find him a wife, Dolly pretends to match Horace with Irene Molloy while scheming to set Irene up with Horace’s loyal assistant Cornelius. Amidst all of the confusion, Dolly cleverly succeeds in her valiant efforts to win the wealthy merchant’s heart when she helps Horace’s nephew Ermengarde realize his own matchmaking potential. Adapted from Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” “Hello Dolly” ascended to the silver screen as an award-winning film starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau.
“The Merry Wives of Windsor”
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Dates: Now through Jan. 19, 2014
Shakespeare’s brilliant work once again illuminates the stage in the cherished comedy romp “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” The play centers around Sir Falstaff, whose unremarkable loss of stature compels him to attempt to elevate his position by scheming to court married women for financial gain. A dire predicament indeed for such a robust and good-natured knight, though Falstaff takes his misfortune in stride even as he is exposed and be-riddled time and again by the wives and eventually their husbands as well as everyone who gets wind of his desperate plight. A timeless, resilient play re-envisioned in a delightful performance set in the 1940s era, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is now showing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier.
2450 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
Dates: Now through Jan. 4, 2014
A classic fairy tale published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, the beloved story of “Rapunzel” is about a child who was taken from her parents by a witch to prevent being accused for a rapunzel plant that went missing from her garden. The witch named the girl Rapunzel and locked her away in a tower with only her long, beautiful hair enabling access through a small window. One day, a prince heard Rapunzel singing in the distance. Mesmerized, he spied the witch and started climbing up to visit the girl and soon found his way into her room. The two fell in love, but the witch caught wind of their plans to elope and banished Rapunzel into the wilderness, causing the prince great distress. But then, he heard her singing in the forest and they were happily reunited. An all-time children’s favorite, the enlivened musical variation was re-conceived for young audiences by the creators of the show “Friends.”
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Magdalene Paniotte is originally from Chicago and very pleased to be a CBS contributor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with graduate level credits in creative writing and liberal studies. Maggie enjoys developing her voice as a freelance writer. Her published articles can also be found at Examiner.com.