‘The King and I,’ Improv Fest, a new Second City show

1 The Lyric’s production of “The King and I” is all about the women. Yes, there’s a king in the title, but it is established Broadway musical star (and Evanston native) Kate Baldwin who makes this production memorable. As Anna Leonowens, teacher to the royal family of Siam and sparring partner to the king, she can bristle with anger or sing with gentle ruefulness with equal ease. She’s supported by the surprisingly powerful Rona Figueroa as Lady Thiang, giving the song “Something Wonderful,” an anthem to love’s ability to see the good in the beloved, a touching depth. The men are less interesting, and though Paolo Montalban is another Broadway veteran, his King is less compelling and you sometimes wonder what Anna finds so interesting about him. But in a production with such lavish costumes, clever sets and entertaining choreography, you can forgive a perfectly fine but not great performance for the sake of all the pleasures this show offers. Through May 22. $29-$199. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., 312-827-5600

2 Chicago is famous for its improv, but we’re magnanimous enough to let troupes from the outside perform at the Chicago Improv Festival, which started Monday and runs through the weekend. But the fest runs heavily to locals, such as Baby Wants Candy, Hitch*Cocktails and improv veteran Susan Messing, whose “Messing With a Friend” shows have become a Chicago comedy institution. The festival is spread across multiple locations (the iO Theater, Second City, the Annoyance, the Public House), so if you want to catch more than one show in a night, I’d pick one venue where you can settle in and see whatever troupes appear there. Through May 8. $5-$20. Various venues.
3 From its title on down to the smallest observational jokes, the new Second City e.t.c. show “A Red Line Runs Through It” is a show for a Chicago audience. Let the main stage play for the tourists; this snappy revue thrives on jokes about the Wilson el stop, Rahm Emanuel and city apartments. Much mention has been made of the diverse cast, with four women, two of them African-American, one Asian gay man and only one straight white guy. The non-Chicago jokes hit on predictable targets (“Hamilton,” campaign season, online dating) but find fresh takes. Though I dislike watching Second City shows with an eye to who will be scouted by “Saturday Night Live,” I’d keep an eye on brassy Julie Marchiano, who’s got a screwball Megan Mullally energy, and Lisa Beasley, who can make a throwaway joke sing. Open run. $23-$36. Second City e.t.c., Piper’s Alley, 230 W. North Ave., 312-664-4032

4 Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin has written compellingly about Chicago’s architecture. (His book “Why Architecture Matters: Lessons From Chicago” is a terrific collection of essays on buildings and how we relate to them.) In his new book, “Gates of Harvard Yard,” he turns his attention to the 25 gates at that school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He’ll be discussing the book as part of the Evanston Literary Festival. May 4, 6 p.m. Free. Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave.

5 Though it used to be looked upon as “new agey,” art therapy has been shown to be a powerful tool in helping people recovering from all sorts of debilitating conditions. Art therapy is good for regaining motor skills, but it’s also an emotional outlet for patients. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Art in Motion is both a fundraiser and a chance to see some amazing art. The evening includes the presentation of awards by James Rondeau, president of the Art Institute of Chicago; a raffle; and of course the chance to see and perhaps buy art. May 5, 5:30 p.m. $75. Northwestern University’s Lurie Center Ryan Family Atrium, 303 E. Superior St.
6 Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something deeply pleasurable about settling into a movie theater seat to watch a film projected, especially when it’s something a little off the beaten path. The Northwest Chicago Film Society is dedicated to showing those kinds of movies projected in 35mm. No digital projection for it. Next Wednesday, the group finishes out their current season with “The Naked Dawn,” a 1955 western starring second-string actor Arthur Kennedy and directed by B-picture genius Edgar G. Ulmer, most famous for his 1945 noir “Detour.” If you can’t quite picture who Arthur Kennedy is, and don’t even recognize the name Edgar G. Ulmer, well, that’s kind of the point. “The Naked Dawn” is a taut psychological production with a train robbery, a love triangle and a noirish murder plot. And trust me, it’s great. May 11, 7:30 p.m. $5. Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
7 The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is one of the great engines of Chicago’s rich and varied world of dance performance. It’s a training center for young dancers but also an incubator and sometimes performing home for smaller dance companies. Of course, all of that takes money, and that’s where the Ruth Page Legacy Gala comes in. It’s an evening of dinner and dancing with entertainment and a live auction. May 14, 5:15 p.m. Sponsor and Patron Private Reception, 7 p.m. Dinner, entertainment, dancing. $ 225. Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.
8 Jazz singer Sarah Vaughan could inject a rich, deep tone on a note in a way that carried the deep emotion in any lyric. Just listen to the way she draws out the line “waiting for my baby to come around” in “Black Coffee.” Contemporary jazz vocalists Dee Alexander, Rene Marie and Ann Hampton Callaway pay tribute to Vaughan’s gift for interpretation in a concert with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. May 20, 8 p.m. $24-$41. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., 312-294-3000

9 The Dog Dayz of Summer is a chance to eat hot dogs, drink beer and listen to music. If that doesn’t sound all that special, perhaps I should mention that the hot dogs are from Chicago’s most beloved encased-meat entrepreneur, Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s; the beer is from Goose Island; and the music includes Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Waco Brothers and the Tossers. It’s in three sessions spread over two days, so you’ll have to strategize a bit over which session to pick. (I’d go with Saturday June 25’s noon event with the Waco Brothers.) June 24-25. $70. Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, 605 N. Sacramento Blvd.

10 Ravinia tickets have gone on sale, and already some shows are sold out (If you were hoping to see Paul Simon or Bob Dylan, you’re too late). As usual, there’s music for all tastes, but I’d put the Juilliard String Quartet (June 27), Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris (July 18) and Tony Bennett (Aug. 13, only lawn seats left) on my schedule. June 2- Sept. 18. Prices vary. Ravinia, 200 Ravinia Park Rd, Highland Park
Source:http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160504/NEWS0701/160509961/the-king-and-i-improv-fest-a-new-second-city-show

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