Resources for Your Roman Holiday

Here’s my insider guide to the resources that will make your trip to Rome a wonderful family vacation. And if you’re still wondering if Rome is right for your family, check out my article: 10 Reasons to Take a Roman Holiday with Teens. Where to Stay Romantic – Hassler Exclusive and expensive atop the Spanish […]

Emerald City Gives the Gift of Laughter with “Junie B. Jones”

Emerald City Theatre’s “Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” is the perfect antidote for a gloomy winter day. The play, based on the best-selling books by Barbara Park, features Amber Robinson as Junie B. Jones, the spunky heroine whose views about life, friends and elf costumes are at the heart of this story. […]

Go to Magnificent “Memphis” Today

There are simply not enough accolades to bestow upon “Memphis.” The 2010 Tony Award-winning Best Musical is running at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace through December 4. But a single word of advice to musical-theater lovers suffices: Go. It’s obvious in the show’s first 3 minutes that the audience is in for a special treat. Clear storytelling, […]

Lyric's Latest Opera Celebrates Women with Soaring Voices

Three dazzling sopranos electrify the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne Auf Naxos.”   Composed in 1912, “Ariadne” is equal parts high-minded love story and raucous, rustic comedy. It begins with a conflict between a high-strung classical composer and a group of commedia dell’ arte players, both engaged as entertainment at the […]

In Northlight’s “Season’s Greetings,” the Casting Beats the Script

The sprawling cast of characters in “Season’s Greetings” includes a dashing young novelist, who says his writing is “painfully witty or wittily painful—I forget which.” That’s also an apt description of what British playwright Alan Ayckbourn was aiming for with “Season’s Greetings”—a mix of humor and pathos. The play has plenty of both, and a […]

Baking Tips from TLC Winning Chef Dana Herbert

This year hasn’t been a cakewalk for Chef Dana Herbert, a.k.a. “The Sugar Daddy” and “The Kind of Cakes.” Since winning “Next Great Baker” on TLC with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, which finished airing in January, his business, Desserts by Dana in Wilmington, Del., has been busier than ever. His company has baked custom cakes […]

Stage Rites

Chicago theaters take on tradition this December. December is not just any month. The last month of the year is designated for gathering with friends and family to partake in age-old traditions, such as attending midnight mass, lighting the menorah and making the trek to your great Aunt’s annual cookie exchange. From Sedaris to Irving […]

What's in Your Detergent? Possibly Toxic Chemicals

You probably want to limit your family’s exposure to toxins. That’s why it’s surprising that companies are not required to list the ingredients in their cleaning products on the labels. Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned an independent lab to test 20 top household cleaners for potentially dangerous substances. “Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your […]

Cerebral “Cities” at Home at Piven Theatre Workshop

It’s not unusual for intellectual recitations to flow from the bowels of old Evanston buildings. That’s why Piven Theatre Workshop’s current premiere staging of Rebecca Joy Fletcher’s “Cities of Light” fits right in at the Noyes Cultural Center in Northwestern University’s shadow. Make no mistake, this is no “Mary Poppins,” but then again, it doesn’t […]

Lyric’s “Boris” Explodes with Power

The sound of slender reeds opens a story of political intrigue, plots and crimes in Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.” Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis conducts this grim masterpiece, which is based on Pushkin’s play of the same name and recounts events from late 16th century Russian history. Boris is sung by an Italian bass, Ferruccio […]