Ravinia is just gorgeous. For those of us who desire quality, and those of you who need some, Ravinia is truly a little Heaven on Earth. As the longest running music festival in the United States, as well as the most highly esteemed outdoor music festival in Illinois, travelers from around the world make it a destination. Tradition preserves the integrity that makes visiting this historic park something you want to share with intimate reverence.
The famous Ravinia lawn seats up to 15,000 and the main pavillion offers seating of 3500 with a second pavillion also on site. Lawn screens and courteous surroundings ensure you will enjoy the experience surrounded by lush grounds and conscientious attendees.
Thousands of visitors set up their own tables, some quite elaborately, decorating with candles and enjoying the unique experience of being able to bring their own food, wine, and creature comforts to enhance the entire show experience. The communal touch will have a lifelong impact on you and your guests. Ravinia has become a tradition that the passionate organizers take great pride in.
Nestled in Highland Park, rich with towering trees ambient lighting artwork and the most exceptional artists in the world along with very respectful patrons and an air of what Heaven on Earth could be in the great company of others, Ravinia is accessible from all directions and has shuttle busses and it's very own train stop to make planning your day there a pleasant experience.
This night was particularly special. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was playing a live score to the 1961 film West Side Story. With an attentive quiet courteous audience, and a sound ambiance you have to experience, the charm of Ravinia's grounds will inspire you and your guests as you attend their Summer of Love.
At one point my guest leans over to me and whispers " they don't dance like that anymore", to which we quietly conspired about how passionate the performances were, how expressive, colorful, just something you rarely see in film, stage, or life for that matter these days, and it had so much to do with the marvelous atmosphere, live symphony offering the movie score as it was intended to absorb, and rich performance elements that make Ravinia unmatched.
Imagine hearing a live soundtrack by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to a film as it was created and intended to impact the senses. The film was originally designed around the score of a symphony, so there is no other way to reignite the magic of the film and it's story.
Aromatic violins and rich strings flowing right through you as your eyes capture the art of the story, where everyone around you is as deeply focused. The communal attention is unique and something that Ravinia can proudly say attracts the most engaged and intelligent patrons from around the world. Ravinia is really a social epicenter, and you can feel the sense of togetherness that carries throughout the park. The non-profit venue is as close as it gets to a utopian spirit in grand scale, from the music to the park itself.
Heart, John Maher, Train, Billy Corgan, Itzhak Perlman, and a list of extraordinary entertainers are scheduled for upcoming shows coming this August. There are also children's events, additional movie nights like The Lord of The Rings Return of The King ( with live Chicago Symphony Orchestra )- ever-fitting for such a grand work.
Expect to see tables with elaborate setups that you will not see at any other venue. That night we brought along a variety of Sushi and fresh fruit as well as Raspberry Tea. Popcorn never entered my mind after hearing such great things about the Ravinia experience. I was asked if I was bringing wine and cheese. In planning my visit, as I discovered that the train stop was right at the entrance of the park, I realized this was a very special destination. The setting is one-of-a-kind.
What is outstanding and unique about Ravinia is how charming the lawn atmosphere is, how subtle kinetic and communal it is to be there with thousands of respectful patrons that bring their own tables and chairs, candles, as well as elaborate food and drink arrangements. There is no comparison to Ravinia and it's excellent attention to detail over the fortified tradition that it honors. As the oldest music festival in the United States, a venue that features the greatest artists of our time, Ravinia created a special memory for us that already has me looking forward to another deep enriching experience there.
There are extraordinary events for children, likely the most enriching you may share and attend with them this Summer Season. Lord of The Rings is one of the upcoming shows so imagine how grand the experience will be with one of the most famous orchestras on Earth accompanying it for you. This is an element and dimension of story telling that only the producers and directors themselves have seen in bringing it to life
Ravinia is host to the most famous and spirit enriching forms of art and entertainment available. Enjoy!
Photography by Leaha White
Here is the new song and video for Fall In Love by Phantogram.
Watch below in the Buzz Showcase media section.
Acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been reportedly found dead in his New York apartment of an apparent over-dose of Heroin.
Known for his energetic and now prophetic role in 'Death of a Salesman', as well as the entertainment world's beloved Almost Famous, as well as
Along Came Polly - Hoffman was not shy about his history of alcohol and drug use.
In 2013 he returned to Heroin.
Here are some Tweets from his contemporaries regarding his passing:
One of the millennium's most influential independent music groups have launched a series of uncompromising hits that bring music back to where it always tries to be.
Conceived in early 2000, and opening for U2 nearly 5 years later, Arcade Fire has ignited something very important in the music scene.
It's a feeling music has been missing for nearly two decades on so many levels. They make music the way they want to, even more so than the idols who have influenced them so much. Their major breakthrough album 'The Suburbs' , with the stand-out track "Ready To Start", a follow-up to Neon Bible and Funeral, landed them all over the media. It also reflected a serious side to their expressionism that shows how driven by emotion their songs are.
Both Neon Bible and Funeral carry darker tones influenced by several family member deaths during writing, as well as bigger world topics hanging over them.
They would ultimately open for U2 on tour, and their current album is successively full of, and influenced by, Haitian percussives.
The Suburbs was conceived when lead singer Win Butler received a photo of his friend holding his daughter. The image made Win start thinking about what happened to where he grew up, which lead to a reflective pursuit of growth and maturity as well as revisiting the places that resided inside.
The first release of their most recent album, Reflektor, can be seen below.
After watching the video below ( in the media portion ) come back up and click Downtown, enter your childhood address, and press play.
By the 1970's Carol Burnett was such a beloved entertainment spirit that when she shared her seasoned range of expression she landed a historic place in the homes and families of millions of fans who saw her as another part of the family, likely one they wish they could be.
She was born in 1933, a time where the Depression era was not only affecting those old enough to feel the pressures of the times but it created a darker heavier atmosphere for some of the children. There's a reason it was called " The Depression" after all.
Befor the 1930's were over Carol's parents were already divorcing. Her mother was a publicist and her father a movie theater manager. Their alcoholism as media patrons of that time forced Carol into the custody of her grandmother Mabel. Although Carol had a half sister, who also went to live with Mabel in an impoverished Hollywood boarding house, she started inventing her first character. By dressing in different outfits and entering her room at different intervals she entertained herself by creating an imaginary "twin". Although she became tired of running in and out of rooms changing clothes to play both herself and her imaginary twin, this early spiritual exercise would ultimately be the axis of her career.
Apparently, at some point in Carol's early infinity for acting, her mother insinuated that writing was more stable a choice because looks we not a factor.
Yet Ms. Burnett's interest in theater only became stronger. Having both parents in the industry and a grandmother living in Hollywood, in addition to being excluded by the theoretics of glamor and Hollywood perceptions at the time, Carol started getting her "foot in the theater door" so to speak by becoming an usherette at one. Despite her parents alcoholism Carol showed signs of survival, taking all of the components of her life circumstances and place and pedalling them even stronger up hill.
The impression that Carol Burnett was an exceptionally sanguine, optimistic, and high spirited child who's wide-eyed hunger took both good and bad equitably in stride is unquestionable. That her parents were overly influenced by fashionable Hollywood dogma, tailing out of the depression, is testament to some of the gravities that bounced off of her brimming determination to stay young at heart even if she likely had her lonely moments as any depressed childhood ego would be.
A higher power of human continuity mused Carol as a channel of free spirited expressionism in a time where rigid social structures forced many people to lock up depressed emotions. Her drive is a testament to this; her performance career a lucky look into what is really important overall.
The video below shows some of what makes Carol Burnett a real star by all definitions of the heavenly term. Stay tuned for a follow up on more of the Carol Burnett story, as well as unique insight into the work and life of this amazing entertainment icon.
Until then, enjoy the video below.
Buzz contributor Ryan and the gang hit the Comic Circuit
in search of Super Heroes.
The Clark Kent phenomenon is no accident.
There are many things that keep people from flying, or shooting magic out of their eyes.
If they could just put their finger on it.
The Comic Industry Ship has done anything but sink.
Enjoy this BuzznewsTV Late Night Feature.
Art to Buzz our century.
This year we came across some very interesting specials on art, both in Chicagoland and around the country.
Our sister-state Indiana ( Indianapolis in the feature above ) revealed a bit of her focus on urban renewal in places like downtown Indianapolis, where the
Paul Henry Art Gallery helps to transform their creative interior.
All art builds on other art, somehow, somewhere, known unknown, so... we become our environments so-to-speak.
Recycling is a very powerful concept in this way. Metals have properties that serve different senses and bonds.
Everything 'metal' can evolve, have different lives, act as a functioning part of a machine, or turning
into a displayed memory of admired ingenuity. We all connect to metals and recycling in different ways.
Revolutions are dominant. They leave such an impression as to occupy the mind for generations.
The Chihuli Glass art explosion of the past few decades
will go down in history as a major reflective period where the most fluid ideas go hard, and still brilliantly
reflect glimmers around them.Much like human hope.
The intrigue of their curvatures are a sleek reminder of how beautiful life's motion and preservation thereof is, no matter
how big, delicate, heavy, or confrontational it can be.
Watch our other Buzz Magazine features here:
You can tell this was put together by the best in the business.
Executive Producer Don Foster knew what he was doing when he came back home from California to present reality as only Chicagoland can provide. Rantoul & Die was a major hit, and it was beyond expectations when it showcased in Victory Garden's perfect theater space.
They call it Victory Gardens for all the right reasons. It is absolutely an amazing place to see a play, both of this size, and of it's caliber of casting. You leave feeling so fullfilled and relieved. This was definitely a victory for the whole team.
There's those Broadway shows ( big, a little spaced out, a little untouchable and disneyesque, tinny, distant ) and then there's that Biograph Theater magic that Victory Gardens brings to life that makes Chicagoland and the American Blues Ensemble the best there could possibly be. This juicy ensemble is not only filled with people who, as you're sitting in the audience and don't realize, are all over the place, on television, just unbelievable caches of performances, and you get to sit right there, like a casting director yourself, so close, and just eat them up.
This is not a pitch by the way. Rantoul and Die was excellent!
Chicago theater does not get any more physical and stimulating than this. It actually got so real several times I felt like I was in my own family's kitchen in the 70's when all sorts of shit hit the fan.
( Francis Guinan )
All of the performances in Rantoul and Die were perfect for their scripting. According to that real dark comedy aesthetic that opitimizes Chicago and what's really going on inside our deep seeded mentalities of disappointment on any front, Francis Guinan had the part that really made you connect with the overall frustration of the story, the rah rah let's get down to business "bullshit", and setting itself. He said it; not me.
Don Foster is the Executive Producer of this great and sad poetic look at the unrequitted demise of many people in life. Don is also a Producer of Two and a Half Men. His witness of living in the far end of Illinois, along with passionate story-telling talent, led to this sordid muse of what a strange fk'd up group of losing souls might be going through in those otherwise left for ill standalone middle of nowhere scenes, of which Illinois most definitely has. I have witnessed such realities. Illinois is quite a world.
Francis plays a dragged down, bottled up, sexually enraged, lonely and ready for destruction man, and boy did he do it right. Throughout the play his physical and vocal projections couldn't really get any more real without somebody actually getting hurt. That's what we like to call a serious Chicago play.
Plays are supposed to make you feel and become part of the whirlwinds and dimensions it's stories aim to penetrate you with. Televisions can only produce a shy, one-dimensional cringe only for the weak and anti-social.......but the likes of Victory Gardens Theater and Francis' energy in Rantoul and Die make you want to eat your own teeth and chew off your fingers. Lucky enough to catch it at the end of it's run; I could've seen it several times. It just makes me want to see everything at Victory Gardens.
( Cheryl Graeff )
Now we get to the retention of this whole story. The muse. There are tones in this play; then, there are resonnant energies that serve to remind you just how active the whole story is. What level of quiet mad insanity is bubbling under the complete need to scream holy hell. Cheryl happens to represent one of the most perverted reminders of what sex can do to violate the innocense of a far-removed culture that otherwise should never be affected by or represent the adulterated images of money and sex, and in this case also a lack there of. When you start reading into Cheryl's character a little bit you discover that she plays both sides of the coin wonderfully. This is how you begin to appreciate the creative casting, amazing talent, and true genius of both play and player alike, not to mention the creators who had the genius to pull it all together at a level as strong as this.
When it's revealed that she has gone through something a lot of women happen to suffer, and her explosion of over-positive and endearing closeness starts falling into the darkness that is Rantoul and Die, you understand so much more about human nature, and just how fragile the balance is. Her performance was over-the-top fantastic on all fronts and charming beyond repair.
( Kate Buddeke )
This woman gives another meaning to the phrase "kiss me kate". She really portrayed what was at the center of Foster's topic of "behind closed doors" problems. Kate plays a woman who tries to make right by following her lost dream of a realtionship. She little tries to "settle down" with someone from her immediate surroundings, and only after being pitted between both of her dark sides does she have a revelation, that lasts all of about 20 minutes. If you don't know somebody like Kate's character, then you don't live in good old America, as it was, as it passed, as it was lost, you just don't know the human condition.
Kate did an exceptional job of portraying a woman who uses adversity to fight herself out of a dead end that never ends. Tantamount to what I would imagine is a lifetime cocaine habit full of Saturn height highs that knows when the gravity drops the hell is going to melt your eyes out, so the carnage must go on...unfortunately is appears as if Kate's character has taken too many bumpy rides and the options are running out. She actually consoles herself against her angry trails by clinging to a vegetable, in this case her husband, who just so happens to shoot himself in the head after his insecurity becomes all too real.
( Alan Wilder )
Now here's the poor guy that gets to suck up all the carnage offered by Rantoul and Die. Meet the man who shoots himself in the head. Why? Well...he's the person in the middle of nowhere that would possibly never have a female companion in his world, and really you wonder if any talking bag of sympathetic flesh would do to satisfy his motivated need to sit around with doritos on the carpet, all the while recalling bizarre memberances of dead animals parts in the refrigerator.
When he is dumped on and left for trash he decides to end it all, but, as his character might as well have been, he ends up a bandage wrapped vegetable anyway, consciously or unconsciously witnessing the unraveling of a bunch of eventual truths that reveal the true grit of the story that is Rantoul and Die as a depiciton of such other lost distant small towns with dimming existences and dirty nail devilish circumstances.
The only thing he is really lucky about in the story is the otherworldly and oddly sexual connection Cheryl's character gives him as the mutilated innocense she is forced to carry under her rimmed glasses and insane happiness forces her to connect with the simplicity of his mortal injury.
Amercian Blues Theater Ensemble and Victory Gardens Theater in association with Don Foster really hit this one of the head. The casting of this idea was superb. And the room was beyond appropriate.
There are very few places you can embrace such an intimate and impactful setting as at Victory Gardens. And...you might find yourself sitting in the audience with television producers as this is the perfect way to digest, absorb, and enjoy any and every play.
This is where the serious people play.
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When it comes to theaters in Chicagoland, there are the big, and the small, but there are very few that hold the magic that is the historic Biograph theater, and they all know it.
"Congratulations to Don Foster and this exceptional cast for what is certainly one of the most genuine pieces of human theater I have ever seen. Extraordinary!"
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