Holiday Performance Treats: A Wizard, A Circus, And A Magic Parlour

November 21, 2013
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Lots to get off the couch and brave the outdoor cold for this week and beyond as you get right in the middle of your holiday entertainment.


Ease On Down That Road

This Saturday, November 23 for two shows at 3 and 7 p.m., veteran Chicago producer John Ruffin brings a remake of the iconic musical The Wiz to the Arie Crown Theater in McCormick Place.

The Wiz is a re-imaging of The Wizard of Oz, set against an urban background with an African-American cast.  The musical first appeared to fantastic acclaim on Broadway in 1978 and starred Dianna Ross and Michael Jackson.

This Arie Crown presentation stars esteemed actress Robin Givens, R&B legend Lenny Williams, Sunday’s Best winner Tasha Page Lockhart, Tyler Perry stablemates Anthony Grant, Christian Keyes and Terrell Carter, and features some of Chicago’s very own, including Melinda “SandyRedd” Bussie, who graces the stage in the role of Dorothy.

“I’m very excited to present this iconic musical to Chicago. I believe it’s extremely important to see the magical creativity that this remake of The Wizard of Oz possessed then and how it still rings true today,” says Ruffin, who has under his belt 24 years as a writer, producer, actor and director.

He and his theater group, Theater 47, also brought local productions of Broadway musicals Dreamgirls and The Color Purple to Chicago.  This version of The Wiz is choreographed by local dancer and author Winkk, who was awarded the 2012 Katherine Dunham Award for Best Choreography from the Black Theater Alliance for her work on Ruffin’s stage play The Color Purple.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and at the Arie Crown box office.

The Circus Comes To Town

Through Thanksgiving week until December 1 at the United Center, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Built To Amaze!, an extraordinarily engineered circus experience where children of all ages find out what it takes to build The Greatest Show On Earth.

Built To Amaze! opens with the All-Access Pre-Show, where everyone is invited to join the fun and meet the international cast of performers as they prepare for the show.  Kids can participate in a tug-of-war and kick off what becomes an insane battle of girl power versus boy power.

Audiences also can bust some moves during the dance party, try on custom designed costumes, learn circus skills like juggling from the famous Ringling Bros. Clown Alley, and win a one-of-a-kind masterpiece created by Asia, the circus’s very own painting pachyderm.HT Circus 1

After that, ringmaster and America’s favorite cowboy Andre McClain takes the reins and, accompanied by his horse Comanche, opens the show. More than 110 of the world’s best performers representing 17 countries, along with 95 exotic and domestic animals, create never-before-seen, heart-pounding performances.

A circus highlight this year is the King Charles Troupe, a 12-member group of whirling unicyclists who dribble, pass, shoot and weave their way with outrageous skill and high-speed comedic antics in the wackiest game of basketball ever played.

Tickets, starting at $15, are available through Ticketmaster and the United Center box office, by calling 1/800-745-3000, or visiting  Additionally, parking is free in all official United Center parking lots.


A very cool show to catch is The Magic Parlour, an intimate evening of mind-blowing classical magic and mind reading with third-generation prestidigitator Dennis Watkins at the landmark Palmer House Hilton Hotel at 17 East Monroe Street downtown.

Only 32 seats are available for each performance of this intimate, sophisticated, close-up show in one of the opulent hotel’s historic private event rooms. Guests gather first at Potter’s Lounge in the hotel’s lower level and are escorted to the performance suite at show time for the approximately 75-minute event.

The audience participates in much of the performance as Watkins wows the room with disappearing card decks, hidden spikes, unbelievable mentalism, and age-old stories passed down from his grandfather.HT Magic 1

Audiences are encouraged to dress in fairly sophisticated cocktail attire and The Magic Parlour ticket always includes beer and wine selections.

The show began as a benefit in 2010 and was such a success that it continued on a limited run basis.  After continually selling out, it became a weekly event.

Performances through December 31:

Friday, November 22 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Thanksgiving Week – Friday, November 29 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, December 20 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, December 27 at 7:30 and 9:30 pm.

New Year’s Eve – Tuesday December 31 at 10:30 p.m.  This special performance will include a champagne toast at midnight to ring in 2014!

Tickets are $75 (New Year’s tickets are $125) and are available by phone at 773/769-3832, or at, where you can get more information about the show and make reservations online.


David Smallwood

David Smallwood

Editor of N'DIGO Magapaper
David Smallwood

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