A Do-It-Yourself Messiah
Fancy yourself an ecclesiastical crooner? Should you be in town over the
Christmas holidays, don't skip the LaSalle Talman Do-It-Yourself Messiah, an
extraordinarily popular and rousing rendition of the Handel classic. Now
staged at the opulent Civic Opera House (although for years, Orchestra Hall
provided the setting), the program enlists audience members as part of a
3,500-voice chorus, who are accompanied by a volunteer orchestra and four
professional soloists. Even if you and your kids don't join in the singing, just
sitting in the audience and absorbing the roof-raising aural power that fills
the theater guarantees goose bumps. This is a hot, hot, hot ticket, so check
in November for registrations at www.lasallebank.com/messiah.
To o ! usually runs every Saturday afternoon at a cost of $12 for adults and $5 for
kids ages 4 and up. (To attend the evening programs, kids need to be age 5 or
older.) The kids' program features numerous dance companies, both youth and
professional, whose work is geared to families. At the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N.
Southport Ave. (at Lincoln Ave.). & 773/935-6860. www.dancechicago.com. Tickets $5-$25.
Subway/El: Brown Line to Wellington.
Grant Park Music Festival All ages. A great Chicago event takes place from
late June through August: the series of free outdoor classical music concerts
given by the Grant Park Symphony and Chorus, as well as a number of visiting
artists. They perform in the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Music Pavilion in
Millennium Park (with the surrounding Loop skyscrapers creating an impressive
backdrop). Featuring Gehry's signature sinuous lines, the pavilion is surrounded
by dramatic ribbons of curved steel. The Grant Park Symphony not only looks
better than ever, it sounds great, too, thanks to a state-of-the-art sound system.
The Grant Park Music Festival has been a Chicago tradition since 1931, when
Mayor A. J. Cermak suggested free concerts to lift Chicagoans' spirits. Concerts
are held Wednesday through Sunday, with most performances beginning at
7:30pm. Bring a blanket if you plan to sit on the lawn; seats in the band shell
are reserved for subscribers, but unclaimed seats are offered to the public about
15 minutes before the concert begins. It's a great way for families to enjoy music
together. If you sit in the back, your kids will find plenty of company—it looks
like a veritable playground of kids back there. Selections might include Broad-
way favorites, Bernstein, Mozart, Brahms, Cole Porter, and Gershwin. Pritzker
Music Pavilion, at the cover of Michigan Ave. and Randolph St. & 312/742-4763. www.grant
parkmusicfestival.com. Subway/El: Red Line to Washington/State or Brown, Orange or Green Lines
The Nutcracker Ages 8 & up. When the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago moved
here several years ago, it brought along a new holiday tradition: its annual pro-
duction of The Nutcracker. The ballet is performed at the beautiful Auditorium
Theatre for 3 weeks in December. It's simply the best version in town, with a
live orchestra helping to bring Tchaikovsky's holiday tale to life. Office: 70 E. Lake
St. & 312/739-0120. www.joffrey.com. Tickets $34-$74. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress
Pkwy. Bus: 145, 147, or 151. Subway/El: Brown, Green, Orange, or Purple Line to Library/Van Buren,
or Red Line to Jackson.
Ravinia Festival All ages. Ravinia, summer home of the Chicago Sym-
phony Orchestra in suburban Highland Park, is a Chicago summer tradition.