The Mix: ‘West Side Story,’ Buckingham Fountain and more things to do May 3-9

SHARE The Mix: ‘West Side Story,’ Buckingham Fountain and more things to do May 3-9

Mikaela Bennett (left) plays Maria alongside
Corey Cott as Tony in “West Side Story” at The Lyric Opera. | Todd Rosenberg

THEATER: ‘West Side Story’

Each spring The Lyric Opera steps away from its usual operatic material to stage a Broadway musical. This season’s entry is Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic “West Side Story.” With a cast of nearly 100 artists and musicians, the Lyric production, directed by Francesca Zambello, takes Romeo and Juliet to the streets of New York in a story of love across cultural boundaries. The songs are wonderful (“Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Maria” and more) and Julio Monge re-creates Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. Mikaela Bennett and Corey Cott star as Maria and Tony. From May 3-June 2, Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker. Tickets: $26-$219. Visit

POP CULTURE: Hilaree Nelson
Hilaree O’Neill | Adam Clark

Hilaree O’Neill | Adam Clark

Highlighting the stories of inspirational women, the National Geographic Live speaker series features mountaineer Hilaree Nelson, named one of the most adventurous women in the world of sports by Outside magazine. She’s scaled Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse, and at this event will recount a harrowing expedition to the top of Burma’s Hkakabo Razi Mountain. Her talk is accompanied by Cory Richards’ photos and clips from Renan Ozturk’s documentary “Down to Nothing.” At 7 p.m. May 7, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells. Tickets: $42, $54. Visit

FAMILY FUN: Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Buckingham Fountain | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The annual Switch on Summer event, which celebrates the start of the Buckingham Fountain season, takes place from noon-3 p.m. May 5. Included are giveaways, music by Sixteen Candles and Today’s Trade, a performance by the Joffrey Ballet’s Step-Up Dancers and other family-friendly activities. Buckingham Fountain, 301 S. Columbus. Admission is free; the fountain will be turned on at 2 p.m. Visit

MUSIC: Ben Platt
Ben Platt | Brian Ach/Invision/AP

Ben Platt | Brian Ach/Invision/AP

Tony Award-winning actor-singer Ben Platt, the original star of the Broadway smash “Dear Evan Hansen,” tours behind his debut album “Sing to Me Instead.” Chicago audiences who caught the 2012 Chicago production of “The Book of Mormon” will remember his steal-the-show portrayal of the nerdy but endearing Elder Cunningham. At 7:30 p.m. May 3, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets: $61-$125. Visit

MOVIES: Chicago Film Society
Arthur Shirley (left) and William S. Hart in “Branding Broadway.” | Artcraft Pictures

Arthur Shirley (left) and William S. Hart in “Branding Broadway.” | Artcraft Pictures

The Chicago Film Society is known for digging deep into film archives for rare and classic films in their original forms — 35mm and 16mm. Its 23rd season (May 4-Aug. 26) keeps with this goal, offering an intriguing list that includes “Old Boyfriends,” the only feature directed by legendary screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury; a new print of Hal Hartley’s indie landmark “Trust”; Doris Wishman’s “Nude on the Moon” and “Branding Broadway,” a rip-roaring silent comedy by William S. Hart that opens the season (with organist Dennis Scott) May 4 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets: $7-$11. For a complete list of films and venues, go to

MUSIC: ‘Letters from Iraq’
Rahim Alhaj | Provided photo

Rahim Alhaj | Provided photo

Virtuoso musician and political refugee Rahim AlHaj performs his project “Letters from Iraq,” in which the Grammy-nominated oud player turned letters by Iraqis living through war into music. Percussionist Issa Malluf, bassist Christian Dillingham and the Kontras Quartet accompany him. At 3 p.m. May 5, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. At a 2 p.m. pre-concert talk/reception, AlHaj speaks about his life and music. Tickets: $10-$38. Visit

POP CULTURE: Pilsen Cantina Crawl

For a celebration of Cinco de Mayo, check out the 6th annual Pilsen Cantina Crawl from noon-6 p.m. May 4. Walk or take a free trolley up and down 18th Street and check out the vibrant neighborhood’s shopping, food, drink and music scenes. The 21-and-over event is a fundraiser for August’s Pilsen Fest. Tickets: $35. Visit

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