The Mix: Manual Cinema’s anniversary and more cool things to do in Chicago July 23-29

There’s a whole lot of local entertainment options to enjoy online and in person in the week ahead.

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Manual Cinema’s “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks”

Manual Cinema’s “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks” will stream for free Aug. 10-17.

Paul Joseph

Manual creations

Over the next month, Manual Cinema, the multimedia theater company, celebrates its 10th anniversary via free streams of four of its seminal shows: “Lula Del Ray” (July 27-Aug. 3), “The End of TV” (Aug. 3-10), “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks” (Aug. 10-17) and “Frankenstein” (Aug. 17-23). The festival culminates in a live Tele-FUN-draiser (8 p.m. Aug. 22), a Covid-relief benefit featuring a variety show and a new 15-minute work created by the ensemble’s co-artistic directors who also offer introductions to the each of the streaming shows. Each week’s show is posted on Monday at noon and is available for a week; donations are appreciated. Live talkbacks with the show’s creators are at 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 8, 15 and 21. For more information, visit

Deborah Stratman” exhibit “The Illinois Parables”

Deborah Stratman’s exhibit “The Illinois Parables”

Nathan Keay

MCA reopens

The Museum of Contemporary Art reopens July 24 with new hours, days, safety precautions (face masks, social distancing) and free admission through August. In addition to the popular exhibit “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” (extended to Sept. 27), other exhibits feature Chicago filmmaker Deborah Stratman’s “The Illinois Parables,” featuring a re-creation of Studs Terkel’s WFMT radio studio with a selection of his interviews; and “Just Connect,” which explores how the pandemic has made us more aware of how we depend on our communities and families. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday with the first hour of the day for seniors and people at risk. MCA, 220 E. Chicago. Visit

Blake & Gwen & Trace

After the success of Garth Brooks’ drive-in movie concert, there was sure to be another. Cue country music star and “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton who now joins in this pandemic trend accompanied by his gal pal, singer Gwen Stefani, and fellow country performer Trace Adkins. Event organizer Encore Live says these “all-new performances will be filmed exclusively for each one-night-only event and include cinematic interviews and storytelling.” The concert is screened at 9 p.m. July 25. Drive-in locations include the Chicago Drive-In Theater in Hoffman Estates; the Chicago Drive-In Theater in Bridgeview; the Elgin Cinema in Elgin; the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, the Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City; and the Route 66 Drive-In in Springfield. Tickets are $114.99 and each admits one passenger car, truck or SUV with up to six people. Visit

Choreographer Sterling Harris

Choreographer Sterling Harris

Kristie Kahns

Fancy footwork

A celebration of the power and necessity of dance in this unsettled time is the focus of “30 Feet Together, 6 Feet Apart,” a streaming performance from Chicago Tap Theatre. The 50-minute show features nearly a dozen dancers performing choreography by Mark Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Sterling Harris, Case Prime and Rich Ashworth. A live jazz trio featuring funk-soul artist JC Brooks provides the score. Admission to the show streaming at 3 p.m. July 26 is based on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale of $5-$30. Visit

Nancy Hays and Alexa Castelvecchi star in the Greenhouse Theater Center’s “Judy & Liza, Once in a Lifetime: The London Palladium Concert — A Tribute,” an homage to the iconic 1964 concert with Judy Garland and her 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli. 

Nancy Hays and Alexa Castelvecchi star in “Judy & Liza,” a tribute to the iconic 1964 concert with Judy Garland and her 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli.

Tyler Core

Mother daughter reunion

It was just a matter of time before a theater organization tested the waters by opening its doors. That task has fallen to the Greenhouse Theater Center, where “Judy & Liza — Once in a Lifetime: The London Palladium Concert — A Tribute,” the show that was shut down by the stay-at-home order in March, now reopens. Nancy Hays and Alexa Castelvecchi star in this tribute to the iconic 1964 concert with Judy Garland and her 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli. “Judy & Liza” (July 24-Aug. 9) returns to the ground floor main stage at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. All health and safety policies will be implemented. Tickets: $25. Visit

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo: Courtesy of the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Courtesy of the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

RBG’s story

Now reopened, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center has extended the exhibit “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” which tells the Supreme Court Justice’s story using an array of gallery interactives, listening stations, archival photographs and documents, historical artifacts and contemporary art. It’s the first museum exhibition focused on the judicial icon. The museum is requiring guests to wear face masks and submit to a temperature check before entering the facility. Tickets ($6-$15) must be purchased in advance. Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie. Visit

Ann Hampton Callaway

Ann Hampton Callaway

Bill Westmoreland

American music

Cabaret performer Ann Hampton Callaway, one of the leading champions of the Great American Songbook, has launched a streaming performance series, “The Callaway Hideaway,” taking place the last Sunday of the month. The first concert, “Diva Power!,” features Callaway celebrating songs made famous by legendary women including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Edith Piaf, Etta James and more. The performance streams at 4 p.m. July 26. Tickets: $20. Visit

Legendary ladies

When The Baton Show Lounge relocated from River North to Uptown in 2019, it added a welcome dash of sass to the neighborhood. Now its legendary shows have been extended to a patio where female impersonators are performing on an outdoor stage. The Baton’s patio is open 4:30-11 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Baton indoor shows also restarted when the city went to Phase 4 of the reopening plan; shows are 8 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Reservations are recommended. The Baton, 4713 N. Broadway. Visit

Summer-long fun

The Ravinia District in Highland Park is featuring District Doings, a series of events kicking off July 20 and continuing through Aug. 28. The activities include kids art classes and music jam sessions at WeOrbit, musical theater classes at Children’s Theater Company, ukulele classes at Aloha City Ukes, outdoor yoga at Shri Yoga Center, free workouts at Burn Boot Camp, a free jewelry making event at Dana Reed Designs and a kids dance party at Soul 2 Sole Dance. There’s also free live music including this weekend Handsome Man’s Gentlemen’s Club (6 p.m. July 25), Anderlik, Otto & Church (3 p.m. July 26). Food from local restaurants (Abigail’s American Bistro, Baker Boys, Piero’s Pizza and more) can be purchased and enjoyed in the Ravinia District Al Fresco Dining Area. District Doings takes place along Roger Williams Avenue between Burton and Pleasant. For more information including class fees and a live music schedule, visit

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.

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