Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wondering What To Do in July?
Better grab a pencil and get out your calendar. July is already here, and it's packed full of fireworks, theater, movies and music. Not to mention art, bookmarks, poetry, ice cream and hot guys!
First up, of course, is the 4th of July. There are concerts and celebrations all over central Illinois, starting with music and an ice cream social in Bloomington's historic Franklin Park tonight at 6.
Also in Bloomington, the Pantagraph Holiday Spectacular will Celebrate America at the Miller Park Bandstand at 7 pm on both Saturday and Sunday, and the Normal Theater will offer "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the shiny bright 1942 musical all about George M. Cohan, the All-American song-and-dance man who is often called the father of the musical comedy. In "Yankee Doodle Dandy," Cohan is portrayed by James Cagney in what has to be his tappiest, fizziest performance on film. That's also playing Saturday and Sunday at 7.
Normal will celebrate on the 4th, with splashy water fun and activities at Fairview Park's Family Aquatic Center during the day, a concert from The Bygones, a nostalgia rock act, at 6, and the big fireworks display after the sun goes down.
And, of course, many other towns will set off their own fireworks, including Peoria, where I grew up, with its Red, White and Boom Festival held on the banks of the Illinois River. This year, the good old Marshall Tucker Band ("Heard It in a Love Song," "Fire on the Mountain") will perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 pm at Riverfront Festival Park.
If you prefer to head east, you can try Champaign-Urbana instead. The Champaign County Freedom Celebration begins at 9:30 am on the east side of the Assembly Hall with a Youth Run and goes on all day, launching fireworks at approximately 9:15 pm.
You can find other 4th Festivities in LeRoy, Downs, Heyworth, Eureka, Towanda, Lincoln, Pontiac and Chenoa. FMI, the Pantagraph has kindly listed all the pertinent times and locations.
The Illinois Shakespeare Festival continues its magical "Tempest" and smashing "Three Musketeers" into July, as well as the "theater for young audiences" version of "As You Like It" that plays every Wednesday and Saturday at 10 am. The ISF opens its third show, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," directed by Catherine Weidner, on Friday, July 16th with an 8 pm performance.
Don't forget there are also ice cream socials, live jazz performances, green shows and madrigals, backstage tours and other special Shakesperiences offered throughout the summer.
Heartland Theatre's Young at Heartland acting troupe continues its performances throughout the month, as well. This year's theme is Surprises, and the vignettes and scenes performed by senior actors will definitely surprise you. You can catch YAH between July 12 and 23 at various locations around town.
If you're looking for theater to take the kids to, Community Players and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" will surely fit the bill. This charming play, adapted from the Roald Dahl story by David Wood, opens July 9th and runs through the 25th.
Community Players is also collaborating with Heartland Community College to offer Theatre Basics for Adults, a theater enrichment class for adults beginning July 12. The Community Players website has more information on class times and cost.
Big news in July is the Sugar Creek Arts Festival, the annual arts extravaganza held on the streets of Uptown Normal. Music, food, artwork... Heaven! That's July 10 and 11, and as always, a do-not-miss occasion. Babbitt's Books has announced a fun new addition to the festivities, inviting everyone in to make a bookmark (or some other piece of art) out of "Things Found in Books." That'll be held on Saturday, July 10th from 10 am to 6 pm. Who can resist the power of art found in serendipity?
Kathleen Kirk, the poet who will be leading the "Things Found in Books" fun, will also read from and sign copies of her new poetry chapbook, Living on the Earth, from Finishing Line Press, on Sunday, July 11, at 2 pm at Heartland Theatre in Normal. It's free and you get theater AND literary merit.
Speaking of irresistible... "Mad Men," my favorite TV show, returns on AMC on July 25th. I have a major crush on Jon Hamm, who plays the Cary Grant-like Don Draper, the charismatic ad man who can't be stopped in the board room or the bedroom. This season, we find out what happens with the new advertising agency that Don and his clever, rebellious colleagues are creating. Look out, world! It's Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce!
Is it a coincidence that the Normal Theater has scheduled Cary Grant movies ("Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" and "To Catch a Thief") that very same week? Jon Hamm's take on Don Draper is as close to Cary as we're going to get in 2010, so I choose to believe this mini Cary Fest at the Normal Theater from July 22-25 was very much planned. And I will definitely be there!