Lesbian comics in town for shows and also at Opening or Closing ceremonies, from left: Suzanne Westenhoefer (at the Opening Ceremony, photo by Rex Wockner), Poppy Champlin (at Closing), Vickie Shaw and Kate Clinton (at Opening Ceremony).
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Theater Editor
They call it the Gay Games VII Sports & Cultural Festival, and within these pages you'll find information on much—but far from all—of the cultural components. A separate article offers details of Chicago's bustling theater scene, while the listings below provide information on concerts, comedy and a few cultural phenomena that defy categories. There also are a great many Gay Games affiliated film screenings, art exhibits, pop/rock music events, panel discussions and workshops that are beyond the scope of live theater, concert and recital events. Look for copies of the Gay Games VII Official Culture Guide for complete listings, or check online for 'E-Z' PDF downloads at GayGamesChicago.org .
Cheer Teams and Color Guard, Sun., July 16, Millennium Park, 2-4 p.m., free. Part team gymnastics, part dance, and part looking very good in skimpy outfits, this is a free exhibition by 11 cheer squads from the U.S. and Canada, combined with demonstrations by various color guard units, among them Chicago's own ROTC ( Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps ) . Millennium Park adjoins Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe streets.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue at Randolph Street, Wed., July 19, 12:15 p.m. There's classical music in a free lunchtime concert every Wednesday in a series named after the great British pianist. Today's program presents the Chicago recital debut of acclaimed countertenor Brian Asawa, accompanied by Victoria Kirsh.
Diverse Harmony, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, Mon., July 17, 8 p.m. It's a community concert performed by Diverse Harmony from Seattle, the nation's first gay-straight alliance youth choir. See www.PilgrimOakPark.com; $10. Diverse Harmony also will perform at a Chicago Cultural Center lunchbreak concert at 12:15 p.m. on Tues., July 18.
Freedom, Sun., July 16, Chicago Theatre ( State Street at Lake Street ) , 8 p.m. The wildly popular Margaret Cho headlines what is certain to be an evening of polite and politically correct comedy, also featuring Bruce Daniels. Presented by ( but not at ) the House of Blues; 312-902-1500 ( Ticketmaster ) ; $31.50-$46.50.
Grant Park Music Festival Rehearsals, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park. The evening concerts themselves are free, but by day you can catch a rehearsal and soak up some rays at the same time. The public is invited to observe rehearsals of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, most Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and Tuesdays from 3-5:30 p.m.
It's a She Thing, Sun., July 16, Park West ( nightclub ) , 322 W. Armitage, 7 p.m. Mad Man Productions offers an evening of comedy, headlined by Suzanne Westenhoefer; 773-779-2399; $30.
Kate Clinton, An Evening of Comedy, Mon., July 17, 7 p.m., Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Ms. Clinton's career has extended through 10 presidential inaugurals, she says, and she still believes that humor gets us through peacetime, wartime and scoundrel time. By the way, 10 inaugurals ago was Richard Nixon in 1968. Presented by the Human Rights Campaign; 312-902-1500 ( Ticketmaster ) ; $35.
Legends of Women's Music, Merle Reskin Theatre, Fri., July 14 only. It's a 7 p.m. benefit concert for the Chicago Lesbian Archives Project with Holly Near, Teresa Trull, Barbara Higbie, Nedra Johnson and Vickie Shaw. Maximum capacity is 1,400; 60 E. Balbo ( at Michigan Avenue ) . Tickets: www.windycitymediagroup.com; $25-$60.
LGBT Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Navy Pier Beer Garden Stage, Mon., July 17, 5 p.m. A free evening of music features Kimi Hayes, Beazley Phillips, Ripley Caine—I'm not making up these names—and John Hasbrouck, followed by Jen Porter and the Most Fabulous Band.
Queens of Comedy, Zanies Comedy Club, 1548 N. Wells, Mon.-Tues., July 17-18, 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Two sets feature outstanding comediennes Poppy Champlin, Sapna Kumar and Michele Balan. 312-337-4027; $20.
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Chicago Cultural Center ( Michigan Avenue at Randolph Street ) , Mon., July 17, 12:15 p.m. Here's a free lunchbreak concert by the tenors, baritones and basses from Babylon by the Bay, in which the chorus will sing selections from NakedMan ( sic ) , a 1996 work commissioned by the SFGMC from poet Philip Littell and composer Robert Seeley.
Sing Out, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Wed., July 19, free lawn and Pavilion seating. The official choral concert for Gay Games VII is presented as part of the summer-long Grant Park Music Festival, and features a mass ensemble of more than 300 voices from as far away as New Zealand. The choral concert will immediately follow the scheduled 6:30 p.m. performance of Orff's Carmina Burana by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Steppin' Out, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Tues., July 18, free lawn seating. Gather 'round all ye drum majors and majorettes. This is the official band concert for Gay Games VII, featuring more than 250 instrumentalists from more than 30 GLBT bands nationwide, plus piano soloist Tatsuya Nagashima. The 6:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by the 100 women percussionists of the International DrumSong Orchestra, who also will perform at the Games' opening and closing ceremonies. See www.gaygameschicago.org for paid tickets to seated area; free lawn seats.
Women's World Drummers, Chicago Cultural Center, Mon., July 17, 7 p.m. Well, talk about shakin' your marimbas to beat the band. Here, we have a concert by a women's drumming ensemble under the direction of founder Ubaka Hill. Free. The group also will appear at the Gay Games opening and closing ceremonies, and at the July 18 Steppin' Out official band concert in Millennium Park.