Stories by Angel Idowu

Grant Reynolds, bottom center, and the company of “Mamma Mia!” (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Oak Park Native Flexes His Performance Skills in National Tour of ‘Mamma Mia!,’ Now Running in Chicago

For Chicago area native Grant Reynolds, the performances mark his debut in a national tour for a Broadway show.

“The Swans of Harlem: Five Black Ballerinas, Fifty Years of Sisterhood, and Their Reclamation of a Groundbreaking History” (Credit: Penguin Random House)

The Swans of Harlem: How a Group of Pioneering Black Ballet Dancers Are Telling Their Story and Reclaiming Their Place in History

Together they made history under the direction of Arthur Mitchell, co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the first Black principal ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet. 

Dancing at Millennium Park. (Patrick L. Pyszka / City of Chicago)

Millennium Park to Celebrate 20th Anniversary With Free Music, Movies and Workouts. See the Summer Lineup

Chicago is hosting a summer’s worth of free world-class arts programming for Millennium Park’s 20th anniversary season. The 2024 lineup offers a variety of live music, festivals and even fitness activities.

Nora Moore Lloyd’s photographs of Sarah Begay. Lloyd’s works is on display in “Vigilance: Learning From the Legacies of BIPOC Environmental Leaders.” (Courtesy of Nora Moore Lloyd)

‘Vigilance’ Showcases Diverse Environmental Leaders With Work From Local, National Artists

“Vigilance: Learning From the Legacies of BIPOC Environmental Leaders” is inspired by the work of Hazel Johnson, a Black Chicagoan known as the mother of the environmental justice movement.

Attendees of Expo Chicago admire works by Luis A. Sahagún on April 12, 2024. (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

Column: Expo Chicago Offers a Reminder of the Vibrancy and Community of Chicago’s Art Scene

From Expo Chicago at Navy Pier to Expo Art Week throughout the city and everything in between, I found myself overwhelmed with celebrations that amplified the city’s artistic community. 

An image from Expo Chicago 2023. (Credit: Justin Barbin)

Our Picks for the Must-See Expo Chicago Events Hitting Town This Week

Expo Chicago is back for its eleventh anniversary this week and organizers are celebrating with a slew of programs, initiatives and digital events to engage the public both at Navy Pier and throughout the city. 

Harry Lennix, clockwise from left, Alana Arenas, Glenn Davis, Tamara Tunie, Ayanna Bria Bakari and Jon Michael Hill in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s “Purpose.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

A Fictional Chicago Political Family Searches for ‘Purpose’ in Steppenwolf World Premiere: Review

“Purpose,” the new world premiere play from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins now running at Steppenwolf, is also a very specific story about a family rooted in Black American politics, featuring a Civil Rights activist, pastors and a congressman. 

A photo of Frankie Knuckles is on display at an event commemorating the digitization of his vinyl record collection. (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

Frankie Knuckles Remembered as ‘Guiding Force’ of House Music as 5,000 Vinyl Records Digitized

Members of Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation have been working to restore Frankie Knuckles’ vinyl record collection for the last eight years.

Author and journalist Arionne Nettles appears on “Black Voices” on March 27, 2024. (WTTW News)

New Book Celebrates Chicago’s Black Culture and Influence

Chicago native Arionne Nettles pens a love letter to Chicago in her newest book titled, “We Are the Culture: Black Chicago’s Influence on Everything.”

(WTTW News)

Sza, The Killers and Blink-182 Among Lollapalooza Headliners. Here’s the Full Lineup

Lollapalooza has announced its headliners for the four-day music fest with Sza, Tyler, The Creator, Blink-182 and The Killers among the headlining acts.

(Courtesy of Chicago Loop Alliance)

Sundays on State to Return This Summer; Loop Alliance Seeking Artists and Organizations for the Free Block Party

Everyone’s favorite downtown block party is back. Chicago Loop Alliance organizes Sundays on State with the goal of cultivating community and amplifying art and culture within the Loop.

(Courtesy of Young Chicago Authors)

Young Writers Showcase Skills at Rooted & Radical Poetry Festival

Young Chicago Authors is encouraging Chicago’s youth to engage in storytelling to express themselves with poetry and performance.

Tammy McCann performs at the Driehaus Museum on Feb. 27, 2024. (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

Chicago Jazz Vocalist Takes Listeners on Musical Journey in ‘75 Years of Mahalia Jackson’: Review

Tammy McCann recently previewed a one-woman show dedicated to the life and work of gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. McCann will soon head to New York to once again pay homage to the queen of gospel.

(Credit: Flyover by Pursuit)

Navy Pier’s New Flyover Experience Offers an Exhilarating View of Chicago’s Beauty

Utilizing footage captured by a drone, flight members swoop through iconic landmarks in seats engineered to feel every dip and dive of the ride, just as if you were on a rollercoaster.

From left, Deshawn Mason, Faith Valerie, Samuel B. Jackson, Arlieta Hall, Breanna Ghostone and Adonis Holmes of Second City’s “Black by Popular Demand.” (Credit: Nolis Anderson)

From Code Switching to the Andriana Furs Jingle, Second City Show Hilariously Captures Common Black Experiences: Review

“Black by Popular Demand” showcases common experiences from a Black viewpoint, resulting in some hilarious moments. 

(WTTW News)

Ramova Theatre to Celebrate Renovation, Reopening With All-Ages Concert From Chance the Rapper

For more than 35 years, the once bustling Ramova Theatre at 35th and Halsted streets sat vacant, deteriorating in condition. But in 2017, the building was purchased for exactly $1. The goal is to make the theater Bridgeport’s staple entertainment venue.

“A Love Supreme: Norman Teague” exhibit at the Elmhurst Art Museum. (Credit: Siegfried Mueller Photography)

Norman Teague’s Elmhurst Exhibit Uses Jazz and Black Aesthetics to Showcase a Unique Design Sensibility: Review

With musical accompaniment by John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme,” which gave the exhibition its name, Teague’s work is a reflection of his Chicago upbringing and classic design technique. 

(Broadway in Chicago)

Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia Return on Stage in ‘Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue’

A 2024 edition of the classic four women sitcom, “Golden Girls,” has been making its way across the country, and soon they’ll be making their stop at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. 

“The Sunflowers Quilting Bee at Arles” by Faith Ringgold, 1991.

Your Guide to Black History Month Events in Chicago

February marks Black History Month and cultural institutions around Chicago are hosting events celebrating the city’s art and culture scene. Here are a few events you should check out.

Lisa Ann Walter appears on the Dec. 26, 2023, episode of “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

Lisa Ann Walter of ‘Abbott Elementary’ on Returning to the Hit Show and Her Love of Stand-Up Comedy

Lisa Ann Walter is set to appear in Rosemont later this month for a series of comedy shows. Ahead of her visit to the Chicago area, she spoke with WTTW News about what it’s been like since getting back to work with her comedic cast, and what’s in store for her upcoming comedy set.

The Joffrey Ballet Company performs “The Nutcracker.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

From Hip-Hop to the 1893 World’s Fair, Chicago Nutcracker Productions Look to Honor and Reimagine the Classic Holiday Story

Here in Chicago, a number of reimaginings of the classic story demonstrate how the family tradition can be transformed to fit the interests of modern audiences while also celebrating the Christmas magic that made that original ballet such a success.

"The Wiz" stops in Chicago before a Broadway run. (Jeremy Daniel)

‘The Wiz’ Eases On Down the Road to Chicago Ahead of Broadway Run

The reimaging of the classic story, now playing at the Cadillac Palace Theater in the production’s pre-Broadway run, has a devoted set of fans stretching back decades.

Ramova Theatre in Bridgeport. (WTTW News)

Bridgeport Residents Anticipate Return of the Ramova Theatre Courtesy of Star-Studded Ownership Group

Earlier this month, it was announced that the theater was under new ownership, as Chicago’s Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson partnered with Quincy Jones and developer Tyler Nevius as the Bridgeport theater’s new ownership group.

Finishing touches are put on the tree representing Puerto Rico at the Museum of Science and Industry on Nov. 11, 2023. (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

For Chicago Area Families, Museum of Science and Industry Exhibit a Chance to Celebrate Cultural Christmas Traditions

Families and organizations from all over the Chicago area came to the museum bright and early to decorate their country’s Christmas tree. This year, the trees represented a total of 57 countries, including Austria, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Switzerland, and France, to name a few.

“Carlos Cortéz: 100 Años,” currently running at the National Museum of Mexican Art, is one of many Art Design Chicago exhibitions that explore the role of artists as activists, problem-solvers and interpreters of history. (Rachel Ruttle / Rudd Resources)

Art Design Chicago Showcases Local Artists, Arts Organizations With Citywide Events and Exhibitions

The Art Design Chicago initiative will work with more than 50 art-focused organizations to showcase the work of hundreds of artists now through 2025.

Left: Goldblatt’s, Chicago. Christmas Windows. (Courtesy of Chicago History Museum). Right: Walnut Room Christmas Tree at Marshall Field & Co., 1945. (Courtesy of Marshall Field & Co. archive, Macy’s, Chicago).

From Marshall Field’s to Goldblatt’s, Take a Trip Through Time With ‘Lost Chicagoland Department Stores’

A new exhibit at the Elmhurst History Museum is celebrating department stores that originated in the Chicagoland area.