Stories by marc vitali

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Returns

Blair Thomas is the behind-the-scenes puppet master who pulled a lot of strings to keep the puppet festival on the calendar.(Credit Saverio Truglia)

The Chicago International Puppet Festival returns for 10 days, and Thursday is opening night. Blair Thomas, the behind-the-scenes puppet master, pulled a lot of strings to keep this festival on the calendar.

WFMT Honors the Musical Legacy of Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim (Photo by Bernard Gotfryd via Wikimedia Commons)

Both traditional and groundbreaking, Stephen Sondheim was a one-man era of musical theater. A new appreciation of his music and artistry from WFMT.

COVID Takes Deadly Toll on Dialysis Patients: ProPublica Illinois

A patient on renal dialysis Feb. 26, 2021. (Mishu57 / Wikimedia Commons)

A new report from ProPublica Illinois details the catastrophic loss of dialysis patients during the pandemic. Reporter Duaa Eldeib joins “Chicago Tonight” to discuss her findings 

New Book Reveals Secrets of the Chicago Nanny Who Was a World-Class Photographer

Vivian Maier, was a North Shore nanny who quietly pursued another endeavor – in her spare time she took extraordinary photographs. (Courtesy The Vivian Maier Estate and the Maloof Collection)

There has always been an air of mystery surrounding the life of Vivian Maier. Maier, was a North Shore nanny who quietly pursued another endeavor – in her spare time she took extraordinary photographs. Author Ann Marks joins us.

Artist Combs Chicago Beaches for Materials and Inspiration

(Courtesy of John Soss Photography)

Discovery is central to the work of an artist who seeks and finds all kinds of things on the shores of Lake Michigan. John Soss makes artwork out of seemingly nothing, sifting the sand for debris left by people and nature.

Stage Shows Go On Despite Some Cancellations

Temur Suluashvili and José Pablo Castro Cuevas perform in “The Nutcracker.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Following the long pandemic shutdown, many theaters came back in the fall only to pivot once again in the face of the omicron threat. 

Photographer Tells Story of Immigration Through Lens of Small Business Owners

(Credit: Jonathan Michael Castillo)

Many immigrants dream of owning and operating a small business. A Chicago-based photographer has a personal understanding of immigration, and he has spent years documenting small businesses. He calls his project “Immigrant Owned,” and it’s about to be expanded in a big way.

Provocative Paintings Lampoon Stereotypes at Chicago Cultural Center

GO WEST, 1980, acrylic on canvas, 71 3/4 x 83 7/8 inches © 2021 The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo (Photo Credit: Joshua White)

A rare Chicago showing of provocative paintings by an overlooked African American artist at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Photographer Preserves Native American Heritage Through Images of Regalia

(Copyright Sharon Hoogstraten from her book “Dancing for Our Tribe.”)

Articles of colorful clothing and ornaments tell the story of the person who wears them. The whole ensemble is called regalia, and it helps preserve the heritage of an entire community. A local photographer with roots in the Potawatomi Nation documents her people and their legacy.

Jeff Garlin’s Photographs of Funny Friends Show in River North

Jeff Garlin photographs Sarah Silverman. Garlin’s photographs will be featured at Tamarkin Camera in River North starting Nov. 11. (Credit Jeff Garlin)

Comedian and actor Jeff Garlin opens a new show of his photography featuring some of his co-stars and famous friends — Larry David, J.B. Smoove, John Mulaney – often in candid shots backstage and between scenes. 

Ravi Shankar Retrospective on Display at South Asia Institute

An exhibit on sitarist Ravi Shankar is on display at the South Asia Instiute. (WTTW News)

Celebrating the life and music of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar in a new exhibition at the South Asia Institute.

Acclaimed Actor David Strathairn Portrays World War II Hero at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

David Strathairn as real-life World War II hero Jan Karski in “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski,” presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater November 3-14, 2021. (Teresa Castracane Photography)

Actor David Strathairn will be on stage through Nov. 11 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater portraying Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter and diplomat during World War II. 

Steppenwolf Theatre Returns After 20-Month Intermission, Dedicates New Wing

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s new Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, designed by architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. (Credit James Steinkamp Photography.)

The Steppenwolf Theatre reopens after a 20-month shutdown due to the pandemic. The 46-year-old theater celebrated its return with a ribbon cutting Tuesday for a new wing that includes a state-of-the-art stage. 

New Exhibit at Block Museum Looks at Which Art Gets Shown and Why

Victor Diop, Juan de Pareja, 2014. (Image courtesy of the artist and MAGNIN-A, Paris.)

We take you to the Block Museum of Art on the campus of Northwestern for a look at a new exhibition that examines narratives of the past and who has a say in which art gets chosen.

Artist Tony Fitzpatrick’s Final Museum Show Fuses Nature with Urban Grit

Artist Tony Fitzpatrick’s new show is called “Jesus of Western Avenue.” It’s at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art on the campus of the College of DuPage. (WTTW News)

From a studio on Western Avenue, artist Tony Fitzpatrick creates work that reflects both the beauty of nature and the grit of the city. Fitzpatrick says a recently opened exhibit at the College of DuPage will be his final museum show.

Chicago Children’s Choir Celebrates 65 Years of Music With New Collaboration

From Hyde Park to Humboldt Park, the Chicago Children’s Choir is everywhere. Now the Choir has joined forces with the Q Brothers for the new record, “Long Way Home,” a musical odyssey and love letter to the city. (Courtesy Chicago Children’s Choir)

Since it was founded back in 1956, The Chicago Children’s Choir has grown from a single choir to a vast network of singers across the city. Their latest recording speaks to the resilience of young people working together to raise each other’s voices. 

Chicago History Museum Remembers Great Fire of 1871

(WTTW News)

A new show at the Chicago History Museum features artwork and animation that bring the Great Chicago Fire to life on its 150th anniversary.

Chicago Born Film Scholar Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

Jacqueline Stewart is a film scholar, archivist and curator who has been honored by the MacArthur Foundation for “ensuring that the contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination.” 

Dual Exhibition Highlights Lost Works by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright

A protest outside Garrick Theater c. 1960 (Richard Nickel / Art Institute of Chicago)

Rescued ruins and a virtual tour of a lost masterpiece of Chicago architecture — we speak with the city’s cultural historian and a noted artist who were part of a team exploring a long-lost theater and more.

New Documentary Explores Life, Legend of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali talks with the press after winning back the Heavyweight Championship for an unprecedented third time by beating Leon Spinks at the Super Dome in New Orleans, LA. Sept. 15, 1978. (Courtesy of Michael Gaffney)

At an early age he identified himself as “The Greatest” and backed up his words inside and out of the boxing ring. Filmmaker Ken Burns joins “Black Voices” to discuss the sweeping new four-part documentary “Muhammad Ali.”

Ken Burns Talks About His New Documentary ‘Muhammad Ali’

On Sunday, PBS airs part one of a sweeping new four-part documentary on the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. (PBS / Florentine Films)

He was bigger than boxing and larger than life — a true icon of the 20th century. Filmmaker Ken Burns and Donald Lassere of the Chicago History Museum join us to discuss the sweeping new four-part documentary on the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali.

New Pop-Up Gallery and Museum Electrifies Audiences With Neon, Light

The Neon and Light Museum just opened at 325 W. Huron St. in River North. (WTTW News)

Neon combines craftsmanship with design and a bit of science. We visit the Neon and Light Museum in River North to find out if it’s truly lit.

Pitchfork Returns, Chicago Artists Prepare to Hit the Stage

After a one-year hiatus, Chicago’s homegrown Pitchfork Music Festival returns. (WTTW News)

After a one-year hiatus, Chicago’s homegrown music festival returns this weekend with a typically eclectic lineup of new music and some legendary artists. We meet a few performers with local ties as they prepare for a moment in the spotlight.

Jeff Tweedy on Wilco, Oversharing and the Creative Process

Jeff Tweedy appears on "Chicago Tonight" via Zoom, Aug. 24, 2021. (WTTW News)

Grammy-winning rock band Wilco hit the road this month for the first time since the pandemic shutdown. We caught up with Tweedy from the Wilco tour bus before the sound check for Tuesday’s show in Boston, and ahead of the band’s return to Chicago for a show at Millennium Park on Saturday. 

Meet the Cartoonist Who Now Creates Mad Magazine’s Signature Fold-Ins

Cartoonist Johnny Sampson showcases an issue of Mad Magazine on Aug. 6, 2021. (WTTW News)

Since 1964, a signature feature of Mad Magazine has been the “fold-in” – a cartoon riddle that is solved when the picture is folded. These days, the fold-in is conceived, written, sketched and painted by cartoonist Johnny Sampson.

Photographer Explores Abandoned Places and Finds Beauty in Decay

Some photographers explore cities through their neglected places. At personal risk and sometimes legal jeopardy, they look for beauty in forgotten and faded locales. (Credit: Jerry Olejniczak)

Some photographers explore cities through their neglected places. At personal risk and sometimes legal jeopardy, they look for beauty in forgotten and faded locales. Meet Jerry Olejniczak, one such photographer in search of “Abandoned Chicagoland.”