Two events celebrate diversity in Chicago’s arts scene

| February 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Queenie Pie

winningworkspagesizeThere’s a lot of talk about the need to increase diversity in the arts. In the next few weeks, Chicago area audiences will have two opportunities to support our local arts diversity with two very different shows by the Chicago Opera Theater and the Joffrey Ballet. These are great ways to introduce your children to new art works, especially if you have older children.

Queenie Pie is collaboration between the Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra to stage Duke Ellington’s only opera. Called a “rousing musical score that blends Ellington’s signature big band sound and clever lyrics with the musical styles of opera, jazz and musical theater,” Queenie Pie, originally commissioned as a television piece for Lena Horne, was unfinished when Ellington died in 1974. This creates a base for the work and allows the Chicago Opera Theater to complete the score in a way that re-interprets the story every time it’s staged.

Andreas Mitisek, COT’s General Director called Queenie Pie, “A neglected gem, fascinating musically, dramatically and historically.” Described as a “street opera,” Queenie Pie was inspired by Madam C. J. Walker, “the first female African-American self-made millionaire, who developed and sold a line of hair and beauty products. Queenie Pie’s business is challenged by competing entrepreneur Café Au Lait, a younger, light-skinned beauty from New Orleans. Set in the Harlem Renaissance, the story has been refocused for COT’s production by the creative team.”

“Queenie Pie” is schedule on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. and March 5 at 7:30 p.m at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets, priced from $35 – $125, can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or via The show runs 90 minutes, with one intermission.

The Joffrey Ballet is showcasing the winners of its Choreographers of Color 2014 in a one night only performance at the Harris Theater on March 1. Appropriately called “Winning Works,” three artists were announced as the 2014 winners in a November 2013 press release. Since then Justin Allen, Stefanie Batten Bland and Norbert De La Cruz III have received “a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set a new work on the Joffrey Academy Trainees.  Each winning choreographer will also receive a $2,500 stipend and an opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy Artistic Directors, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.”

The three World Premieres will be presented in Winning Works: Choreographers of Color Awards 2014 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, in one performance only, Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm Tickets for the Choreographers of Color Award 2014: Winning Works at the Harris Theater are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. To find out more information, call the Harris Theater Box Office at 312-334-7777 or visit

It’s not enough just to talk about the need to increase diversity in the arts. Supporting these two shows is an important way to show arts organization that diversity works for artists and audiences.


Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Images courtesy of the Chicago Opera Theater and the Joffrey Ballet.

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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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