Stories by Marc Vitali

New Play Looks at Life of Trailblazing African-American Actor

Actor Dion Johnstone portrays Ira Aldridge in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Red Velvet.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Exploring the connection between a controversial painting at the Art Institute and the new play “Red Velvet” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

‘Hunting Charlie’ Seeks to Find the Elusive Enemy in the War in Vietnam

Propaganda and political cartoons show different perspectives of Vietnam at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.

Rare Holiday Crèche on Display at Art Institute of Chicago

The Christmas season is the only time to see a rare Nativity scene that blends both spiritual and earthly pursuits. We go for a look.

Kerry James Marshall Unveils Monumental Mural in the Loop

A new mural at the Chicago Cultural Center honors 20 women, past and present, who contributed to the cultural life of the city. “Chicago Tonight” was on site throughout the creation of the work, the largest to date by Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall.

Cautionary Tales of City Life by Chicago Painter Bill Walker

A new exhibition looks at rare works of art that are powerful—and sometimes graphic. The historic work was made by an artist with a strong connection to Chicago public art.

‘All The Queen’s Horses’ Tells the Story of Rita Crundwell

A city treasurer with a love of horses managed to embezzle nearly $54 million from a small town of just 16,000 people. The new documentary “All The Queen’s Horses” looks at the case of Rita Crundwell.

Emerging Rap Artist Taylor Bennett on Chicago Roots

Taylor Bennett talks about his rising rap career, and the inevitable comparisons with his brother, Chance the Rapper.

Wheaton Military Museum Expands Historic Mission

Marching through 100 years of military history in the recently expanded First Division Museum at Cantigny Park.

‘Saturday Night Live’ Exhibit Offers Behind-the-Scenes Peek at TV Show

(Credit: Premier Exhibitions)

At the Museum of Broadcast Communications, a new exhibition looks at a television phenomenon with strong ties to Chicago.

Fall Theater Highlights from Hedy Weiss: Goodman, Black Ensemble, More

Michael Perez (Sam) and Laura Crotte (Sara) in “Yasmina’s Necklace” at Goodman Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Chicago Sun-Times theater and dance critic Hedy Weiss shares her recommendations from Porchlight Music Theatre, Lookingglass, Goodman, Black Ensemble Theater and BoHo Theatre.

Chicago Tribune Unearths Forgotten Aerial Footage of Chicago in 1914

The White City airship. (Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago Tribune published a report Monday on the “rediscovery” of a long-forgotten 35 mm film in the National Archives. The story behind the incredible aerial footage of Chicago shot in August 1914.

Pianist Ludovico Einaudi on His ‘Elegy for the Arctic’

Ludovico Einaudi (Credit: Ray Tarantino)

Meet the Italian composer and pianist who traveled to the Arctic Ocean to make music—and make a point.

New Museum Showcases Massive Collection of Stained Glass, Rare Clocks

Historic clocks from around the world and brilliant stained glass windows fill a new museum in Evanston. We go for a look.

Hebru Brantley’s New Art Show Takes Flight in Elmhurst

His artwork is in the collections of George Lucas, Jay-Z and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. We get a preview of the show “Hebru Brantley: Forced Field” at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Chicago’s MacArthur Fellows on Joining the ‘Genius’ Club

Rami Nashashibi

Two of the 24 professionals named 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellows are from Chicago. We speak with Dawoud Bey and Rami Nashashibi.

Grammy-Winning Vocalist Catherine Russell Reflects on Musical Memories

Catherine Russell (Credit: Stefan Falke)

As one of the most celebrated jazz vocalists of today, she has worked with David Bowie, Steely Dan and Wynton Marsalis. Catherine Russell joins us in conversation and performance.

Bill Graham, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer Who Escaped Nazi Germany

Bill Graham between takes during the filming of “A '60s Reunion with Bill Graham: A Night at the Fillmore,” 1986. (Courtesy of Ken Friedman)

He helped to define rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s—and his life was a forged as a child in Nazi Germany. We explore an exhibition about Bill Graham at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

‘Brown Girls’ Co-Creator Fatimah Asghar Wins Poetry Foundation Award

“Brown Girls” director Sam Bailey, left, and co-creator Fatimah Asghar (Credit: Alexus McLane)

A web series that debuted in February has already been picked up by HBO. Made in Chicago, it highlights the friendships between young women of color. We talk with the award-winning poet who co-created the series, and an actor from the show.

Block Museum Explores William Blake’s Influence on the Age of Aquarius

A who’s who of great artists and writers of the 20th century was influenced by one who died in semi-obscurity nearly 200 years ago.

Fall Theater Recommendations from Chicago Sun-Times Critic Hedy Weiss

“Million Dollar Quartet” stars, from left: Gavin Rohrer as Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Scott Sheets as Johnny Cash, Kavan Hashemian as Elvis Presley and Adam Wesley Brown as Carl Perkins. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The fall theater season is in full swing. Chicago Sun-Times theater and dance critic Hedy Weiss shares her recommendations at the Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera and more.

Shaking Up Shakespeare with All-Female Cast in ‘Taming of the Shrew’

Actors Alexandra Henrikson and Crystal Lucas-Perry in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew.” Barbara Gaines directs. (Photo: Liz Lauren)

Barbara Gaines, Chicago Shakespeare Theater founder and artistic director, talks about the wild twist on a classic that opens their 31st season.

Anne-Sophie Mutter, Grammy-Winning Violinist, Returns to Chicago

Anne-Sophie Mutter (Credit: Bastian Achard)

The world-renowned violinist joins us in conversation and performance.

Hebru Brantley’s New Art Show Takes Flight in Elmhurst

His artwork is in the collections of George Lucas, Jay-Z and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. We get a preview of the show “Hebru Brantley: Forced Field” at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

New Mural Brightens Lake Shore Drive Underpass

A look at the creation of the latest mural from the Chicago Public Art Group.

Ragtime Revelations with Reginald Robinson

Thirteen years ago, Chicago native Reginald Robinson was awarded a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. He joins us in discussion and performance.