Stories by Marc Vitali

‘Strandbeest’ Sculptures of Theo Jansen Fuse Art With Engineering

Animaris Currens Ventosa, Oostvoorne, Netherlands (1993). Courtesy of Theo Jansen. (Adriaan Kok)

It is a harmonious union of art and engineering, imagination and reality. Dutch artist Theo Jansen is a kind of Dr. Frankenstein, giving life to inanimate objects. His massive creations arrived this month at the Chicago Cultural Center, and “Chicago Tonight” spoke with the artist on the eve of his first exhibition in the city.

‘Monster Roster’ Exhibit Spotlights 1950s Chicago Artists

In the 1950s, a loose affiliation of Chicago artists haunted by World War II tried to capture emotional intensity in their creations. Dubbed "The Monster Roster," a collection of their work is on display at the Smart Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Chicago. We take a tour.

‘Mercy Street’ Pairs Drama with Civil War History

The new, original PBS show “Mercy Street” is a sprawling Civil War drama set in a hotel in Alexandria, Virgina that has been commandeered by the Union Army as a hospital. The six-episode series blends fiction with historical settings in a town where Confederate and Union soldiers mingled with a slaves and free people. We talk with two of the show's producers. 

Chicago Welcomes the World for Shakespeare 400

A yearlong international arts festival underway in Chicago celebrates the legacy of William Shakespeare and commemorates the 400 years since his death. Barbara Gaines of Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Anthony Freud of Lyric Opera Chicago join us to discuss the festival and the Bard’s legacy.

Museum of Contemporary Photography Exhibit Captures Changing Medium

(Museum of Contemporary Photography)

In the Loop, a photographic feast is now being served. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Museum of Contemporary Photography combed its archives to find the pictures that best reflect the character of the museum. What they found were dramatic images from the 19th century to the 21st.

Hedy Weiss Reviews: ‘London Wall,’ ‘Sunset Baby,’ more

| Meredith Francis
AnJi White and Kelvin Roston, Jr. perform in 'Sunset Baby.' (Courtesy of TimeLine Theater)

The Chicago Sun-Times theater critic gives us her take on highly recommended shows from Court Theatre, Griffin Theatre, TimeLine, Shattered Globe, Drury Lane and Paramount Theatre.

Cellist Charlotte Moorman’s Legacy Showcased in Exhibit

Charlotte Moorman (© Julie Abeles)

Being labeled "the topless cellist" was a mixed blessing for one American artist of the avant-garde. Charlotte Moorman's occasional nudity in her performances attracted curiosity, but it also may have distracted from the pioneering work she brought to experimental art of the 1960s and ‘70s. A new exhibition looks at the bold life and legacy of this musician, performer and muse.

‘Native Haute Couture’ Showcases Elaborate Designs, Craftsmanship

An exhibition at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston looks at the "haute couture" that has long existed in Native American communities. We revisit that story.

Chicago Cubs to Heighten Wrigley Field Security Measures in 2016

| Sean Keenehan

While the start of the Major League Baseball season is still nearly four months away, the Cubs have aleady made headlines in 2016 with plans to beef up security around Wrigley Field. Joining us to talk about the proposed changes is Crain's Chicago Business sports business reporter Danny Ecker.

Carole King Story a 'Beautiful' Role for Local Actor

Abby Mueller as Carole King. (Joan Marcus photo

Eight times a week, Chicago actor Abby Mueller portrays the great songwriter Carole King in the national touring production of "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." Mueller joins us to speak about the real Carole King and the very musical Mueller family of Evanston. She'll also perform a classic Carole King song live in our studio.

Field Museum Sculptures Express Changing Views on Race

Art and science intersect at an historic – and controversial – look at race. A preview of the new exhibition "Looking at Ourselves: Rethinking the Sculptures of Malvina Hoffman."

Redmoon Theater Takes its Final Bow

| Rebecca Palmore
"The Cabinet" (Courtesy of Redmoon)

For 25 years, Redmoon engaged the community in dozens of neighborhoods. Its exuberant street parades and seasonal festivals brought theatrical magic right to the people. But the twin problems of fallout from its Great Chicago Fire Festival in 2014 and an expensive rental space in Pilsen have brought the respected company to its end. We speak with the company's longtime artistic director Jim Lasko.

'Homegrown' Talent on Display at Art Institute of Chicago

Ivan Albright. Self-Portrait (No.13), 1982. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mrs. Ivan Albright. © The Art Institute of Chicago.

In honor of its 150th anniversary, the School of the Art Institute teamed up with the Art Institute for a show that highlights the many influential American artists who received instruction at the school and later became part of the permanent collection of what has been called the "world’s best museum.”

'The Greeks' Unearths Ancient Artifacts, History at Field Museum

Explore the grand story of the ancient Greeks and their influence on modern culture as we go inside the Field Museum's new exhibition “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great."

The Surreal Life: Conjuring Dreams, Reality at the MCA

Surrealism is the focus of a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art. We'll get a tour of the weird and the wonderful.

John Cleese: 'I Can Take Almost Nothing Seriously'

John Cleese

Comedy legend John Cleese talks about the real-life inspiration for "Fawlty Towers" – and tells us why he doesn't think one of his more famous Monty Python skits is all that funny.

'Burning Bluebeard' Revives Story of 1903 Iroquois Theater Fire

'Burning Bluebeard'

Comedy and tragedy blend in a theatrical retelling of an infamous tragedy: the Iroquois Theater fire that struck Chicago back in 1903.

Cheap Trick Performs Live in Chicago: August 2001

Exclusive footage from the WTTW11 vault

In August 2001, a WTTW11 crew met guitarist Rick Nielsen in advance of a Cheap Trick show at Navy Pier. We had a backstage pass and front-row tickets. This interview and performance haven’t been seen in 14 years.

Rare Holiday Crèche on Display at Art Institute of Chicago

A spectacular Nativity set blends heavenly drama with earthly delights. “Chicago Tonight” visited the museum and found an elaborate piece of art originally seen in churches in 18th century Naples.

'New Contemporary' at Art Institute Showcases 'Transformative' Gift

Andy Warhol. Mona Lisa Four Times, 1978. (The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection. © 2015)

A revealing look at the massive new collection of contemporary art at the Art Institute, where the Modern Wing galleries have been transformed.

In the Trenches with War Photographer Lynsey Addario

| Sean Keenehan

See incredible images of combat zones around the world with a woman whose war photographs caught the attention of Steven Spielberg. Meet photojournalist Lynsey Addario.

Neko Case Performs Live in Chicago: August 2001

Exclusive footage from the WTTW11 vault

Neko Case

In 2001, a WTTW11 crew visited Schubas Tavern to interview rising singer-songwriter Neko Case – and to record a performance with her band, Neko Case & Her Boyfriends. In anticipation of Case's upcoming appearance at the MCA, watch exclusive, never-before-seen footage from that shoot.

Orchestra of Recycled Instruments Brings Miraculous Music to Chicago

(Courtesy La Orquesta de Reciclados de Cateura)

Triumphing over trash, the Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura emerged from a landfill slum in Paraguay to perform in concert halls around the world.

Hedy Weiss Theater Reviews: 'Never the Sinner,' 'Spill,' more

Scene from 'Spill' (Lara Goetsch)

The Chicago Sun-Times theater critic appraises a true Chicago crime story at Victory Gardens and a double dose of Irving Berlin. Get her take on these plays and more when she joins "Chicago Tonight" for a discussion.