[Sky High Sports]

The trampoline at Sky High Sports

Best fun things to do in Chicago


Timothy Kane

[Timothy Kane]

A one-man Iliad? The Greek epic poem in which dozens of characters shed oceans of blood in a story as tangled as the locks of Medusa? But something astonishing unfolded as Timothy Kane, costumed in street clothes, embodied a pantheon of warriors–Ajax, Agamemnon, and Achilles–with little more than a shift in posture and inflection. He followed this Court Theatre tour de force with two lovely turns at Chicago Shakespeare. For these Herculean feats, he gets our Best Actor laurels.


Hollis Resnik

[Hollis Resnik]

She had The Number in Follies at Chicago Shakes. Resnick, as an aging glamazon, began “I’m Still Here” almost noncommittally, then escalated her rendition into a five-alarm anthem so overwhelming you stopped breathing. Later she shape-shifted into the matronly Mormon mother in Angels in America at the Court, proving that she can knock off straight drama as effortlessly as musical theatre. Resnik put her full spectrum of skills in the spotlight this past year, and the results were spectacular.


Kimberly Senior

[Kimberly Senior]

“Ubiquitous” is the word that comes to mind: Last season, Senior directed Disgraced at American Theater Company, After the Revolution at Next, Waiting for Lefty at American Blues, and The Cripple of Inishmaan at RedTwist. The paradoxical hallmark of her shows? You forget they have a director. Senior elicits bone-authentic performances and creates an absorbing immediacy. In November, she’ll take Manhattan: Disgraced opens at LCT3, Lincoln Center Theater’s venue for new works.


Sarah Gubbins

[Sarah Gubbins]

In the final moments of Sarah Gubbins’s The Kid Thing, a young lesbian explains, via a powerful and blunt monologue of toxic self-hatred, why she’s hesitant to start a family with her partner. The fearless playwright behind the tirade is a Catholic school graduate who grew up in conservative Lisle. In her Steppenwolf debut, FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life, Gubbins mined her roots to depict a lesbian teenager stranded in suburbia and in the process created indelible characters.

New company

The Inconvenience

[The Inconvenience]

If you want to make a splash, you could produce a new play about the 1969 Stonewall riots, even though you grew up during the RuPaul era. But as anyone who saw Ike Holter’s Hit the Wall already knows, the members of The Inconvenience–led by artistic director Chris Chmelik (pictured)–did their homework: A riveting ensemble production, wise beyond its creators’ years, sold out its run at Steppenwolf in the spring. We’re rooting for New York transfer.

Best trampoline area

Sky High Sports

6424 W. Howard St., Niles, 847-801-5867; 2244 Corporate Ln., Naperville, 630-717-5867

First we went nuts for roller-skating, then bowling. Now we’re bouncing and flipping on trampolines. Sky High, with locations in Niles and Naperville, is the best of the new trampoline arenas. Each jumping pit consists of a grid of trampolines connected by a springy, cushioned frame system. For safety, the trampolines partially climb the walls (so there’s no edge) and court supervisors keep rowdies in line. Book ahead online, especially for the popular weekend days. Hourly rate: $11<

Best live jazz matinee

Jazz Showcase

806 S. Plymouth Ct., 312-360-0234

The Sunday matinee by the Jazz Showcase’s regular visiting artists is designed for children, but it’s no dumbed-down music hour for tots: These are sets by world-class players in one of the city’s most inviting listening rooms. And since the shows start at 4 p.m., you won’t have to pony up for babysitting. Take the kids; enjoy yourself. Coming soon: the alto saxophonist Charles McPherson (August 12) and the multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan (August 27). Cover: adults $20 to $25; kids under 13 free

Best Marathon

Advocate Dreyer Fox Valley Marathon


As the Chicago Marathon continues to fill at record speed, we direct local distance runners to the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles. The three-year-old event lets participants register for its day-before “weather flex” option. Expecting perfectly cool temps? Gun it for a full marathon on the Boston-qualifying course. A scorcher? Scale back to half. Any way you slice it, the race offers a pleasant start and finish in downtown St. Charles and cuts a shady path along the idyllic Fox River. This year’s marathon happens on September 16.

Best new city tour

Disaster! by Chicago Elevated


Human folly is the main character in Margaret Hicks’s 90-minute jaunt along the Chicago River and around the Loop. The comedienne narrates a hit list of the city’s unnatural disasters and brings history to life with sound effects (the pitiful mooing of the cows who perished in the Rush Street Bridge collapse) and acting (the stealthy movements of the Potawatomi before the massacre at Fort Dearborn). For $20, you’ll feel like a coconspirator with Hicks as you piece together a timeline of the boneheaded gaffes that led to floods, capsized boats, train crashes, and fires.

Best new art gallery

Alderman Exhibitions

1138 W. Randolph St., 312-208-9001

When 31-year-old Ellen Hartwell Alderman opened her namesake gallery in early 2011, aesthetically it felt like a postgrad project space: a slice of a fourth-floor walkup, the art competing with her husband’s bike workshop mere feet away. The couple has since relocated to a generous storefront in the West Loop, where Alderman’s curatorial chops (her day job is program coordinator at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts) have room to breathe on a lofty second floor, all light and white. Many of her artists have ties to Chicago, and their works–priced from $500 to $5,000–share Alderman’s penchant for light-filled abstractions.

Best new hotel

Hotel Lincoln

1816 N. Clark St., 855-514-8112

Hip new lodgings are popping up all over the city, the Acme Hotel Company and the Ivy among them. But Hotel Lincoln, opened in March, wins our hearts by doubling down on local flair: The decor is a curated homage to Chicago, from doggy banks that collect change for PAWS to emerald-green accents that subtly nod to former Lincoln Park resident L. Frank Baum. Perennial Virant in the lobby, The J. Parker bar on the roof, and the amazing location don’t hurt either.

[X Flight]

Best new roller coaster

X Flight at Six Flags Great America

1 Great America Pkwy., Gurnee, 847-228-2416

Trampoline photograph: (Sky High Sports) Brian Kuhlmann; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe: Karen Lynn Accattato; Photo Assistants: Colin Beckett, Ben Rodig
Other photography: (Roller coaster) courtesy of Six Flags Great America; (Hotel Lincoln) Paul Dyer; (Kane) Brian McConkey; (Chmelik) Ryan Bourque