To sum up our adventure last night to the Portage Theatre in Portage Park, a neighborhood in Chicago. We were motivated to go because we had seen an episode on HGTV about the famous Chicago bungalows in Portage Park. We drove around the neighborhood a bit before the show, "Miracle on 34th St." and it turned out to be the most "hometown, community" feeling we have had in a long time, in a very funky way! (Maybe because we haven't been able to attend any Rolling Meadows hometown events in quite a while!) Portage Theatre is from the 1930's with great fresh popcorn; and we were told Johnny Depp spent a lot of time there while shooting the movie he worked on last summer, so it has been refurbished.
The evening started with a 16 piece orchestra playing swing music, all decked in Santa hats. They were a very casual orchestra, with people mingling on and off the stage and the members talking out loud to each other. A couple of soloists sat off stage right and periodically were inspired to get up and do ballroom dancing along with the orchestra. At one point an "Elvis" impersonator appeared and did 3 songs; he was NOT convincing. He did tell us, though, to go out to the lobby during intermission to meet "Lisa Marie" his rescued chimpanzee! We did and she was adorable in her her "onsy" and she kept reaching out to Elvis and clapping! I had never been that up close and personal to a chimp before.
We had gone there for the movie, and by now the band had played an hour, so we were ready. As intermission ended, 5 high school girls dressed in "Santa skirts" appeared on the stage. I prayed, "Oh God, don't let them be tap dancers!" But God didn't answer my prayer. One, especially had great tap-dance legs, but her bosom was so big, I thought she would tap it right out of her top! We were hoping the Sing-a-long would be after the movie, but NO! However, the leader was a nice woman who had a great operatic voice and we only sang 5 or 6 songs. The words were on the screen with funky graphics and encouraging words would flash after each song: "Great job, now sing louder on the next one!," for example.
Finally the movie (with the Natlie Wood version) started and of course, it was great. The audience was really into it and when Santa would get his revenge on the bad guy, they would cheer and clap. We got out of there at 11 PM! A LATE night out for us, but it was worth it to experience this heartwarming, albeit odd celebration!