Lifeline Theatre, Illinois Philharmonic, Urban Vegan, Es Okay — Chicago Theater Report for 11.22.2020

Below is a lightly edited transcript of Playtime’s Chicago Theater Report which aired on WCGO in Chicago on November 22nd, 2020:

You can hear this episode via the following archives (links go live as the archives are updated): (55:31)

Soundcloud (55:31)

Facebook (40:46)


Lifeline Theatre has launched its “On the Air” podcast offering fresh takes on literary works and storytelling. The podcast is free of charge, though donations to Lifeline Theatre are gratefully accepted. You can find On the Air on most podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Tune-In, and Apple Podcasts, as well as on

Music, of course, has a huge role to play in live theater. What many of us never consider, however, are the bows that enable musicians to play those lovely stringed instruments. It turns out that the story of the modern bow has a fascinating and complex history that ties together Italy, France, Brazil, and, perhaps most unexpectedly, Port Townsend, Washington. The Bowmakers is a documentary film that chronicles the development of the bow while focusing on the people who craft them, as well as those who harvest the wood used in the bow’s making.

The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) will present the Midwest premiere of The Bowmakers, debuting Thanksgiving Day and running through December 6, 2020 via home streaming. A live Zoom conversation featuring the film’s director Ward Serrill and other filmmakers takes place on Friday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public with advance registration required. Early bird tickets for the film are $15 and are now available for purchase at The price increases to $18 on Thanksgiving. 

In addition, if you are living in the South suburbs, you can add a dinner package that will be available for delivery or pickup in the area. Proceeds from dinner packages will help support the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The Grand Tempura at Urban Vegan is huge: It’s a meal for two people. If you want it as an appetizer, make sure that you have at least four diners.

Speaking of dinner, at least for those of us on the North side, I’d like to recommend Urban Vegan to our listeners. Urban Vegan has been a fixture in the Ravenswood neighborhood for many years now and is known for its excellent vegan cuisine: The menu is primarily Thai, but there is a smattering of other Asian dishes (the vegan orange “chicken,” made from soy chicken, is a particular standout), as well as American fare such as lentil loaf, burgers, and wraps.

A friend and I opted to enjoy a meal from Urban Vegan before viewing The Bowmakers. and thoroughly enjoyed it. We split an appetizer of steamed dumplings and my friend had the soy chicken fried rice while I had the Shrimp Spinach Noodle. All was delicious: Urban Vegan uses purple rice in its dishes, which has a distinctive, nutty taste, and the curry sauce for my spinach noodle dish was perhaps the best I’ve ever tried. Urban Vegan is open for carryout and delivery and can be found online at

I discovered Rootdown Cellar’s Es Okay Pinot Gris last year when a friend and I visited Independent Spirits and asked for a $20 wine to accompany an Asian meal. Scott the owner recommended Es Okay and I’m thrilled that he did. Pinot Gris can be one of the most boring grapes in the world, but in the hands of a competent winemaker, it can manage to really sparkle. The folks at Rootdown Cellars ferment the wine on its skins for a bit, making something that is closer to an orange wine than a traditional white. It’s dry, slightly floral with a tangerine quality that makes a fine sipper on its own, but it also goes very nicely with Asian food.  At $20 a bottle, you really can’t go wrong. Independent Spirits is located in Edgewater and the staff prefers it if you place an order online or by phone before coming to the store to pick it up. Visit Independent Spirits at or give them a call at 773-989-2115.