illustration of Kerry Reid
Kerry Reid Credit: Amber Huff

I have a personal tradition each vernal equinox of posting on social media some recorded version of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” (This year I opted for Sarah Vaughan.) But the truth is, it’s hard to feel hung up when I look over this week’s spring theater and arts preview issue. (Feeling an incipient sense of FOMO is another story.) What I see are signs of communities continuing to come together and support each other, no matter the uncertainty of the times.

BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest, born from the 2020 push for greater racial justice in theater, continues to help circus artists of color, established pros, and those just starting out alike find their way off the ground and into the air. Andersonville’s Understudy bookstore promises to be a center for theater artists and fans to gather and share their love of the form. COMMON Conservatory founder Terence Marling aims to make the organization a “support mechanism” for Chicago dancemakers.

As this week’s issue also makes clear, you don’t need live performances onstage to create a sense of connection. Harper Theater in Hyde Park first opened in 1915 and has just gone through another change of owners with the hope that it will continue to be a haven for filmgoers in the neighborhood, while the community of Chicago film critics (yes, critics can be social creatures, too!) highlights movies you don’t want to miss in the upcoming Chicago Critics Film Festival. Installation artist Edra Soto’s Graft project continues to make connections between Puerto Rico and site-specific locations throughout the U.S. (including several in Chicago in recent years) through the simple but evocative use of rejas, or iron screens, that are so prevalent in postwar architecture in Puerto Rico. Those are just some of the stories we’ve covered this week.

So while I still love the song, I have to wholly disagree with the lyric “Heard it before and I know the score / And I’ve decided that spring is a bore.” We’re going to keep highlighting the fantastic and resilient artists who make this town a great place to live, no matter the season.

Cover of the Chicago Reader print issue Volume 52 Number 12 featuring photos collaged into a backdrop of and illustration of multi-colored flowers
Credit: Kirk Williamson and Amber Huff with elements from Reader contributors

Cover note: our lead image for the Reader’s Volume 52, Number 12 issue (“The city in bloom”) was designed by Kirk Williamson. The flower illustrations are by Amber Huff. Elements were included from art and photography found throughout the issue. Credits (from lower left and then clockwise):
1. Photo of singers Theresa Davis, Diane Madison, Mae Koen, and Joan Collaso by Akilah Townsend for the
Chicago Reader
2. Illustration (“Am I just being a diva?”) by Mads Horwath
3. Terence Marling of COMMON Conservatory photographed by Joseph Hernandez
4. Kaitlyn Andrews of BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest photographed by Sarah Joyce
5. Event producer Kristen Kaza with mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson photographed by Vernon Hester
6. The Harper Theater in Hyde Park, photographed by Eddie Quinones for the
Chicago Reader

Volume 52, Number 12

Held Me Down

The ladies who sing from the back

These Chicago background vocalists have helped the likes of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Clay sound their best. Here their own voices take center stage.

Cycles of grief

Fabrizzio Subia’s ‘Año Nuevo’ reflects on ritual, everlasting loss, and an annual rejuvenation.