There was a time — back in the 1950s and 1960s — in our area where one could go to see live entertainment. There was a genuine nightlife culture back then, with choreographed shows, even in the suburbs.
Most notable was Mangam’s Chateau on Ogden Avenue in Lyons, which had full-scale production complete with chorus girls, many of them former dancers from some of the better known Chicago night clubs.
Chicago comedian Joe Conte often served as emcee and introduced some big name acts, like fan dancer Sally Rand. But, the night spot closed in 1976 and burned down in 1979. Now a McDonald’s is at the site.
For the more classical taste, there was at 1st Avenue and 26th Street a place called Sorrini’s Restaurant, an Italian restaurant featuring singing waiters and waitresses. Even the owners sang. A family restaurant, it provided a chance to hear opera arias and Italian songs.
Here and there may have been a piano bar establishment where you could sit around the piano and sing, solo or with a group. It was very casual and entertaining listening to those who really could sing and those who thought they could sing.
As the evening got longer there were more who thought they could sing as they became fortified with libations.
Today the trend is more to concerts at larger venues and higher ticket prices. But locally you can still see some live shows.
Chef Shangri-La in North Riverside fills the restaurant when it features Elvis impersonators, particularly Michael St. Angel who has quite a large following in the Chicago area.
I went with a group of “the girls” to see him on a recent Friday night and it took me back a few years to when the real Elvis made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The Elvis we saw at Chef Shangri-La was a much trimmer one than I had seen years ago at the Chicago Stadium. Michael St. Angel is very entertaining and his voice and portrayal of the King made for a fun evening.
In Brookfield, the Salt Creek Wine Bar plays host on occasion to the Redmonds, Mike and Katie. Some of you may remember her as Katie Hull from Brookfield. The couple, along with their band, are often featured at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn and other establishments in the Chicago area. Salt Creek Wine Bar often has entertainment, with some being local groups.
So while old-fashioned entertainment has seen its day come and go, locally there are still places to go and people to see.