Chicagoans Dive Into Drive-Ins This Fall

Chicago Children's Theatre Drive-In rendering

Drive-ins are reclaiming their place as movie destinations, and cultural institutions around Chicago are rolling out cinema-in-cars—or on foot— to safely unite film lovers of all ages.

WGN-TV Around Town reporter Ana Belaval and comedian/producer Mike Oquendo will emcee Destinos al Aire, a socially distanced celebration by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA).

The evening features food, dance, a live performance by Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music, as well as a drive-in screening of the Mexican rom-com “American Curious,” thanks to the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, sponsor of the annual Chicago Latino Film Festival.

“Destinos al Aire will be presented live, in person, and simulcast on ChiTown Movies’ newly erected large, outdoor drive-in movie screen, and live-streamed on social media,” says Myrna Salazar, CLATA executive director and producer of the annual Destinos-Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.

“American Curious” follows a Chicago-based comedian who searches for his roots and late mother’s soup recipe after he inherits a restaurant in Mexico City. Presented in English and Spanish with English subtitles, the film stars Jordan Belfi (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Entourage”), Ana Claudia Talancón and Isela Vega.

Prior to the screening, Latino companies including Aguijón Theater and Teatro Vista will provide videos and special messages, along with vignettes by local actors, directors and theater artists.

“This is our 2020 solution to create major excitement around Latino arts and culture as we do every fall in Chicago, no matter what barriers present themselves,” adds Salazar.

The event takes place on Sep.17 at 6 p.m. at Chi-Town Movies, 2343 S. Throop St. in Pilsen. Tickets are $30 per car (up to six people). Audiences may bring lawn chairs to sit outside alongside their vehicle. Masks are required. For tickets, visit clata.org.

With social distancing in mind, Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) presents the debut of “Drive In Theatre: Beatrix Potter and Friends” for families on foot and in cars.

Specifically created for a 15 x 30-foot screen, the film version of CCT’s perennial stage favorite covers “The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse,” “The Tailor of Gloucester,” “The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher” and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” with 3D puppet characters, props and backdrops.

The new production reunites the original show’s director, Will Bishop, designer Grace Needlman, and cast members Lara Carling, Ray Rehberg—and host Kay Kron, who will lead kids in socially distanced activities before and between stories.

Cellist Sonia Goldberg will also be on hand to welcome patrons with live classical music. Masks are required for entry. Audience members may bring lawn chairs to sit outside alongside their vehicle.

Outdoor performances are October 1-18: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in CCT’s parking lot, 100 S. Racine St. in Chicago’s West Loop. Tickets are $45 per car (up to six people) or $45 for a socially distanced group who arrive on foot with blankets or folding chairs. Reservations can be made at chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

Hell in a Handbag Productions is opening its vault to present “Under The Stars With Handbag: A Drive-In Festival” at The Red Box Workshop, 4242 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

The festival includes a parody of woman-in-prison films from the 1950s entitled “Caged Dames” (Sep. 4-5), “Bewildered” (Sep. 11-12), a reimagining of the sitcom “Bewitched” and the debut of “Airport 19SeventySomething!” (Sep. 18-19) which will feature one of the classic 1970s “Airport” movies dubbed over with amusing dialogue.

Patrons may view from their vehicle or bring lawn chairs and blankets to camp out in pre-designated spaces. Tickets range from $40 to $60, and include popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is prohibited. Restrooms will be available. Reservations are required at handbagdrivein.bpt.me.

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Image: “Drive-In Theatre: Beatrix Potter and Friends” courtesy of Chicago Children’s Theatre

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.