Afternoon Edition: March 21, 2022

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 71 degrees. Tonight will be increasingly cloudy with a chance of rain and a low around 49. Tomorrow will be breezy and rainy with a steady temperature near 50.

CPS to settle 2 special ed students’ sex assault lawsuits for $1.5M

Chicago Public Schools officials are set to pay more than $1.5 million to settle two lawsuits by former special education students who said they were sexually assaulted by the same classmate at a Southwest Side high school.

The agreements come after the Board of Education approved a $1 million settlement last month in a similar complaint by a special education student at a North Side elementary school.

The school system aggressively fought all three complaints in court, taking one to trial and another to the verge of trial before agreeing to payouts.

In one of the two proposed settlements up for school board approval Wednesday, a boy’s family accused CPS of failing to properly supervise him when he was allegedly assaulted by a fellow special education student in 2016 inside a Bogan Computer Technical High School bathroom.

CPS hired private counsel to fight the case, with district attorneys calling the boy’s testimony “self-serving” and casting doubt as to whether an assault occurred. A trial judge had been assigned when CPS settled for $725,000, records show.

Read Nader Issa’s full story on the settlement agreements here.

More news you need

Chicago police say they arrested a crew member of a smash-and-grab burglary team that stole $180,000 in cash and merchandise in a series of burglaries since last fall. Much of the stolen money and goods came from two burglaries at the high-end Burberry store on the Magnificent Mile in early January, officials said.

Chicago Public Schools students will be back in classes Aug. 22 under the 2022-23 district calendar unveiled today. Nader Issa has more on the schedule, which gives CPS its earliest start time in recent memory.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other politicians turned out in support today of striking workers at WTTW-Channel 11, calling on the station to negotiate a fair contract that preserves union jobs. David Roeder has the latest on the labor conflict at WTTW.

On the heels of the city’s widely panned “Chicago Not in Chicago” campaign, Mayor Lori Lightfoot today unveiled a new marketing effort to “welcome back” tourists and business travelers. The signs will note, among other things, that Chicago boasts 26 public beaches and no sharks.

Fans of late pop legend Michael Jackson will have something to look forward to next year when critically acclaimed Broadway musical “MJ” makes its stop in Chicago as part of a national tour. The critically acclaimed, “King of Pop”-themed musical will be at Nederlander Theater from July 15 through Sept. 10 in 2023.

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A bright one

Music Theater Works delivers a dazzling ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ with plenty of heart

For those who follow RuPaul Charles’ ubiquitous “Drag Race” competitions on VH1, Ginger Minj needs little introduction. The star of Music Theater Works’ “La Cage Aux Folles” is a three-time alum of RuPaul’s reality show franchise, which tasks drag queens with everything from sewing a couture look from scratch to writing a telenovela script to choreographing and performing an original mini -musical.

Minj excels in all of the above, and she hasn’t really slowed down since she debuted on the high-profile competition series in 2015. The week “La Cage” opened at Skokie’s Northshore Center for the Performing Arts, Disney announced she’d be playing Winifred Sanderson (aka the Bette Midler role) in the highly anticipated “Hocus Pocus 2.”

Ginger Minj stars as Zaza in the Music Theater Works production of “La Cage aux Folles.”

In director Kyle A. Dougan’s tawdry, glamorous staging for Music Theater Works, Minj gets the showcase she deserves. “La Cage” sounds great and looks fabulous, from lilting love duets to frenzied, high-kicking, Folies Bergere-inspired drag chorus lines.

The plot—as in the original 1973 play by Jean Poiret, the 1978 French film and the 1996 reboot—centers on Zaza/Albin (Minj). Zaza is Albin’s drag persona, toast of St Tropez and headliner at the titular nightclub. Albin is Zaza’s Truman Capote-meets-Elton-John non-drag self, a devoted husband to Georges (Jason Richards), who owns La Cage. Their son is Jean-Michel (Christopher Ratliff), the result of a drunken one-night stand between Georges and a chorus girl who isn’t in their lives.

Read the rest of Catey Sullivan’s review of the show, which runs through April 3 at the Music Theater Works at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Pet owners, what’s the coolest trick you’ve ever taught your pet?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: What’s your favorite part of March Madness? Here’s what some of you said…

“When the Drum Major flails his baton wildly and gets the ‘Marchers’ crazy.” — Robert Lisowski

“The bracket busting upsets!!! Kills my bracket but so much fun to see the Cinderella teams win.” — Dawn Krause Camp

“No part. Hate that they take over the soap spots. Aren’t there some sports channels this could play on?” — Denise Hyatte

“Athletes giving a ‘100’ on each play, the action and the upsets!” — Charles Woods

“When Coach Dawn Staley of the Gamecocks wins it all in Minneapolis and finishes wire to wire at #1 in the final poll! It’s not just about men’s basketball, you know.” — Jovan Byars

“The tension when my teams — the Fighting Illini and Hoosiers — go deep in the tournament.” — Craig Barner

“All of it!! But I always love ‘One Shining Moment’ but also means it over.” — Karen Doub

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