Pulse: Les Misérables, Rio at Hollywood Palms, Hotel Arista

There are plenty of reasons to check out “Les Misérables” at Drury Lane Theatre in Oak Brook. Here are two more.

Naperville residents Ava Morse, 8, and Erin Oechsel, 23, appear in the international musical sensation, which opens April 8 and runs through June 8.

“Like many, I have been enchanted by this show for a long time,” said Oechsel, who appears in the ensemble cast. “Being a part of this story and performing it with such a phenomenal company is an incredible privilege.”

Morse, a second-grader at St. Joan of Arc in Lisle, said she’s grateful to be working with director Rachel Rockwell, a cast full of “such wonderful actors that I can learn from.”

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, “Les Misérables” travels through three turbulent decades of 19th century France. Steeped with romance, passion, suspense and humanity, it is the winner of more than 50 international theater awards, and has been translated into 21 different languages and seen by more than 65 million people worldwide.

For reservations, call the Drury Lane Theatre box office at 630-530-0111, TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or visit www.drurylane.com.

For the birds

‘Rio 2’ with real feathers

While the second weekend in April should see long lines to see “Rio 2,” young fans will have the chance to see the sequel to the blockbluster and a few real birds, too.

Hollywood Palms Cinema, Bar & Eatery in Naperville will show “Rio 2” April 12 with a fundraising twist.

The movie opens nationwide the day before, but the Palms plans to celebrate opening weekend with a special charity event and promotion that will feature some of the birds represented in the movie.

“I started thinking of something we could do as a promotion and started researching bird rescues online,” said Dana Bergan, who works as a marketing assistant at the theater. “I wanted something that would tie in with the movie, and I found a bird rescue in Bolingbrook, run by a woman named Kathy Forst. She actually has 50 birds she is responsible for, and she is so excited about this event.”

The Palms will be working with HAPPE Parrots Rescue to raise awareness about the proper treatment of birds. Before the screening of the film, kids’ activities will be offered in the lobby, including face painting, a craft table, a meet-and-greet with more than 20 birds, a silent auction for adults, and a photo booth with bird props.

Bergan said there will be lines set up for all to see the birds unimpeded and that the Easter bunny, along with a professional photographer, will be available for pictures.

Already stolen

A fine how do you do

On the surface, it reads like just another Naperville police blotter item.

Police were called about 7:38 p.m. March 12 to investigate a report of shoplifting. Employees of the business — near 75th Street and Fort Hill Drive — reported three “customers” had just run out of the store with two pricey, Samsung cellphones with a combined retail value of $1,400.

Sgt. Bill Davis said the theft remains under investigation.

And the victimized business? That would be the new Walmart Supercenter at 2552 W. 75th St. It had marked its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony just 12 hours earlier.

Easy being green

Hotel Arista earns honor

When guests coming to Naperville need to find a place to stay — either for business or pleasure — the Hotel Arista is one of the city’s brightest stars.

That’s the opinion of the famous Forbes Travel Guide that recently unveiled its official 2014 Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating list.

The recently published guide has named the Hotel Arista a new four-star hotel. Michael Cascone, president of the Forbes Travel Guide, said the star ratings “recognize the finest hotels, restaurants and spas in the world,” and the guide “is proud to be associated with the new additions to our global list.”

Jeff Brown, Hotel Arista general manager, said the Forbes’ recognition “represents one of the gold standards in the industry” and validates the vision of the hotel.

“This recognition, along with the AAA 4 Diamond award we’ve received as well, confirms the work we’ve been doing the past five years,” Brown said. “We’re extremely proud of this recognition, which is for the especially high-caliber hotels in the state, and it shows you can have a luxury hotel and not be in Chicago.

“We’re working hard to continue to improve ourselves in terms of service and also being a ‘green’ environmentally conscious facility.”

Growing accolade

Blackwell named Best of the West

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville has been named the best park or forest preserve in West Suburban Living Magazine’s 18th annual “Best of the West” readers’ poll.

“Blackwell has been popular since the initial acquisitions were made in the 1960s, and it’s gratifying to know that generations of visitors have been able to take part in new activities as the preserve has grown,” says D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., president of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Blackwell is the fifth-largest forest preserve in DuPage County and tops the charts in recreational features, including 7 miles of trails, three fishing lakes, an archery range, a youth-group campground and an off-leash dog area.

In summer, visitors can also rent boats on Silver Lake or spend a night under the stars at the family campground. The McKee Marsh area is home to one of the district’s first habitat restoration projects, and the stretch of the West Branch of the DuPage River that runs through the preserve has recently benefited from the district’s involvement in a large-scale restoration project along 8 miles of the waterway.

Other DuPage County honored forest preserves include Danada in Wheaton named third best and Greene Valley in Naperville, Herrick Lake in Wheaton and Waterfall Glen in Darien noted as other favorites. The Graue Mill and Museum in Oak Brook, which is owned by the Forest Preserve District and operated by a nonprofit group, was named second best historic landmark or attraction.

“It’s clear that our readers recognize that one of the best things about living in the western suburbs are the many beautiful open spaces and outdoor recreational facilities offered through the Forest Preserve District,” says Chuck Cozette, editor of West Suburban Living.