Look ahead: Top picks from Melissa Merli for the week ahead

Look ahead: Top picks from Melissa Merli for the week ahead

The keys to a great performance

I was impressed by how much pianist Lara Driscoll has improved since graduating in 2010 from the UI Jazz Studies Program. As a freshman, she received the John Garvey Scholarship, given to promising, dedicated jazz students. That she is! Since then, she's obtained a master's at McGill, been teaching at Chicago universities and playing in Chicago. She plays at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Iron Post with Larry Gray and Joel Spencer.

Big balloons galore

Vermilion County will be full of hot air this coming weekend: Balloons over Vermilion on Friday and Saturday will feature 30 hot-air balloons launching and tethering, and in mass ascents, fly-ins and balloon glows in the evening at the airport. Thursday evening, the Danville Boat Club will have a lead-in event, Splash and Dash, over Lake Vermilion. Ten balloons are expected. Non-members pay $15 to get into the Boat Club.

Busy month for local theater

There's no dearth of theater this month. The Little Theatre's last "Chicago the Musical" is today, followed by "All Shook Up," opening Wednesday. Beef House Dinner Theatre presents "Oklahoma!" every weekend in July as well as "Million Dollar Quartet" this and next month. Sugar Creek Opera's "Grapes of Wrath," in English, is Saturday. And the Station Theatre does the campy "Bat Boy, the Musical," starting Thursday.