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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsDecember 2015

Theater
Musicals

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’

Through 12/20 Music director Austin Cook joins forces with director Brenda Didier for a lineup of jubilant, sassy toe tappers written by Fats Waller, including “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” and the irrepressible title tune. $30–$48. Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. porchlightmusictheatre.org

Abby Mueller Beautiful
Abby Mueller in Beautiful

BEAUTIFUL

12/1–2/21 It’s a sister act of sorts in the jukebox musical detailing the career of Carole King, with Abby Mueller stepping into the lead role created by her Tony-winning sister, Jessie. The show charts King’s rise from Brooklyn teen to hit-making composer and performer. $30–$135. Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL

Through 12/20 Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) and Tony-winning lyricist Lynn Ahrens (Seussical) team up for a musical retelling of Charles Dickens’s classic. Free. Quest Theatre Ensemble at Blue Theatre, 1609 W. Gregory. questensemble.org

CHRISTMAS DEAREST

12/5–26 Joan Crawford has neither time nor patience for the season of good cheer in David Cerda’s latest musical, inspired—sort of—by Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. $22–$30. Hell in a Handbag at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark. handbagproductions.org

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Through 1/13 Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun come to town. Nick Bowling directs the holiday tale of boozy Santas, last-minute Chinese food, and the ever-present threat that somebody’s gonna shoot an eye out. $41–$56. Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora. paramountaurora.com

DYNAMITE DIVAS

12/6–1/10 Black Ensemble Theater’s executive director, Jackie Taylor, revises a show she debuted in 2001, raising the roof with the music of Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, and Roberta Flack, among others. The updated score features additional divas, including Mariah and Beyoncé. $55–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark. blackensemble.org

ELF

Through 12/31 Marc Robin, the winner of too many Jeff Awards to count, directs the daffy, warm-hearted adventures of Buddy, a human who was raised as an elf. Buddy leaves the North Pole for Manhattan on a quest to discover his roots. $47–$52. Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, 10 Marriott, Lincolnshire. marriotttheatre.com

GUYS AND DOLLS

12/26–1/3 New York City is awash in gamblers, missionaries, showgirls, and show-tune standards in this musical based on stories by Damon Runyon. $34–$94. Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson. light-opera-works.org

HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN

Through 12/6 Known for his one-man shows, Felder plays the prolific composer whose career spanned the early days of Tin Pan Alley through the early 1960s and included hundreds of hits (“God Bless America” among them). $30–$60. Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted. theroyalgeorgetheatre.com

A KOKANDY CHRISTMAS

12/3–24 Director Michael Potsic helms a five-person cast in an all-ages-appropriate celebration of Yuletide traditions, inspired by seasonal TV specials. $15–$30. Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit, 1229 Belmont. kokandyproductions.com

THE LION KING

12/2–1/17 The epic tale of a young lion coming of age after the death of his beloved father continues to draw audiences, 17 years after its original Broadway run and 21 years after the 1994 Disney animated movie upon which the musical is based. $67–$197. Broadway in Chicago at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. broadwayinchicago.com

MY WAY: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO FRANK SINATRA

Through 1/10 Songs made famous by that skinny kid from Jersey pack this revue from music director Jeremy Ramey and director Fred Anzevino. $20–$59. Theo Ubique at No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood. theo-u.com

OLIVER!

Through 12/20 Lionel Bart’s musical take on Oliver Twist follows the titular orphan through the streets of London. Director Pat Murphy oversees a score of Broadway hits, including “Food, Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” and “Where Is Love?” $20–$38. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest. citadeltheatre.org

Artwork from ‘Treasure Island’
Treasure Island   Photo: Sean Williams

TREASURE ISLAND

Through 1/31 With director Mary Zimmerman’s stunning aesthetic and actor Lawrence DiStasi’s shape-shifting prowess, this new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic is one of the most rip-roaring experiences of the season. $50–$115. Lookingglass, 821 N. Michigan. lookingglasstheatre.org

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