Chicago Guide: The Absolute Best Things to Do in February

Here are 23 splendid ways to spend your time this month.

Photography: (New Year) Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune; (zebra in snow) courtesy of Matt Eich; (Graham) Barbara Morgan/Getty Images; (guitar) Shutterstock; (Timberlake) Brian Rasic/Rex Features/AP; (Soweto Gospel Choir) Giovanni Daniotti; (Chicago) Paul Kolnik; (Brady) Rex Features/AP
Opera

The Barber of Seville

2/1 to 2/28
Nathan Gunn plays Figaro in Lyric’s new production of this popular opera. Will the beefcake baritone go shirtless? See the Q&A at right.
$20 to $274. Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker. lyricopera.org

Art

The Bronzeville Renaissance

2/2 to 5/18
During the mid–20th century, Bronzeville was the premier destination for black bourgeois in Chicago. Hyde Park Art Center artist-in-residence Samantha Hill commemorates the era with rare memorabilia.
Free. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org

Film

Midwest Indie Film Festival

2/4 at 6 p.m.
What do the charming dramedy Liberal Arts and the searing documentary Sole Survivor [[[(see page 29)]]] have in common? Both screened at this Midwest-focused film fest, which runs the first Tuesday of each month.
$10. Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark. midwestfilm.com

Art

Carry Me Ohio

2/6 to 5/10
A zebra in the snow, a fire burning in a trashcan—these are just a few of the striking images that photographer Matt Eich took of southeastern Ohio, where a quarter of the residents live in poverty.
Free. Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University, 18 S. Michigan. roosevelt.edu

Theatre

Russian Transport

2/6 to 5/11
Break out the celebratory Stoli! Bulgarian-born Steppenwolf ensemble member Yasen Peyankov, an actor of no small talent, makes his directorial debut with playwright Erika Sheffer’s dark comedy about a Russian American family upended by human trafficking.
$42 to $55. Steppenwolf, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org

Performance

Vision, Faith, and Desire II

2/6 to 2/8
Cozy up to some of the edgiest dance-performance troupes in Chicago with an onstage seat (well, in the choir loft) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. A parade of locals will debut works inspired by the mother of modernism, Martha Graham.
$15. Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. Tickets at winifredhaun.org

Theatre

Buzzer

2/8 to 3/9
Yet another razor-sharp new play exploring race and class: Jessica Thebus directs a cast of three (Eric Lynch, Lee Stark, and Shane Kenyon) in this tale about a smartphone-obsessed black lawyer, his white wife, and their pill-popping houseguest.
$10 to $30. Goodman, 170 N. Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org

Art

Social Paper

2/10 to 4/5
Much like quilting, making paper art can be a communal experience. More than 20 artists and organizations, including Combat Paper, a veterans’ support group that makes pulp out of old uniforms, will bring out their best for this unusual group show.
Free. Center for Book and Paper Arts, 1104 S. Wabash. colum.edu/academics/interarts/book-and-paper

Film

Amour

2/12 at 6:30 p.m.
Each month, the Alliance Française de Chicago asks a prominent Chicagoan to select his or her favorite French film for an intimate screening. This month, 91-year-old photojournalist Art Shay chooses Michael Haneke’s heartbreaking Amour, about a long-married couple dealing with a debilitating stroke.
$8. Alliance Française de Chicago, 810 N. Dearborn. af-chicago.org

Festivals

University of Chicago Folk Festival

2/14 to 2/16
Free dancing and guitar lessons in the dead of winter? Sign us up! This three-day festival, put on by the good people of the U. of C. Folklore Society, features plenty of live music, too, starting with guitarist Ari Eisinger and crooners Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt.
$10 to $55. Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th. uofcfolk.org

Opera

Queenie Pie

2/15 to 3/5
Catch the first Chicago performance of Duke Ellington’s unfinished sole opera, about a Harlem beauty queen and her upstart rival. The Chicago Opera Theater mounts this production.
$35 to $125. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. chicagooperatheater.org

Readings

Louder Than A Bomb

2/15 to 3/15
Watch some of the country’s finest young bards verbally spar in the nation’s oldest and largest youth poetry slam.
$3 to $20. Various times and venues. youngchicagoauthors.org

Pop

Justin Timberlake

2/16 at 8 p.m.
You don’t need a suit and tie to get down with JT, but it would be a shame to miss the former ’N Sync crooner performing his 2013 hit—which features an infectious sample of “Sho’ Nuff,” by the 1970s R&B act Sly, Slick & Wicked.
$50 to $175. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. ticketmaster.com

Gospel

Soweto Gospel Choir

2/19 at 8 p.m.
With rapturous voices and perfect pitch, this South African choir makes even the most maudlin pop songs listenable.
$20 to $62. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

Dance

CCN Créteil et Val-de-Marne/Compagnie Käfig

2/20 to 2/22
The acclaimed French troupe Compagnie Käfig takes on the lively dancing of Brazilian favelas, or shantytowns, with Correria Agwa, an acrobatic and rhythmic production celebrating correria (running) and agwa (water).
$21 to $30. Columbia Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan. colum.edu

Classical

Pierre Boulez with the CSO

2/20 to 2/25
The 88-year-old conductor Pierre Boulez has had to cancel two consecutive residencies because of failing health. The classical lion is now on the mend and back in town to helm this concert of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky.
$27 to $214. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

Art

Christopher Wool

2/23 to 5/11
The artist Christopher Wool, born and raised in Chicago, made his name on the 1980s NYC art scene with clever stencil paintings of slogans like “Sell the House Sell the Car Sell the Kids.” In 2014, he receives a long overdue career retrospective.
$12 to $23. Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

Rock

Sting and Paul Simon

2/25 at 8 p.m.
Fun fact: The two 1980s icons once lived in the same apartment building. So consider it kismet that they’re now uniting for a mash-up tour where they’ll perform both individually and together, Watch the Throne–style.
$45 to $250. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. ticketmaster.com

Theatre

Chicago

2/25 to 3/2
If you missed the city’s namesake musical the first four or so times it came through town, here’s your chance to see why the show will probably never close. Most recently, John O’Hurley (Seinfeld) was the star behind the slick-talking lawyer Billy Flynn.
$30 to $95. Broadway in Chicago at Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe. broadwayinchicago.com

Jazz

Terence Blanchard

2/26 at 7:30 p.m.
Most famous for his film score work (that’s his haunting trumpet you hear on Mo’ Better Blues), Blanchard has recently gone in a more funky direction, as evidenced by the Afro-futurist sounds of his latest album, Magnetic (2013).
$24 to $48. Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston. evanstonspace.com

Dance

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

2/28 at 7:30 p.m.
The venerable modern dance company comes to town with a new production, the hyperkinetic Chroma, choreographed by Wayne McGregor of the Royal Ballet of London.
$30 to $90. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. auditoriumtheatre.org

Comedy

Wayne Brady

2/28 at 8 p.m.
Although he’s not known for his standup, the genial Whose Line Is It Anyway? performer tackles the format in his It’s My Line tour.
$39 to $59. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. thechicagotheatre.com

Theatre

The How and the Why

Through 4/6
In writer Sarah Treem’s capable hands, taboo topics such as menopause and menstruation become fodder for intense conversations about feminism, evolution, and ambition.
$35 to $48. TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington. timelinetheatre.com

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