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The 34 Best Things to Do This Summer in Chicago

Fill your arts calendar with this highly curated list.

Photos: (Porgy and Bess) Terrence McCarthy; (all others) istockphoto
THEATER

All Our Tragic

Missed the debut of Sean Graney’s 12-hour adaptation of every single extant Greek tragedy last year? Now’s your chance to catch the gloriously messy epic. Through August 9. $100–$125. the-hypocrites.com

The Magic Parlour

Watching third-generation magician Dennis Watkins bend the laws of physics is truly extraordinary. Through July 31. $75. themagicparlourchicago.com

Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown

Acclaimed actor Sandra Marquez dons the director’s hat for Guillermo Reyes’s hilarious one-man collage of gay Latinos dealing with the messy business of life, death, and all that falls between. Through July 26. $20–$25. Pride Films and Plays at Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln. pridefilmsandplays.‌com

Moby Dick

The most famous leviathan not living at SeaWorld takes center stage in David Catlin’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s tale. Given Lookingglass’s proven prowess with spectacle, the iconic great white whale could make quite a splash as the crazed, peg-legged Captain Ahab (Christopher Donahue) risks life and additional limbs to bring down the massive creature of the deep. Through August 9. $40–$80. Lookingglass, 821 N. Michigan. lookingglasstheatre.org

Oak Park Theater Festival

Set up camp in the town’s pastoral Austin Gardens, where To Kill a Mockingbird runs through July 18. $20. oakparkfestival.com

Salonathon

A genre-defying open mike variety show. Mondays. Free. salonathon.tumblr.com

Shakespeare in the Parks

Kids (and impatient adults) will love this mash-up of highlights from the Bard’s canon. Through August 16. chicagoshakes.com

Theatre-Hikes

Strap on your boots: This ambulatory company stages each scene in a different park location. Through October. Free. theatre-hikes.org

OPERA

Lyric Opera

Yippee! Classical radio station WFMT-FM is rebroadcasting Lyric’s entire 2014–15 season. Don’t miss Porgy and Bess (July 4): Nothing beats blasting “Summertime” while blasting the air conditioner. Through July 11. wfmt.com

Madame Pompadour

Now in its 10th anniversary season, this hard-working company pulls another underappreciated work from a seemingly endless well and presents Madame Pompadour. The operetta, by the Austrian composer Leo Fall, presents a screwball scenario involving philandering, poetic extortion, disguise (what operetta doesn’t?), and Louis XV. July 17 to August 2. $25–$40. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble. chicagofolksoperetta.‌org

Photos: (Fly Honeys) Saverio Truglia; (Music Box) Anna Knott
DANCE

Meet the Fly Honeys

Attention burlesque fans: This cabaret show boasts 50-plus dancers and a seriously elaborate striptease. August 13 to 29. $25–$35. chopintheatre.com

MOVIES

Midnight Movies at the Music Box

This Chicago institution is heaven for film-fan night owls. Fridays and Saturdays. $9. musicboxtheatre.com

Summer Film Series

Millennium Park continues its outdoor film series with screenings of Edward Scissorhands (July 14), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (July 21), and Almost Famous (July 28). Through September 1. Free. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. cityofchicago.‌org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park.html

MUSIC

Motown Mondays

Shake your groove thang at this weekly dance party. Mondays. Free. motownonmondays.com

The Saber-tooth Organ Quartet

Great jazz organ players are nearly extinct. Don’t miss the chance to hear some of the best musicians in town. Saturdays. $5 (free after 2 a.m.). greenmilljazz.com

Sound of the City Workshop

Take a walk on the weird side at this experimental-jazz jam session. Wednesdays. Free. constellation-chicago.com

Tuesday Morning Music

Classical tunes and jazz on a Tuesday morning, surrounded by acres of beautiful greenery? Yes, please. Through September 1. Free. chicagobotanic.org

Tuesdays on the Terrace

The popular summertime MCA series continues with performances by David Boykin (July 7), Corey Wilkes (July 14), Fred Anderson Legacy (7/21), and Marlene Rosenberg (7/28). Through 9/15. Free. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.‌org

Photo: Courtesy of the artist
ART

Activate

Visual artists, musicians, and other creative types turn alley grit into party gold. Through October 23. Free. loopchicago.com/activate

The Freedom Principle

A form of free expression that developed on the heels of the civil rights movement, jazz in Chicago during the 1960s was more than just a dizzying new music genre: it epitomized a cultural revolution. That avant-garde sound continues to reverberate today, as revealed by this large exhibition of work by contemporary visual artists inspired by Chicago’s jazz history, including Nick Cave, Cauleen Smith, Renée Green, and Rashid Johnson. 7/11–11/22. See “How the AACM Inspired Naomi Beckwith’s New Exhibit.”

The Last Supper

Each of Julie Green’s 600 painted plates depicts a death row inmate’s final meal. Powerful stuff. Through August 9. Free. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu

Look at Me Now!

A remarkable group show explores how people around the world portray themselves through portraiture. Through August 23. Free. moniquemeloche.com

Pilsen Mural Walk

Take a self-guided tour of 30-plus city-sanctioned murals by such rising stars as Hebru Brantley, Pose, and Rodrigo “Solo” Mireles. 16th between Canal and Western. Free. chicagoarchitecture.org

Ruth: Selections from the Horwich Collection

Distinguished collector Ruth Horwich brought Calder and Picasso to Chicago, and her recent death released parts of her estate to galleries and auction houses. With Russell Bowman Art Advisory and Douglas Dawson Gallery, Hammer is showing and selling troves from her Hyde Park mansion, including rare works on paper by Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, and Christina Ramberg. Through July 2. 740 N. Wells. carlhammergallery.‌com

Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park

As bucolic as it sounds. sculpturepark.org

This Must Be the Place

Kevin Swallow’s cityscapes—all painted with brushy exuberance—focus on the remnants of Chicago’s industrial past, such as old water tanks and steel bridges, that creep into the everyday urban experience. 7/24–8/22. 2124 N. Damen. firecatprojects.‌org

Photos: istockphoto
COMEDY

Bronzeville Comedy Showcase

Bust a gut south of Roosevelt Road. Funny guy Brian Babylon hosts. Every other Wednesday. Free. blancchicago.com

Second City Neighborhood Tour

A hilariously snarky guide to Old Town led by comedian Margaret Hicks. Through October 11. $15. secondcity.com

ARCHITECTURE

Graham Foundation

Together. Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi rendered her vision for modern society into minimalist buildings, furnishings, installation art, and film. Some of her creations are over 60 years old yet still fabulously fresh. Through 7/25. 4 W. Burton. grahamfoundation.‌org

Sheffield Garden Walk

View more than 80 neighborhood gardens at this two-day event showcase. Also sign up for a walking architectural tour of the area and take the youngsters to play at the Kids’ Corner. July 18 and 19. $7 donation; $10 after 3 p.m. Sheffield and Webster. sheffieldgardenwalk.‌com

Twilight River Cruise

The city’s best river ride, led by docents from the Chicago Architecture Foundation, now sets sail at twilight—and has a bar onboard. Magical. Through October 12. $23–$42. architecture.org

READINGS

Essay Fiesta

Lit stars such as Keith Ecker and Ian Belknap, plus talented unknowns, riff on a different theme on the third Monday of each month. Free. essayfiesta.com

HISTORY

Vikings

See jewelry, metalwork, swords, and other artifacts in this exhibition, which explores the domestic life and death rituals of the Nordic people from AD 750 to 1100. Through 10/4. General admission (free for kids under 3) $13–$18; all-access passes $21–$31. 1400 S. Lake Shore. fieldmuseum.‌org

DESIGN

Wheaton All-Night Flea Market

August 15. $7. zurkopromotions.com

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