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60 Things to Do in Chicago in October

Fall Bulb Fest
Gourd Mountain at Fall Bulb Fest in Glencoe Photo: Robin Carlson
Oct. 1–Nov. 18
Art

Erik Beehn

Evanston

Although artist Erik Beehn was raised in a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, his paintings are neither tacky nor glitzy. The SAIC grad creates abstracts of floral imagery by painting with solvents over inkjet prints from the internet, dissolving the surface to reveal beauty beneath.

Details:Platform. Free. platform904.com

Oct. 1
Dance

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre

Roscoe Village

Cerqua Rivera, known for blending live music, visual art, and contemporary dance, has a fall program boasting premieres by former River North Dance Chicago artistic director Sherry Zunker and 3Arts award winner Stephanie Martinez. An added bonus is Corner Sketches, a Miles Davis montage developed as part of an open rehearsal series.

Details:Links Hall. 7 p.m. $36–$44. linkshall.org

Oct. 1–22
Opera

Das Rheingold

Loop

Lyric Opera’s years-in-the-making Ring cycle gets rolling, along with the house’s 2016–17 season, with Das Rheingold, the first (and shortest!) of the four operas in Wagner’s epic of gods and power. The bass-baritone Eric Owens plays Wotan throughout the cycle, spread over four seasons. For better or worse, this Ring will wed itself to Lyric’s reputation until the end of the decade.

Details:Civic Opera House. $34–$299. lyricopera.org

Oct. 1–2
Gardens

Ikenobo Ikebana

Glencoe

You may be familiar with ikebana—the Japanese art of flower arrangement—but you probably haven’t heard of Ikenobo, the ancient school that has kept the craft alive for more than five centuries. Expect some truly mind-bending bouquets at the Chicago chapter’s annual display.

Details:Chicago Botanic Gardens. Free. chicagobotanic.org

Oct. 1
Dance

Natya Dance Theatre

Skokie

Hema Rajagopalan, a master of the Indian Bharatanatyam style, teams up with Indonesian maestro Eri Mefri in The Incomplete Gesture, which blends the rhythmic footwork and gestures of classical Indian dance with Indonesian martial arts.

Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. 8 p.m. $20–$38. northshorecenter.org

Oct. 1
Rock

Brian Wilson

Loop

Fifty years after Pet Sounds shattered the mold of American pop, Brian Wilson is dusting off the raw, emotional classic. Of course, Wilson has gathered a little dust himself: His set at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival was, at best, deflated, with Wilson toddling along to a musical backdrop by fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. Still, it’s not every day you get to see one of the best albums of all time trotted out by the genius who composed it.

Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $39–$154. ticketmaster.com

'Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Future Present'
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Future Present Photo: ©2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Oct. 2–Jan. 3
Art

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

Loop

In 1935, Moholy-Nagy fled war-torn Germany and eventually brought modernism to Chicago with his avant-garde New Bauhaus school. The Hungarian photographer and mechanical sculptor was obsessed with new technologies and design, proposing that pure geometry—circles, rectangles, and straight lines—could express feelings. This 300-work retrospective celebrates his futuristic vision.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu

Oct. 4
Pop

Christine and the Queens

Lake View

In indie-rock circles, French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier is the next big thing. The Nantes native’s serene voice is a perfect match for the sparse, catchy synths she infuses each of her songs with. But make no mistake: Letissier’s brand of heady synth-pop is more indebted to the adult-contemporary flourishes of Jessie Ware than to anything out of the oft-cheesy ’80s.

Details:Vic Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $30. ticketfly.com

Oct. 5–10
New Music

Ear Taxi Festival

Various neighborhoods

Chicago’s new-music community, once the province of a few academically minded mandarins, now spreads its color and variety through many ambitious and mischievous ensembles. The downside of the abundance of groups, though, is that they mostly do their own thing. The composer Augusta Read Thomas wanted to change that, so she organized a festival encompassing all Chicago’s biggest new-music players, planned far enough in advance that the 32 events include 54 world premieres.

Details:Various venues. $24–$200. eartaxifestival.com

Oct. 6–30
Theater

Wicked City

Edgewater

In Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s new detective musical, femme fatales, jaded private eyes, shady politicos, and doe-eyed ingénues prowl a city that never sleeps. A jazz-infused score and plentiful neo-noir dance numbers color this tale of greed, corruption, and crime.

Details:Chicago Theatre Workshop at the Edge Theatre. chicagotheatreworkshop.org

Oct. 7–8
Dance

Ballet 5:8

Near North Side

The five-year-old ballet company premieres five works, including those by artistic director Julianna Rubio Slager and former Houston Ballet dancer Caleb Mitchell. Slager’s Ripple Effect dissects the “sticks and stones” parable to uncover the power of words to hurt or heal.

Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $12–$25. ballet58.org

Oct. 7
Electronic

Bonobo and Leon Vynehall

Lake View

This rare back-to-back DJ bill features the old and new guard in contemporary electronic music. The old, English producer Bonobo, made waves when he announced a new album slated to drop sometime in 2016. The new, prolific standby Vynehall, is still riding the wave of his second album in two years, Rojus (Designed to Dance), a lush journey of house styles interspersed with one-of-a-kind field recordings.

Details:Smart Bar. 10 p.m. $25–$30. smartbarchicago.com

Oct. 7–9
Gardens

Fall Bulb Festival

Glencoe

More than 200 varieties of crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are up for grabs at this garden sale, along with a spread of local treats, sweets, and seasonal essentials (fresh apple cider, anyone?). For bonus autumn points, snap a selfie in front of the picturesque Gourd Mountain. (October 7 open only to Chicago Botanic Garden members.)

Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. Free. chicagobotanic.org

Oct. 7–20
Film

Music Box Theatre Special Screenings

Lake View

Lake View’s stalwart indie film house toasts the birthdays of three classics—Howards End’s 25th and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s and The Battle of Algiers’s 50th—with anniversary screenings (in new 4K resolution for Howards End).

Details:Music Box Theatre. $9–$11. musicboxtheatre.com

Kanye West
Kanye West Photo: Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Oct. 7–8
Hip-Hop

Kanye West

Near West Side, Rosemont

Regardless of your thoughts about West’s underwhelming The Life of Pablo, his concert is not one to miss. Expect brilliant lighting and theatrics to accompany a deep catalog of solo and collaborative material. That it’s a hometown show for Yeezy is gravy.

Details:United Center (Oct. 7), Allstate Arena (Oct. 8). $30–$140. ticketmaster.com

Oct. 8–Nov. 13
Theater

Merge

Wicker Park

Andrew Hobgood directs Spenser Davis’s 1976-set exploration of the video game gurus at Atari and the culture clash that ensued after Warner Bros. bought the company. Can a group of pot-smoking arcade nerds adjust to life under the rule of a megacorporation? New Colony digs into the games that people (and businesses) play.

Details:New Colony at Den Theatre. $15–$20. thenewcolony.org

Oct. 9
Electronic

James Blake

Loop

English singer James Blake recently took a page from Beyoncé’s book (perhaps after working with her) and surprise-released his third solo album, The Colour in Anything. This collection is Blake’s bleakest yet, featuring his stock somber vocals and often oppressive instrumentation. Expect that atmospheric depth to be doubly enveloping in this regal live setting.

Details:Cadillac Palace Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $25–$37. ticketmaster.com

Oct. 10–Nov. 19
Art

Do You Have Cents for Nonsense? I Have Cents for Sensitive

Elmhurst

Selina Trepp decided in 2012 that she would no longer bring any new art materials into her studio in a statement against a culture of overconsumption. To continue her work, she found free creative solutions, like painting on recycled photographs and drawing digital animations. Her new style ends up being a commentary on sustainability, the economy, and the nature of creativity itself.

Details:Cleve Carney Art Gallery. Free. clevecarneygallery.org

Oct. 11
Art

Jewelry for My Mother(s) and Other Microaggressions

Loop

Laura Davis makes jewelry not to be worn, but as ceramic sculptures to contemplate the way women care for and share heirlooms. In an artist talk, Davis explains how she thinks about “the ghosts of the women” haunting the spooky necklaces and bracelets on display.

Details:Chicago Cultural Center. 12:30 p.m. Free. cityofchicago.org

Oct. 12
R&B

Avery Sunshine

Pilsen

It’s been two years since Denise Nicole White (a.k.a. Avery Sunshine) released a new album. This summer, she has toured across the country in support of her latest, 2014’s The SunRoom, in effect reminding fans what they’re missing in a new LP of her soulful R&B.

Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $25–$480. ticketweb.com

Oct. 12–23
Dance

Thodos Dance Chicago

Near North Side

The contemporary dance company teams up with Chicago Children’s Theatre to remount A Light in the Dark: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Dance and theater merge to tell the story of the blind, deaf, and mute girl whose life would inspire so many.

Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $10–$39. chicagochildrenstheatre.org

'Romeo & Juliet'
Romeo & Juliet Photo: Cheryl Mann
Oct. 13–23
Dance

Joffrey Ballet

Loop

The acclaimed ballet company’s fall program is a reprise of Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo & Juliet, the classic Shakespearean tragedy set to Prokofiev’s transcendent score. In this version, the story is moved to 20th-century Italy; striking projections provide context and highlight the political unrest of the period.

Details:Auditorium Theatre. $34–$159. joffrey.org

Oct. 13
Fundraiser

Rush Woman’s Board Fashion Show

South Loop

The charity fashion show celebrates its 90th year.

Details:United Club at Soldier Field. 5:30 p.m. thefashionshow.org

Oct. 13–15
Dance

The Seldoms

South Loop

The Seldoms present Philip Elson’s The Fifth, a peek inside hacktivism and the whistleblowers of cyberspace.

Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $15–$30. colum.edu/dance-center

Oct. 14
Classical

Apollo’s Fire

Hyde Park

Baroque performance generally inclines toward the buttoned-down: terraced dynamics, clock-like tempos, and proper cadences. Not so with the Cleveland-based orchestra Apollo’s Fire, named to evoke its lambent style, aflicker with dramatic phrasing. Here, the group plays some of its core repertoire, including two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

Details:Mandel Hall, U. of C. 7:30 p.m. $5–$35. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

Oct. 14
Art

Conversation: ART21—Chris Ware, Gary Panter, and Hillary Chute

Loop

Chris Ware, the Chicago artist who proved that comics aren’t just for kids with his emotional, conceptual graphic novels, makes a rare live appearance in conversation with Harvard comics expert Hillary Chute and iconic illustrator Gary Panter, whose set designs for Pee-wee’s Playhouse won him multiple Emmys.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with museum admission (RSVP online). artic.edu

Oct. 14–Dec. 3
Theater

Zombie Broads

Rogers Park

Get your Halloween on with Maxine and Marco, whose book club takes a turn for the flesh-eating thanks to a dim-witted scientist and an experiment gone wrong. Expect epic gushes of brains and blood from the playwrights Corrbette Pasko and Sara Sevigny in a saga of voraciously hungry undead.

Details:Factory Theater. $18–$25. thefactorytheater.com

Oct. 15–Nov. 20
Theater

The Bottle Tree

Lake View

Playwright Beth Kander takes on gun culture through the lens of a “forgotten” victim: the smart, struggling sister of a high school shooter. Using the setting of a small town where trauma runs deep and healing is in short supply, Kander explores whether hope and recovery are truly possible in the wake of an indelible tragedy.

Details:Stage Left Theatre at Theater Wit. $10–$30. stagelefttheatre.com

Oct. 15
Classical

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Loop

The CSO’s 125th anniversary celebration culminates in a re-creation of its very first concert, given October 16, 1891. To modern eyes, the programming may look strange: two of the chestnuttiest pieces in the classical canon, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, bookended with overtures by Wagner and Dvořák. Hard to believe that back then, the concerto was less than 20 years old.

Details:Symphony Center. 6 p.m. $60–$199. cso.org

Oct. 15–Nov. 6
Opera

Lucia di Lammermoor

Loop

Donizetti’s tale of star-crossed love on the Scottish moors, by far the most famous of the free-flowing bel canto style of operas, features two all-time classic moments of the genre. The first, the passionate sextet in act 2, melds solo voices thrillingly as Lucia is condemned to marry for politics instead of love. The second, the “mad scene,” allows the soprano Albina Shagimuratova, as Lucia, to engage in pyrotechnic ornamentation and high notes while flailing around in a bloodstained wedding dress.

Details:Civic Opera House. $34–$299. lyricopera.org

Oct. 15–16
Film

Music Box of Horrors

Lake View

Once a year, the Music Box Theatre transforms into a slaughterhouse chock-full of frights. This marathon of monsters and gore gives you serious bang for your buck: One $35 ticket ($25 in advance) allows come-and-go access to 24 hours of scary movies, from classics (Halloween III: Season of the Witch) and forgotten gems (Eyes of Fire) to bloody slapstick (Popcorn) and straight-up comedy (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein).

Details:Music Box Theatre. $25–$35. musicboxtheatre.com

Hamlet: The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan
Open House Chicago Photo: Eric Allix Rogers
Oct. 15–16
Architecture

Open House Chicago

Various locations

If you’ve ever gazed at the façade of a majestic Chicago building and longed to know what lay on the other side, this citywide suite of free open houses from the Chicago Architecture Foundation is for you. Churches, concert halls, studios, and more open their doors, offering choice interior views. Don’t miss a rare free tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home studio in Oak Park and the vine-draped atrium of Englewood’s Yale Building, usually reserved for residents.

Details:Various locations. Free. openhousechicago.org

Oct. 16
R&B

Miguel

Near West Side

If any R&B singer will inherit Prince’s crown, it’s Miguel. The L.A. native exudes energy and sex appeal live, strutting his stuff in a slew of increasingly glitzy outfits as his band bumps life-affirming tunes up to an 11. The unfettered guitar solos don’t hurt.

Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $35–$150. ticketmaster.com

Oct. 18
Folk

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry

Pilsen

Billy Bragg is no stranger to nontraditional songwriting: The singer famously fleshed out Woody Guthrie’s unrecorded back catalog with help from local Chicago band Wilco. More recently, Bragg and singer-songwriter Joe Henry boarded an Amtrak streamliner from L.A. to Chicago with their guitars and gear in tow, recording songs in train stations, waiting rooms, and rail yards along the way. Here they perform the fruits of their journey, plus some back-catalog hits.

Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $34–$46. thaliahallchicago.com

Oct. 19–Nov. 20
Theater

Octagon

Edgewater

Kristiana Rae Colón’s rapid-fire battle between poetry slammers comes with a lofty pedigree: The piece won the 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award, and Colón herself is a vet of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. In this U.S. premiere, eight gifted wordsmiths vie for top honors as the personal and the political collide.

Details:Jackalope Theatre at Broadway Armory Park. $5–$30. jackalopetheatre.org

Oct. 20–23
Festival

A-Squared Asian American Performing Arts Festival

Roscoe Village

An impressive lineup of Asian American dancers, musicians, puppeteers, and performance artists present pieces influenced in varying degrees by China, Philippines, India, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. A preshow dinner on Saturday, October 22, at 5:15 p.m., highlights the diverse cuisine of Vietnam.

Details:Links Hall. $15–$45. linkshall.org

Oct. 20
Art

Bronzeville Home Tours and Progressive Dinner

Bronzeville

A rare look inside three South Side collections of contemporary African American and African art includes a guided tour, catered food, and cocktails at each stop.

Details:Various venues. 6–10:30 p.m. $250. art.org

Oct. 20–22
Classical

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Loop

The marquee name for this concert is Emanuel Ax, the pianist playing the first installment in a comprehensive tour at Symphony Center this season of all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos. Each concerto has a different soloist, and Ax begins, fittingly, with No. 1. The name insiders will notice is David Afkham, who helms Beethoven and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, a broad canvas to show his acuity.

Details:Symphony Center. $40–$222. cso.org

Oct. 20–22
Dance

Nora Chipaumire

South Loop

“What is it about the male body, which happens to be black, that we are afraid of?” NYC-based dancer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire seeks to answer this question in Portrait of Myself as My Father. Audiences are allowed to get as close as they like to the boxing ring onstage as Chipaumire channels various cultural influences on black men, including African traditions, colonialism, religion, and the ongoing struggle for liberation.

Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $24–$30. colum.edu/dance-center

Oct. 20
Electronic

Helado Negro

West Town

Born to Ecuadorian parents, Robert Carlos Lange is a modern renaissance man: a bilingual singer, composer, video artist, and sculptor. He’s best known musically for the aural mosaics he produces as Helado Negro. On his upcoming album, Private Energy, Lange tackles the Latin experience in America via his trademark groovy beats.

Details:Hideout. 9 p.m. $12–$14. hideoutchicago.com

Oct. 20–Nov. 21
Theater

The Mars Assignment

Wicker Park

A schoolteacher, a talent manager, an ad exec, and a child all suffer from depression in Ronan Marra and Elsa Hiltner’s dive into the struggles of the mentally ill. The work aims to shine a light on the spectrum of diseases and disorders that impact millions across the globe but that are still so stigmatized they’re often spoken of in whispers.

Details:Collaboraction Theatre at Flatiron Arts Building. $10–$30. collaboraction.org

Oct. 20
Pop

Ry X

Lincoln Park

Part of a new wave of Australian artists who combine modern R&B and traditional folk, Ry Cuming’s music serves as a perfect primer for Chicago’s oncoming winter. Dawn, his second album and first as Ry X, features dexterous pop hooks beneath Cuming’s androgynous tenor.

Details:Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m. $18. lh-st.com

Oct. 21–Nov. 27
Art

Clay Hickson

West Town

Draughtsman Clay Hickson (of Pilsen’s Tan & Loose Press) remembers the eighties as a pastiche of deco psychedelic style slathered in decadent neon and saxophone, which his illustrations satirically celebrate in this anticipated first solo exhibit.

Details:Johalla Projects. Free. johallaprojects.com

Oct. 21–Nov. 20
Theater

The Magic Play

Loop

Playwright Andrew Hinderaker (I Am Going to Change the World; Suicide, Incorporated) delves into wizardry in this tale of a nameless magician, the diver he loves, and the father who haunts him. Halena Kays directs the story of a showman whose power to astonish vanishes in the face of heartbreak.

Details:Goodman Theatre. $10–$40. goodmantheatre.org

Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara Photo: Pamela Littky
Oct. 21
Pop

Tegan and Sara

Uptown

After more than two decades in the music industry, indie-rock sister duo Tegan and Sara only seem to be getting better—their lyrics sharper, their hooks so contagious they’ve started writing songs for other musicians. Catch the ever-charming siblings in their most natural and exciting form: front and center.

Details:Riviera Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $34. etix.com

Oct. 22
Art

The Arts Club Centennial Open House

Gold Coast

This private club with a public exhibition program has for a century drawn the world’s most desired artists up its Mies-designed stairwell to meet with Chicago’s elite art patrons. Here, the organization pulls back the curtain with a day of free programming, including David Lang–commissioned music by Eighth Blackbird and artist talks by Suzanne Bocanegra, Derrick Adams, and Mark Dion.

Details:Arts Club of Chicago. Noon. Free. artsclubchicago.org

Oct. 22–30
Classical

Chicago a Cappella

Various neighborhoods

This versatile vocal ensemble presents an eclectic shock of classical, jazz, and pop tunes in a remounted program titled The Birds and the Bees: Songs of Nature and Naughtiness. The group hooks up with Ruth Westheimer and Laura Berman, who each narrate two performances.

Details:Various venues. $15–$43. chicagoacappella.org

Oct. 23–24
Classical

Music of the Baroque

Skokie, Loop

Before Handel got into the practice of writing religious-themed oratorios such as Messiah, he composed Alexander’s Feast, a recitative-aria-chorus collection about the power of music, based on a John Dryden ode about Alexander the Great. Nicholas Kraemer serves it up as the first course in Music of the Baroque’s 46th season.

Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (Oct. 23), Harris Theater (Oct. 24). $38–$75. baroque.org

Oct. 23–Jan. 15
Art

Re(Public)

Hyde Park

This seven-person group exhibit takes the pulse of some of Ireland’s politically engaged artists, who, on this hundredth anniversary of an important fight for Irish independence, present new music, photographs, and film about the country’s mental health services, bee colonies, and other hot-button issues.

Details:Hyde Park Art Center. Free. hydeparkart.org

Oct. 26–Dec. 31
Theater

Singin’ in the Rain

Lincolnshire

Jeff-winning director William Brown helms this splashy rom-com about making movies during the dawn of the talkies. Expect a bevy of crowd pleasers, from the classic clown shenanigans of “Make ’Em Laugh” to the fast-tapping footwork of “Moses Supposes.”

Details:Marriott Theatre. $50–$55. marriotttheatre.com

Oct. 28–29
Dance

Giordano Dance Chicago

Millennium Park

Chicago’s pioneering jazz dance company kicks off its 54th season with a new work by Peter Chu. Revivals, including Ray Mercer’s 2015 Shirt Off My Back and Autumn Eckman’s improv-inspired Yes, And …, round out the program.

Details:Harris Theater. $15–$75. harristheaterchicago.org

Oct. 28, 30
Opera

Harriet Tubman: When I Cross That Line to Freedom

Hyde Park, South Shore

The proposed new face of America’s $20 bill gets the operatic treatment in a work by Nkeiru Okoye. The South Shore Opera Company, an ensemble striving to increase access to opera in underserved areas, produces the biography of the engineer of the Underground Railroad, starring the soprano Joelle Lamarre as Tubman.

Details:Logan Center (Oct. 28), South Shore Cultural Center (Oct. 30). $10–$250. southshoreopera.org

Oct. 29, 31
Classical

Chicago Sinfonietta

Naperville, Loop

For its Día de los Muertos concert, the Sinfonietta costars with the Chicago Film Archives, screening silent movies alongside Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, and music by Latino composers.

Details:Wentz Concert Hall (Oct. 29), Symphony Center (Oct. 31). $10–$60. chicagosinfonietta.org

Oct. 29–Jan. 8
Art

Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination

Gold Coast

Creatures, humans included, are the subject of Los Angeles artist Diana Thater’s massive video projections. Viewing Thater’s surreal artworks is like walking into a digital fish tank—a poignant reminder that we live among the planet’s beasts.

Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $7–$12. mcachicago.org

Oct. 29
Rock

Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Loop

If Elvis Costello is in town, you don’t miss it. At this show, expect a mix of classic hits and newer selections from his last proper solo album, 2010’s National Ransom, and his last collaborative album (with the Roots), 2013’s Wise Up Ghost.

Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $39–$154. ticketmaster.com

Oct. 29–Nov. 12
Festival

Fallfest: Speed

Various locations

The speed-themed Chicago Humanities Fest opens with a day of lectures at Northwestern, including visits by Maureen Dowd and Jonathan Lethem and talks on such topics as teen texting.

Details:Various venues. $5–$50. chicagohumanities.org

Through Oct. 9
Opera

The Love Potion (Le Vin Herbé)

Lake View

Chicago Opera Theater opens its 2016–17 season with the Tristan and Isolde story Le Vin Herbé, by the 20th-century Swiss composer Frank Martin. An eight-piece chamber orchestra backs a 12-singer chorus in the piece, a sort of operatic oratorio that raises a question: How will a score of musicians fit up at the front of the old-time movie palace the Music Box?

Details:Chicago Opera Theater at Music Box Theatre. $15–$75. chicagooperatheater.org

Through Oct. 30
Outdoors

Richardson Farm Corn Maze

Spring Grove

This 29-acre maze of maize—said to be the world’s largest—dons a Star Trek theme to honor the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Also present at this “adventure farm”: a petting zoo, a pumpkin patch, community campfires, and a wagon ride, all open till midnight on evenings when the moon is full.

Details:Richardson Adventure Farm. $13–$16. richardsonadventurefarm.com

Through Nov. 27
Theater

Red Velvet

Edgewater Glen

Today, no one would think of casting a white actor as Othello. But in 1833 England, black actors weren’t even allowed on the stage. Inspired by a true story, Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet takes off when the white lead in the Theatre Royal’s Othello collapses and a black actor steps in, sparking race riots. With Chicago’s theater community in the throes of a fractious discussion about whether an actor’s ethnicity should play a role in casting (see the response to Porchlight’s In the Heights and the Marriott’s Evita), Red Velvet couldn’t be more timely.

Details:Raven Theatre. $22–$46. raventheatre.com

Through Dec. 18
Theater

Apartment 3A

Albany Park

When a nasty breakup strikes, Annie is forced to rethink everything from the love of her life to her passion for PBS fundraising. Jeff Daniels’s (yes, that Jeff Daniels) rom-com with a supernatural twist spotlights a woman who thinks she’s lost everything and the mysterious next-door neighbor who steps into her shattered world. Ron OJ Parson directs.

Details:Windy City Playhouse. $15–$55. windycityplayhouse.com

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