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Muppet Insider

Don’t-miss picks for 11.04.09 through 11.10.09: The Muppets take Chicago … Margaret Atwood does dramatic … Stefon Harris shakes up a bebop shrine … Harold Ramis, Matt Groening, and Tony Kushner wax on … and more

Redmoon's latest extravaganza, Spectacle '09, runs through Sunday at Belmont Harbor.
SOMETHING UP HIS SLEEVE  A new Muppet series at the Siskel pays ode to Jim Henson’s legacy.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 11.04.09 through Tue 11.10.09:

1

film Muppets, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy
Because who couldn’t use a lighthearted Muppet moment right about now? In the wake of a fantastically popular 2008 program devoted to all things Henson, the Siskel hosts an encore roundup of flicks, clips, commercials, and more. On Nov 7, Craig Shemin—VP of The Jim Henson Legacy (aka the keeper of the flame) and the writer responsible for many of the loveable characters’ best lines—hosts a bill of rarely seen clips from the Muppet archives; the following day he’s on hand for screenings of The Muppets Take Manhattan and a collection of musical numbers.
GO: Nov 7­–Dec 2. $5-$10 per film; double-bill discounts on Sun. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State. siskelfilmcenter.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Reeling, the world’s second-oldest lesbian and gay film fest, returns with flicks including closing night’s Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, starring cinema’s go-to melodramatic mom Lainie Kazan (Beaches, My Big Fat Greek Wedding); plus, Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema and Polish Film Festival in America broaden our movie-going horizons.

2

lit Margaret Atwood
No, those aren’t angels—although we hear the book is divine—but a chorus backing the Booker Prize–winning Atwood in a dramatic reading of her new novel, The Year of the Flood. Chicago is one of just 12 U.S. cities that scored Atwood’s unusually lavish book tour. We count ourselves lucky—and curious.
GO: Nov 6 at 7:30. $20. Merle Reskin Theatre, DePaul U, 60 E Balbo. 312-922-1999

ALSO THIS WEEK: The curtain rises on the 20th annual Chicago Humanities Festival, with bigwigs from the worlds of movies, TV, and theatre: filmmaker Harold Ramis (Nov 4), Simpsons creator Matt Groening (Nov 5), playwright Tony Kushner (Nov 8), and Daily Show correspondent John “I’m a PC” Hodgman (Nov 10).

3

concerts Stefon Harris
Not so long ago, Jazz Showcase proprietor Joe Segal might have turned away a band that dared to enter his bebop shrine brandishing R&B backbeats and passages played on the vocoder. But with more young mainstream artists dipping their toes into the cross-genre pool, some flexibility is in order—particularly when the group in question is led by a firebrand vibraphonist of Harris’s stature.
GO: Nov 5-7 at 8 and 10. Nov 8 at 4, 8, and 10. $20-$25. Jazz Showcase, 806 S Plymouth. jazzshowcase.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Top jazz improvisers from Chicago, New York, and Europe converge at the Umbrella Music Festival to shake the remaining leaves from the city’s trees; the immensely talented Dee Dee Bridgewater offers a fearless ode to the most imposing of jazz’s big three ladies in To Billie with Love.

4

dance River North Chicago Dance Company
The eclectic local troupe re-envisions Sherry Zunker’s 1992 masterpiece and the subject of an Emmy-winning documentary, Reality of a Dreamer. The steamy dance effectively put the company on the map; here, in RNDC’s 20th-anniversary season, it provides a sleek counterpart to Monique Haley’s looser and more percussive but no less virtuosic Uhuru.
GO: Nov 7 at 8. $30-$65. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Timeline Theatre stages When She Danced, a portrait of the modern dance matriarch Isadora Duncan as a middle-aged woman; the avant-garde French choreographer Anne Collod revisits Parades & Changes, a seminal experimental work by the 89-year-old and still vital American counterculture dancemaker Anna Halprin.

5

architecture A Conversation with the Critics: Imagining the Future of the City
What does the Chicago of the future look like? Our vision changes daily, dependent on variables like traffic, weather, and the amount of sleep we had the night before—which is why we’re anxious to hear a more educated take. On Nov 5, Hello Beautiful!’s Edward Lifson hosts a panel of authoritative architecture critics: the Trib’s Blair Kamin, The New Yorker’s Paul Goldberger, the L.A. Times’ Christopher Hawthorne, and The New Republic’s Sarah Williams Goldhagen.
GO: Nov 5. Reception at 5:30; discussion at 6:15. $15-$30. Murphy Auditorium, 50 E Erie. 312-922-3432, ext 271

ALSO THIS WEEK: Score insider views on an architecture tour of the Spertus; these behind-the-scenes peeks are even rarer now that the museum has drastically cut back its public hours.

FREEBIE OF THE WEEK

lit Adam Langer
If you missed writer Michael Chabon’s moving talk a few weeks back on his new book, Manhood for Amateurs, and the art of being a dad, don’t make the same mistake when the local son and Crossing California author Langer reads from his own new book, My Father’s Bonus March, a portrait of both Langer’s father, Seymour, and Seymour’s Depression-era generation.
GO: Nov 5 at 6. Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S State. chipublib.org

Photography: ©Jim Henson’s mark & logo are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved 2009. ©MUPPET, MUPPETS and Muppet Characters are registered trademarks of The Muppets Studio, LLC. All Rights Reserved 2009.

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