Top Five Things to Do This Week

What to do this week: Jane Birkin plays the Portage … Stew stirs up SPACE … punk rock and demons invade the U. of C. … you crash a free holiday party

Singer Markéta Irglová, and Diane D'Aquila in 'Elizabeth Rex'
ARE YOU SITTING DOWN? Jane Birkin, that breathy chanteuse and instigator of
countless fantasies, plays the Portage Theater Monday.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 11.30.11 through Tue 12.06.11:

1

pop Jane Birkin
Long live the New Wave. In recent years, this British-by-way-of-France actress-slash-singer—and one-time lover, muse, and collaborator of Serge Gainsbourg, to whom this concert pays tribute—has enlisted an A-team of indie rockers to help give her signature Gallic pop a contemporary sheen. Truly a classic—and not just for her eponymous purse.
GO: 12/5 at 8. $25. Portage Theater, 4050 N Milwaukee. ticketweb.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Louisiana boogie pianist Marcia Ball and the country-rock border crosser Bill Kirchen pair up for two rollicking, swinging, turbocharged nights at FitzGerald’s, 12/2–3.

2

film Night of the Demon
A few years ago, Martin Scorsese placed this 1957 British thriller on his list of the 11 scariest movies. Directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Dana Andrews, the black-and-white atmospheric flick features a demon that probably wasn’t frightening even when the movie was first released. But the film’s mounting suspense? Spine tingling.
GO: 12/1 at 7. $5. Doc Films Society at Max Palevsky Cinema, U. of C., 1212 E 59th. docfilms.uchicago.edu

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Music Box screens Brian De Palma’s 1976 firecracker, Carrie, with a preshow program hosted by Dick O’Day and a postshow Q&A with Carrie’s film mom, Piper Laurie, on 12/4.

3

theatre Deathscribe
What with the demons at Doc Films and now this, it turns out Christmas is the new Halloween. Wildclaw Theatre stages original radio plays guaranteed to be even scarier than your crazy Uncle Harold on eggnog overload. Because nothing says happy holidays like a bit of bloodletting.
GO: 12/5 at 8. $20–$25. Wildclaw Theatre at Mayne Stage, 1328 W Morse. wildclawtheatre.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Building Stage capitalizes on Dickens’s own ennui with his classic in Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs “A Christmas Carol” Again, 12/1–24.

4

pop Stew and the Negro Problem
What, you’re not into coughing up $100 a seat to hear two hip-hop tycoons (Kanye, Jay-Z) sing about the pitfalls of fame and fortune? Behind door number 2: Stew, a.k.a. Mark Stewart, and Heidi Rodewald, the creators of the Tony-winning rock musical Passing Strange, about a young African American man’s journey of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, and self-discovery. Here, the pair skip the full-on staged theatricals for an intimate indie-rock concert.
GO: 12/1 at 8. $24–$40. SPACE, 1245 Chicago, Evanston. evanstonspace.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Andrew Bird’s late-December concerts amid a cornucopia of speakers at the MCA are sold out, but you can tiptoe through the installation starting 12/6. Word is Bird is slated to show up and practice unannounced throughout the month; maybe you’ll get lucky.

5

kid friendly Boston Pops featuring Rockapella
Where on earth has Rockapella been lately? The American a cappella group, best known as the resident performers on the PBS kids’ show (insert humming here) … Carmen Sandiego?, joins the Boston Pops for a sing-along and visit from St. Nick. And a bit of trivia: Rockapella counts as this week’s second soundtrack contributor; pint-sized boppers and the parents who monitor their remote control usage may recognize Stew (see above) as the writer of the Gary song from SpongeBob SquarePants.
GO: 11/30 at 7:30. $32–$127. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E Congress. ticketmaster.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Hubbard Street reprises its dance staging of the iconic 1955 children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon 12/3–4 at Harris Theater, while Luna Negra Dance Theater presents Moniquilla and the Thief of Laughter 12/3–4 at Stage 773. For even more kid-friendly stuff, see “Freebies,” below.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

WIDTW is recovering from too many helpings of pumpkin pie. Check back next week for a new installment of weekend plans from a notable, in-the-know local.

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

dance Dance-Along Nutcracker
Calling all kids and showboating adults: The Department of Cultural Affairs’ seasonal sock hop invites participants of all ages to dress up like their favorite Nutcracker characters and boogie.
GO: 12/4 at noon and 3. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington. chicagoculturalcenter.org

new music Ensemble Dal Niente
This local pioneer of the new-music frontier goes one further, teaming up with the U. of C.’s Computer Music Studio and seven emerging 20- and 30-something Chicago composers to perform fresh works featuring electronics.
GO: 12/3 at 8. Fulton Hall, U. of C., 5845 S Ellis. dalniente.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Meanwhile, across town at the city’s other big research institution, the new ensemble on the block Spektral Quartet performs a program written entirely by Northwestern-affiliated composers, including the NU prof Lee Hyla, 12/5.

rock Club Moral
Also on the U. of C. campus—and even less expected: Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, whose drawings, collages, and interactive computer animations hang at The Renaissance Society through 12/18, is known in her hometown of Antwerp as one half of the industrial noise-rock outfit Club Moral. Now, 30 years after the group’s founding, she and Danny Devos unleash their aural onslaught in the band’s U.S. debut. A noise-rock concert in the school’s Bond Chapel? Goth, meet gothic.
GO: 12/1 at 8. Bond Chapel, U. of C., 1050 E 59th. renaissancesociety.org

architecture Wright in the City Holiday Open House
If this bummer of an economy means your office canceled its annual holiday party, don’t fret: Grab your favorite coworkers and crash this bash in The Rookery’s Frank Lloyd Wright–designed lobby. Free snacks and live music in a gorgeous space should cure any cubicle blues. But work-party rule number 1 still applies: Go easy on the free Champagne.
GO: 12/1 from 5 to 7. The Rookery, 209 S LaSalle. gowright.org

 

Photograph: Kate Barry

 

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