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The Best Things to Do in Chicago in November

Nov. 1

Chick Corea Trilogy with Christian McBride and Brian Blade

The 78-year-old pianist at the forefront of this gifted trio built his reputation as a keyboardist for Miles Davis during his early electric period, then went on to cut all manner of jazz recordings: avant-garde sonic explorations, twinkling and funky fusion, and elegant solo acoustic efforts. With bassist McBride and drummer Blade in the rhythm section, the group congregated for the live album Trilogy, released in 2013.

Details:Symphony Center. Loop. 8 p.m. $39–$117. cso.org

Nov. 1

Toro y Moi, Channel Tres

Chaz Bear broke through as Toro y Moi a decade ago with his hazy, postrecession slacker jams. On this year’s Outer Peace, you can find him on the dance floor, though his house grooves still carry some of that early existential malaise. He’s perfectly complemented by Channel Tres, the Compton-born hip-house revivalist with a baritone like Barry White who’s maybe the only dude in electronic music with a full-on choreography routine.

Details:Riviera Theatre. Uptown. 7:30 p.m. $30. jamusa.com

Nov. 1–2

Vivian Girls

This scrappy trio (named after the magnum opus of Chicago outsider artist Henry Darger) was the talk of late-2000s indie blogs with a sound that merged Ramones rock with ’60s girl group harmonies. The band broke up in 2014 — in large part because people on the internet are misogynistic jerks — but it’s reunited at long last for a new album (September’s Memory) and tour, a celebration of its underappreciated status as feminist punk greats.

Details:Empty Bottle. Ukrainian Village. $20. eventbrite.com

Nov. 1–5

Muti, Kavakos & Beethoven Violin Concerto

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director Riccardo Muti leads two programs centering on titanic three-B concertos during this residency (the other is Brahms’s Double Concerto, the next weekend). But if you must see only one, the canonical Beethoven violin concerto with Leonidas Kavakos should be it, because of another pot sweetener on the program: the world premiere of Dream, a commission by the eminent Bernard Rands.

Details:Symphony Center. Loop. $38–$242. cso.org

Nov. 1–30

Shawn Rowe: V

This local photographer’s atmospheric series channels ’90s gay cinema touchstones like Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, communicating romance and melancholy without flamboyance. Rowe’s portraits of unidentified shirtless men, cast in positions and expressions that convey vulnerability, are paired with shots of nature, a juxtaposition that alludes to negotiating one’s sexual identity.

Details:Filter Photo. West Town. Free. filterphoto.org

Nov. 1–Jan. 26

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Mary Zimmerman’s family-friendly spectacle, drawn from a lesser-known Hans Christian Andersen tale, takes the idea of the “Christmas pantomime” literally: The show is entirely dialogue-free. An unexpected hit in its debut last winter, it returns for a longer run with most of its original cast intact, including Alex Stein as the title toy soldier and Kasey Foster as the ballerina he loves.

Details:Lookingglass Theatre. Streeterville. $35–$85. lookingglasstheatre.org

Nov. 2

Maxo Kream

One of the most underrated rappers right now is this A1 storyteller from Houston with a booming voice, channeling and living up to Texas all-timers like Scarface and UGK. His major-label debut, July’s Brandon Banks, is a raw, intimate portrait of his father, whose criminal past looms large over Maxo’s present.

Details:Bottom Lounge. West Loop. 8 p.m. $22–$52. ticketfly.com

Nov. 2–22

Dead Man Walking

Jake Heggie’s 2000 opera, drawn from the same source material as the Oscar-winning 1995 movie, dramatizes the dwindling days of a death row prisoner and the nun who ministers to him. The production, well traveled and well reviewed, marks the first installment of an initiative at Lyric to put one contemporary opera on the main stage each season.

Details:Lyric Opera House. Loop. $39–$299. lyricopera.org

Nov. 2–Dec. 1

Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989)

This Nigerian-born photographer died at 34 due to complications from an AIDS-related illness, but in his short career he produced arresting images of black men that address themes of diaspora, sexuality, and gay rights. Intimate portraits taken between 1985 and 1989, during the height of the AIDS crisis in Europe and the United States, will be displayed in this first solo show of Fani-Kayode’s work in Chicago.

Details:Iceberg Projects. Rogers Park. Free. icebergchicago.com

Nov. 2–Apr. 19

Routes and Territories

This timely group show probes the history and impact of human migration in Latin America through works by three native artists. In one room, Nohemí Pérez’s panoramic canvases, rendered in charcoal, depict violence hidden amid the beauty of a Colombian jungle. And be sure to commit some time to Noe Martínez’s film, which follows his parents’ return to their indigenous community in Mexico after their forced migration to the nation’s capital.

Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Streeterville. $15. mcachicago.org

Nov. 5–Dec. 14

P.Y.G. or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle

Bieberesque Canadian pop star Dorian Belle wants to trade his goody two-shoes image for bad-boy cred — and Chicago rappers Petty Young Goons seem like just the consultants he needs for the transformation, which will air on reality TV. Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s new play riffs on Shaw’s Pygmalion to comment on race relations and cultural appropriation; Lili-Anne Brown directs for Jackalope Theatre.

Details:Broadway Armory Park. Edgewater. $10–$35. jackalopetheatre.org

Nov. 6–Dec. 15

The Niceties

In this taut debate play, a white professor and her African American student face off over the latter’s thesis about slavery’s role in the American Revolution. Playwright Eleanor Burgess tackles arguments over feminism, intersectionality, and the privilege of writing history; in-demand director Marti Lyons leads the formidable pairing of actors Mary Beth Fisher and Ayanna Bria Bakari.

Details:Writers Theatre. Glencoe. $35–$80. writerstheatre.org

Nov. 6–Jan. 12

Rutherford and Son

Steppenwolf’s Francis Guinan makes his TimeLine debut as an English businessman looking forward to passing the company he built to his adult children — not that he’s asked them if they want it. This 1912 drama by playwright Githa Sowerby, who went by the androgynous pen name K.G. Sowerby, has never before been staged in Chicago.

Details:TimeLine Theatre. Lake View East. $25–$57. timelinetheatre.com

Nov. 7–9

Inai — the Connection

Hema Rajagopalan, an expert on the Indian dance style of bharatanatyam, returns to the stage for the first time since 2015. In a rare performance (she’s primarily known as an instructor and choreographer), she is joined by Astad Deboo, a pioneer of contemporary Indian dance, for a show that layers multiple classical forms from the north and south of India — bharatanatyam and kathak dance, Carnatic and dhrupad music — to make something wholly new.

Details:Dance Center, Columbia College Chicago. South Loop. $10–$30. dance.colum.edu

Nov. 7–10

Forge Forward

Chicago native Rena Butler has been exploring gender and sexuality in her dances recently, but her latest for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago takes a sharp turn toward code-switching — that is, adapting and assimilating to different cultural contexts. Butler’s world premiere is joined by another new piece, this one from MacArthur “genius” Kyle Abraham, plus the return of Crystal Pite’s enigmatic Grace Engine, for a well-rounded season opener from Hubbard Street.

Details:Harris Theater. Loop. $25–$110. hubbardstreetdance.com

Nov. 7–Dec. 8

Oedipus Rex

Court Theatre knows its way around the Greeks — the long-established theater tied to the University of Chicago was founded on a steady diet of the classics. This new staging of Sophocles’s tragedy, helmed by artistic director Charles Newell, boasts a strong cast led by Kelvin Roston Jr. in the title role, with Kate Collins as Jocasta and Timothy Edward Kane as Creon.

Details:Court Theatre. Hyde Park. $29–$84. courttheatre.org

Nov. 8


The gender-nonbinary producer and vocalist fits comfortably alongside current artisan R&B greats like Dev Hynes and Solange (in fact, they’ve done production work for both). Their third album, September’s Something Like a War, is a utopia of inclusivity, where funk, disco, and Robyn cameos intermingle and the world softens a little.

Details:Sleeping Village. Avondale. 10 p.m. $20. etix.com

Nov. 8

Penn & Teller

For more than 40 years (in a career that has included one of the longest-running residencies in Las Vegas), the duo of famously outgoing Penn and famously silent Teller has been setting off trapdoors, performing sleight-of-hand card tricks, and catching each other’s bullets (literally). If you feel like their popularity means you’ll get to see them again, don’t be so sure: This show marks their first time performing in Chicago in 20 years.

Details:Chicago Theatre. Loop. 8 p.m. $45–$451. ticketmaster.com

Nov. 8

Louie Vega

The artist formerly known as Little Louie has been DJ’ing since the ’80s, when he played an integral part in the golden era of New York’s club scene; he’s even better known as half of Masters at Work, the duo that helped kick-start the trend of major-label house remixes with its reworks of Madonna and Michael Jackson. No warm-up acts, no nonsense — Vega’s playing open to close.

Details:Smartbar. Wrigleyville. 10 p.m. $20–$25. etix.com

Nov. 8

Vision String Quartet

Winning competitions and posing for photo shoots with bed head and two-day stubble, this young Berlin-based quartet has self-announced as the next big thing in chamber music. They play from memory, standing up (except the cellist), and here they’ll energize Haydn, Schumann, and the 20th-century Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz.

Details:Mandel Hall, University of Chicago. Hyde Park. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

Nov. 8–9

Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer

If you can tell the difference between applewood and alderwood, then you’ll fit right in at this niche craft beer festival from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild — which happens to be the largest barrel-aged fest in the world. After the judged competition, more than 200 beer, cider, and mead breweries will open their coolers for three separate tasting sessions. Hopewell, runner-up for best of show last year, will return to the festival, alongside first-time participants like Bold Dog and Ravinia. [[[See “Barrel-Aged Beauties” for five local offerings.]]]

Details:Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum, University of Illinois at Chicago. University Village. $85. fobab.com

Nov. 9

Blue Hawaii

Since its 2010 debut, this Montreal duo has bridged the gap between cutesy pop and feel-good house. Its latest, October’s Open Reduction Internal Fixation, ventures even further toward banging dance-floor jams, so this show presents a good opportunity to stock up on serotonin before winter fully sets in.

Details:Empty Bottle. Ukrainian Village. 8:30 p.m. $10–$12. eventbrite.com

Nov. 9
New Music

Children of Metropolis

The percussion ensemble Scrap Arts Music creates one-of-a-kind instruments from salvaged industrial scrap, then carries out energetic performances on the sculptural musical objects. Its latest touring show derives its aesthetic from Fritz Lang’s 1927 deco-futuristic masterpiece Metropolis, casting a nonverbal narrative and silent-film projections over the banging and clanging.

Details:Fermilab. Batavia. 8 p.m. $18–$38. events.fnal.gov

‘Man Bartlett: End Game’
Man Bartlett: End Game Photo: Courtesy of Man Bartlett
Nov. 9–Dec. 21

Man Bartlett: End Game

Trip through the afterlife in this New York City artist’s multimedia installation, which merges video, sound, scent, and sculptures of neon rocks to ruminate on the destinies of our spirits once the planet ends. A little bleak, but it’s one of the least alarming ways to address the demise of human civilization.

Details:Bert Green Fine Art. Loop. Free. bgfa.us

Nov. 10

The International Boutique for Middle-Aged Ladies

Chicago painter Mari Eastman guest-curated this tongue-in-cheek exhibition, which transforms a gallery into a fashionable boutique filled with chic collectibles designed for genteel patrons approaching retirement age. Browse works like Caitlin Lonegan’s painted wallpaper and Matt Morris’s perfumes, each scent based on a stage of mourning in 18th-century Paris.

Details:Goldfinch. East Garfield Park. Free. goldfinchgallery.org

Nov. 14
New Music

Fields of Vision: Ran, Suzuki, and Thorvaldsdottir

Spektral Quartet, Chicago’s most dynamic four-person string outfit, threads together quartets by Pulitzer winner Shulamit Ran, who can probably just walk from her office to the concert; the sound artist Kotoka Suzuki; and the Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Thorvaldsdottir’s contribution, Enigma,
here in its concert version, will anchor a much-anticipated performance with immersive projections later this season at the Adler Planetarium.

Details:Fulton Recital Hall, University of Chicago. Hyde Park. 7:30 p.m. Free. spektralquartet.com

Nov. 14–Dec. 8

Don Giovanni

Mozart’s famed seducer travels his familiar route from shagging to hell dragging in the second go-round of a show from Robert Falls. The unabashedly garish, anachronistic production design and grope-heavy direction make you think anew about the gender issues at play instead of just letting the music wash over you. But you still get to hear “Là Ci Darem la Mano,” one of opera’s most familiar tunes.

Details:Lyric Opera House. Loop. $39–$299. lyricopera.org

Nov. 14–Dec. 15

Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Eclipse Theatre Company devotes each calendar year to the works of a single playwright; its 2019 season of productions by renowned satirist Christopher Durang concludes with his passionately absurdist take on the war on terror and its excesses. Steve Scott, who staged Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike for the Goodman in 2015 and was the producer of the theater for more than 30 years, takes directing duties here as well.

Details:Athenaeum Theatre. Lake View. $20–$30. eclipsetheatre.com

FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Ketel One
Nov. 15

FKA Twigs

If there’s any contemporary artist who’s earned a Björk comparison, it’s this British singer, whose avant-garde pop and R&B goes hand in hand with her experimental film work — and whose breathtaking live performances have been known to incorporate ballet, swordplay, and pole dancing. She released her latest full-length, the self-produced Magdalene, in October — perhaps the only New Testament–inspired record with a Future appearance this fall, or ever.

Details:Riviera Theatre. Uptown. 7:30 p.m. $34–$40. jamusa.com

Nov. 15
New Music


Its name employing the Latin word for “darkness,” this otherworldly chamber choir brings exotically gorgeous unaccompanied music, including the contemporary classic Path of Miracles, to the resonance of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Contrasting with the new music, they will make the atmosphere old — and take the group’s name literally — by turning off the electric lights and singing by candles.

Details:Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago. Hyde Park. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

Nov. 15–Dec. 22

The First Deep Breath

This new drama by Lee Edward Colston II centers on the pastor of an African American church and his family, who must confront long-buried history when a prodigal son comes home from prison. An early version of Colston’s script was a breakout hit at Victory Gardens’ Ignition Festival of New Plays in 2018; now the theater premieres the finished product.

Details:Victory Gardens Theater. Lincoln Park. $25–$65. victorygardens.org

Nov. 15–Dec. 31


This transplanted German tradition — which originated in Nuremberg circa 1545 — still feels uniquely magical and Chicagoan every time it comes around. The mulled wine, spiced nuts, and plates of bratwurst and sauerkraut can be enjoyed at both Daley Plaza and outside Wrigley Field. Make sure to grab a melted raclette sandwich.

Details:Various locations. Free. christkindlmarket.com

Nov. 15–Jan. 5

Camille Norment: Untitled (Red Flame)

Immerse yourself in an abstract chorus of voices in this sound installation, commissioned specifically for this site. The recordings were made during workshops that the Oslo-based artist conducted with South Side residents, where they engaged in vocal exercises and discussed the relationships between sound, black cultural life, and political agency in Chicago.

Details:Logan Center, University of Chicago. Woodlawn. Free. arts.uchicago.edu

Nov. 15–Jan. 20

Jessica Vaughn

While art traditionally adorns gallery walls, this exhibition will have you casting your eyes to the floor and ceiling. Vaughn, a Brooklyn-based Chicago native, produces works that isolate the power structures embedded in everyday infrastructure, such as on the CTA and in corporate cubicles. For this show, she will use acoustic tiles and fluorescent lights to modify the space so it resembles a contemporary office.

Details:Patron Gallery. River West. Free. patrongallery.com

Nov. 16–17


Chicago Opera Theater, presenting nothing but local premieres lately, one-ups even itself by putting on two in a single evening. The double bill pairs Aleko, a love triangle composed by a teenage Sergei Rachmaninoff, with Everest, an adaptation of the true-adventure life-and-death story from Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, created just five years ago by the British composer Joby Talbot.

Details:Harris Theater. Loop. $45–$150. chicagooperatheater.org

Nov. 16–Dec. 15

Always … Patsy Cline

This modest but crowd-pleasing jukebox musical hinges on the pen-pal correspondence between Cline, the midcentury country crooner, and Louise Seger, a superfan who became a confidante. In Firebrand Theatre’s production, actors Christina Hall and Harmony France will trade off roles at alternating performances — a plan so “Crazy” it just might work.

Details:Den Theatre. Wicker Park. $20–$50. firebrandtheatre.org

Nov. 17–30

Red Bull Music Festival Chicago

Last year, this energy-drink-sponsored series of improbably cool concerts hosted everything from arena-filling rap shows to sweeping jazz performances at the South Shore Cultural Center. This time around looks to be just as extraordinary, with Lupe Fiasco doing a front-to-back run-through of Food & Liquor, his most acclaimed album, and a 50th-anniversary celebration of the fabulous local record store Gramaphone at both Metro and Smartbar.

Details:Various locations and prices. redbull.com/chicago

David Sedaris
David Sedaris Photo: Ingrid Christie/Little, Brown
Nov. 21

David Sedaris

Inspired by his 2018 essay collection Calypso, the self-deprecating humorist will wax poetic about the perils of middle age at this reading and signing. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sedaris is no stranger to the city; in fact, he was working odd jobs around town and reading his diary at local open mics when Ira Glass discovered him while the producer was at WBEZ in the early ’90s.

Details:Auditorium Theatre. Loop. 7:30 p.m. $54–$74. auditoriumtheatre.org

Nov. 21

Kikagaku Moyo

This Japanese psych-rock band sounds like it’s been beamed in from a Summer of Love acid trip, with Woodstock-appropriate hair. Kikagaku Moyo is based in Tokyo, but its tripped-out, wandering jams draw from Indian raga, Portuguese jazz, and Krautrock.

Details:Thalia Hall. Pilsen. 8:30 p.m. $18–$30. eventbrite.com

Nov. 21–24

What the Moon Pulls

As the capstone of ReDance Group’s recent string of works connecting the natural world to human behavior, executive director Lucy Riner situates her audience in the round for a dance inspired by the moon’s phases. Each member of the cast of eight dances a solo mapped from their individual Zodiac charts.

Details:Filament Theatre. Portage Park. $15. redancegroup.org

Nov. 22


If you’re the kind of person who can’t wait to see the lighting of a tree, then this event is the progressive rock of Christmas cheer — comically over-the-top and full of chromatic bulbs. The Morton Arboretum kicks off its intensely kaleidoscopic Yuletide installation with this flip of the switch, which you can witness while imbibing some brews from the likes of Elmhurst Brewing Co. and Lake Effect.

Details:Morton Arboretum. Lisle. 5:30 p.m. $25–$60. mortonarb.org

Nov. 22

Miami Horror

Remember that window of the late ’00s when American Apparel reigned, MP3 blogs were popping, and indie rock and dance music were merging into a weird hybrid? Oh yeah, and half of those “indie dance” bands seemed to be from Australia? Miami Horror is an ambassador of that simpler time, with glossy, ’80s-leaning electro-pop that feels like a Melbourne-based reimagining of the Miami Vice soundtrack.

Details:Park West. Lincoln Park. 8 p.m. $23–$25. ticketfly.com

Nov. 22–23


For its Chicago debut, the acclaimed indigenous Australian company Bangarra performs a medley of three decades of its artistic output, pulling from oral histories passed down by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders for more than 65,000 years, blended with the extraordinary production value of the best in contemporary dance.

Details:Harris Theater. Loop. $35–$140. harristheaterchicago.org

Nov. 23–24

Chicago Toy & Game Fair

If a visit to the toy store can make a child’s day, then the huge two-day exhibition at the end of Chicago Toy & Game Week might make their whole year. In addition to trying out new creations before they hit the shelves this Christmas, kids can meet inventors of games and playthings, watch a national yo-yo competition, and marvel at a 14-foot replica of the Empire State Building made out of Lux Blox, a kind of 21st-century Lego.

Details:Navy Pier. Near North Side. $8–$15. chitag.com

Nov. 23–24


It won’t even be Thanksgiving yet, but Handel’s Christmas-staple oratorio (the “Hallelujah” chorus, “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” “All We Like Sheep”) surfaces early in the voices of the chamber choir Bella Voce and its newish chamber orchestra Bella Voce Sinfonia. The smaller forces give the piece a springy crispness different from its usual tinselly pomp.

Details:Nov. 23: Old St. Patrick’s Church; Nov. 24: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. West Loop; Evanston. $10–$65. bellavoce.org

Nov. 23–Apr. 26

Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City

One hundred years after Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, this exhibition reflects on the legacies of its ideals in 1940s and ’50s Chicago. In this city, artists like Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adapted the school’s principles of functional design to the tastes of the Midwest. On display: the furniture, prints, and photographs produced during this transformative period.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. Loop. $25. artic.edu

Nov. 26

Kyle Kinane

The Addison native returns to Thalia Hall for a night of drunken tales and ill-advised adventures. Kinane has come a long way from his first open mic night at Red Lion Pub 20 years ago: He’s become the longtime voice of Comedy Central, appeared on Conan and The Tonight Show, and released three comedy albums, in which he details everything from a gout diagnosis to the imagined demise of Westboro Baptist Church.

Details:Thalia Hall. Pilsen. 8:30 p.m. $27. eventbrite.com

Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune
Nov. 28

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

Though Chicago’s version is a much smaller affair than the Macy’s one in New York, watching marching bands, dancers, and inflatable floats of your favorite cartoon characters is way more exciting in person than on TV.

Details:State from Congress to Randolph. Loop. 8 a.m. Free. chicagothanksgivingparade.com

Nov. 29–Dec. 8

’Twas the Night Before …

Creatures are sure to be stirring as the famed circus troupe Cirque du Soleil debuts its first holiday-themed show, an acrobatic spin on Clement Clarke Moore’s recounting of a visit from St. Nick. The show follows a young Christmas cynic as she’s spirited away to a world populated by characters from the poem.

Details:Chicago Theatre. Loop. $30–$129. msg.com/family

‘The Nutcracker’
The Nutcracker Photo: Cheryl Mann
Nov. 30–Dec. 29

The Nutcracker

If you haven’t seen Christopher Wheeldon’s retelling of the Christmas classic, moved from a stodgy European living room to the construction grounds of the 1893 Chicago world’s fair (Buffalo Bill and all), this is the year to do it. The golden trim in the Auditorium is an extension of Julian Crouch’s ravishing set, but next fall it will move, along with the rest of the Joffrey, to the Lyric Opera.

Details:Auditorium Theatre. Loop. $35–$200. joffrey.org


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