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Ten Things to Do This Week in Chicago

Cardboard Piano, Tomorrow Never Knows fest, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, and more

Kearstyn Keller and Adia Alli in Cardboard Piano at TimeLine   Photo: Justin Barbin

The Ten

Don’t-miss picks for January 17 through January 23, 2019

1 Photograph 51

Theater:Director Vanessa Stalling has made a career of putting intricate, opinionated women onstage, whether en masse (The Wolves) or in pairs (A Shayna Maidel). With Anna Ziegler’s drama, she zeroes in on Rosalind Franklin (Chaon Cross), whose work made it possible for Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA’s double helix. Like Stalling, Cross has a history of playing complex women — as a mathematician in Court’s The Hard Problem, she turned numbers into poetry.
1/17–2/17. $38–$74. Court Theatre. courttheatre.org

2 Tomorrow Never Knows

Festival:January is locally recognized as the slowest month for avid concertgoers. But this annual music and comedy festival has brought the beginning of the year out of the doldrums with ace lineups. Among the musical highlights: Snail Mail (a.k.a. indie-rock singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan); the local band Cave, with its steadily driving rhythms and spacy, distorted guitars; and Petal, a dreamy emo project headed by Kiley Lotz.
Through 1/20. Individual ticket prices vary. Various locations. tnkfest.com

3 Anthony Atamanuik

Comedy:Alec Baldwin isn’t the only Donald Trump impersonator in show biz. Comedian Anthony Atamanuik plays our beleaguered leader on Comedy Central’s The President Show. For Trump Dump: American Tantrum Book Tour, Atamanuik, as Trump, gives a speech on the important issues affecting our nation, like where Rosie O’Donnell is hiding and his plan for a hair oil pipeline.
1/17 at 7:30 p.m. $20–$30. Evanston SPACE. eventbrite.com

4 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Theater:The main-stage event at the Dance Center this year features the French-Norwegian company Plexus Polaire, which will carry out a bonkers multimedia exploration of Valerie Solanas (infamous for trying to kill Andy Warhol) using anthropomorphic puppets, video projections, and intricate sound design.
1/17–27. $10–$30. Various locations. chicagopuppetfest.org

5 Betsy Odom: Butchcraft

Art:Odom coined the term “butchcraft” to suggest that conventionally masculine crafts like woodworking, carving, and leather tooling can be “queered” to express nonconforming gender identities such as butch lesbianism. The local artist’s sculptures of sporting goods and fashion — a baseball helmet made of leather and painted a garish pink, for example — play with expectations of so-called good taste.
FREE 1/17–3/31. DePaul Art Museum. museums.depaul.edu

6 Fillet of Solo

Literature:Dozens of groups and individuals take the stage during this two-week festival celebrating the city’s local live-lit and solo-performance scenes. This year’s lineup features the comedy collective the Kates, the LGBTQ storytelling team OutSpoken!, and the Stoop, a series hosted by Moth GrandSlam champion Lily Be.
1/18–2/2. $10; $50 festival pass. Lifeline Theatre. lifelinetheatre.com

7 Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

Gospel:Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with this annual gospel version of Handel’s Messiah, one of the Auditorium’s most popular programs, this year featuring soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen Marie Richardson, plus more than 100 musicians and singers from across the metropolitan area.
1/19–20. $29–$68. Auditorium Theatre. auditoriumtheatre.org

8 MLK Tribute Concert

Classical:Chicago Sinfonietta, which plausibly bills itself as the most diverse orchestra in the country, has celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in each of its 31 seasons with often-exuberant programs that mirror that diversity stylistically. This year’s tribute includes Beethoven’s Egmont overture, five choral settings of spirituals by the 20th-century British composer Michael Tippett, spoken-word performance of King’s speeches, and a gospel- and jazz-inflected choral-orchestral closer by James Lee III.
1/20: Wentz Concert Hall; 1/21: Symphony Center. $10–$75. chicagosinfonietta.org

9 Anika

Experimental:British-German singer Annika Henderson bears many of the attributes of stylish and eccentric pop singers from the 1960s (Nico’s spooky contralto, Marianne Faithfull’s phrasing), but she’s filtered them through later musical phases, such as dub, postpunk, and early industrial. On her 2010 self-titled solo debut as Anika, produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, and with her new trio Exploded View, she crafts sinister and swinging tracks suffused with alluringly ominous basslines, clanging electronic effects, and cavernous sound design.
1/22 at 8:30 p.m. $15. Empty Bottle. eventbrite.com

10 Cardboard Piano

Theater:When it premiered in 2016 at the Humana Festival of New Plays in Louisville, Hansol Jung’s Uganda-set drama stunned audiences with its exploration of truth, reconciliation, and the limits of forgiveness. Director Mechelle Moe helms the Chicago premiere, and be advised: Arrive early to check out the lobby, filled with interactive multimedia displays that provide historical and cultural context for the events of the play.
Through 3/17. $20–$54. TimeLine Theatre. timelinetheatre.com

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