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Five Great Things to Do in Chicago This Week

MusicNow, Chicago Podcast Festival, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Matt Braunger, and Seu Jorge

THE MOVEMENT Dance Theater of Harlem performs a new piece by Chicago-born choreographer Francesca Harper this weekend, sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.   Photo: Renata Pavam

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, November 16 through November 22, 2016

1 MusicNow

New Music:Loop listeners not steeped in new music sometimes sit glassy-eyed through a minimalist piece. Those doubters could stand to hear Steve Reich, to whom the CSO devotes a whole concert on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The program features his Double Sextet and Different Trains, the latter anchored by the taped narration of Holocaust survivors.
11/21 at 7 p.m. $27. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. cso.org/musicnow

2 Chicago Podcast Festival

Festival:Conceived by Jonathan Pitts, cofounder of the Chicago Improv Festival, this inaugural event will feature more than 30 story and comedy ’casts from across the country, including a live taping from the land of “Foon” (i.e., the fever-dream favorite Hello from the Magic Tavern).
11/17–19. $10–$47. Various locations. chicagopodcastfestival.org

3 Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance:Ballet and contemporary dance merge in a new work by Chicago-born Francesca Harper, a National Dance Project grant recipient, performed by the legendary Dance Theatre of Harlem. A live score by composer John Adams accompanies the piece, which Harper began in 2014, moved by the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.
11/18–20. $30–$90. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. auditoriumtheatre.org

4 Matt Braunger

Comedy:One-time Chicago comic (now based in LA) takes a break from his recent spate of TV roles for a good-old-fashioned standup tour—cheekily titled Made of Mistakes. Opening for his Chicago stop: local jokester Natalie Jose.
11/19 at 8 p.m. $20–$25. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. lh-st.com

5 Seu Jorge

World:Many scratched their heads at Wes Anderson’s choice to score The Life Aquatic with acoustic David Bowie covers—performed in Portuguese by samba superstar Seu Jorge. Twelve years on and almost a year since Ziggy himself passed, Seu Jorge dusts off the newly poignant tunes for a tribute tour.
11/17 at 6 and 9 p.m. $35–$50. Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport. thaliahallchicago.com

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Arnie Niekamp
Arnie Niekamp Photo: Courtesy of Arnie Niekamp

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Arnie Niekamp, host, producer, and creator of Hello From the Magic Tavern, which records a live episode as part of the Chicago Podcast Festival on Saturday, November 19.

“I’m really excited for the Chicago Podcast Festival. The big shows—Song Exploder, Risk!, Bullseye—are great, but there’re a lot of smaller shows that will get a chance to shine. On Thursday, I’m going to see Roboism at the Promontory in Hyde Park. They talk about what’s going on in the world of robotics, but it’s more about humanity’s relationship with technology than tech itself.

“On Friday, CinemaJaw is recording at Steppenwolf. They’re a really fun pop culture chat show from Chicago. I’m also really excited for Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show at the Athenaeum on Friday. He’s one of my favorite comedians and he’s got a great lineup of guests.

“Saturday is another big day at the fest. We’re sharing the bill at the Athenaeum with Shannon Cason, who does Shannon Cason’s Homemade Stories on WBEZ. At the same time as our show, Marty & Sarah Love Wrestling is recording at Schubas—I really wish I could go to that one. Sarah Schockey has been on Hello from the Magic Tavern as a guest before, and they’re hilarious.

“Our Magic Tavern recording is going to be a lot of fun. We’ve done a lot of live shows, and we’ve got a pretty good formula down. We try to recreate the improvised-interview setup of the podcast as faithfully as possible, with some costumes and songs thrown in.

“Of course, it’s still largely theater of the mind—a lot of the “magic” will require some imagination—but it’s fun to see my co-host Matt Young in the wizard outfit he got long before we started the podcast. Scott Adsit is going to be our special guest. I actually saw him perform for the first time at the Chicago Improv Festival, which was also organized by Jonathan Pitts and also at the Athenaeum. We’ve come full circle.

“After we wrap up, I’m sticking around the Athenaeum to see My Favorite Murder, which has turned into a phenomenon in the last year. I probably can’t make it back to Hyde Park in time, but I’d love to see The Room Where It’s Happening, a podcast about Hamilton, which my wife and I are finally going to see in January.

“Outside of that, I’ll default to my usual lazy parent-of-a-two-year-old self. That usually involves ordering a lot of easy but good food. My wife and I order an insane amount of pizza from Nueva Italy Pizzeria in Rogers Park. The delivery people are more familiar with the details of our lives than any of our friends. We also pick up a lot of sandwiches from Piatto Pronto in Andersonville. We’ll probably watch some more Westworld—we haven’t decided yet whether or not we like it, but I think we mostly do.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Parade:Chicago’s holiday season begins with this 25-year-old unveiling of the Mag Mile’s lights. Disney characters lead the parade on Saturday, and fireworks wrap the evening.
11/18–19. Free. Michigan Avenue between Oak and Wacker. themagnificentmile.com

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