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Five Fun Things to Do in Chicago This Week

From rock shows to Rocky Horror Picture Show, here’s how to stay busy this week.

HOUSE OF HORRORS Music Box Theatre screens the cult classic this weekend.   Photo: Courtesy of Music Box Theatre

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, October 22 through Tuesday, October 28

1 American Contemporary Music Ensemble

Classical: The award-winning new-music group counts Pulitzer winner Caroline Shaw, the composer-rocker-countertenor-violinist Caleb Burhans, and the superstar new-music violist Nadia Sirota among its members. At Constellation, they’ll play the work of Joseph Byrd and Mick Barr, who dabble as new-music composers when they’re not avant-garde rockers.
10/26 at 8:30. $15. Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com

2 Strandline

Theater: Kirsten Fitzgerald (The Qualms) and Natalie West (Abigail’s Party) star in this show, which is reason enough to get tickets immediately. More details: Abbie Spallen’s barbed dramedy begins with a drowning and a wedding and continues through a long night’s journey of threatening secrets, raging drunkenness, and dark humor. J.R. Sullivan directs.
10/23–12/7. $15–$30. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells. aredorchidtheatre.org

3 Lucy McKenzie

Art: The Art Institute’s regular Focus series highlights an international contemporary artist making waves. Based in Brussels, McKenzie dabbles quite successfully in fashion, interior design, painting, modeling, and crime fiction. Here, she creates a layered narrative of female sexuality through department store display windows and an autobiographical history of her paintings.
10/23–1/18. $14–$23. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

4 Courtney Barnett

Rock: This up-and-coming Aussie firecracker’s songs are infinitely relatable, combining Cobain’s listlessness with Pavement’s daydreaminess in what might be a recipe for boring tunes were it not for her subtle wit. Given Chicago’s overwhelmingly positive response to Barnett at Lolla, expect this show to be packed to the rafters. (San Fermin opens).
10/27 at 8. $16–$19. Metro, 3730 N. Clark. etix.com

5 Rocky Horror Picture Show

Film: Just in time for Halloween, the Music Box Theatre mounts five screenings of the cult classic. Costumes are encouraged.
10/24–11/1. $15. The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. musicboxtheatre.com

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Alison Cuddy
Alison Cuddy Photo: Courtesy of Alison Cuddy

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Alison Cuddy, program director of the Chicago Humanities Festival, which runs from Saturday, October 25 through Sunday, November 9.

Friday night, Shaw’s Crab House is celebrating thirty years in existence. They’re having a big oyster block party. I love oysters in general and I feel like there’s been a resurgence of them in Chicago. Shaw’s is just down the street so I go there all the time.

“Saturday, I’m going to interview two of my favorite and inspiring Chicagoans: the filmmaker Steve James from Kartemquin Films and entrepreneur Chaz Ebert. They’re going to be talking about the time they’ve spent touring with the film Life, Itself made about the late Roger Ebert. They will also be showing some never-before seen clips from the film. The evening will end with two masters of high art, drama, and the absurd: the immensely talented theater genius Wallace Shawn and the author Gary Shteyngart.

“Sunday, we’re reproducing the Sunday morning political talk shows at the Logan Center with Steven Schmidt and David Axelrod, essentially the two architects of the historic 2008 presidential race. And then Vijay Iyer is going to be with us. He’s an incredibly talented jazz pianist who also performs music in broader areas beyond jazz. He’s going to be talking about the theoretical, compositional side of music. And then we have Hakeem Oluseyi; he’s an astrophysicist who calls himself a gangster nerd. He grew up in the rural South; he ended up at Stanford. Now he’s someone who tries to recruit minorities and get young people excited about and literate in science. He’s coming to do a public talk. And then finally, opera singer Renée Fleming is closing out our day in Hyde Park. She’s going to be talking about Bel Canto, an opera that she’s involved in.

“Sunday night, I’m going to unwind at Northdown Café and Taproom. I’m the co-host of a craft beer podcast called Strange Brews. It airs once a week so I usually try to hit up somewhere in the city to see what’s new on tap and give out recommendations. The Northdown crew are rock steady; they’re funny and they’re always doing something interesting with the space. And since we’re off on Monday, if I have the energy, I’ll head up to the Mayne Stage. In celebration of Jump Up Records’ 20th anniversary, they’re presenting a night of ’60s era ska.” —As told to Tomi Obaro

Freebie of the Week


Putney Swope

Film: Comedian and actor Wyatt Cenac hosts this rare screening of the satirical film Putney Swope (1969), about a token black Madison Avenue employee who’s accidentally promoted to CEO.
10/26 at 4. Free with RSVP. Black Cinema House, 7200 S. Kimbark. blackcinemahouse.org

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