Don’t-miss picks for January 23 through January 29, 2020
Hip-Hop:The native New York City producer has been behind the boards of some of the most essential underground rap of the past two decades, from Aesop Rock’s 2001 opus Labor Days to the knotty, meditative raps of Billy Woods. But Blockhead’s solo work is just as impressive: His 2004 debut, Music by Cavelight, is a stone-cold classic in the realm of instrumental hip-hop.
1/23 at 8:30 p.m. $15–$20. Lincoln Hall. lh-st.com
Theater:A decade or so before August: Osage County took the Steppenwolf stage, Tracy Letts authored this grubbier Oklahoma story, a claustrophobic, conspiracy-minded thriller about a couple going off the deep end in a low-rent motel room. This new production is helmed by Tony winner David Cromer, with a cast led by Carrie Coon (who also happens to be Letts’s wife) and rising Steppenwolf star Namir Smallwood.
1/23–3/8. $20–$122. Steppenwolf Theatre. steppenwolf.org
3 How a Boy Falls
Theater:In this suspenseful new drama, an au pair stumbles into a mystery when the child in her charge goes missing and each of the parents seems to have their own agenda. Director Halena Kays stages the world premiere by Steven Dietz, one of the country’s most prolific (and widely produced) playwrights.
1/23–2/29. $30–$73. Northlight Theatre. northlight.org
4 Do You Feel Anger?
Theater:Office sexism is taken to absurdist lengths in this 2018 comedy by Mara Nelson-Greenberg, which follows a female “empathy coach” assigned to work with the oblivious male employees of a debt collection agency. That two of said employees will be played by A Red Orchid’s Lawrence Grimm and Levi Holloway is reason enough to pay attention.
1/23–3/15. $15–$40. A Red Orchid Theatre. aredorchidtheatre.org
5 Chicago Restaurant Week
Food:Ordering an appetizer, entrée, and dessert is all fun and games until the bill comes — an elaborate multicourse meal can easily run you three figures — so it’s no wonder this annual prix fixe ploy was stretched beyond a week. More than 300 restaurants will participate.
1/24–2/8. Various prices and locations. choosechicago.com/chicago-restaurant-week
6 How to Defend Yourself
Theater:A group of college students comes together for DIY self-defense training after a classmate is raped on campus in Lily Padilla’s acclaimed new play, awarded the 2019 Yale Drama Series Prize. Victory Gardens’ staging is a coproduction with the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where it received strong reviews last spring; Marti Lyons (Cambodian Rock Band) reprises her directing duties.
1/24–2/23. $25–$65. Victory Gardens. victorygardens.org
7 Jun Fujita: American Visionary
Art:The early 1900s were not a safe or friendly time for immigrants to the United States — but that didn’t stop Fujita, Chicago’s first Japanese American photojournalist, from covering events that would make their way into local history textbooks. This exhibition, jointly produced by the Newberry Library and Poetry Foundation (Fujita was also a prolific poet) will showcase his work, which includes documentation of the 1919 race riot, the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and the 1915 Eastland disaster.
FREE 1/24–3/31. Newberry Library. newberry.org
8 Alison Balsom
Classical:Music of the Baroque presents one of its occasional chronological aberrations, playing music of classical-era (i.e., not baroque) composers Haydn and Mozart. It’s worth bending the rules to book this swan-like trumpeter to solo in Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet. Music director Jane Glover, an expert Mozart interpreter, takes the baton for his Symphonies Nos. 36 (“Linz”) and 38 (“Prague”).
1/25: Harris Theater. 1/26: North Shore Center. $10–$85. baroque.org
9 National Geographic Live: On the Trail of Big Cats
Talk:Behind every breathtaking wildlife photo-graph is a person with a camera crouching in the distance waiting for the perfect moment. This National Geographic event stars Steve Winter, a New Jersey–based photojournalist who will share tales of survival and conservation from his career chasing snow leopards, American cougars, and other big cats around the world.
1/26 at 3 p.m. $42–$54. Auditorium Theatre. auditoriumtheatre.org
10 Mean Girls
Theater:Tina Fey earned a Tony nomination for this musical adaption of her own screenplay, the source of the smart and endlessly quotable 2004 film about the taxonomy of high school cliques. The score is by Fey’s husband, composer and former SNL music director Jeff Richmond, with lyrics by Legally Blonde’s Nell Benjamin. The touring production gets a full month in Chicago — fitting, since Fey set her story in the city’s North Shore suburbs.
Through 1/26. $30–$120. James M. Nederlander Theatre. broadwayinchicago.com