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The 25 Best Things to Do in Chicago This April

See St. Vincent, Emmylou Harris, The National, John Cale—and that’s just some of the music. Get busy!

Photos: (Garlin) Vince Bucci/Invision; (St. Vincent) Renata Raksha; (railroaders) Jack Delano; (Harris) Courtesy of Elektra Records; (Genzken) Courtesy of the artist/Galerie Buckholz, Cologne/Berlin; (Ross) Odd Andersen; (Earth Explorers) GES Entertainment

Jeff Garlin

4/1 to 4/6
The Curb Your Enthusiasm star has been slumming it lately on the lackluster sitcom The Goldbergs, but live, he’s the consummate improviser.
$25. Zanies, 1548 N. Wells. chicago.zanies.com


Peter and the Starcatcher

4/2 to 4/13
The adventures of Peter Pan before he became Peter Pan, this charming vaudeville romp features pirates, lost boys, and cross-dressing mermaids.
$15 to $82. Broadway in Chicago at the Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe. broadwayinchicago.com


The Great God Pan

4/3 to 5/11
Ubiquitous director Kimberly Senior directs this Amy Herzog–penned drama (a Chicago premiere) about childhood sex abuse, memory, and identity. [[[See page 37.]]]
$30 to $40. Next Theatre, 927 Noyes, Evanston. nexttheatre.org


The Way West

4/3 to 6/8
Here’s reason for celebration: Steppenwolf ensemble member Amy Morton sits in the director’s chair for the first time since Clybourne Park, helming a cast that includes her boss—the formidable Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey—in this dark comedy about three California pioneers.
$44 to $68. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org


Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

4/5 at 8 p.m.
In 2007, the veteran jazz pianist (Corea) teamed up with the innovative banjoist (Fleck) to release The Enchantment, an 11-song album of intricate back-and-forth. They hit it off so well they decided to take the collab on tour seven years later.
$25 to $68. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. auditoriumtheatre.org


St. Vincent

4/5 at 8 p.m.
With a new, slickly produced self-titled solo record, the charmingly off-kilter singer-songwriter moves further into pop music territory.
$29. Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. jamusa.com



Opens 4/5
In 1942, the U.S. Office of War Information commissioned Ukrainian-born photographer Jack Delano to capture the work of railroad men. See more than 60 of his now-iconic black-and-white photographs here.
$12 to $14. Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark. chicagohs.org


Itzhak Perlman

4/6 at 2 p.m.
The Civic Opera House boasts a lot of seats—more than 3,000, in fact. Not many musicians can sell out the venue, but this eminent violinist will almost certainly.
$25 to $125. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker. lyricopera.org


Emmylou Harris

4/8 at 8 p.m.
Before the term “wrecking ball” became synonymous with Miley Cyrus, it was the name of a formidable 1995 country album. The powerhouse ­singer-songwriter behind it celebrates with this commemorative tour.
$65. Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. jamusa.com


Nicholas Phan

4/11 at 7:30 p.m.
Catch this talented Brooklyn tenor—singing the role of the Evangelist—in the Chicago Bach Project’s production of the St. Matthew Passion.
$25 to $55. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org


Sweet Honey in the Rock

4/12 at 4 and 8 p.m.
Though members have come and gone over the course of this ensemble’s 40-year career, the all-female, mostly a cappella group still wrings the pathos out of standard folk and gospel tunes.
$43 to $45. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. oldtownschool.org


Visceral Dance Chicago

4/12 to 4/13
Expect impressive athleticism set to rocking music from this edgy new contemporary company founded by respected Chicago choreographer Nick Pupillo.
$25 to $75. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org


Isa Genzken

4/12 to 8/3
For more than 30 years, the influential German sculptor has deconstructed American consumerism with colorful, kitschy pieces. She gets her due with this career-spanning survey.
$12. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org


John Preus

4/13 to 8/3
A former fabricator for local art star Theaster Gates, Preus skins the leather from found upholstered furniture and uses it to create intriguing urban structures.
Free. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. hydeparkart.org


The National

4/15 to 4/18
The moody Ohio quintet settles in for a four-show run in support of the Grammy-nominated album Trouble Will Find Me.
$39. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. thechicagotheatre.com


John Cale

4/17 at 8 p.m.
This cofounder of the Velvet Underground is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Any chance to witness his genius in a live setting should not be missed.
$33 to $35. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. oldtownschool.org


Brad Mehldau Trio

4/18 at 7 p.m.
The multitasking pianist (he just formed Mehliana, a duo with dynamic drummer Mark Guiliana) brings his trio (Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums) to town for a night of intricate improvisation.
$30 to $32. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. oldtownschool.org


Rewilding GENIUS

Through 4/20
New Colony ensemble members Andrew Hobgood and Megan Johns join forces to tell the story of an Uptown loft that becomes a breeding ground for self-identified geniuses, cybervigilantes, hacktivists, and anarchists, all intent on changing the world.
$20. Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted. thenewcolony.org


Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo

4/25 to 4/27
Break out those Walter White masks! Also known as C2E2, the city’s massive ode to comic books also features appearances from players in cult TV shows such as Breaking Bad (RJ Mitte) and The Walking Dead (Chandler Riggs).
$25 to $70. McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore. c2e2.com


Ryan Travis Christian

4/25 to 5/31
For his second solo exhibit at Western, the intriguing local artist dazzles with his zigzagging brand of stark black-and-white drawings.
Free. Western Exhibitions, 845 W. Washington. westernexhibitions.com


Thomas Roach

4/25 to 5/31
The emerging Chicago photographer turns moving images from his television screen—ranging from sitcoms to local news—into droopy, warped pictures. Consider it a comment on the banality of most modern entertainment.
Free. Document, 845 W. Washington. documentspace.org


In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story

4/26 to 6/15
Written by Lookingglass’s artistic associate Sara Gmitter and directed by Jessica Thebus, this world premiere fictionalizes the relationship between Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood, a deeply devout Christian tormented by the belief that her beloved would be denied salvation.
$30 to $70. Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan. lookingglasstheatre.org


Diana Ross

4/29 and 4/30
A rare appearance from an American icon, this concert promises a slew of hit songs, multiple costume changes, and live string and horn sections.
$46 to $101. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. thechicagotheatre.com


Joffrey Ballet of Chicago

4/30 to 5/11
Under the guidance of Ashley Wheater, the Joffrey’s far-reaching artistic director, the city’s premier ballet company mounts a freshly reenvisioned Romeo and Juliet by the Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor, who originally created his piece for the Scottish Ballet in 2008.
$31 to $152. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. joffrey.org


Earth Explorers

Through 9/1
Encourage the kids to learn about different ecosystems at this hands-on exhibit, where they can experience living in the tundra, in the rainforest, and at the bottom of the ocean.
Timed-entry tickets required, $7 to $9, not including general admission.
Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore. msichicago.org


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