For its new-music series MusicNow, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra produces the world premiere of composer Amy Beth Kirsten’s chamber opera Savior with her vocal-theater ensemble Howl and CSO musicians.
Details:Harris Theater. 7 p.m. $15–$28. cso.org
This annual fest, celebrating international forms of rhythmic movement, kicks off at the Chicago Cultural Center before traveling to other neighborhoods for two months of narrated performances highlighting traditional dance from Africa, India, Spain, Ireland, and the Americas.
Details:Various venues. Free. chicagotap.org
In 2008, when this Australian electronic-pop group first achieved breakthrough indie success with its sophomore album, In Ghost Colours, dance music was all but absent in the fickle American market. Since then that style has spawned numerous international festivals, massive streaming numbers, and a bevy of wealthy DJs and musicians. But this isn’t a band for Vegas-style nightclubs, at least based on its sound, which incorporates rumbling guitar riffs and shiny, piercing synths in equal measure.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $30. ticketfly.com
Bebe Miller Company
The Process v. Product Festival concludes with Bebe Miller’s In a Rhythm, which uses writings by Gertrude Stein, Toni Morrison, and David Foster Wallace to explore syntax as a window to cultural identity. That exercise is then applied to dance, examining how movement interacts with time and space.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $10–$30. colum.edu/dance-center
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
In a program formerly scheduled for conductor Charles Dutoit (now out of the public eye after sexual misconduct accusations), modern-music specialist Matthias Pintscher makes his CSO debut a year earlier than planned. Pintscher’s program, unchanged from Dutoit’s approach, pairs works by impressionists Debussy and Ravel. Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.
Details:Symphony Center. $30–$218. cso.org
Chicago Latino Film Festival
Near North Side
The city’s foremost annual (primarily) Spanish-language film festival is also an ideal occasion to see noteworthy under-the-radar movies that typically don’t come to town again. Highlights of the 34th year include Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems From the Murder Capital of the World, a James Franco–produced documentary about an American who goes to Honduras to teach poetry, and Tigers Are Not Afraid, a Mexican horror film endorsed by Guillermo del Toro.
Details:AMC River East 21. $10–$13 per screening; $80–$110 festival pass. chicagolatinofilmfestival.org
The Doppelgänger: An International Farce
The world premiere of Matthew Lee-Erlbach’s twisting tale involves a rich Brit, an American who’s his spitting image, and a copper deal in danger of causing unfortunate events across multiple continents. Tina Landau directs and Rainn Wilson stars.
Details:Steppenwolf Theatre. $20–$99. steppenwolf.org
This Richmond-based musician’s potent lyricism made a splash with critics in 2016; on Historian, her new album, she progresses dramatically, crafting long, poetic songs about various kinds of a loss, such as breakup, death, and home foreclosure.
Details:Empty Bottle. 9 p.m. $15. eventbrite.com
“Weird Al” Yankovic: The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour
Since his 1983 self-titled debut album—which introduced the world to his singular pastiche of comedy rock and pop parody—Yankovic has been, for the most part, in the business of making people laugh. On this self-proclaimed vanity tour, he pivots away from his comedic roots, instead delivering an evening of intimate, original tunes plucked from his 35-year catalog and played on his trusty accordion.
Details:Vic Theatre. 7 p.m. Sold out; see resellers. jamusa.com
Jimmy O. Yang
Right now Yang is at “Oh, that guy” status as the scene-stealing couch crasher Jian-Yang on HBO’s Silicon Valley, but he seems poised to leap into the limelight. This fall he has a role in the much-anticipated adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel Crazy Rich Asians. In the meantime, Yang is returning to his standup roots with a tour in support of his memoir, How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 7 p.m. $25. lh-st.com
The best part of a club sandwich is celebrated for two days, with chefs offering their most creative takes on slices of pig abdomen. Appearing for the first time: Birrieria Zaragoza’s Jonathan Zaragoza, Kimski’s Anthony Baier, and Latinicity’s Marcos Flores.
Details:UIC Forum. $60–$160. baconfestchicago.com
This contemporary company, now in its 33rd year, presents Point Line Plane, a program of two dance pieces: a reprisal of resident choreographer Victor Alexander’s excellent Line of Sighs and new sections from artistic director Jan Bartoszek’s Futura.
Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Apr. 6: 7:30 p.m. Apr. 7: 2 and 7:30 p.m. $15–$25. hedwigdances.com
Mind Over Mirrors
Near North Side
Chicago musician Jaime Fennelly is best known for his use of the harmonium and synths, but on Bellowing Sun, his latest work, he brings in additional instrumentalists, including a violinist and two percussionists, to craft an immersive sonic experiment. Fennelly premieres the record at the Museum of Contemporary Art and promises a sensory feast of wall-to-wall sound and strobe-heavy lighting.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Third Coast Baroque
This ensemble, a new member of the local cadre of performers of pre-classical-era works, amplifies Vivaldi’s music with the assistance of vivacious mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux.
Details:Apr. 6: Chicago Temple. Apr. 7: Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University. $10–$40. thirdcoastbaroque.org
Near South Side
Chicago’s biggest comics and cosplay festival continues to increase in stature, and this year it draws some notable people: Divergent author Veronica Roth and Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, sure, but also celebrities such as Henry Rollins and local cult figure Svengoolie.
Details:McCormick Place. $11–$86. c2e2.com
Resonant Bodies Festival
This New York–based festival, throwing its first Chicago shindig, foregrounds the rare pairing of new music and vocalists. Performers include Nathalie Joachim, best known as Eighth Blackbird’s flutist, and vocalist and new-music doyenne Tony Arnold.
Details:Constellation. $15 per concert; $35 festival pass. resonantbodiesfestival.org/chicago
Producing the Bedroom Artist
What defines art, and who is it for? Northwestern University’s Dittmar Gallery examines that question by displaying creative efforts produced by artists in their own rooms, with special attention paid to the convergence of private and public spaces.
Details:Dittmar Gallery. Free. northwestern.edu/norris/arts-and-recreation/dittmar
Boo Killebrew takes a break from writing TV scripts for A&E’s Longmire and gets back to her roots as a playwright. Her latest drama deals with an ex-con trying to start a new life outside prison, encountering obstacles that make recidivism seem inevitable. Chay Yew directs.
Details:Victory Gardens Theater. $15–$60. victorygardens.org
Judy Ledgerwood: Far from the Tree
This Northwestern professor is a mainstay of Chicago’s abstract painting scene. Her solo show, spotlighting works filled with thickly daubed, quilt-like patterns, inaugurates Rhona Hoffman Gallery’s relocation to Chicago Avenue, a symbolic move that shifts the locus of the contemporary art market away from the West Loop, where Hoffman reigned for years.
Details:Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Free. rhoffmangallery.com
33 to Nothing
A band rehearsal plays out in real time in Grant Varjas’s tale of bad breakups, done-me-wrong love songs, and a group of 30-something people strumming their way through adulthood. The reliably excellent Steve Haggard leads a cast playing lonesome losers still hoping for their big break.
Details:A Red Orchid Theatre. $15–$35. aredorchidtheatre.org
Last month, this Chicago-bred pioneering industrial metal band released AmeriKKKant, its first studio album in five years and 14th overall. The LP marks Ministry’s first release without guitarist Mike Scaccia since 2007’s The Last Sucker. Despite this loss, AmeriKKKant is as hard-hitting as ever, this time with an angry nod toward contemporary politics.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $38. ticketfly.com
Visceral Dance Chicago
Visceral Dance adds a world premiere, a piece by Kevin O’Day, former director of Germany’s Nationaltheater Mannheim, to its growing repertoire of works by high-profile choreographers.
Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $25–$70. harristheaterchicago.org
9 to 5
Based on the hit 1980 comedy, Dolly Parton’s rollicking musical about rebellious women who take over their workplace addresses sexual harassment, the pay gap between men and women, and good old garden-variety sexism.
Details:Firebrand Theatre at the Den Theatre. $20–$45. firebrandtheatre.org
The sharp pianist plays a recital showcasing titans of the keyboard—Mozart, Liszt, Bach, and Beethoven. Ax’s local solo performances, along with his chamber appearances with Yo-Yo Ma, have been hot tickets in recent years.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $29–$97. cso.org
“I’d say that the theme is the anti-theme, and the idea is to be free, hence the name Freedom’s Goblin,” Segall said of his 10th solo studio album. And a quick spin of the new record proves he is not afraid to jump around between ideas. His signature garage and psych-rock sounds are still intact, but Freedom’s Goblin is a lot looser, sillier, and groovier than his past work.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $28. ticketfly.com
Price broke through to indifferent indie scenes and received mainstream recognition for her critically acclaimed second album, All American Made. Inspired by the songwriting of Tom Petty, All American Made channels the sound of traditional country music while referencing the struggles of contemporary American life.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $25–$119. eventbrite.com
Kay Ryan and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago
Near North Side, Evanston
One of the key pleasures of poetry is reading it aloud, but what might happen when someone tries to sing a poem? For this National Poetry Month event, Apollo Chorus adapts former U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan’s stanzas for choir, conducted by Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal (who scored the theme music for Monk and House of Cards).
Details:Apr. 12: Poetry Foundation. 7 p.m. Free. Apr. 13: Nichols Concert Hall. 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. poetryfoundation.org
Near North Side
In Poor People’s TV Room, Bessie-award winner Okpokwasili and her husband, Peter Born, use two events in Nigeria as fodder for an interdisciplinary performance. The Women’s War (in which Nigerian women challenged the British Crown) and the Bring Back Our Girls movement (a response to the Boko Haram kidnappings) inspire a larger narrative about race, body, and gender.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $30. mcachicago.org
Music director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an American program, beginning with George Walker’s gorgeous Lyric for Strings and ending with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, written when the Czech composer checked out New York. The concert centers on Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, in which a narrator reads Abraham Lincoln’s works—here performed by John Malkovich.
Details:Symphony Center. $45–$272. cso.org
A Blue Island in the Red Sea
Collaboraction artistic director Anthony Moseley unveils his latest play, this one a drama dealing with race in Chicago. Like his acclaimed Crime Scene, a deep-dive exploration of the city’s iniquities, Blue Island is both a call to action and a piece of theater.
Details:Collaboraction Theatre at the Den Theatre. $15–$30. collaboraction.org
Alex Katz: Grass and Trees
The mature phase of an international artist reveals a key principle of the nature of creativity—artists never retire. Katz, 90 years old, is known as a master of placid-faced portraits. Now he turns his paintbrush to wild grass landscapes (some of the artworks are 18 feet long) that plop a viewer into a buzzing green prairie on a spring day.
Details:Richard Gray Warehouse. Free. richardgraygallery.com
Tired of the lack of appreciation for commercial photography, Tom Michas and Madeline Telford have curated an exhibition set on erasing the border between commercial and fine art. Eleven photographers will be exhibited in the one-day event—including Jason Little, whose snapshots you may recognize from the pages of Chicago magazine.
Details:3500 S. Archer Ave. 7 p.m. Free.
Columbia College faculty member Kelsa Robinson curates the spring edition of this series dedicated to hip-hop and street dancing, which includes panel discussions, presentations, workshops, and an exciting dance battle.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. Free. colum.edu/dancecenter
Near West Side
Hart is such a relentless and energetic performer that he risks overwhelming—for better or for worse—almost every project he joins. But that tendency works wonders for his standup show, which remains a can’t-miss event. On his Irresponsible tour, expect him at his whip-smart best.
Details:United Center. 7 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
Sound of Silent Film Festival
This one-night-only annual fest is the logical next step for fans of the Music Box’s organ-accompanied screenings, which pair original scores—performed live—with contemporary silent features. The result: pure cinematic alchemy.
Details:Davis Theater. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $15–$35. acmusic.org
Gaetano Donizetti, best recognized today for his bel canto masterpieces The Elixir of Love and Lucia di Lammermoor, also wrote some lesser-known short operas. Chicago Opera Theater fashions two of them into a single evening’s entertainment, with singers working double duty: Il Pigmalione, the then-teenage composer’s take on the Pygmalion myth; and Rita, a late-career comedy about marriage.
Details:Studebaker Theater. $45–$145. chicagooperatheater.org
Near North Side
ShawChicago presents Noel Coward’s splendid comedy of an eccentric family and the houseguests who are terrified and bewildered by them. Set in the Roaring Twenties, the piece is a perfect storm of deliciously bad manners and social intrigue.
Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $35. shawchicago.org
The local artist, graphic novelist, and New Yorker contributor gets a solo show for her “carpet paintings,” cartoonish artworks made out of floor covering.
Details:Western Exhibitions. Free. westernexhibitions.com
Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded
Thomas “unbrands” advertisements from the last century by removing product names and all text, revealing how studio photography, clever design, and editing promoted and fueled an artificial lifestyle promised by consumerism. It turns out that America never exited the golden age of advertising; after the Mad Men era, manipulation thrived.
Details:Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Free. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu
Evgeny Kissin and the Emerson String Quartet
The formidably talented and impressively haired pianist Kissin joins up with the eminent Emerson String Quartet, one of the top string quartets for four decades. Three of the Emersons plus Kissin play Mozart and Fauré piano quartets, and then all five form a fist to punch up Dvořák’s famous Piano Quintet in A Major.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $50–$187. cso.org
Robert Wright and George Forrest’s sweeping musical takes audiences to Berlin during the 1920s, when the party was in full swing and World War II’s atrocities were largely unimaginable. The plot follows numerous idiosyncratic characters as they check into a lavish, elegant hotel. Among the guests: a ballerina, a typist, a dying bookkeeper, and an impoverished royal.
Details:Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit. $25–$40. kokandyproductions.com
Satellite Turntable Orchestra
Kid Koala (Eric San), an eccentric Canadian turntablist who’s toured with Radiohead, conducts the audience. How does it work? He provides a turntable and color-coded records to all visitors, and they change up the selections based on corresponding lighting cues.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $10–$25. artic.edu
Three years after their debut album, The Universe Smiles upon You, it’s still hard to believe this band—which blends the sounds of Southeast Asian pop, funk, and rock—is from Texas. On their new LP, Con Todo El Mundo, they expand their globetrotting references, exploring folk and soul from India and the Middle East.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
Near North Side
Set in Bluff City during the 1950s, this musical is packed with toe-tapping grooves. It spins the story of a white DJ who bucks his corporate overseers by playing “black” music on the radio.
Details:Porchlight Music Theatre at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $33–$60. porchlightmusictheatre.org
Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium
Frankenthaler, who died in 2011, was one of a few women to break into the male-dominated field of abstract expressionism. These rarely seen pieces convey the joy of a creative person in love with color.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$29. artic.edu
Waxahatchee and Hurray for the Riff Raff
As Waxahatchee, musician Katie Crutchfield crafted her most confident material on 2017’s Out in the Storm, her fourth album. Filled with rollicking guitar riffs and empowering lyrics
(“I went out in the storm, and I’m never returning,” she croons on lead single “Silver”), Out in the Storm was a stark departure from the longing and devastation of her previous record, 2015’s Ivy Tripp. Expect a similarly captivating live show. In this case, she’ll be joined by New Orleans–based blues-folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $23–$35. eventbrite.com
Rezac is Chicago’s foremost guru of small sculptures. Each object he creates is like a Zen koan aimed at opening the viewer’s mind.
Details:Renaissance Society. Free. renaissancesociety.org
The septuagenarian pianist returns to Symphony Center with a victory-lap program of Book 2 of Debussy’s Preludes and three works by Chopin, the bread and butter of Pollini’s half-century-plus career. While he still plays with perfect posture, rumblings about a slippage in Pollini’s execution suggest there won’t be too many more chances to see him live.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $35–$104. cso.org
The documentary filmmaker has spent his career exploring various pockets of American life: the unusual (Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, Gates of Heaven), the powerful (The Unknown Known, about Donald Rumsfeld), and the unjust (The Thin Blue Line). The Chicago Humanities Festival hosts Morris for a discussion about his new book, The Ashtray, just before the fest starts.
Details:Music Box Theatre. 7 p.m. $10–$25. chicagohumanities.org
It might have the same title as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s full-length ballet, which enjoys its North American premiere with the Joffrey, shares little in common with the Bard’s work. Mortals and mythical creatures meet in what’s sure to be a magical evening.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $34–$159. joffrey.org
Lucky Plush Productions
Director Julia Rhoads continues to hone her signature blend of dance, theater, and humorous antics in Tab Show. The two works on the program repurpose old material: Rink Life, an extension of the 2017 piece Cadence, created for Hubbard Street, is inspired by roller-rink culture, and Curb Candy remixes bits and pieces of company favorites.
Details:Harris Theater. $25–$70. harristheaterchicago.org
This troupe is best known for the ways it incorporates architecture into its performances, through both choreography and set design. Shadows Across Our Eyes inaugurates its new space, which should help it fulfill some of the group’s ambitions.
Details:SITE/less. $12-$15. zephyrdance.com
How to Use a Knife
You may look at fine dining differently after seeing Will Snider’s scathing behind-the-scenes exploration of restaurant kitchen culture. With rapid-fire dialogue as sharp as the cutlery, Snider’s story of a chef, a busboy, a dishwasher, and a pair of Guatemalan line cooks gives new meaning to the term “kitchen sink realism.”
Details:Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit. $15–$35. sgtheatre.org
Out of Easy Reach
Three Chicago museums join forces to protest the treatment of gender and race in the art world, specifically how the contributions of female artists of color have been overlooked. Visionary curator Allison Glenn brings together 24 black and Latina women, including Candida Alvarez, Edra Soto, and Bethany Collins, who represent some of today’s finest contemporary artists.
Details:Various venues. Free. outofeasyreach.com
Archy Marshall’s cross-genre experimentation connects with a generation of listeners with digital access to all the music the world has to offer. On The Ooz, his third album (and second as King Krule), Marshall integrates rockabilly guitars and jazz horns into his electronic-based sound.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $35. ticketfly.com
Prine has always been a songwriter’s songwriter. The Maywood native and onetime Chicagoan has never dominated the folk music scene, but he’s long been among the most respected journeymen of Americana, thanks to his top-shelf song craft, his understated guitar picking, and his trademark delivery—a nearly deadpan drawl that’s only improved with age.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $80–$263. ticketmaster.com
Evanston, North Park
The 45th annual salute to J.S. Bach manages to find new ways to go back to the deep well of his music. The renowned pianist Sergei Babayan plays a keyboard concerto. Also, cellist Katinka Kleijn premieres a piece interweaving movements from Bach’s solo cello suites with new material by the prodigious composer Marcos Balter.
Details:Apr. 27, 29: Nichols Concert Hall. May 4: Anderson Chapel, North Park University. $10–$30. bachweek.org
Jesus Christ Superstar
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock-and-pop take on the life of Jesus Christ gets the lavish orchestra and full chorus it deserves in the Lyric’s big-budget production, helmed by Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader.
Details:Lyric Opera House. $47–$199. lyricopera.org/jesuschristsuperstar
Chicago Humanities Festival
For the first time, the spring kickoff of this annual gathering of celebrities, intellectuals, and celebrity intellectuals will begin a yearlong exploration of a theme: Graphic! (exclamation
point included for visual reasons, of course). Invited participants are those whose work corresponds with a present in which photographs, emoji, and videos are increasingly part of our lexicon. The most recognizable: artist Ai Weiwei, author Gillian Flynn, and musician Questlove.
Details:Various venues and prices. chicagohumanities.org
Malott Japanese Garden Spring Festival
Long a family-friendly favorite, this festival honors Japanese culture with the help of several local groups dedicated to passing down the traditional arts of koto playing, papermaking, and calligraphy. New to the mix this year: the Urasenke Chicago Association, which will perform a free tea ceremony and tasting each day.
Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. 10 a.m. Free. chicagobotanic.org
“Chicago is the best city for architecture I’ve ever experienced,” said Josephson, whose photographs of it avoid obvious skyline pictures. The images, mostly black-and-white shots taken from the 1960s to the 1980s, capture Chicago’s mood in its best, and sometimes strangest, light.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
Visceral Dance Chicago and the Chicago Philharmonic
Visceral’s Nick Pupillo reboots The Dream, his take on a Dostoyevsky story (after a successful premiere at the Harris Theater) about a man facing his mortality. This accessible blend of dance and music shows off conductor Scott Speck, who arranged a mix of old and new orchestrations.
Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. 3 p.m. $25–$75. northshorecenter.org
Panda Bear and Geologist
When Noah Lennox takes the stage, it’s usually under the name Panda Bear—often as part of Animal Collective, the genre-busting, kaleidoscopic group he cofounded in the early 2000s. Here, Lennox pulls from his extensive solo catalog of harmony-heavy psychedelia (think Brian Wilson post–Pet Sounds delirium) with a little help from his fellow Collective member Geologist.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $20–$35. thaliahallchicago.com
Poetry off the Shelf: Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson’s nonfiction defies easy categorization. Her most recent book, The Argonauts, was an account of her partner’s transgender transition that alternated between intimate prose and a scholarly examination of gender. Her poetry, likewise, has little regard for genre, but it’s similarly immediate, accessible, and often heartbreaking. She’ll read from and discuss her work.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free. poetryfoundation.org