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Here Are the 25 Best Things to Do in January

This month’s picks for music, theatre, comedy, dance, and other great local events worth your attention.

Photography: (Beyond the Swastika) Courtesy of DuSable Museum of African American History; (Hedda Gabler) Courtesy of Writers Theatre; (Jay Z) Tom Watkins/Rex Features/AP; (Stanley) Jim McGuire; (Ma) Michael O’Neill

Beyond the Swastika and Jim Crow

1/2 to 4/14
When the Nazis forced Jewish academics to flee Europe, some scholars relocated to the United States and found refuge in an unlikely place: historically black colleges. This exhibit explores the surprising relationship between two oft-marginalized groups.
$10. DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. dusablemuseum.org


Kurt Elling

1/3 at 9 p.m., 1/4 at 8 p.m.
The consummate baritone comes to Uptown for an annual January set at his old haunt.
$15. The Green Mill. 4802 N. Broadway. greenmilljazz.com


The 17th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival

1/3 to 1/19
The Kates, 2nd Story, Write Club—the city’s most popular live reading clubs unite for 16 days of midwinter tall tales.
$10 to $30. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 Glenwood, and the Heartland Studio, 7016 Glenwood. lifelinetheatre.com


Otis Clay

1/4 at 8 p.m.
Cross your fingers for the 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee’s version of “Trying to Live My Life Without You.”
$16 to $36. Space, 1245 Chicago. evanstonspace.com


Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

Through 1/4
Hug a tree and it lights up—just one of the cool features of this new holiday lights nature walk at the arboretum.
$10 to $15. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Rte. 53, Lisle. mortonarb.org


Hedda Gabler

1/7 to 3/16
Director Kimberly Senior (due to make her Broadway debut this year) teams up with leading lady Kate Fry for Ibsen’s scathing, tragic, and relentlessly unblinking look at a master manipulator struggling with middle-class malaise.
$35 to $70. Writers Theatre at Tudor Court, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe. writerstheatre.org


Jay Z

1/9 at 8 p.m.
Even though Jay Z’s latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, was sonically tepid, he’s still considered one of the best rappers of all time for a reason.
$32 to $150. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. ticketmaster.com


Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival

1/9 to 1/19
It’s a smorgasbord of sketch comedy, as more than 170 groups from around the country, and in some cases across the pond, swarm Stage 773 for a weekend of scripted funny stuff.
$14 to $15. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. chicagosketchfest.com


Seven Guitars

1/9 to 2/9
Ubiquitous director Ron OJ Parson (TimeLine Theatre’s A Raisin in the Sun) helms this staging of August Wilson’s elegiac play about a group of grieving musicians. Also featuring Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields.
$35 to $65. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis. courttheatre.org


The Phantom of the Opera

1/9 to 3/2
The megamusical that’s too big to fail comes to town with Chicagoan Ben Jacoby taking the role of the Phantom’s rival, the handsome Vicomte de Chagny.
$32 to $105. Broadway in Chicago at Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph. phantomoftheopera.com


Ralph Stanley

1/11 at 8 p.m.
You probably recognize Stanley from his work on the soundtrack for the Coen brothers’ classic O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the bluegrass legend has been touring for 46 years. He performs material both old and new with his family band.
$40 to $42. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. oldtownschool.org


Madama Butterfly

1/11 to 1/26
Soprano Patricia Racette, who earned critical raves when she recorded the showstopping aria “Un Bel Di” with the Met Opera Orchestra in 2012.
$44 to $300. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker. lyricopera.org



1/12, 1/19
In case you missed Music Box’s 2011 screening of this much-heralded National Theatre production directed by Danny Boyle (and starring dueling Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller), here’s your chance to see it.
$15. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. musicboxtheatre.com


Nora Schultz

1/12 to 2/23
Norwegian export Solveig Øvstebø curates her first show, featuring the sculptural installations of Berlin artist Nora Schultz.
Free. Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis. renaissancesociety.org


Tomorrow Never Knows Festival

1/15 to 1/19
Temporary relief for summer music festival fiends, this year’s TNK includes indie-pop act Cayucas and rootsy Brooklyn throwback trio the Lone Bellow.
$15 to $100. Multiple venues. tnkfest.com


Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show

1/16 to 1/20
The annual McCormick Place aquatic-vehicle showcase has free fishing and scuba diving lessons for kids, in addition to hundreds of boats and RVs for grownups to admire.
$10 to $12. McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lakeshore. chicagoboatshow.com


Luna Gale

1/18 to 2/23
A social worker (played by the phenomenal Mary Beth Fisher) makes a harrowing decision when she meets a pair of teenage addicts and their newborn baby in this world premiere by Rebecca Gilman.
$25 to $75. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org


Archive State

1/20 to 4/6
Displaying personal collections of found photographs and YouTube clips, six artists consider the effects war has on the state.
Free. Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan. mocp.org


Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

1/24 at 8 p.m.
Vertigo’s soundtrack sounds so much more ominous when the CSO plays it live.
$85 to $250. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org


Savion Glover

1/24 at 7:30 p.m.
Tap’s single biggest star heads this percussive production that explores tap dancing’s African roots.
$30 to $55. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org


Christopher Williams

1/24 to 5/18
Revitalizing the tradition of pop art, Williams parodies consumer culture by photographing realistic-looking fake advertising and fashion spreads.
$17 to $23. Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan. artic.edu


Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate!

1/29 to 2/9
The kids will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to watch Mickey and Minnie do triple axels on the ice.
$22 to $77. United Center, 1901 W. Madison. ticketmaster.com


Yo-Yo Ma

1/30 to 2/1
Composer Giovanni Sollima and cellist Yo- Yo Ma team up to perform a world premiere of Sollima’s double cello concerto.
$50 to $285. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org


Branford Marsalis Quartet

1/31 at 8 p.m.
The eldest Marsalis handles his role as impending jazz statesman well, as evidenced by the relaxed sound and cheeky title of his quartet’s latest album, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.
$28 to $88. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org


Patty Griffin

1/31 at 8 p.m.
The veteran folk singer and songwriter tours behind Silver Bell, her 13-year-old album finally released in October.
$20. Metro, 3730 N. Clark. etix.com


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