The up-and-coming Chicago artist bases a new series of canvases on the “life review,” the near-death hallucination of your life flashing before your eyes.
Details:Monique Meloche Gallery. Free. moniquemeloche.com
Spaces Without Drama or Surface Is an Illusion, but So Is Depth
Lovers of architecture and theater ought to flock to this exhibit, which examines the craft of designing stage sets. Curated out of Mexico City, the show features rarely seen objects by two dozen architectural firms and artists, presented within the ornate rooms of a turn-of-the-century Gold Coast mansion.
Details:Graham Foundation. Free. grahamfoundation.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Large symphony orchestra programming barely peeks into the 20th century, usually opting for the baroque, classical, and Romantic eras. Here, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the CSO in a modern direction in two subscription programs, only touching the 19th century for Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The first program launches from the Debussy into Scheherazade.2, a concerto-like work composed by John Adams, and finishes with Stravinsky’s riotous Rite of Spring.
Details:Symphony Center. $30–$218. cso.org
Playwright Gabe McKinley worked at The New York Times for 13 years, all of them ostensibly fodder for this drama about investigative reporters working a story that could shake the world. The world premiere probes ethics in journalism and the power of the press.
Details:Route 66 Theatre Company at Den Theatre. $20–$25. route66theatre.org
Plenty of musicians take up the blues, but few do it with the ease of this Minnesota guitarist, whose masterful picking and solemn voice have earned him a place in the modern roots music pantheon. Parr regularly gigs around his home state, but it’s not every day he comes to Chicago; brush up on his latest EP beforehand, last year’s I Ain’t Dead Yet.
Details:Hideout. 9 p.m. $12. hideoutchicago.com
Thirteen years after his last proper rock record, this English singer returned last November with 57th & 9th, his 12th solo album. The release finds him blending his pop-rock roots with of-the-moment lyrics about the death of Prince, climate change, and the murder of journalist James Foley. Consider this intimate gig at the Aragon a once-in-a-blue-moon chance to see the legend up close.
Details:Aragon Ballroom. 8 p.m. $90. ticketmaster.com
Agar et Ismaele Esiliati
The composer Alessandro Scarlatti ruled the opera world of baroque Italy. He also wrote oratorios, which at the time resembled unstaged operas. Here, Haymarket Opera Company resurrects Scarlatti’s Agar et Ismaele Esiliati (Hagar and Ishmael Exiled), the biblical story of Sarah permitting her husband, Abraham, to sire a child with the slave Hagar, but then changing her mind and kicking mother and child out of the house.
Details:Chicago Temple (Mar. 3), Church of the Atonement (Mar. 4). $10–$50. haymarketopera.org
As part of OnEdge, the City of Chicago’s multidisciplinary performance series, Berliner Ligia Lewis blends dance, visual art, and theater in Minor Matter, a piece exploring otherness and the black experience.
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. Free. cityofchicago.org/dcase
10 out of 12
This Anne Washburn drama simulates a tech rehearsal by giving audiences headsets, each playing prerecorded banter and cues by faux stage managers. Narrating the action are some familiar voices, including John Mahoney and revered former Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey.
Details:Theater Wit. $12–$70. theaterwit.org
Brain Candy Live
If you are among those who think physics, chemistry, and the laws of thermodynamics are beyond their ken, think again. In Brain Candy, Adam Savage (Mythbusters) and internet personality Michael Stevens answer a wealth of age-old scientific queries, using a reported three tons of mind-blowing props.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. 8 p.m. $25–$75. broadwayinchicago.com
This wacky event takes its name and setup from Alaska’s famous Iditarod dog sled race. In this version, shopping carts stand in for sleds, and four human runners (usually in elaborate costumes) do the dogs’ work. To qualify, teams must haul 69 pounds of nonperishables to the starting line, with all the food going to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Details:Wolcott and Hubbard. 12:30 p.m. $70–$85. chiditarod.org
Juggernaut Film Festival
At this one-night toast to the world’s best sci-fi and fantasy shorts, the focus is on newcomers and future cult hits (as curated by Chicago’s Otherworld Theatre Company and various guest judges, including filmmaker Eliaz Rodriguez).
Details:Music Box Theatre. 11 a.m. $20–$25. otherworldtheatre.org
The Radio Dept.
On 2016’s Running Out of Love, this Swedish dream-pop band exhibits lyrical maturity beyond its peers. A politically brave take on modern-day Sweden, Love paints a bleak picture of the country, portraying life there as near dystopian.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8:30 p.m. $15–$20. ticketweb.com
Chicago Polar Plunge
Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga have leaped into Lake Michigan in years past alongside thousands of thrill- and chill-seeking runners. It’s a bucket list item that requires a little bullet biting; just keep reminding yourself it benefits the Special Olympics.
Details:North Avenue Beach. 10 a.m. $200 donation or funds raised. sochicago.org
Neighborhoods of the World
Every year, cultural groups throughout the city queue up at Navy Pier for a series of traditional dances and folk-music concerts. In March, the city toasts Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, and Greece. Expect cuisine, crafts, and colorful costumes from the nation du jour.
Details:Navy Pier. Free. navypier.com
Kokandy Productions invites you to ease on down the road with Dorothy and company in this seven-time Tony winner—a blues-infused take on Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Details:Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit. $25–$38. kokandyproductions.com
Ape in Pink Marble, this Venezuelan singer’s ninth studio album, is a departure from the freak-folk tag that has marked him for most of his career. With clean, Western melodies and straightforward lyrics, the album blends the jagged sounds of Banhart’s early work with by-the-book rock inclinations.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $26–$38. ticketweb.com
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The Tony-winning tale of a genderqueer East German singer has a score of sheer perfection (think David Bowie meets the Stooges meets Queen). The story that goes along with it will break—then mend—your heart.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. $22–$87. broadwayinchicago.com
Production of an Escalating Crisis
On Saturdays, artist Meg Duguid turns the Rogers Park gallery Roman Susan into a live film set. There, she performs in and films her own version of The Tramp’s New World, a 1949 stage show originally written for Charlie Chaplin.
Details:Roman Susan. Free. romansusan.org
Homelessness Is a Crime!
Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, leads a discussion on housing justice in Chicago, centered on the idea that the city’s homeless are criminalized by laws that impinge on their way of life.
Details:Weinberg/Newton Gallery. 6:30 p.m. Free. weinbergnewtongallery.com
The 76-year-old tenor-turned-baritone Plácido Domingo returns to the Lyric in a greatest-hits concert that includes a full act of La Traviata and a series of duets with the soprano Ailyn Pérez and the tenor Michael Spyres.
Details:Civic Opera House. 7:30 p.m. $95–$350. lyricopera.org
After a five-year break from making any full-length albums (spent in part releasing a song a week throughout 2015), this Swedish singer returned last month with Life Will See You Now, a quietly devastating collection of his signature literary pop. Take the first single, “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?,” which samples the bright steel drums of Ralph MacDonald’s “The Path” to underlie a tale of lost love.
Details:Metro. 9 p.m. $24. etix.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen’s second program (see March 2–7, above) skews modern even more than the first. The oldest work, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, closes the program. John Adams’s Slonimsky’s Earbox, a work aged just past 20, opens it. The centerpiece, in both temporal position and headline status, is the Finnish conductor’s own cello concerto, receiving its world premiere here from the universe’s most famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma.
Details: Symphony Center. $36–$259. cso.org
Malpaso Dance Company
This Cuban contemporary company makes its Chicago debut with 24 Hours and a Dog, by company cofounder Osnel Delgado Wambrug, and Indomitable Waltz, by Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton, whose Awáa was a smash hit at last year’s Chicago Dancing Festival.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $30. colum.edu
The Hard Problem
Audiences waited nearly a decade for a new Tom Stoppard play, which makes the Chicago premiere of 2015’s The Hard Problem one of the most anticipated of the season. Better still: Charles Newell, a preeminent Stoppard interpreter, helms the drama about a psychologist whose research burrows into the mysteries of human existence.
Details:Court Theatre. $38–$68. courttheatre.org
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 17 falls on a Friday this year, but the St. Paddy’s Day parade is always held on the preceding Saturday. Dig out your green and secure a spot along the route, which proceeds north from Balbo and Columbus to Buckingham Fountain. Dyeing begins at 9 a.m. sharp.
Details:Balbo and Columbus. Noon. Free. chicagostpatricksdayparade.org
Murder and Mayhem Chicago
For lovers of literary sleuths, whodunits, detective novels, and hard-boiled fiction, Murder and Mayhem Chicago has plenty to offer. Founded by Chicago authors Dana Kaye and Lori Rader-Day, the inaugural event will feature mystery-centric panels, readings, and a variety of speakers and guests, including best-selling authors Sara Paretsky and William Kent Krueger.
Details:Roosevelt University. 9 a.m. $65. murdermayhemchicago.com
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m. $10–$12. mcachicago.org
Thodos Dance Chicago
Melissa Thodos toasts 25 years of her company with Full Circle, part of the Auditorium Theatre’s Made in Chicago series. The evening includes the local premiere of Nos Duraturi by West Coast modern master Bella Lewitzky and a world premiere companion piece to two of Thodos’s signature works.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
Destiny of Desire
Playwright Karen Zacarías taps into the delightfully overwrought aesthetic of Latin telenovelas with a plot that could be plucked straight from the popular genre. The comedy centers on two infant girls switched at birth, one landing in the lap of luxury and the other growing up poor. Issues of class and gender arise in a tale about reversal of fortune and addictive TV.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $25–$90. goodmantheatre.org
Adolescence isn’t what it used to be—or at least that’s the claim behind this photo exhibit focusing on teenagers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Featured are rarely seen works by Dawoud Bey, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Francesca Woodman and stills from Larry Clark’s game-changing 1995 movie Kids.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $7–$12. mcachicago.org
Once the youngest singer with a No. 1 spot on the Top 40, JoJo returns with a new, more intelligent sound (case in point: her cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room”). Wielding critical praise for October’s Mad Love, the singer hits the road to showcase her newly mature pipes.
Details:Concord Music Hall. 6 p.m. $20–$25. ticketfly.com
Russia seems to produce an unending stream of virtuoso pianists, but Levit’s name bears remembering. His 2016 album won Gramophone’s top prize, and he now musters his 29-year-old energy to storm the globe on tour. Here, he plays part 2 of the suite Dreams, written for him by Frederic Rzewski, and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, one-third of Levit’s laureled album.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $21–$82. cso.org
South Side Irish Parade
Following Chicago’s downtown parade by one day is the South Side iteration—a more family-oriented affair in the Irish American stronghold of Beverly, featuring bagpipes, Irish dancing, and more.
Details:Western from 103rd to 115th. Noon. Free. southsideirishparade.org
Near West Side
This one-time Nickelodeon kid is more than your average pop star. The singer’s impeccable pipes (fully developed on her latest album, Dangerous Woman) set her apart from her peers, and the modern-day diva is more than capable of bringing the heat live.
Details:United Center. 7:30 p.m. $30–$200. ticketmaster.com
The Naked Magicians
The title pretty much sums it up: Aussie duo Christopher Wayne and Mike Tyler have nothing up their sleeves because, well, they have no sleeves. They do, however, make use of strategically placed hats and rabbits to cover up while practicing prestidigitation in a show they’ve performed to sold-out crowds on four continents.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Broadway Playhouse. $22–$47. broadwayinchicago.com
This 23-year-old reggaetón singer has developed quite the following since releasing his debut, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy, in 2015. Catch the Colombia native’s polished harmonies and serious charm on this, his first American tour.
Details:Rosemont Theatre. 8 p.m. $49–$99. ticketmaster.com
Chicago’s features editor reads from his new book, Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France’s Last Best Place, a culinary memoir chronicling his eight-month “baptism by duck fat” in the gastronomic heartland of rural southwestern France.
Details:Book Cellar. 7 p.m. Free. bookcellarinc.com
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
The contemporary vets’ spring series includes a revival of Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s beloved 1983 piece Jardi Tancat and a duet from his 1999 Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness. Also on the program are reprises of last season’s goodies: Lucas Crandall’s witty Imprint and Crystal Pite’s breathtaking Solo Echo.
Details:Harris Theater. $30–$102. hubbardstreetdance.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The pianist Mitsuko Uchida visits the CSO every year. Here, she collaborates with the CSO’s music director, Riccardo Muti, on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. A world premiere from CSO composer in residence, Samuel Adams, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 also lend sparkle.
Details:Symphony Center. $34–$222. cso.org
By the Water
Devastation reigns in the wake of Hurricane Sandy as a group of Staten Islanders try to rebuild a community on the verge of extinction. Sharyn Rothstein’s drama uses the hurricane’s vast destruction as a lens to view a deteriorating family trying to start over.
Details:Northlight Theatre. $35–$70. northlight.org
Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention
This eighth annual tat fest has something for everyone. Tattoo gurus can gawk at the artistry behind the area’s neatest ink jobs, while those afraid of needles can enjoy carnies, contortionists, and wrestlers. Finally, if you’ve already taken the plunge yourself, enter your ink in the daily tattoo contests.
Details:Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. $20–$40. villainarts.com
Director Will Davis adds a séance to William Inge’s classic drama, fashioning the play as a reflection on the closeted playwright’s sense of failure and suicide. Music also plays a role in this re-imagining, with hymns and love songs surrounding the Dust Bowl–era doomed love story.
Details:American Theater Company. $38. atcweb.org
This Long Beach rapper has become known for divisive opinions on politics and pop culture (see the 2015 internet war that erupted after he snubbed ’90s hip-hop in an interview). The 23-year-old’s verses are just as daring as his public quips, and his debut album, Summertime ’06, was one of 2016’s best.
Details:Metro. 9 p.m. $20. etix.com
Winifred Haun & Dancers
Details:Aloft Loft. $30. brownpapertickets.com
Chicago Flower & Garden Show
There’s no better place to get a jump on your spring garden than at this horticultural showcase. Stroll through more than 20 full-size garden displays and learn from the pros at workshops and seminars.
Details:Navy Pier. $5–$17. chicagoflower.com
In to America
Details:Griffin Theatre at Den Theatre. $28–$36. griffintheatre.com
The puppeteers behind the magnificent drama War Horse up the ante with puppet elephants in this homage to old-time circuses. Aerialists, knife throwers, contortionists, strongmen, and sideshow oddities also occupy the family-friendly big top.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. $10–$122. broadwayinchicago.com
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
A staple of Chicago’s dance calendar for 46 years, this world-famous company presents three Chicago premieres on four separate programs, all of which include the iconic Revelations. Of note is the third program’s Untitled America, by MacArthur “genius” Kyle Abraham.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $33–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
Garson Kanin’s D.C.-set classic veers from innocent idealism to bleak political cynicism as an all-American underdog fights corruption reigning in the halls of power. David Darlow directs a rock-solid cast in a tale about speaking truth to power.
Details:Remy Bumppo Theatre at Greenhouse Theater Center. $33–$58. remybumppo.org
J. Nicole Brooks stars in the story of Chicagoans struggling to keep body and soul together while cleaning equipment at a meatpacking plant. Writer and director Alexander Zeldin offers a deep dive into industrial despair.
Details:Lookingglass. $20–$75. lookingglasstheatre.org
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín
Verdi’s Requiem served as a gesture of defiance for the prisoners at Theresienstadt; they spit the words of the Dies Irae (“Day of Wrath”) at their Nazi captors. This production sets the piece in the story of the camp’s detainees, who performed it 16 times between 1941 and 1944. The Chicago Philharmonic plays the orchestral parts; Jeremy Piven and Tovah Feldshuh act in the interstices.
Details:Symphony Center. 7:30 p.m. $30–$500. cso.org
Charles Atlas, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener
Former Merce Cunningham dancers Mitchell and Riener collide with experimental film artist Atlas in Tesseract, an immersive 3D performance challenging perceptions of time, space, and bodies.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
In this 2015 jazz-opera, Lawrence Brownlee plays Charlie Parker narrating his life from a vantage point after his death. Although it jangles jazz harmonies and orchestration, the 90-minute work resembles opera more closely than bebop.
Details:Harris Theater. $35–$125. lyricopera.org
A Canary Torsi
NYC-based Yanira Castro presents Court/Garden, a three-act spectacle that juxtaposes the birth of ballet in the French imperial courts with the Occupy Wall Street protests to explore how people assemble in their roles as citizens.
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. Free. cityofchicago.org
Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden
In Egon Schiele’s hands, a simple line could represent bone, flesh, desire: The Austrian painter redefined nudity in art in the early 20th century. Though his career was cut short by a deadly flu at age 28, Schiele managed to create dozens of expressionist masterpieces, all of which are on display in this new biopic presented as part of the Chicago European Union Film Festival.
Details:Gene Siskel Film Center. $11. siskelfilmcenter.org
The Sinfonietta focuses on gender fluidity in More Than a Letter, initializing with works by Leonard Bernstein, bringing out the trans pianist Sara Davis Buechner to play Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini, and touching on David Conte’s Elegy for Matthew, a tribute to Matthew Shepard, the victim of a 1998 hate crime.
Details:Wentz Concert Hall (Mar. 25), Symphony Center (Mar. 27). $10–$99. chicagosinfonietta.org
The Presidential Library Project: Black Presidential Imaginary
As Chicago prepares to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center, a group of artists takes aim at the essence of the institution with a mock archive. Expect simulated artifacts and commentaries on presidential commemoration. Works by Rashayla Brown, Nate Young, Deb Sokolow, and others question what happens to legacies marred by war, controversy, and doublespeak.
Details:Hyde Park Art Center. Free. hydeparkart.org
Chicago Improv Festival
For 20 years, this fest has anchored Chicago’s thriving improv scene. Comics compete in categories like long form and musical, but pay special attention to the emerging artists contest, reserved for local performers primed for the big leagues.
Details:Athenaeum Theatre. $5–$25. chicagoimprovfestival.org
Tracy Letts’s (August: Osage County) new play centers on a recently divorced middle-aged man struggling to find his footing after moving out of his wife’s garage. Anchoring Letts’s invariably sharp wit is a powerhouse cast, including Steppenwolf ensemble members Ian Barford, Tim Hopper, Sally Murphy, and rising star Caroline Neff.
Details:Steppenwolf. $15–$92. steppenwolf.org
Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden
A new book of poetry copublished by Northwestern University celebrates the art of Romare Bearden, whose colorful and jazzy cut-paper collages exemplified 20th-century African American life. Some of the book’s contributors, including award-winning poets Kwame Dawes, Matthew Shenoda, and Chris Abani, will give readings at the release party.
Details:Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. 6 p.m. Free. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu
Giordano Dance Chicago
Giordano’s 54th spring series features a world premiere from Liz Imperio and a revival of Grusin Suite (1993), gifted by former River North Dance artistic director Frank Chaves. Additional works include Peter Chu’s Divided Against (2016) and The Man That Got Away (1990) by Sherry Zunker.
Details:Harris Theater. $15–$75. harristheaterchicago.org
King of the Yees
Playwright Lauren Yee has described this show as an epic journey through San Francisco’s Chinatown (the largest of its kind in the United States). It’s also a missing-person mystery and a commentary on the generation gap. When the leader of a Chinese American civic group vanishes, his daughter launches a search that’s as much about history and culture as it is about geography.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $25–$90. goodmantheatre.org