Dorothée Munyaneza
Dorothée Munyaneza Photo: Raynaud de Lage
Oct. 1

Half Gringa

Chicagoan Izzy Olive, who performs with her band under the name Half Gringa, hasn’t forgotten her roots. Her world-weary songs are planted in the legacy of her alt-country and folk-rock predecessors, like Neko Case and Linda Ronstadt.

Details:Ukrainian Village. Empty Bottle. 8:30 p.m. Free.

Oct. 2

Following the Box

Jerri Zbiral and Alan Teller had the good fortune of discovering a shoebox containing more than 100 photographs of life in rural India from the 1940s. Recognizing the artistic value of the gorgeous prints, the Chicagoans embarked on a global research trip and learned that the pictures were made by a U.S. soldier stationed in West Bengal during World War II. Now the journey of the photos is documented in a film and concurrent exhibition on view through October 20. Zbiral and Teller will appear for a postscreening discussion.

Details:Near North Side. Loyola University Museum of Art. 6 p.m. Free.

Oct. 2–21

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The trippy, macabre world of candy man Willy Wonka comes to the stage in a lavish musical that features puppets by MacArthur “genius” Basil Twist (The Addams Family, Symphonie Fantastique). The Broadway version embraces Dahl’s approach, which is darker than the 1971 cinematic rendition.

Details:Loop. Oriental Theatre. $24–$127.

Oct. 2–3


For every new generation of young people interested in instantly catchy pop music sung by attractive young men, there’ll always be a boy band to fulfill the need. The latest incarnation, seven-member group BTS, hails from South Korea and sings in both Korean and Japanese, but that hasn’t limited its seemingly infinite number of worldwide fans, who quickly pushed the squad’s sixth album, Love Yourself: Tear, to the top of the charts in Canada, Japan, and the United States.

Details:Near West Side. United Center. $283–$1,407.

Oct. 3–7

Dorothée Munyaneza

In her newest work, Unwanted, the Rwandan choreographer uses song and dance as a way of examining the physical and psychological consequences of her native country’s civil war. The piece shares the stories of women who stayed in their homeland, surviving mass genocide, rape, and family separation.

Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30.

Oct. 4

Excavating the World’s Fair

Anthropologist Rebecca Graff shares stories about what she found during her 2008 excavation of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition fairgrounds in Jackson Park. Her talk accompanies an exhibition of artifacts (like admission tickets and playing cards) that illuminate what life was like in 19th-century Chicago.

Details:Near North Side. Newberry. 6 p.m. Free.

Oct. 5–21
New Music

Patience and Sarah

This spring Lyric packed houses with Fellow Travelers, an opera about a gay romance in 1950s Washington staged by its special projects arm. Third Eye Theatre Ensemble’s next production is somewhat of a companion piece: a lesbian romance set in Connecticut in the winter of 1816. Composer Paula Kimper provides the folkie, tuneful score.

Details:Lake View. Third Eye Theatre Ensemble at Theater Wit. $20–$30.

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre Photo: Dan Kasberger
Oct. 5–27

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre

This contemporary company presents three major new works and one revival in its annual “tour of Chicago.” The highlight is the final installment of American Catracho, a suite of dances about immigration that took three years to develop, a tour de force for artistic director Wilfredo Rivera. New collaborations featuring choreography by Monique Haley and Joshua L. Ishmon are also on the bill.

Details:Various neighborhoods and venues. $30–$35.

Oct. 5–Nov. 3

Flyin’ West

The history of the American West has long been dominated by tales of cowboys. Not so in Pearl Cleage’s vivid drama about a quartet of African American women who head west to stake a claim for land and autonomy in 1898. The frontier town of Nicodemus, Kansas, offers both refuge and challenges — and a rich slice of western lore that all too often gets erased.

Details:Lake View. American Blues Theater at Stage 773. $19–$39.

Oct. 6–7

Mandala Arts

For Masks and Myths, Sri Lankan dancers perform at the University of Chicago, near the spot where, 125 years ago, their ancestors were commodified for fairgoers at the World’s Columbian Exposition. The three-part performance wrestles with the effects of colonialism on the arts while celebrating traditional Sri Lankan dance.

Details:Woodlawn. Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. $25.

Oct. 6–20

La Bohème

Lyric Opera raises the curtain on its season with Puccini’s classic tale of bohemian life in artists’ garrets and its attendant love, poetry, and tuberculosis. The cast, which will reassemble for another run in January, includes the luminous Maria Agresta, the pixie-ish Danielle de Niese, and Michael Fabiano, a young tenor in his Lyric debut.

Details:Loop. Lyric Opera House. $89–$299.

Oct. 8

Industry of the Ordinary

Celebrated for their wry social commentary and disruptive artworks, the performance duo of Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson, known as Industry of the Ordinary, take a more solemn approach with Genuflect, a silent vigil for immigrants on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. They’ll carry a life raft and lead a procession to Lake Michigan, where they’ll sail off into the horizon — a metaphor for refugees and migrants finding safe harbor.

Details:Lincoln Park. St. Vincent de Paul Parish. 5:30 p.m. Free.

Oct. 8

Welcome to Night Vale

This darkly funny podcast follows the fictional and increasingly mysterious town of Night Vale, which is populated by angels, sentient clouds, and an evil beagle. The twice-monthly show is serialized, but the tour features a standalone story, so no need to binge beforehand.

Details:Lake View. Athenaeum Theatre. 8 p.m. $31.

Oct. 10


This rap group has taken over Bay Area radio with its distinct blend of handclaps, lush synthesizer patches, and grim basslines. But SOB x RBE has also benefited from national exposure, most prominently on the Black Panther soundtrack. The lyrics address standard gangster rap touchstones — drugs, women, violence — but they are delivered with such energy that frustration and celebration become intertwined, establishing an emotional complexity rarely heard in contemporary hip-hop.

Details:West Loop. Bottom Lounge. 7 p.m. $20–$100.

Oct. 11

Hari Kondabolu

Speaking to the BBC last year, the Indian American comedian said of the lone Indian character on The Simpsons: “Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all, so I was happy for any representation as a kid.” As he grew older, however, Kondabolu began to recognize Apu as a joke at his expense. This epiphany is the emotional core of The Problem with Apu, the surprise hit documentary he wrote and starred in last year. Expect a similarly deft hand as he returns to standup.

Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $26.

Oct. 11–Dec. 21

The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold

This overdue retrospective examines a gay black veteran and artist whose collages from the 1960s and ’70s address the era’s social and cultural revolutions. Want to Pick-Nick? Or Any Day? (1969), for example, is a revamp of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat’s iconic 1884 impressionist painting, adding graffiti and public protest.

Details:South Loop. Museum of Contemporary Photography. Free.

Oct. 12

Eat, Drink, Korea

Chefs from restaurants like En Hakkore, Del Seoul, Dak, and more join forces to celebrate Korean cuisine and culture. The evening also includes plenty of beer and cocktails. All proceeds benefit Crossing Borders, an organization providing aid to North Korean refugees.

Details:Ravenswood. Ravenswood Event Center. 6 p.m. $75–$95.

Oct. 12

J Balvin

The Colombian singer has had a thriving career in Latin America for nearly a decade. His recent success stateside, though, may have a little something to do with Beyonce, who appeared on the remix of his single “Mi Gente,” helping to bridge the gap between disparate music communities. On Vibras, Balvin’s most recent album, he combines reggaeton with adventurous contemporary pop, creating electrifying songs designed for live shows.

Details:Rosemont. Allstate Arena. 8 p.m. $40–$500.

Oct. 12

Takács Quartet

For more than 40 years, Takács has ranked among the world’s best string quartets. The ensemble opens UChicago Presents’ 75th season with pieces by masters of the form (Haydn and Shostakovich), along with one by a master of everything (Brahms).

Details:Hyde Park. Mandel Hall, University of Chicago. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38.

Oct. 13–14

Open House Chicago

Ever wondered what’s inside the dome of the Elks National Memorial, or what the view is like from the top of the Aon Center? For this annual citywide open house, the Chicago Architecture Foundation pulls back the curtain on more than 200 of the city’s architectural marvels, many of which are rarely open to the public.

Details:Various neighborhoods and venues. Free.

Oct. 13–Nov. 2


Lyric’s Mozart foray for this season is the lesser-known story of the shipwrecked king of Crete and the sacrifice he offers to Neptune, with a love triangle thrown in for good measure. The cast has a distinct Chicago tint: Matthew Polenzani, a north suburban native and alumnus of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center, in the lead role; Erin Wall, also a Ryan alum; and Chicago native Janai Brugger (see “The Hometown Prima Donna”).

Details:Loop. Lyric Opera House. $39–$279.

Oct. 14

Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids

Chicago native Ackamoor formed his band at Antioch College in the 1970s, and the Pyramids traveled all across Africa, recruiting new musicians and developing a distinctive fusion of jazz, funk, and Afrobeat. Ackamoor and his group return home for what’s sure to be a sweaty night of muscle-moving grooves.

Details:Ukrainian Village. Empty Bottle. 8:30 p.m. $12–$15.

Oct. 14

Midwest Flair Fest

Dozens of artists and vendors from across the world gather in one spot to show off their best wearable art. Spice up your existing wardrobe — items for sale include patches, pins, and hand-stitched goods.

Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. Noon. Free.

Oct. 15–21

Chicago Ideas Week

As the self-proclaimed “largest and most affordable ideas festival in the world,” CIW brings panel discussions, talks, and hands-on labs to various venues throughout the city. This year features more than 150 speakers, including Boots Riley, director of Sorry to Bother You, and Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly on HBO’s Insecure.

Details:Various neighborhoods and venues. $15.

Oct. 17–20

Pinball Expo

Pinball wasn’t invented in Chicago, but local firms like Bally Manufacturing, Stern Pinball, and Williams Electronics Games perfected it. This four-day jamboree toasts that legacy: Casual players can enjoy free play on dozens of machines on Thursday and Friday, while pinball aces can show off their skills in Saturday’s high-score tournament. New this year is a tour of the Stern Pinball factory, where attendees can witness a table’s construction from start to finish.

Details:Wheeling. Westin Chicago North Shore. $30–$210.

Oct. 17–28

Swan Lake

Christopher Wheeldon’s 2014 reimagining of the classic ballet moves the plot from a German castle to the studios of the Paris Opera Ballet — a real-life depiction of Degas’s ballerinas. Joffrey debuted the work amid skepticism about doing such a stodgy full-length. But Wheeldon’s vision made it feel fresh again. It’s the highest-grossing production in company history.

Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. $35–$200.

Oct. 18

Pop-Up Magazine

In this quasi-variety show, performers from the worlds of journalism, radio, and art share vivid stories accompanied by illustration, animation, photography, and an original score from house band Magik Magik Orchestra. And nothing goes online afterward — you have to be there to see it! The “fall issue” features documentary filmmaker Veena Rao, photographer Lara Shipley, and best-selling author Rebecca Skloot.

Details:Lake View. Athenaeum Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $24–$29.

Oct. 18

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Though he’s best known to some for authenticating the science content of movies on Twitter, Tyson is more than a social media pedant: With his many media appearances, books, and hosting gigs (Nova, the Cosmos reboot), few have done more to increase Americans’ appreciation and understanding of astrophysics. Here, he’ll discuss mankind’s ongoing search for planets we might be able to call home.

Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $70–$90.

Oct. 18–20

Tere O’Connor Dance

O’Connor, a celebrated choreographer, offers a primer on abstract postmodernist dance with his Long Run. Don’t worry about what it all means — focus instead on the imaginative and idiosyncratic material created for dancers at the top of their game, including Simon Courchel, Eleanor Hullihan, and Silas Riener.

Details:South Loop. Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $30.

Oct. 18–20

Trifonov Plays Prokofiev

Under the baton of the matchless Marin Alsop, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premieres one of its two commissions for the 2018–19 season: Threnos, by the French composer Bruno Mantovani, a commemoration of the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I. The program also includes the whirlwind Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Details:Loop. Symphony Center. $31–$219.

Oct. 18–21

American Jornalero

Chicago’s entry in the Chicago Latino International Theatre Festival is Ed Cardona Jr.’s tale of struggle and survival among transient workers in Queens. Mexican, Panamanian, and Belarusian day laborers find themselves targeted by vigilante nationalists in this drama about race, class, and money.

Details:Lincoln Park. Victory Gardens Theater. $20–$25.

Oct. 18–Feb. 17

Tomma Abts

The German contemporary abstract painter Abts is globally celebrated for her bold and colorful patterns and shapes. Look closely and you may see the layers of decisions she makes on each canvas to arrive at the final image, using just her paintbrush and creative whimsy. The New York Times has called these works “exhilarating.”

Details:Loop. Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25.

Oct. 19–Nov. 18

Lady in Denmark

Dael Orlandersmith returns to the Goodman with a monologue about death, solace, and the healing powers of Billie Holiday. Orlandersmith (Stoop Stories, Yellowman) is consistently riveting, whether waxing autobiographical or wholly fictional, as she does here.

Details:Loop. Goodman Theatre. $10–$90.

Oct. 19–Dec. 2

The Scientific Method

Rivendell snagged the Chicago debut of Jenny Connell Davis’s exploration of a cancer researcher who’s a whisper away from a massive professional breakthrough and an equally momentous personal breakdown, a dramatic rendering of the challenges faced by women in STEM fields.

Details:Edgewater. Rivendell Theatre. $28.

Oct. 19–Dec. 9


Playwright David Rabe’s bonkers comedy includes philosophy (Kierkegaard), Fermilab-channeling physics (there’s a particle accelerator), and slapstick (think classiccartoons). It’s also a rom-com — sort of — involving a date turned upside down and inside out through time and space.

Details:Jefferson Park. Gift Theatre. $25–$50.

Oct. 19–Dec. 9

Master Class

Maria Callas had a temperament and a talent capable of making all other divas look small in comparison. In TimeLine’s staging of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning masterpiece, the extraordinary opera star is played by Janet Ulrich Brooks, who has a presence capable of capturing this larger-than-life woman.

Details:Lake View. Stage 773. $28–$57.

Oct. 20

Lit & Luz Festival: Live Magazine Show

This annual celebration, showcasing collaborations between creative people from Chicago and Mexico City, comes to a close with a presentation given in both English and Spanish. The “live magazine” features new commissions and collaborations by novelist Julián Herbert, sound artist Mariana Castillo Deball, and many more.

Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m. $15.

Spooky Pooch Parade
Spooky Pooch Parade Photo: Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden
Oct. 20

Spooky Pooch Parade

Man’s best friend is generally barred from entry at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but this parade marks an adorable exception: Dozens of costumed dogs — many with owners in matching garb — strut through the Krasberg Rose Garden to compete for barking rights. Awards go to the most creative getups in a variety of categories, including best costume and best horticultural interpretation. Bring your canine even if it’s not competing, but you must purchase paid registration in advance.

Details:Glencoe. Chicago Botanic Garden. 11 a.m. $15–$25.

Oct. 21

Elevate Chicago Dance

Last year’s multiday, conference-style expo of Chicago’s most innovative performers has been retooled as an all-day festival tailored to the public. With performances by 45 choreographers and 150 dancers to choose from, it won’t be possible to see everything. But make sure to check out Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Darling Shear, and Sara Zalek.

Details:Loop. Chicago Cultural Center. 10 a.m. Free.

Missy Mazzoli
Missy Mazzoli Photo: Caroline Tompkins
Oct. 22
New Music


The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new composer in residence, 37-year-old Missy Mazzoli, selected the repertoire for her first installment of the orchestra’s offsite new-music series. If you don’t like her choices, you can tell her over the postconcert pizza and beer.

Details:Loop. Harris Theater. 7 p.m. $15–$28.

Oct. 24


In an interview this past July on the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, guitarist Wayne Kramer said, “The MC5 actually never sounded this good.” Audiences who’ve fallen in love with that group’s powerful live performances and staunchly political lyrics won’t want to miss this tour, featuring a who’s who of rock musicians from celebrated groups like Soundgarden, Faith No More, and Fugazi supporting Kramer as his backing band.

Details:Lake View. Metro. 7 p.m. $38–$150.

Oct. 24–28

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

As the name would indicate, there are, in fact, more than 1,000 pumpkins on display at this family-friendly Halloween standby, each one a carefully carved work of art. In the jack-o’-lanterns’ spectral glow, the gardens take on a spooky and autumnal atmosphere best enjoyed with a hot cup of cocoa or cider (spiked, if you’re a grownup) in hand.

Details:Glencoe. Chicago Botanic Garden. $11–$18.

Oct. 25–30

Haitink Conducts Bruckner and Beethoven

Under Haitink, one of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s longest-standing conductor compadres, the ensemble bifurcates the bill with two Bs: Beethoven, in his Piano Concerto No. 2, played by the Beethoven expert Paul Lewis, and Bruckner, with his saucy Symphony No. 6.

Details:Loop. Symphony Center. $35–$224.

Elton John
Elton John Photo: Getty Images
Oct. 26–27

Elton John

In January, John told Anderson Cooper he would be retiring from touring, stating, “My priorities are now my children and my husband and my family.” It’s a blow to longtime fans, but John won’t make his final exit until he completes a three-year international tour.

Details:Near West Side. United Center. $136–$249.

Oct. 26–Dec. 29

Jessica Sladek

This emerging photographer gets a long-awaited debut solo show, featuring her Wildness series, in which a tradition of bucolic landscape imagery (think Ansel Adams) is turned on its head — or rather, its roots. Focusing tightly on dirt, holes, and generally what’s beneath the feet, Sladek has an eye for finding the overlooked beauty of everyday nature.

Details:River North. Schneider Gallery. Free.

Oct. 27

Chicago Home Movie Day

Each year, locals dust off and trot out their best (i.e., most pedestrian and mildly amusing) works of amateur film — specifically, those that are actually on film, in a format like 16 mm, 8 mm, or Super 8. Watching someone else’s home movies might sound about as much fun as, well, watching someone else’s home movies, but don’t be surprised if you leave the auditorium misty-eyed: There’s something undeniably powerful about seeing people and places frozen in time.

Details:Lincoln Park. Chicago History Museum. 11 a.m. Free.

Oct. 27

Nine Inch Nails

Back with its ninth studio album, Bad Witch, after four years away, Trent Reznor’s morbid industrial-rock outfit hasn’t lost any of its creepy power. Gen-X goths and younger fans who’ve flocked to NIN’s music won’t want to miss this rare tour.

Details:Uptown. Aragon Ballroom. 7 p.m. $140–$185.

Oct. 27

Jonathan Richman

The Modern Lovers produced just one album before dissolving in 1974, and that self-titled work is considered by some critics to be the germ of punk rock. Richman, the band’s idiosyncratic frontman, has developed something of a cult following ever since, even as he turns his back on the aesthetic trappings of punk. Though Richman now favors an acoustic guitar and a tempo more suited to easy listening than a mosh pit, his songwriting remains as strangely compelling as ever.

Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. $18.

Oct. 27


Indie-rock fans have recently embraced this New York–based electronic musician. Why? Maybe it’s her lack of pretension. Yaeji’s distorted and animated vocals joyously ripple through modern house tracks, equal parts sexy and silly. Her live shows, which bring in an eclectic mix of club kids, bedroom producers, and neophytes, tend to develop into the sort of no-frills dance parties of most people’s dreams.

Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. $20–$25.

Oct. 27–Mar. 3

Keep Moving: Designing Chicago’s Bicycle Culture

The bicycle is a symbol of personal freedom: the open road, the fresh air, the solitary sense of movement and power. This exhibit celebrates design innovations of the humble bike, including ephemera from Chicago’s top manufacturers then and now, like Schwinn, founded here in 1895, as well as reflections on why the local cycling community is so alluring.

Details:Loop. Design Museum of Chicago. Free.

Oct. 27–Nov. 11

Chicago Humanities Festival

The lineup for this festival includes local writing sensation Eve Ewing, therapy podcaster Esther Perel, and photographer Tonika Johnson. London-based curator Hans Ulrich Obrist continues the interview marathon he commenced at Expo, where he will engage in back-to-back chats with some of Chicago’s creative luminaries.

Details:Various neighborhoods and venues. Free–$75.

Oct. 27–Mar. 3

African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce, and the Politics of Race

The Cultural Center’s fall exhibit is the first comprehensive survey of Chicago’s African American design history. The show traces the role of black creativity during the 20th century by culling fashion design, textiles, cartoons, and graphics and packaging from the golden age of advertising.

Details:Loop. Chicago Cultural Center. Free.

Oct. 28

Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich

These pianists first met as teacher and student and today are partners in life, parenting, and the occasional concert program. Their recital includes seven movements from Bartók’s Mikrokosmos and Harrison Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine, commissioned for the pair and receiving its U.S. premiere
on this tour.

Details:Loop. Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $21–$83.

Oct. 29–31

Jeff Arcuri

Earlier this year, the standup made his Late Show with Stephen Colbert debut, and now he’s returning to the city where he got his start. Before he headed to New York, the earnest, upbeat comic hosted and produced the Chicago-based showcase This Week’s Show and regularly appeared at Laugh Factory, Comedy Bar, and Zanies, where he’ll be headlining.

Details:Old Town. Zanies. $25.

Oct. 30

Ina Garten: The Barefoot Contessa

On this tour, the beloved and inescapable restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality shares stories and recipes from throughout her gastronomic journey and gives a sneak peek at her new book, Cooking Like a Pro — autographed copies of which will be available at the theater.

Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $53–$73.

Oct. 30

Kreutzer Connection

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center builds a program around Beethoven’s “Kreutzer,” a violin sonata, and Leoš Janáček’s “Kreutzer Sonata” for string quartet, then interposes a work by the actual Kreutzer, a famous violinist who never actually played the Beethoven piece dedicated to him.

Details:Loop. Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $30–$70.