PURSE STEALER, SCENE STEALER? William Petersen and Mattie Hawkinson star in Blackbird at Victory Gardens.


Sometimes this city serves up an embarrassment of riches. To wit: Don’t-miss events for Wed 07.08.09 through Tue 07.14.09:


theatre Blackbird (and free beer)
You’ve probably heard the onetime local William Petersen—aka CSI Gil Grissom—is back and starring as an ex-con who reunites with his former lover in Blackbird, in previews now at Victory Gardens. But if you’ve been waiting for opening-night reviews to get tickets, don’t. It’s worth judging for yourself whether Petersen can still play the leading-man card live—and July 10th’s performance includes free beer and pizza. Case closed.
GO: July 10: reception at 6:30; play at 8. Previews, $20-$47, continue through July 12. Regular run, July 15–Aug 9: $20-$58. Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N Lincoln. victorygardens.org


theatre Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Loser of the Night
Last month Theo Ubique Theatre Company scored a whopping seven Jeff Awards—the most earned this year by a single troupe—including one for this revue of Brel tunes that fill the very air with an ether of romance and melancholy. If you missed it the first time around, don’t make the same mistake twice: This brief remount runs for five nights.
GO: July 8-12. $17.50. Theater on the Lake, Lake Shore and Fullerton. chicagoparkdistrict.com


concerts West Fest
A street fest that actually cares about music? For a measly $5? Cheers to that. Hear some of Chicago’s best, including the melodic hard-rock duo Local H, the bluesy indie rockers Red Red Meat (aka Califone before it was Califone), and the up-and-coming pop ensemble The 1900s. If West Town isn’t in your weekend plans, notable fests elsewhere in the city include Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party, the DuSable Arts & Crafts Festival, and the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Folk & Roots Festival.
GO: Sat, Sun noon-10. $5. Chicago from Damen to Wood. westfestchicago.com


farrago L.A.T.E. Ride
At the other end of the candle from Memorial Day’s early-morning Bike the Drive, this wee-hours pedal takes some 10,000 riders on a meandering 25-mile cycle under the stars. Sublime.
GO: Groups leave starting at 1:30 a.m. July 12; see website for full schedule. $40-$75. Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Columbus and Congress. lateride.org


theatre Our Future Metropolis
Chicago has gone Burnham Plan Centennial crazy, but this sounds like one ode worth losing our heads for: Based on archival material, Lookingglass ensemble member John Musial (Nelson Algren: For Keeps and a Single Day) adapts and directs a staging of Daniel Burnham’s original pitch for his Plan of Chicago. Think of it as a chance to see history in the making, remade.
GO: July 13, 20, 21 at 7:30; $10-$25. Gala performance honoring Lois Weisberg: July 14 at 5:30; $100. Lookingglass Theatre, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N Michigan. lookingglasstheatre.org


concerts The Fiery Furnaces
Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung is the purported headliner of Millennium Park’s Great Performers of Illinois lineup, but we’re more jazzed about this brother-sister indie-rock act of Oak Park natives. The duo is in town for a rash of shows at local venues (July 9 at the Hideout; July 10 at FitGerald’s), but you can’t beat free.
GO: July 11 at 4:45. Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. millenniumpark.org

farrago Tour de Fat
New Belgium beer flows fast and cheap at this traveling tent revival dedicated to spreading the gospel of bikes. (A brief history: New Belgium founder Jeff Lebesch found his beer muse while cycling through the Belgian countryside some 20 years ago.) Now the brewery sponsors this multicity tour that convinces one local at each stop to trade in his or her car for a custom-built bike.
GO: July 11 from 9 to 4. Palmer Square, Palmer and Kedzie. newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat

concerts Shelebration
Attention, children of the 1970s: Our beloved storyteller of yesteryear meets some of our favorite latter-day lyricists—Will Oldham, Jon Langford, Bobby Bares Sr. and Jr., among others—in this ode to the late great Chicago poet Shel Silverstein. If you only make it to Millennium Park once this summer, this is your show.
GO: July 13 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. millenniumpark.org

farrago Vintage Base Ball Game
Seriously, they spelled it that way in the old days. Lovers of America’s pastime can see how the game was played in the 1850s (no spitting, no sliding, no cursing—and no juicing, we presume) when the Chicago Salmon vintage team mounts an exhibition game.
GO: July 12 at 1. Berens Park, 493 Oaklawn Ave, Elmhurst. elmhursthistory.org