Cheats and Beats
What do Chicago blues, Polish sausage, and infomercial impresario Ron Popeil have in common? All three got a big boost from the inimitable Maxwell Street Market. The documentary Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street covers the outdoor bazaar’s 120-year history, from the working poor who first peddled their wares there, to the famous electrified blues born out of musicians’ need to be heard over the din, to the market’s relocation in 1994 when UIC took over the land. The film premières 7 p.m. Saturday the 3rd at Skokie Theatre (7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie; 847-677-7761); the evening includes beer and wine, dinner, and a Q&A with director Phil Ranstrom for $75. Can’t make it Saturday? The film also screens 8 p.m. Friday the 9th and Saturday the 10th, 6 p.m. Sunday the 11th, at the theatre; tickets are $10.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

• Chicagoans have plenty to whine about. Set the kvetching to music, and it’s practically an art form. The Complaints Choir, a Finnish phenomenon that does just that, makes its U.S. début in Chicago this weekend with plenty of beefs (Dan Ryan construction, the CTA) as fodder. Two performances at the MCA are sold out, but $5 tickets are still available for an 8 p.m. show Saturday the 3rd at Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.; 773-276-3600), and there’s a free show 4 p.m. Sunday the 4th in front of Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the Bean; Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe); plan on arriving early for a good view.

• Noir meets romance meets comedy in a new play by About Face Theatre artistic director (and Chicago magazine single)  Eric Rosen. Wedding Play involves a drama-world love triangle and a possible crime of passion, and premières 6 p.m. Sunday the 4th at Steppenwolf Garage Theatre (1624 N.  Halsted St.; 312-335-1650). The show runs through December 2nd. Tickets are $20 to $35.

• Urban urchins get the Rent treatment in the new musical Runaways. The show, presented by UrbanTheater Company, depicts youths living on Lower Wacker and is set to music from rock to hip-hop. Performances run 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through Sunday the 18th in the new black-box theatre at Chiopolis (2739 W. North Ave.; 773-347-1203). Tickets are $10 to $20.

• You always knew you’d find a reason one day to dust off that old ruffled tux and that guitar you never learned to tune. The Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-6000) kicks off its 50th birthday celebration Saturday the 3rd with a full slate of free classes followed by an 8:30 p.m. “homecoming” dance, authentic right down to the cheesy photos and corsages. Dance tickets are $12; see a full lineup of anniversary events at

• Love Flashdance? Relive the thrill of the audition (sans Irene Cara) when the new contemporary troupe DanceWorks Chicago invites the public to watch dancers vie for slots, 2:30 p.m. Sunday the 4th at Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Pkwy.; 312-334-3718). Don’t expect sloppy footwork just because the viewing’s free; DanceWorks was founded by former Hubbard Street 2 folks and is getting plenty of buzz. Early elimination rounds include ballet and repertoire; organizers will help narrate the process for the audience.

• Who knew Yoko Ono’s work was part of a movement? The 1960s anti-art community known as Fluxus favored an informal, DIY approach to interactive performance—you know, “happenings.” The Neo-Futurists have borrowed that mindset (minus Ono’s warbles) for their new comedy-meets-performance piece, Mr. Fluxus, in which audiences enter 15 people at a time, every 15 minutes, and wander through 13 installations at the Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-275-5255). The show opens 7:30 p.m. Saturday the 3rd and runs through December 8th. Tickets are $15.

• Anyone who read Audrey Niffenegger’s novel The Time Traveler’s Wife knows better than to underestimate her imagination. Niffenegger is also an artist, and her latest exhibit, Elegy for Isabella Blow, features a series of paintings, prints, and drawings inspired by the eponymous British fashion icon who died last year, possibly by her own hand. The show opens Friday the 2nd from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Printworks Gallery (311 W. Superior St.; 312-664-9407) and continues through December 29th.

PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place. Send tips or comments to
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