Don’t-miss picks for December 6 through December 12, 2018
1 The Book of Merman
Seasonal:If you missed composer-lyricist Leo Schwartz’s Ethel-meets-Mormons creation when it ran for three months here in 2015, consider this a chance at FOMO avoidance. As the title makes blindingly obvious, Ethel Merman — trumpet-voiced alto for the ages — is the star in this Flying Elephant production, but this time she’s onstage with missionaries intent on saving her soul. For 120 minutes, hijinks ensue, along with more than a dozen original songs.
Through 1/6. $40. Stage 773. stage773.com
2 Travis Scott
Hip-Hop:Virtually every rapper now uses Auto-Tune, and were he not so creative in its deployment, one could say that this Houston artist abuses it. His aqueous voice hits party-hard beats the way a speedboat’s engine chops the ocean — it ripples, splashes, and makes waves. This year has been busy for Scott: At its outset he appeared on Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, a collaborative full-length with Migos member Quavo, and in August he dropped Astroworld, which went gold.
12/6 at 7:30 p.m. $50–$120. United Center. ticketmaster.com
Dance:Hubbard Street has been earmarking its winter program for works from within the company’s ranks, and last year it established a choreographic fellowship. This year’s fellows, Rena Butler and Florian Lochner, join last year’s, Alice Klock, for an evening of three new works that question identity: What dissonances exist within intersectional traits like race, gender, and culture? If anyone can answer that with dance, it’s these three performers.
12/6–9. $25–$110. Harris Theater. hubbardstreetdance.com
4 One of a Kind
Seasonal:Get your holiday shopping done at this market hearing unique offerings from more than 600 makers. The event also features fashion shows, a fine art gallery, a space highlighting work by 25 up-and-coming artists, and a section devoted to gourmet gifts.
12/6–9. $12–$20. Merchandise Mart. oneofakindshowchicago.com
5 The Inextinguishable Symphony
Classical:His lesser-known fireball of a piece, Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 gets its nickname in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s title for this concert. But the gem of the program is Richard Strauss’s effusive Four Last Songs, sung by the soprano Erin Wall.
12/6–11. $31–$221. Symphony Center. cso.org
6 The Winter Wolf
Theater:Playwright Joseph Zettelmaier’s erie riffs on Frankenstein (The Gravedigger) and Dracula (Dr. Seward’s Dracula) are near-perfect fusions of ancient lore and contemporary spin. Here, he takes on a Christmastime creature feature with the story of a supernatural predator in search of mortal prey.
12/6–1/5. $20 suggested donation. Otherworld Theatre. otherworldtheatre.org
7 Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party
Seasonal:Children of all ages will relish this chance to explore the Art Institute in a wild treasure hunt, seeking out and solving art-related clues à la The Da Vinci Code or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, depending on reading level. The price of admission includes a tea party in the elegantly arrayed Stock Exchange Trading Room — an apt ending to a day of museum mystery chasing.
12/9 at 10:45 a.m. $25–$75. Art Institute of Chicago. artic.edu
8 Tallis Scholars
Classical:No one sings pure-toned choral music quite like the British, and in that rarefied air, no one has the Renaissance cred of this chamber choir, which last visited Chicago in 1989. They celebrate Christmas with works drawn from the likes of Palestrina, Josquin, and Byrd, all performed in an acoustic setting perfect for the period.
12/9 at 3 p.m. $10–$38. Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
9 Health Club
Art:This group exhibition turns an eye toward mental health, with special attention paid to how civic spaces like parks, museums, and airports can inspire citizens. For instance, local duo Ballas & Wax create a fictional hotel lobby to investigate where private space begins and public space ends.
FREE 12/9–3/3. Hyde Park Art Center. hydeparkart.org
10 That’s Weird, Grandma Rings in the Holidays
Theater:Working with stories written by some 15,000 schoolchildren since 1997, Barrel of Monkeys creates onstage anthologies that hit the heart and the funny bone. Brandon Cloyd directs the latest edition, wherein pocket-sized plays by third to fifth graders are staged in all their out-of-the-box, imaginative glory.
12/10–22. $10–$30. Neo-Futurists Theater. barrelofmonkeys.org