Don’t-miss picks for February 7 through February 13, 2019
1 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Theater:The 10 plays of August Wilson’s Century Cycle, which depict slices of African American life in Pittsburgh during the 20th century decade by decade, have long had Chicago homes at the Goodman and Court Theatres. Writers Theatre enters the mix with the 1920s entry, the sole one to take place in this city, where blues singer Ma Rainey and her band squabble through a tense recording session. Director Ron OJ Parson is a seasoned interpreter of Wilson’s work, having staged seven of the plays at Court; many of his usual cast members, including A.C. Smith, Alfred Wilson, and Felicia P. Fields, are following him from Hyde Park to Glencoe.
2/6–3/17. $35–$80. Writers Theatre. writerstheatre.org
2 The Total Bent
Theater:The inventive musical memoir Passing Strange portrayed the coming-of-age and coming-to-art of the one-named writer and composer Stew. He and his fellow composer on that show, Heidi Rodewald, have teamed up again for this fictional, complex, and concert-style work about the clash between an old-school gospel preacher and his gay songwriter son during the civil rights movement. Lili-Anne Brown, who directed the bracing Bailiwick Chicago production of Passing Strange, helms this local premiere, a coproduction of Haven and About Face.
2/7–3/10. $15–$38. Den Theatre. thedentheatre.com
Pop:The singer and actress has reinvented herself dozens of times over six decades without ever relinquishing her spot as one of the coolest people alive. And for this performance, she’s accompanied by Nile Rodgers, whose influence on 20th-century pop, rock, and dance music is so extensive it’s impossible to totally measure, and his disco supergroup Chic, which recently released its first album in 26 years.
2/8 at 8 p.m. United Center. $48–$500+. unitedcenter.com
Pop:Nobody really knows what to make of this post-post-postironic pop star and conceptual YouTuber whose winking, absurdist songs and videos are beamed in from the uncanniest of valleys. The act’s either a brilliant satire of digital culture or an elaborate illuminati mind-control experiment. Either way, the music’s improbably catchy — think high-gloss synthetic sounds or Grimes’s arty pop experiments.
2/8 at 6:30 p.m. $20. House of Blues. houseofblues.com
5 Orchid Show
Garden:For those who can’t swing an excursion to the Caribbean, there’s the option of traveling to nearby Glencoe for this annual event, where visitors can trade dark skies and gray slush for bright surroundings and thousands of lush, colorful specimens specially planted in a separate room in the Botanic Garden. If the thought of returning home is too depressing, don’t worry: You can buy one of the magnificent flowers to take with you.
2/9–3/24. $8–$12. Chicago Botanic Garden. chicagobotanic.org
6 Lunar New Year
Parade:Every year, Chinatown offers a celebration of ancient traditions with a procession that features marching bands from local high schools, lion dances, and elaborate floats. The pig is a symbol of wealth in Chinese culture, so here’s to hoping that the Year of the Pig brings good fortune.
FREE 2/10 at 1 p.m. Wentworth from 24th to Cermak. https://www.ccc-foundation.org/lunar-new-year-parade/
7 Ryan Tacata: A Minor Repair
Performance Art:The weird and wonderful In>Time performance festival happens only every three years at 12 venues across the city. In 2019’s edition, various artists will pay tribute to storied and now-defunct Chicago performance collective Goat Island. Make sure to check out Bay Area–based up-and-comer Tacata, a onetime Chicagoan who’ll be riffing off of Goat Island’s When Will the September Roses Bloom? Last Night Was Only a Comedy, from 2004, using items from the group’s archive as source material.
FREE 2/10 at 6 p.m. Zhou B Art Center. in-time-performance.org
8 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Classical:While the Chicago Symphony Orchestra tours Asia, Symphony Center booked a worthy substitute: the Amsterdam-based Royal Concertgebouw, the orchestra named the best in the world by a blue-ribbon Gramophone panel 10 years ago. Here, the Dutch treat the audience to Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Richard Strauss’s tone poem Ein Heldenleben, a canonical work dedicated to the orchestra.
2/12 at 7 p.m. $40–$184. Symphony Center. cso.org
9 Dear Evan Hansen
Theater:The winner of the 2017 Tony for best musical follows a high schooler with crippling social anxiety who gets caught in a snowballing series of lies after a classmate commits suicide. The touring production christens the newly renamed Nederlander Theatre (née Oriental).
2/12–3/10. $121–$786. Nederlander Theatre. broadwayinchicago.com
10 The Father
Theater:The young French writer Florian Zeller’s play uses disorienting theatrical devices to convey the perspective of a man succumbing to dementia. Frank Langella won a Tony in the title role in the 2016 Broadway production; the reliable David Darlow and Remy Bumppo Theatre Company take up the challenge for the Chicago premiere.
Through 3/3. $38–$63. Theater Wit. remybumppo.org