From Mary Shelley’s 19th-century novel to the 21st-century movie Mary Shelley, you’ve never encountered a Frankenstein quite like this one. Cooked up in the labs of Manual Cinema, Court’s production will feature a spectacle that’s handcrafted, low-tech, and literary. Puppets, people, and light are all used for an ingenious take on an old tale.
Details:Hyde Park. Court Theatre. $38–$74. courttheatre.org
This Bitter Earth
In Harrison David Rivers’s two-person drama for About Face Theatre, activism and art intersect as a young gay couple — a white activist for Black Lives Matter and a black playwright — struggle with differences that become intensified by the violence that surrounds them.
Details:Lake View. Theater Wit. $15–$38. aboutfacetheatre.com
Chicago New Media, 1973–1992
The cutting-edge electronic art of the 1970s had a special relationship to Chicago. Crossing the eclectic fields of video games, electronic music, and TV art, this exhibit shows how artists invented new technologies, or even hacked them. Visitors can interact with the vintage machines onsite.
Details:Near West Side. Gallery 400. Free. gallery400.uic.edu
Where the Future Came From
“Chicago is a place where women have built quite a bit of the culture, but it is not often talked about,” says Columbia College curator Meg Duguid. Her new exhibition collects artifacts, ephemera, and oral histories from the past 100 years to help write the unfinished history of women’s creative achievements in Chicago. The three-and-a-half-month run includes weekly lectures by local scholars, curators, and artists.
Details:South Loop. Columbia College Chicago. Free. colum.edu/deps
Michael Koerner: My DNA
The artist’s mother was 11 years old, living near Nagasaki, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb. Exposure to gamma radiation ultimately led to the early deaths of her children and herself. Her one surviving son, Michael, born in Okinawa and now living in Illinois, makes abstract photographs using a process more akin to chemistry than fine art — an expression of his family’s traumatic history and the demise of their bodies.
Details:River North. Catherine Edelman Gallery. Free. edelmangallery.com
Red Bull Music Festival Chicago
The appearance of an energy drink company on the marquee of this monthlong citywide series of talks and performances might raise the eyebrows of effete record collectors, but Red Bull’s musical symposiums in New York, Montreal, and other cities have earned rave reviews for their stellar lineups, civic respect, and unique ability to host big-name artists in intimate settings. Highlights from this year’s Chicago edition include a showcase of Kanye West’s GOOD Music label (featuring Nas, Pusha T, and Valee), a three-stage collision of noise and experimental musicians, and drummer Makaya McCraven performing with the 11 musicians who helped him record his album Universal Beings.
Details:Various neighborhoods and prices. redbull.com/us-en/music/event-series/red-bull-music-festival-chicago
Theater types have pretty much run out of superlatives when describing Chicago playwright Ike Holter. Rightlynd is the fifth installment of a seven-play series that takes audiences to the beleaguered fictional 51st Ward and plunges them into the world of an alderman hell-bent on saving the neighborhood from gentrification.
Details:Lincoln Park. Victory Gardens Theater. $20–$61. victorygardens.org
Roger Brown: La Conchita
Brown, whose mosaic murals can still be spotted around Chicago, was the city’s most famous Imagist painter from the 1970s until his death in 1997, and he’s still prized among top collectors. Known to ravage yard sales, swap meets, and even the Maxwell Street Market, he incorporated his curious finds as found objects alongside his canvases in his later years, blurring the line between sculpture and painting, as seen in this rare exhibit of his final work.
Details:West Loop. Kavi Gupta. Free. kavigupta.com
Collages of cats wearing plants and cacti on their heads have taken on a cult status: Chalk it up to the popularity of internet cat memes. This artist prods the cultural boundaries of cuteness with a second edition of his book Cats & Plants — the first one sold out — and his new collage-based artworks in this solo show.
Details:West Loop. Carrie Secrist Gallery. Free. secristgallery.com
A virginal Vietnamese girl martyrs herself when the GI she loves won’t divorce his American wife for her. Emily Bautista (who plays the doomed Kim) brought thousands to their feet in August with her unforgettable Millennium Park concert rendition of “I’d Give My Life for You.” Another plus: Chicago’s Christine Bunuan plays the titular character, aka Gigi Van Tranh.
Details:Loop. Cadillac Palace Theatre. $35–$110. broadwayinchicago.com
Award-winning playwright (Eclipsed, In the Continuum) and actress (Black Panther, The Walking Dead) Danai Gurira’s 2015 drama brings out the best and the worst in a clan gathered for a wedding. But Gurira’s got more on her mind than a family feud. Expect a sharp generational portrait and a clash between contemporary U.S. culture and Zimbabwean traditions.
Details:Lincoln Park. Steppenwolf Theatre. $20–$99. steppenwolf.org
The Woman in Black
If you’re prone to recurring nightmares, maybe sit this one out. The two-person show, which premiered in London’s West End, first arrived in Chicago decades ago, terrorizing audiences with a chiller that contains at least two scream-out-loud moments. For this production, director Robin Herford will recreate his original West End staging.
Details:Lincoln Park. Royal George Theatre. $49–$69. theroyalgeorgetheatre.com
Lyric Opera remounts its homegrown production of Verdi’s baby-snatching soap-operatic tragedy, originally by the buzzed-about director David McVicar. On this go-around, Lyric filled the leading roles with the soprano Tamara Wilson in her house debut, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and tenor Russell Thomas. Il Trovatore contains “Anvil Chorus,” where blacksmithing surfaces are repurposed as percussion.
Details:Loop. Lyric Opera House. $39–$299. lyricopera.org
A Christmas Carol
Yes, you know the story. Yes, you might have already seen it a million times. And yes, it’s one of the best shows around if you want a dose of holiday cheer. Dickens’s long-lasting ghost story gets a sumptuous, bighearted production year after year at the Goodman. Even stone-cold cynics will find themselves a little less stony once Mr. Fezziwig’s band starts playing.
Details:Loop. Goodman Theatre. $40–$112. goodmantheatre.org
West by Midwest
The artist Judy Chicago represents a familiar story in contemporary art history: Born in Chicago (from which she took her name), she became famous only after relocating to Los Angeles. This major exhibit of more than 80 artworks traces this route of artists from the Midwest looking for success and inspiration on the West Coast. In the process, they spread the ethos and kinship of Midwestern culture.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
There are eclectic bands, and then there’s Algiers, a group that combines what seem like ill-fitting genres such as post-punk and gospel. Its sound is frequently described as “dystopian soul,” and although the description might be a bit heavy-handed, it’s not entirely inaccurate. Algiers’s music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s sure to make an impact.
Details:West Loop. Bottom Lounge. 9 p.m. $18. ticketweb.com
The Book of Mormon
The lyrics to Robert Lopez, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone’s smash musical, returning for a second run, explain why the Garden of Eden is actually in Missouri and how Jesus has his own planet (and you can have one too!). If all door-to-door missionaries were this amusing, then no doors would be slammed on them. Bonus: The show’s chorus line of bespangled Satans singing about oral sex and Jeffrey Dahmer is divine.
Details:Loop. Oriental Theatre. $45–$125. bookofmormonbroadway.com
Chicago Thanksgiving Parade
While it may not be quite to the scale of the Macy’s New York shindig, a curbside view of a parade beats a TV broadcast any day. Chicago’s own McDonald’s-sponsored affair features a familiar lineup: Bevies of dancers, floats, and cartoon balloons stuff State Street.
Details:Loop. State from Congress to Randolph. 8 a.m. Free. chicagothanksgivingparade.com
Earlier this year, West Side rapper Saba released his critically acclaimed sophomore album, Care for Me, and proved he’s more than just a flash in the pan. First gaining local and national attention in 2016, Saba returned with a collection of songs more honest and raw than those of any of his peers. Care for Me is a voyeuristic glimpse into the inner workings of the young rapper’s mind as he grapples with death, depression, and the destruction of the world around him.
Details:Logan Square. Concord Music Hall. 6:30 p.m. $20–$23. ticketfly.com