A scene from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

We are, and deliciously so, when Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Steppenwolf, sink their fangs into Edward Albee

12/2–2/13 Nobody tops Albee for eviscerating dialogue. (“If you existed, I’d divorce you.”) And nobody is more equipped to deliver it than Morton and Letts. The power pair bring on the emotional laceration, the lacerating comedy, and the deliciously degenerate parlor game Get the Guests.

Previews 12/2–11; $20–$52. Regular run $20–$75. Steppenwolf, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org.


Photograph: Saverio Truglia


A performer from Harold and the Purple Crayon

We don’t care what color the crayon is or to whom it belongs. We only care that there’s a non-Nutcracker option this December, courtesy of Hubbard Street, with music by Andrew Bird.

12/4 The apprentice company Hubbard Street 2 creates an interactive treat for kids that will get parents moving, too. Based on the 1955 children’s book, the show features music by Bird (who is next on our list).

At 3, $5. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. hubbardstreetdance.com.


Photograph: Todd Rosenberg


Musician Andrew Bird

Bird watch, part 2: Or leave the kids at home and catch Chicago’s whistling king of whimsical pop when he plays three intimate concerts.

12/15–17 For the second year in what should become an annual tradition, Chicago’s own orchestral-pop charmer plays mostly instrumental violin compositions in an intimate holiday run.

At 8, $35–$40. Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut. jamusa.com.


Photograph: Courtesy of Advice Agency


A scene from A John Waters Christmas

OK, this one? Forget you even have kids. Waters may be coming to town, but the similarities between the delightfully deviant director and Santa end there.

12/14 He may not be divine, but he did discover Divine and craft such iconic movies as Hairspray (not the musical). Here, Waters hosts a Q & A. Given the season, it’s only natural to ask WWJWD?

At 7:30, $35–$65. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org.


Photograph: Karl Esch


An embroidered scarlet letter A

We’re not the only ones getting old becoming a classic. Printworks toasts 30 with a show of faux book covers (think Oliver Twist and The Scarlet Letter) by longtime friends of the gallery (think Karl Wirsum and Patricia Tamandl Niffenegger—Audrey’s mom).

12/3–2/12 Bob Hiebert and Sid Block celebrate the gallery’s 30th anniversary with Cover Stories. Among the 68 artists invited to mock up book covers: William Conger, Richard Hunt, Wirsum, Audrey Niffenegger—and her quilter mom, Patricia. Editor’s note: Chicago contributing events critic Ann Wiens has a piece in this show as well. 311 W Superior. printworkschicago.com.


Photograph: Courtesy of Printworks