New Year’s Day 5K
Consider this rain-or-shine jaunt through Lincoln Park a down payment on your lofty New Year’s resolutions. The breakfast buffet at the finish line should take the edge off.
Details:Lincoln Park at La Salle and Stockton. 11 a.m. $40–$50. eventbrite.com
Adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, in which a polluted water supply threatens the lives of those around it, Brett Neveu’s world premiere focuses on a suburban Chicago charter school built on polluted land. With two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon in the director’s chair, you’d best get your tickets early.
Details:A Red Orchid Theatre. $15–$35. aredorchidtheatre.org
Peggy Sawyer gets her Broadway break in this Drury Lane staging of the tap musical, directed by Michael Heitzman with choreography by Jared Grimes.
Details:Drury Lane Theatre. $40–$62. ticketmaster.com
In 1966, when a botched circumcision left infant David Peter Reimer without a penis, doctors advised his parents to castrate him and raise him as a girl. With that, Reimer, reared alongside his identical twin brother, became the object of a decades-long science experiment. Using his life as inspiration, Anna Ziegler probes gender, identity, and the ageless debate over nature vs. nurture.
Details:TimeLine Theatre. $25–$54. timelinetheatre.com
Artists Connect: Haley Fohr
In the recurring series Artists Connect, the Art Institute taps a local artist to create work inspired by a piece or gallery in its collection. This month, Haley Fohr, known for penning haunting ballads under the name Circuit des Yeux, sings in the museum’s Ando Gallery.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with admission. artic.edu
Lana Del Rey
Near West Side
This loungey pop star (real name Lizzy Grant) is no stranger to the headlines, but it’s unlikely she anticipated the recent spike in attention to her 2012 track “Cola”—inspired, many surmised, by Harvey Weinstein. (Opening lines: My pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola / My eyes are wide like cherry pies / I gots a taste for men who are older.) Grant has since dispelled the rumors, saying she envisioned “a Citizen Kane,” but discontinued the song nevertheless. She’s now focusing on Lust for Life, her solid (if rambling) fifth album, which marks a return to form for the provocative artist.
Details:United Center. 8 p.m. $40–$395. ticketmaster.com
All My Sons
Director Charles Newell helms Arthur Miller’s classic about war profiteering, family ties, and the price of success. Set during World War II, the drama examines how war destroys families thousands of miles from the frontlines. John Judd leads an all-star cast, including Timothy Edward Kane and Kate Collins.
Details:Court Theatre. $38–$74. courtheatre.org
Five Mile Lake
Think Chekhov—loneliness, ennui, and all—transported from a humdrum small town in Russia to a humdrum small town in Pennsylvania. Ambitions are thwarted and love unrequited in this Rachel Bonds drama, where immobility looms (in the form of the titular frozen lake) over a group of young adults stuck in their provincial lives.
Details:Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit. $20–$35. sgtheatre.org
Barbara Jones-Hogu: Resist, Relate, Unite 1968–1975
The ’60s and ’70s were a time of liberation for minority groups in Chicago, in both civic life and the arts. Barbara Jones-Hogu, who passed away in November at the age of 79, was at the artistic center of Chicago’s Black Arts Movement, screenprinting bold images of black empowerment for the collective AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). This exhibit presents iconic images of that revolutionary period and tracks the evolution of the Chicago Heights artist’s style.
Details:DePaul Art Museum. Free. museums.depaul.edu
Forget what you think you know about this avant-garde singer-guitarist (real name Annie Clark). On Masseduction, Clark’s fifth and most accomplished solo album yet, the sonically gifted and occasionally transgressive rocker spins a near-masterpiece about the intersection of power, sex, and human relationships. Incorporating genres from industrial techno to glam rock, the album checks in as the most boundary pushing by an already out-there artist. Its accompanying live show, which previewed in October in Los Angeles, is a visual feast of Memphis design, neon, and abrasive rock ’n’ roll.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $75–$225. ticketmaster.com
Brian Brooks Moving Company
Brooks, best known for collaborations with ballet superstar Wendy Whelan, returns to the Harris Theater with his New York company for two programs. Friday’s abridged performance—part of the theater’s millennial-targeted Mix at Six series—features food trucks and booze; the Saturday matinee is for the whole family.
Details:Harris Theater. $10–$15. harristheaterchicago.org
Winter Chamber Music Festival
A warm oasis in a huddling-under-the-blanket time of year, the three-weekend chamber music series at Northwestern University programs an avalanche of big-name small-ensemble talent. The lineup features three string quartets (Dudok Kwartet Amsterdam, Rolston, and in-residence Dover), all incidentally incorporating Mozart, as well as 24 caprices, à la Paganini, by top contemporary composers (violinist Jennifer Koh performing)—a project so big it snowballed to two concerts.
Details:Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at Northwestern University. $10–$30 per concert; $27–$126 multiconcert pass. events.music.northwestern.edu
Jeff winner Linda Reiter stars as Rose Kennedy in this Laurence Leamer play about the legendary political matriarch. The script doesn’t shy away from the skeletons in the family closet, including the parade of mistresses Rose endured and the lobotomy forced on her daughter Rosemary. A near-perfect merger of cast, direction, and writing, Rose sold out its short run at Greenhouse last year. If you missed this hit then, now’s your chance to catch it.
Details:Greenhouse Theater. $20–$45. greenhousetheater.org
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster takes advantage of a night off from Symphony Center to play a winter recital at the orchestra’s summer home. Chen plans a program of Mozart, Brahms, a piece by the virtuoso violinist Fritz Kreisler, and the Sonata for Violin and Piano by John Corigliano, who composed the score to The Red Violin and will soon celebrate his 80th birthday.
Details:Ravinia. 8:30 p.m. $11–$50. ravinia.org
Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah
The 13th annual presentation of a jazz and gospel take on George Frideric Handel’s Messiah features more than 100 voices, a 37-piece orchestra, and a jazz quintet. The performance commemorates the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt
A rare exhibit brings paintings of mummies to Northwestern University. Rendered on wood, these portraits, which were wrapped up with mummified bodies, document Roman Egyptians who lived and died 2,000 years ago—their faces not much different from ours today. Also on view, the property of a theology seminary on campus: a wrapped mummy that curators believe was a young girl.
Details:Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Free. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu
For the latest in its annual raucous remembrances of Martin Luther King Jr., this diversity-jubilant orchestra devotes the whole concert to Ask Your Mama, a piece that embodies variety in its styles and instrumentation. The composition by the film-and-TV composer Laura Karpman, inspired by Langston Hughes, unites the orchestra with jazz musicians, electronic samples, video projections, spoken word, and sundry other influences. The operatic soprano Janai Brugger, in town for the second cast of Lyric’s Turandot, solos.
Details:January 14: Pfeiffer Concert Hall at North Central College; January 15: Symphony Center. $10–$62. chicagosinfonietta.org
Near West Side
How, you might ask, do the Killers stay relevant more than a decade after “Mr. Brightside”? Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom, 2017’s best-selling oral history on the New York rock scene through which they ascended, offers a clue: their work ethic. Goodman reports that while the Las Vegas band’s peers partied through the aughts, the Killers spent their nights perfecting the sound that separated them from craggy one-hit wonders. The result is an enduring career, which last year yielded a fifth LP, Wonderful Wonderful, and a headlining slot at Lollapalooza.
Details:United Center. 7:30 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
Consider Heyer the local emerging painter of the moment: His pastel-hued scenes recall the glory days of LGBTQ sexual liberation in Chicago and beyond. (See “Painter Paul Heyer Takes Inspiration from His South Suburban Hometown.”)
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15 donation. mcachicago.org
Near North Side
“It’s a brutally difficult time to create art,” the Chicago-born singer told Forbes last fall. “As artists, what strikes us is what we can hang onto, [and] a lot of times that is pain.” On her October release, Honestly, Hathaway explores that pain, referencing the 2014 Ferguson protests, Standing Rock, and Charlottesville on her way to illustrating the intersection of social justice and contemporary life.
Details:House of Blues. 6:30 p.m. $35–$135. livenation.com
Wham City and Helltrap Nightmare
The members of the Baltimore collective Wham City frequently blur the lines between comedy and performance art. Their sketches and videos can skew existentially horrifying (take the 2014 short Unedited Footage of a Bear, shown on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, a follow-up to the surprise hit Too Many Cooks). Expect an evening of horrific hilarity as they join forces with the local oddballs of Helltrap Nightmare.
Details:Hideout. 7 and 10 p.m. $12. hideoutchicago.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The 127-year-old grande dame of classical music in Chicago kicks off the new year with a youthful new-leaf concert, featuring its 24-year-old principal bassoonist, Keith Buncke, and the conductor Rafael Payare, who at 37 is practically in conductor toddlerhood. Payare leads Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto (with Buncke soloing), and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Details:Symphony Center. $34–$221. cso.org
On the Threshold of Winter
Ensemble Dal Niente puts on Michael Hersch’s one-woman opera, based on the dying-breath verses of the Romanian poet Marin Sorescu. Ah Young Hong, the soprano who premiered the piece in 2014, resurrects the role of a woman not going gentle, accompanied by savage, gloomy instrumentals that oscillate between unsettling tonality and disjunct atonality.
Details:Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. $20–$30. dalniente.com
Chiara String Quartet
This Nebraska-based quartet, renowned for playing by memory, recently announced that they will break up after this performance season. At what is likely their last local appearance, they’ll play NEIU’s intimate Jewel Box series, their swan song a program of Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Debussy.
Details:Recital Hall at Northeastern Illinois University. 7:30 p.m. $10–$25. neiu.edu/jewelbox
Dozin’ with the Dinos
Kids ages 6 to 12 can spend a bona fide night at the museum via this sleepover at the Field, which includes educational programming and a flashlight tour. The event starts at 5:45 p.m. on Friday. Pickup is at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Details:Field Museum. $60–$90. fieldmuseum.org
Hatfield & McCoy
The infamous Appalachian feud unravels in this bluegrass-tinged musical—part Romeo and Juliet, part Li’l Abner, and wholly original. Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Kahler’s score calls for backwoods instruments like fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass, all of which color a twanging tale of forbidden love in the hollers of Kentucky.
Details:House Theatre at Chopin Theatre. $15–$50. thehousetheatre.com
This contemporary painter has a gift for stylish, abstract compositions that show patterns drawn from various influences on her life—including jewelry design, musical instruments, rock walls, and costume embroidery.
Details:Corbett vs. Dempsey. Free. corbettvsdempsey.com
Rayland Baxter on social media is a far cry from Rayland Baxter on a record. While the singer’s tweets offer rapid-fire quirkiness and are occasionally cryptic (for example, “fLat water in a tweLve ounce can … a pLease to drink”), his alt-country tunes are painfully grounded in reality. The storyteller’s poignant takes on contemporary life have helped revitalize the Americana music genre.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m. $15–$17. lh-st.com
Cash for Kids Johnny Cash Night
It’s never too early to introduce your tykes to the classics, and the discography of Johnny Cash makes as rollicking a crash course as any. Here, artists including Chicago’s Waco Brothers power through the Man in Black’s catalog, with all proceeds benefitting the Gompers Park Athletic Association’s baseball and softball teams.
Details:Irish American Heritage Center. 6 p.m. $15–$20. irish-american.org
Chicago Polar Bear Plunge
Few events bring out Chicago’s celebrity population like this charge-for-charity into icy Lake Michigan. Locals Vince Vaughn and Chicago Fire star Taylor Kinney have joined in the past, as have out-of-towners Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, and Dax Shepard. That said, it’s rude to rubberneck—jump on into the water yourself.
Details:Oak Street Beach. Noon. $30–$40. chicagopolarbearclub.com
Dan Bejar is known for songs that make his personal paranoia public, but his latest release, Ken, is his most direct yet. Cut with producer Josh Wells, the album finds Bejar, who formed the band Destroyer in the ’90s and continues to perform under the name, at his most meditative and minimalist, broaching feelings of psychosis and estrangement in his trademark baritone drone. All in all, it amounts to what Bejar promised in Billboard back in October: “The most goth record you’re going to hear from Destroyer.”
Details:Metro. 9 p.m. $21–$23. etix.com
This New York comedian sports one of the most diverse résumés in the biz. Beyond appearing in Don’t Think Twice, Broad City, and The Chris Gethard Show and writing for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, Firestone co-hosts a game show podcast, and in 2016 helped write Punderdome, one of Amazon’s best-selling card games. Here, she channels her offbeat charm into standup.
Details:Hideout. 7 and 10 p.m. $10. hideoutchicago.com
Near West Side
Few painters emerge from their traumas as triumphantly as Frida Kahlo, who as a child endured abuse, bullying, polio, and a near-fatal bus crash. The now-famous Mexican surrealist was lauded for her expressive, piercing self-portraits, which painter Eric Finzi pays homage to in a new series. To re-create the icon, he employs a special technique that involves using syringes to inject pigment into resin.
Details:Linda Warren Projects. Free. lindawarrenprojects.com
Gertrude Abercrombie: Portrait of the Artist as a Landscape
Known for hosting wild jazz parties at her Hyde Park home in the ’40s, Abercrombie also developed a style of surrealist painting that often featured solitary women in moody Midwestern landscapes.
Details:Elmhurst Art Museum. Free–$9. elmhurstartmuseum.org
Comedy at the Knitting Factory
Founded by local hero Hannibal Buress, this Brooklyn-based trio and their namesake show wield plenty of clout in New York. All three hosts—Clark Jones, Will Miles, and Kenny DeForest—have been named among the 50 funniest people in Brooklyn by Brooklyn Magazine. While those accolades don’t mean much in Chicago, expect pedigree standup and doubtless some big-name guests.
Details:Hideout. 7 p.m. $10. hideoutchicago.com
You’d be forgiven for missing this Spanish quartet’s charming debut, Leave Me Alone, in 2016’s flood of big releases—but even two years later, their sunburned, woozy garage-pop is like a much-needed shot of vitamin D in the doldrums of January.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m. $15. lh-st.com
The Play of Daniel
The Boston Camerata, an early-music ensemble, brings the story of the Old Testament prophet to one of the most resonant spaces around. The 13th-century piece, a touchstone of medieval performance, uses melodic music (no harmonies) to describe Daniel, the court of Belshazzar, and the literal handwriting on the wall.
Details:Rockefeller Chapel at University of Chicago. 2 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
After giving up an Ivy League education out of high school, Jo, now 37, finds herself stuck living at home with her aging mother. Melissa Ross’s dialogue can be biting (one character opines
that happiness is like a “scratch-off lottery ticket”), but in her story of quietly thwarted ambitions, hope shines through in unexpected places.
Details:Raven Theatre. $29–$46. raventheatre.com
This New York–based dance and performance project is known for aggressive, edgy, and, above all, sweaty performances. Here, they debut work inspired by the French sculptor Rodin—chiefly his ability to mold wet clay into lifelike muscles and flesh—alongside the Art Institute’s new exhibition on the artist.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with admission. artic.edu
If Left Unchecked
Paige Caldarella, a former staple in Merce Cunningham Dance Company, choreographs a mix of ballet and contemporary dance, mining the implications the two art forms have on each performer’s gender, race, and body.
Details:Links Hall. $5–$10. linkshall.org
Las Ideas: Federico León
Buenos Aires artist León performs live video manipulation using cameras, software, and a Ping-Pong table. The hourlong theatrical work simulates a creative encounter between two collaborators with a shared love for digital art, toys, and tricks.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The CSO, a perfect vehicle for the outsize scale and drama of Gustav Mahler, takes on his 70-minute Symphony No. 5, conducted by Manfred Honeck, a fellow Austrian. To open the concert, Honeck heads Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, featuring the pianist Till Fellner (another Austrian).
Details:Symphony Center. $36–$152. cso.org
We’re Gonna Be Okay
Set during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this Basil Kreimendahl comedy looks back on a time when nuclear annihilation seemed imminent. As President Kennedy tries to calm a jittery nation, two suburban families build a bomb shelter on their shared property line while coping with internal crises of their own.
Details:American Theater Company. $20–$38. atcweb.org
You Got Older
Death, desire, and a kinky cowboy collide in Clare Barron’s dramedy about a young woman who returns home to care for her cancer-stricken father. Friction ensues as she and her siblings try to make peace with the past and plans for the future. Jonathan Berry directs a cast that includes Steppenwolf regulars Audrey Francis, Francis Guinan, Glenn Davis, and Caroline Neff.
Details:Steppenwolf. $20–$89. steppenwolf.org
Each winter, B movie buffs congregate at Northwestern University for 24 hours of low-budget horror, shoestring sci-fi, and decidedly dated monster flicks. Staples include a midnight screening of the campy classic Plan 9 from Outer Space, themed raffle prizes, and live presentations by the B-Fest Players.
Details:McCormick Auditorium at Northwestern University. 6 p.m. $5–$40. b-fest.com
Elgin Literary Festival
Readings, author signings, panel discussions, and all-around bookishness hit downtown Elgin at this fest for writers and readers of all ages.
Details:Hemmens Cultural Center. Free. sidestreetstudioarts.org
Chicago Restaurant Week
This culinary celebration, which boasts deals at the city’s best eateries, turns 11 in 2018. Prix fixe is the name of the game, with lunch and brunch starting at $22 and dinners starting at $33.
Details:Various venues. choosechicago.com
Merrily We Roll Along
Near North Side
Starting in 1976 and moving backward for two decades, Stephen Sondheim’s rarely staged gem follows a composer who gives up life in the theater for a Hollywood mansion and film career. The show is absolute catnip for Sondheim aficionados, and under the direction of Michael Weber, it should also appeal to everyone else.
Details:Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts. $33–$50. porchlightmusictheatre.org
Near West Side
The Lake View artist is known for her small ceramic sculptures, carved and colored to evoke bizarre botanical and aquatic specimens. In Precious Fragments Exquisite Longing, she displays her creations in glass apothecary jars to enhance their wonder, at the same time raising questions about the future of biodiversity in light of species that have gone extinct.
Details:Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Free. rhoffmangallery.com
After unexpectedly canceling an appearance in November, the Mexican singer, songwriter, TV personality, and one-time child star returns to Chicago with highlights from a four-decade career and his uniquely sensual brand of mariachi.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. 8 p.m. $63–$153. auditoriumtheatre.org
While Chicago-area winters are more often suffered than celebrated, there are worse ways to mark the season’s midpoint than a jaunt to Lake Geneva. Across nine days, the city hosts a human dogsled race, helicopter rides, the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition, and more. Warm up indoors at shows from Milwaukee magician Tristan Crist.
Details:Lake Geneva. visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest
The poet Gibson’s spoken-word pieces are a master class in self-reflection. Drawing on the traditions of songwriting as much as slam, she cuts to the truths at the heart of complicated subjects, particularly queer identity. It’s raw, emotional stuff—don’t forget the tissues.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $21–$23. thaliahallchicago.com
Followers of the symphony scene know that a few years ago, a lockout silenced the Minnesota Orchestra for 15 months. They should also know that Osmo Vänskä, the respected Finn who returned as music director after the lockout, interprets Jean Sibelius like few can. Here Vänskä leads a symphonic poem by Sibelius, followed by the crowd-pleasing Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky and Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $25–$160. cso.org
Jane Glover, the music director of Music of the Baroque, has a special affinity for Mozart. To mark the weekend the composer would have turned 262, Glover leads a small and agile orchestra in his Symphony No. 33 and two sinfonia concertantes spotlighting several soloists: one for violin and viola and one for four winds.
Details:January 28: North Shore Center for the Performing Arts; January 29: Harris Theater. $25–$78. baroque.org
Australia, much like Sweden, is known for churning out synth-pop stars (Empire of the Sun, Cut Copy, global superstar Kylie Minogue). Fans eager to discover the next big export ought check out Wafia. In 2016, the singer released (M)edian, her second EP. A collaboration with fellow Aussie producer Taku, the sensual, focused collection of R&B-laced pop is sure to please even the most fickle of listeners.
Details:Schubas. 8 p.m. $15. lh-st.com
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous
In an alternate universe, this Chicago-born vet of the SNL writers’ room could have replaced Macaulay Culkin as the star of Home Alone. In our universe, though, his parents refused to let him audition, and he ultimately decided to pursue standup. We’re all the better for it, given Oh, Hello, his sidesplitting collaboration with fellow comedian Nick Kroll, which blossomed into a surprise off-Broadway hit, and The Comeback Kid, his beloved Netflix special from 2015. Catch new material on this hometown tour stop.
Details:Chicago Theatre. Sold out; see resellers.
The last time Stephen Karam’s family drama played in Chicago, it was at a tiny black box in North Center. Now the show returns after a hit run on Broadway and four Tonys. Set on Thanksgiving Day, the story offers a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the human heart, with a dash of supernatural lurking in the background. In its previous incarnation, the play was a feast for the heart and mind. Here’s hoping the cavernous new venue doesn’t compromise the intimacy.
Details:Oriental Theatre. $25–$98. broadwayinchicago.com
When Clinton took the stage at last summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival, many wondered if he could still bring the funk; recent concert reviews had been mixed at best. But within minutes, he was blasting Union Park with piercing brass, hypnotic bass, and Funkadelic’s full-bodied vocals. In his later years, Clinton has added an even more sizable band to his live show, letting young and new artists contribute to the history he’s been writing since the ’50s. The result is surprisingly charming and, thankfully, still loads of fun.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $38–$80. eventbrite.com