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Photograph: Broadway in Chicago

1 Brand-New State

The Tony-winning 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! blew some of the prairie dust off the classic. Performed in modern dress with minimal scenery, it highlights some darker tones behind the bright golden haze on the meadow. The touring cast visits the CIBC Theatre. Jan. 11–23.

Robin Frohardt
Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

2 No Strings Attached

The fourth edition of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival includes The Plastic Bag Store, Robin Frohardt’s “grocery store” stocked with fake food, which takes over one of the Wrigley Building’s Michigan Avenue storefronts. Jan. 20–30.

3 Raising Kane

Rising country music star Kane Brown is a rarity in his genre: a Black performer who’s been embraced by white-male-dominated country radio. The 28-year-old singer has pursued crossover collaborations, releasing singles last year with R&B singers H.E.R. and Blackbear. Brown plays the United Center on his Blessed & Free Tour. Jan. 22.

4 Complex Messiah

A highlight of MLK Day weekend for 17 years, Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah gives the beloved oratorio a different kind of oomph. Jan. 15–16.

5 August Lineage

The penultimate entry in August Wilson’s 10-play cycle about Black life in America, Gem of the Ocean had its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre in 2003. Now the story of Aunt Ester, the impossibly ancient ex-slave who counsels the residents of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, is back. Jan. 22–Feb. 27.

‘The Golden Age of Kabuki Prints’
Photograph: The Art Institute of Chicago

6 Prints Charming

Check out the celebrity posters of 18th-century Japan in The Golden Age of Kabuki Prints. The exhibition features dynamic portraits by Katsukawa School artists of many of the best-known Kabuki theater actors in Edo (now Tokyo). Jan. 15–June 26.

7 Mouths of the South

Southerners and self-proclaimed “Liberal Rednecks” Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan, and Corey Ryan Forrester aim to prove that some good ol’ boys really are good boys on their WellRed Comedy Tour. Jan. 16.

Best Coast
Photograph: Janell Shirtcliff

8 Tomorrowland

Now in its 18th year, the indie music and comedy festival Tomorrow Never Knows has grown to include six independent venues around the city, bringing concertgoers in from the cold with a lineup of local and national up-and-comers. Jan. 19–23.

Courtney Barnett
Photograph: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

9 Love, Courtney

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has racked up fans with her wry musings on the mundane. She arrives at the Chicago Theatre in support of her third album, Things Take Time, Take Time. Jan. 23.

10 A Real Icebreaker

Join (or just cheer on) the merry masochists dipping into frigid Lake Michigan for the Chicago Polar Bear Club’s 21st annual Polar Plunge. Jan. 29.