Chicago Humanities Festival
This year’s speed-themed lecture fest features a mix of rising locals and legendary stars. To name a few: Philip Glass, Trevor Noah, and Margo Jefferson rotate through the same stages as Lena Waithe and Fat Rice gurus Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo.
Details:Various locations. $5–$34. chicagohumanities.org
The former child prodigy violinist may now have a child herself, but motherhood has had no discernible effect on her zealous touring schedule. At this recital, she plays Mozart, Schubert, her beloved Bach, and a commission of solo partitas by the Spanish composer Antón García Abril. Clap a lot and she might play one of the 27 encores composed for her 2013 album.
Details:Symphony Center. 8 p.m. $37–$116. cso.org
Día de los Muertos
Pilsen’s longest-running Day of the Dead celebration turns 37 this year with a procession of giant puppets, decorated pushcarts, and colorful ofrendas—altars dedicated to the deceased.
Details:Dvorak Park. 3:30 p.m. Free. chicagoparkdistrict.com
If a recital of Mozart, Debussy, Schubert, and originals by the French Canadian pianist Hamelin sounds like déjà vu, it’s because he played a similar program at Symphony Center in May. Unlike that concert, this one is free, part of Roosevelt University’s annual PianoFest. Hit the school’s website ASAP to reserve a seat.
Details:Ganz Hall. 7:30 p.m. Free. roosevelt.edu/CCPA/events
In August, the Swedish singer announced that he was “99 percent done” with his new album after working “endless nights” to complete it. An official title and release date are still up in the air, but you’ll get a chance to preview Lekman’s latest quirky creations.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m. $25. lh-st.com
Alison Bechdel’s quintuple Tony winner about growing up in a funeral home seesaws between wrenching sorrow and utter joy. Culled from the playwright’s own graphic memoir, the story rehashes Bechdel’s discovery that her father was gay, his eventual suicide, and her own coming out—all from the author’s present-day point of view.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. $20–$147. broadwayinchicago.com
Conversation: Douglas Crimp
Art historian Douglas Crimp’s widely read 1993 book On the Museum’s Ruins examines coming of age in New York City during the heady 1970s and ’80s—the heyday of postmodernism and gay liberation. In this live talk, Crimp muses on artists who sought to destroy the value of “high art,” and with it the very notion of a museum.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with museum admission. artic.edu
Tere O’Connor Dance
Award-winning choreographer Tere O’Connor’s company makes its Chicago debut with Undersweet, a duet exploring formalism—dance with a focus on technique rather than storytelling—as a product of sexual repression. The program also features the piece Transcendental Daughter, following its world premiere in New York.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $30. colum.edu/dance-center
Fine Art of Fiber
Four fiber-focused crafting guilds converge on the Chicago Botanic Garden for this annual artisanal show. The Midwest’s best weavers, quilters, and embroidery experts give demonstrations and display and sell their wares—while volunteers model the wearable creations.
Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. Free. fineartoffiber.org
The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair
Better known by the catchy acronym SOFA, this fair attracts top sculpture dealers to Navy Pier with 70 exhibitors of ceramics, wood, glass, and textiles. A highlight this year is a 10-foot, million-dollar cast-glass boat by the Swedish sculptor Bertil Vallien.
Details:Festival Hall. $15–$30. sofaexpo.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
After a victory lap with the CSO at Ravinia this summer, the conductor James Levine, who recently retired from the Metropolitan Opera, relaps and leads the orchestra in a concert of vanguard composers: Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Berlioz (the outré Symphonie Fantastique).
Details:Symphony Center. $36–$261. cso.org
Dubbed “truer crime” by podcasting godfather Roman Mars (99% Invisible), Criminal examines law and order in the broadest possible terms. That means a diverse array of episodes—including this live show—with subjects ranging from canine cops to songwriters responsible for the eerie “murder ballads” of the 1920s.
Details:Thalia Hall. 9 p.m. $20. thaliahallchicago.com
In Closer, the Minneapolis-based BodyCartography Project presents a series of half-hour pieces in which one dancer performs for one audience member at a time. Challenging presence, physicality, and personal space, the performances on November 5 are open on a first-come, first-served basis at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse (3035 N. Hoyne Ave.). Full-audience shows at Links Hall on November 4 and 5 broaden the one-on-one experience.
Details:Links Hall. Free. linkshall.org
Deeply Rooted Productions
Choreographer Joshua L. Ishmon, of Gary, Indiana, premieres Colors, a work that blends hip-hop, contemporary dance, and footwork to explore Chicago’s history through the lens of race. Local footwork guru Jamal “Litebulb” Oliver joins dancers from Deeply Rooted for this special program.
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. Free. cityofchicago.org
Wilder Mansion Holiday Market
Each fall, Elmhurst’s de facto White House look-alike hosts this weekend-long gift fair. Offerings skew from quirky to quaint (custom bow ties and tchotchkes galore), but hidden in that spectrum may be the perfect present for that hard-to-please relative.
Details:Wilder Mansion. $10. wildermansion.org
New York choreographer Michelle Dorrance brings ETM: Double Down, coproduced with Chicago Human Rhythm Project and the Chicago Humanities Festival, to the MCA. The piece, which gets its name from “electronic tap music,” mimics the sounds of electronica with eight tappers, three acoustic musicians, and b-girl Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Gallery Weekend Chicago
Using Berlin’s successful Gallery Weekend as a model, 18 galleries organize simultaneous openings, with performances, screenings, and artist talks peppering the month of November. The event, which this year focuses largely on the West Side’s new crop of indie art spaces, serves as a perfect introduction for newbies and a deep dive for scenesters.
Details:Various locations. Free. galleryweekendchicago.com
I Am My Own Wife
See “Transgender Actress Delia Kropp Returns to the Stage” for more.
Details:About Face Theatre at Theater Wit. $10–$40. aboutfacetheatre.com
For his solo exhibition, Black Drawls, Leggett—known for fashioning campy depictions of racial American iconography—debuts a tongue-in-cheek series of clay busts of “All Lives Matter” activists.
Details:Gallery 400. Free. gallery400.uic.edu
Virgenes de la Puerta
The photographic series costumes the transgender women of Lima, Peru, like deities—an act in defiance of local religious and political intolerance of LGBTQ rights. This groundbreaking collection by cameramen Juan José Barboza-Gubo and Andrew Mroczek is already being lauded as an important work of activism.
Details:Schneider Gallery. Free. schneidergallerychicago.com
Two years ago, Mitski Miyawaki tested the waters of indie-rock stardom with Bury Me at Makeout Creek—a scuzzy, earnest grasp at navigating young adulthood in America. Her June follow-up, Puberty 2, drives that theme home with heartbreaking cuts, cathartic vocals, and slamming guitar riffs á la Patti Smith and St. Vincent.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $18–$26. thaliahallchicago.com
Pet Shop Boys
Thirteen albums in, the Pet Shop Boys show no sign of slowing down. In addition to traditional electronic sounds, the band’s seriously underrated April release, Super, incorporates Hi-NRG, deep house, and techno. Expect a mix of old hits, new gems, and pristine acoustics in this regal live setting.
Details:Civic Opera House. 9 p.m. $35–$130. ticketmaster.com
The new millennium has seen a comeback for Suzanne Vega. Her hit “Tom’s Diner” (popularized by British group DNA’s 1990 remix) has become a go-to sample for the likes of Drake and Fall Out Boy. Get a taste of Vega’s new sound, and possibly a preview of Lover, Beloved: An Evening with Carson McCullers, the singer’s new album, cowritten with Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening).
Details:SPACE. 7 and 10 p.m. $34–$74. evanstonspace.com
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
To celebrate its 25th birthday, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba presents Cuba Vibra!, which toasts Cuban musical history with 17 dancers and eight musicians performing traditional dances: cha-cha, rumba, conga, bolero, and mambo.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $30–$78. auditoriumtheatre.org
The Fairy Queen
The story undergirding this production comes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with music by Henry Purcell ferried in. To make room for the inventive baroque masques, the anonymous librettist whittled the play down to just the supernatural characters. Chicago Opera Theater’s production employs the orchestra from Haymarket Opera Company, the area’s expert on baroque opera.
Details:Studebaker Theater. $39–$125. chicagooperatheater.org
First Lady Suite
Just in time for the election, composer Michael John LaChiusa’s musical follows the lives of four FLOTUS: Jackie Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower, Bess Truman, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Details:Circle Theatre at Heartland Studio. $25. circletheatrechicago.org
Most Days Not Much Happens
This exhibition brings together two emerging artists in contemporary watercolors: the South Korea–based Lawrence Keaty and Philadelphia’s Aaron Bos-Wahl. Both pull liberally from daily life, granting the mundane an attention often neglected in the fast-paced present.
Details:Comfort Station. Free. comfortstationlogansquare.org
King Charles III
It’s the early 2020s, and the Prince of Wales has become the king of England. His mum, Queen Elizabeth II, is dead, and Charles is struggling with the weight of ruling. A Parliamentary bill throws the monarchy into crisis, entangling the next-in-line William with the rest of the royals.
Details:Chicago Shakespeare Theater. $48–$88. chicagoshakes.com
James Corden has done a terrific job of bearing—and advancing—the Late Late Show banner, but Craig Ferguson’s 10-year run laid its oddball groundwork. No word yet on whether or not Ferguson’s former sidekicks, robotic skeleton Geoff Peterson and pantomime horse Secretariat, will join him for this one-night affair.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 7 p.m. $35–$75. thechicagotheatre.com
This queen of avant-pop set the stage for today’s eccentric-leaning FM radio (her fingerprints are all over Lady Gaga’s peculiar sounds and costumes). After a long hiatus, Murphy returned with back-to-back albums in 2015 and 2016; catch songs from both at this rare stateside concert.
Details:Double Door. 8 p.m. $25. etix.com
Radio Cinema Spectacular
Third Coast International Audio Festival teams up with shadow-puppet maestros Manual Cinema for this one-of-a-kind event: Manual Cinema will produce live shadowplays for a selection of short audio documentaries. Expect a feast for both the ears and eyes.
Details:Chop Shop. 8 p.m. $18. thirdcoastfestival.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Many thought Jaap van Zweden’s Truth to Power, an event with the CSO two years ago, heralded the orchestra’s future should the Amsterdam native sign on as conductor when Riccardo Muti hung up his tux. But the New York Philharmonic snagged him first, to start in 2018. It’s still worth catching this concert, headlined by an all-time great choral-orchestral piece: Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem.
Details:Symphony Center. $39–$280. cso.org
West Rogers Park
Khecari’s long-form improvisational piece The Retreat encourages audiences to cast off the daily grind and embrace dance. One performance option even takes the form of a sleepover, providing nap nests, dinner, and morning coffee. For the homebodies, an abridged version lets out at evening’s end.
Details:Indian Boundary Cultural Center. 8 p.m. $10–$270. khecari.org
If you find your family dysfunctional, consider the Greek mythological house of Atreus, where generations of patricide, matricide, infanticide, and filicide have unleashed enough blood to power a rip tide. Wronged children are at the gory heart of this final chapter in the Greek Cycle, which adapter Nicholas Rudall launched at Court two seasons ago. Here, Sandra Marquez reprises her role as the plotting queen, Clytemnestra.
Details:Court Theatre. $48. courttheatre.org
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
Picking up where Pride and Prejudice left off, Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon revisit the quest for love in a world of hypergamy. That’s not enough for Mary Bennet (the youngest of the Bennet sisters), an off-the-charts-bright woman determined not to settle. When it was published in the 1800s, Pride and Prejudice was downright subversive. Expect this sequel to maintain Jane Austen’s unapologetic viewpoint.
Details:Northlight Theatre. $15–$70. northlight.org
In Erika Sheffer’s new play, Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas plays Millie, a nine-year hotel housekeeper balancing reality—including motherhood and a shot at a management gig—with her own goals.
Details:Steppenwolf. $50–$86. steppenwolf.org
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
The monstrous jazz ensemble performs Americana, a piece honoring America's roots which includes a premiere by trumpeter Orbert Davis, a toast to ragtime by pianist Reginald Robinson, and a suite honoring war vets.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
America’s Baking and Sweets Show
North America’s largest showcase of sweets is not just a place to eat; the program includes classes on everything from basic baking to cake decoration. Feeling ambitious? See Saturday’s five-category confectionary competition open to amateurs and pros alike.
Details:Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. $6–$30. americasbakingandsweetsshow.com
Roz and Ray
Karen Hartman’s new drama follows Ray, an overwhelmed parent trying to keep his young hemophiliac sons alive, and Roz, the doctor proffering a seemingly miraculous treatment.
Details:Victory Gardens Theater. $15–$60. victorygardens.org
This group exhibit focuses on international contemporary artists known for trying (and often failing) to create their own utopias, including a poetic personal ad by Brendan Fernandes and Catherine Sullivan’s masterwork ’Tis Pity She’s a Fluxus Whore.
Details:Logan Center. Free. arts.uchicago.edu
A Good Trip with Shane Mauss
Comedian Shane Mauss draws on two decades of psychedelic experiences—plus a few years of podcasting—to create a live show that’s “part standup, part hilarious stories of experiences, and part TED Talk.” It’s drug humor, sure, but with an inclusive, exploratory bent absent from the average Cheech and Chong flick.
Details:Schubas Tavern. 7 p.m. $12–$15. lh-st.com
Oli Rodriguez: The Last Seduction
In The Last Seduction, photographer Oli Rodriguez repopulates 19th-century European colonial paintings with queer and trans individuals and people of color, those most often whitewashed from Western art history.
Details:Bert Green Fine Art. Free. bgfa.us
Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes
The 19th-century soprano Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s protofeminist take on “Cinderella”—in which the stepmother is gone and Cinderella wants a career—is the source for Andra Velis Simon’s new musical. In classic Hypocrites style, the actors will play their own instruments.
Details:Hypocrites at Den Theatre. $15–$36. the-hypocrites.com
Chicago Book Expo
This classic book fair, sponsored by Columbia College’s creative writing department, hosts a plethora of independent presses and authors. Expect readings from accomplished locals, as well as programs and workshops offering a leg up to aspiring writers.
Details:Columbia College Chicago. Noon. Free. chicagobookexpo.org
One of today’s most intelligent pianists, Denk can wend his way between Bach and Ives, Ligeti and Beethoven. This recital starts with Mozart’s stormy Sonata in A Minor, passes through John Adams’s mesmerizing Phrygian Gates, braves Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, and ambles into Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy.
Details:Symphony Center. 3 p.m. $21–$75. cso.org
On their latest album, English dance-rockers the 1975 broke from their indie-rock roots to experiment with genres as disparate as R&B, ambient, synth-pop, and jazz. Whatever frontman Matty Healy is trying seems to be working: The recording hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 earlier this year, and a legion of superfans continues to pore over details as specific as color palettes on the band’s album covers.
Details:Aragon Ballroom. 7 p.m. $45. ticketmaster.com
Berlioz wasn’t a man of half measures, and the most extreme of his oeuvre was the epic opera Les Troyens, cramming Virgil’s Aeneid into a mere five hours. It takes a lot of horsepower to produce, and Lyric’s team includes the sought-after soprano Christine Goerke, the tenor Brandon Jovanovich, and the mezzo Sophie Koch.
Details:Civic Opera House. $129–$349. lyricopera.org
Beyond the Aria
The 2016–17 season is the last for Renée Fleming’s position as creative consultant with the Lyric, a union whose progeny include the world premiere opera Bel Canto. The Beyond the Aria series, cabaret-style concerts on the enclosed Pritzker Pavilion stage, here nabs Fleming for the first time, letting Chicagoans hear her sterling soprano once again.
Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $60–$150. harristheaterchicago.org
Maynard James Keenan
Long a mainstay of the alt-metal scene, Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle) had plenty to dish in Sarah Jensen’s biography of him, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things. Here, Keenan reads and discusses passages from the book—itself a series of dispatches from the bleeding edge of art rock.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7 and 10:30 p.m. $65. thaliahallchicago.com
Many scratched their heads at Wes Anderson’s choice to score The Life Aquatic with acoustic David Bowie covers—performed in Portuguese by samba superstar Seu Jorge. Eleven years on and almost a year since Ziggy himself passed, Seu Jorge dusts off the newly poignant tunes for a tribute tour.
Details:Thalia Hall. 6 and 9 p.m. $35–$50. thaliahallchicago.com
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Hubbard Street kicks off its 39th season with a world premiere by New York choreographer Brian Brooks, the Harris Theater’s first-ever choreographer-in-residence. Also on the bill are a new piece by Hubbard Street staple Alejandro Cerrudo and two revivals: the popular Sarabande and Falling Angels by Jiří Kylián.
Details:Harris Theater. $30–$102. harristheaterchicago.org
This San Diego singer earned new fans after a powerful and scene-stealing performance of her single “Rise Up” at the Grammys, where Day was also nominated for best R&B performance and best R&B album.
Details:House of Blues. 9 p.m. $35–$105. livenation.com
For nearly 25 years, fans of Mark Farina have been trying to categorize mushroom jazz, the ex–Chicago DJ’s curious blend of hip-hop, R&B, and jazz. The electronic-heavy, millennial-infested Mid may not be the ideal location for Farina’s typical audience, but space to boogie could be an unexpected bonus.
Details:Mid. 10 p.m. $10–$15. clubtix.com
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Chicago’s holiday season begins with this 25-year-old unveiling of the Mag Mile’s lights. Disney characters lead the parade, and fireworks wrap the evening.
Details:Michigan Avenue between Oak and Wacker. 4 p.m. Free. themagnificentmile.com
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Ballet and contemporary dance merge in a new work by Chicago-born Francesca Harper, a National Dance Project awardee, performed by the legendary Dance Theatre of Harlem. A live score by composer John Adams accompanies the piece, which Harper began in 2014, moved by the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $30–$78. auditoriumtheatre.org
Shopaholics adore this open-air German-market-turned-Chicago-institution, which peddles handmade crafts, grub, and entertainment daily in Daley Plaza. Come for the schnitzel, stay for the hot chocolate.
Details:Daley Plaza. Free. christkindlmarket.com
Jules Massenet’s take on the knight-errant serves as a star vehicle for bass vocalists, more often cast as villains than as tragicomic heroes. Donning the armor in Lyric’s production is Ferruccio Furlanetto, one of the world’s leading low voices, most recently seen locally in Simon Boccanegra and Boris Godunov.
Details:Civic Opera House. $17–$299. lyricopera.org
New York–based artist Sadie Benning has swept the international art world with her jigsaw-puzzle-like paintings. Coated with high-color resin, the custom wood cutouts take the form of pixelated screens for some; others simply enjoy them as displays of perfect technique. Benning debuts 39 pieces here.
Details:Renaissance Society. Free. renaissancesociety.org
Elements Contemporary Ballet
Anchoring this year’s gala bill is the celebrated 2014 one-act The Sun King, an homage to ballet’s favorite French monarch. In this iteration, the Haymarket Opera Company’s orchestra performs on period instruments with vocalist Alexa Grae.
Details:Fine Arts Building. 3 p.m. $30–$65. studebakertheater.com
Listeners not steeped in new music sometimes sit glassy-eyed through a minimalist piece. Those doubters could stand to hear Steve Reich, to whom the CSO devotes a whole concert on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The program features his Double Sextet and Different Trains, the latter anchored by the taped narration of Holocaust survivors.
Details:Harris Theater. 7 p.m. $27. cso.org/musicnow
In August, Tory Lanez dropped his solo debut, I Told You, to critical plaudits. The rapper and singer is best known for his riotous live shows—one in March quite literally caused a small
riot at a Texas venue—but his smooth new album could give fans something more to focus their energy on.
Details:Vic Theatre. 7 p.m. $25–$99. ticketfly.com
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Macy’s big to-do gets all the glory, but Chicago’s own Thanksgiving parade has marched resolutely along since 1934. Organizers boast a uniquely high level of community participation, with dozens of cultural and civic groups making appearances.
Details:State Street from Congress to Randolph. 8 a.m. Free. chicagofestivals.org
Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera
’Twas the thwhack heard ’round the world when, two weeks out from the 1994 Winter Olympics, a thug took a truncheon to figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. The perp was later connected to Tonya Harding, Kerrigan’s archenemy. The deliciously salacious story is now a musical, complete with shady goons, bedazzled microminis, and a teary Russian ingénue dressed as a swan.
Details:Underscore Theatre at Theater Wit. $20. tonyaandnancytherockopera.com/chicago-2016.html
A holiday favorite for 11 years, the Wonderland Express pulls into the Joutras Gallery on the morning after Thanksgiving. Frolic in fake snow, marvel at model trains, and see Chicago landmarks rendered in twigs by miniatures maven Paul Busse of Applied Imagination.
Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. $11–$13. chicagobotanic.org
This could be the year that Danish singer MØ earns the pop stardom she deserves. Her single with indie rockers Major Lazer, “Move On,” was one of last year’s standouts. Given
a recent reunion with the band and a forthcoming sophomore album, this could be your last chance to catch her in a club-size venue.
Details:Metro. 7 p.m. $23. etix.com
The Field Museum’s chief curiosity correspondent is a charismatic nerd whose YouTube channel regularly nets tens of thousands of views. In her videos, she takes a camera to the gory depths of the natural history museum (for instance, a wolf dissection). In this live talk, Graslie shares tips for appreciating the natural sciences in the digital age.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with museum admission. mcachicago.org