School of Rock
Can a struggling-musician-turned-substitute-teacher transform a group of nerdy overachievers into a bona fide rock band? Andrew Lloyd Webber amps up the power ballads in this take on the 2003 Jack Black film.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Cadillac Palace Theatre. $27–$98. broadwayinchicago.com
The second link in Lyric Opera’s new Ring cycle and the first to feature soprano Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, Die Walküre gives the origin story of the hero Siegfried. Richard Wagner’s broad-gesturing, high-Romantic music includes the “Ride of the Valkyries,” the instantly familiar battle call. The opera also marks the first of Wagnerian length in the cycle, clocking in close to five hours.
Details:Lyric Opera House. $39–$319. lyricopera.org
A Tribe Called Red
Near West Side
This trio has made a career of blending First Nations music—a catchall term for songs penned by the indigenous people of Canada—with hip-hop, electronica, and even dubstep. Here, the group hits the road in support of its third album, We Are the Halluci Nation, which has already earned plaudits in the trendsetting blogosphere.
Details:Bottom Lounge. 9 p.m. $15–$18. ticketweb.com
COCo. Dance Theatre
COCo.’s artistic director Cynthia Oliver makes her Chicago debut in Virago-Man Dem, which examines masculinity within African American and Caribbean cultures through choreographed movement and spoken word.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $24–$30. colum.edu/dance-center
Theater, dance, and spoken word take over La Follette Park in the second annual Peacebook series. Saturday’s notably jam-packed lineup includes a dance-off in an iridescent “dome of dance,” a family-style meal, and a community discussion about peacemaking in Chicago.
Details:La Follette Park. Free. collaboraction.org
One of the season’s most satisfying events for art collectors, SOFA—which stands for “sculptural objects and functional art and design”—fills the pier with thousands of stunning pieces of art and handcrafted objects. New this year: an ask-a-curator booth, where experts dole out pro advice about the best galleries.
The Belle of Amherst
Court Theatre regular Kate Fry plays more than a dozen characters in this one-woman show, inspired by the life and writing of Emily Dickinson. Director Sean Graney (of Hypocrites fame) helms a paean to creativity culled from Dickinson’s diary entries, personal letters, and short, sweet poems.
Details:Court Theatre. $38–$68. courttheatre.org
Alex Weisman stars in Joshua Harmon’s tale of a young gay singleton watching as his friends pair off.
Details:About Face Theatre at Theater Wit. $15–$38. aboutfacetheatre.com
Near North Side
This avant-garde French artist (real name Cécile Schott) has a new album, A Flame My Love, a Frequency, which was inspired by her brush with the Paris terrorist attacks (she was near the site hours earlier). The result is a deeply experimental LP probing Schott’s perception of death via Moog keyboards and pedal synths (and reminiscent of groundbreaking artists like Arthur Russell and Mary Lattimore).
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m. $10–$20. mcachicago.org
The bold violinist, an unabashed proponent of new music, plays a recital of works all from the 20th century and later, ranging from utterly unscary tunes by Sibelius and Mahler up through wild, squirmy contemporary music, such as Kaija Saariaho’s Calices.
Details:Mandel Hall at U of C. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
Gallery Weekend Chicago
The art scene gets an autumnal boost with two weekends of pop-up galleries, performances, and artist talks, all surrounding the theme of No Borders—a nod to the spread of galleries across Chicago. The 25 participating locations include Western Exhibitions, Linda Warren Projects, Goldfinch, and the new Logan Square space M. LeBlanc.
Details:Various venues. Free. galleryweekendchicago.com
Salty Lark Dance
Artistic director Madeleine Reber and Philadelphia choreographer Katherine Kiefer Stark present the decade-in-the-making 664 Miles, a five-work program exploring themes of travel, identity, and the deconstruction of societal norms.
Details:Links Hall. $15. linkshall.org
This political exhibition examines cultures in which free travel, trade, and speech remain out of reach. A group of international artists, including Emily Jacir and Michael Rakowitz, consider what happens when cultural borders close.
Details:Gallery 400. Free. gallery400.uic.edu
Paraguayan progressive Faith Wilding played a key role in the advancement of feminist art in the 1970s. In Un-Natural Parables, Western Exhibitions displays Wilding’s more recent drawings, which champion womanhood with the likes of botanical portraits and images of female mythology.
Details:Western Exhibitions. Free. westernexhibitions.com
Chicago Opera Theater, a company with less financial heft than the major houses, scored a coup two seasons ago by landing superstar Patricia Racette for half a double bill. She returns for Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Pulitzer-winning opera The Consul, a story of personal struggle under totalitarian rule.
Details:Studebaker Theater. $45–$145. chicagooperatheater.org
Lucky Plush Productions
Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig present their third collaboration, Rooming House. Using dance and text, the pair stage a game of whodunit within the myth of Orpheus and Euridyce—all in Lucky Plush’s quirky, comedic style.
Details:Lucky Plush at Steppenwolf. $40. luckyplush.com
Onetime Chicago playwright Tanya Saracho—showrunner for Starz’s Pour Vida and a former writer on Girls—premieres a two-hander set in L.A. The drama follows the friendship between a Latina TV exec and the only other Spanish speaker in her office: the custodian. Sandra Marquez directs this collaboration between Victory Gardens and Teatro Vista.
Details:Victory Gardens Theater. $15–$60. victorygardens.org
This Chicago painter calls geometry “a state of grace.” You’ll understand why at Grace, his 13th local solo show, where he displays his mathematically precise, modernist paintings, crafted from painted wood.
Details:Regards. Free. regardsgallery.com
Despite decades out of the spotlight, this dream-pop band never faded away. First active in England’s early ’90s shoegazing scene, the quintet made waves when they reunited in 2014 after a 20-year absence. With their first studio album in 22 years in tow, they hit the road for a string of ethereal, anthemic, and, above all, loud live shows.
Details:Vic Theatre. 8 p.m. $38–$50. ticketfly.com
The Chicago muralist’s later works get the spotlight in Urban Griot.
Details:Hyde Park Art Center. Free. hydeparkart.org
This L.A. singer has built a career on singles, mixtapes, and EPs. Here, she tours behind her first proper LP, Take Me Apart. The release deviates from the propulsive sounds that put Kelela on the map, but her flawless vocals are present as ever.
Details:Promontory. 8 p.m. $18–$35. ticketweb.com
Beyond the Aria
Eric Owens and Christine Goerke take a night off from Ring-leading to sing an intimate, cabaret-style recital on the Pritzker Pavilion stage.
Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $60–$175. harristheaterchicago.org
Trademarked by Alicia Bognanno’s brutalizing wail, this Nashville group embodies Washington grunge right down to the record label. The band recently signed with Sub Pop, the Seattle imprint that popularized Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney. The result is Bully’s biting sophomore LP, Losing, recorded in Chicago at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio (where Bognanno once interned and where Albini produced Nirvana’s In Utero).
Details:Thalia Hall. 8:30 p.m. $18–$25. thaliahallchicago.com
Kelly Anderson Dance Theatre
Anderson, a master of comedic timing and self-deprecation, strings together the best bits of her previous works for a one-nighter at Steppenwolf’s new black-box theater. Seamlessly weaving movement and dialogue, Anderson proves that dance doesn’t need to be dead serious.
Details:Steppenwolf. 8 p.m. $20. steppenwolf.org
Third Coast International Audio Festival—the Sundance of podcasting—livens up its Chicago conference with the Fest, two weeks of live recordings across town. The event kicks off with Re:sound, Third Coast’s in-house radio show, which invites guests including true-crime podcaster Phoebe Judge and Chicago’s Neo-Futurists to collaborate in a live “narrative mixtape.”
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $25. thaliahallchicago.com
Best known as part of the Odd Future–affiliated group the Internet, this vocalist and producer broke out on her own earlier this year with Fin, a stunning debut of sensual R&B. The album’s closer, “Insecurities,” a brutally honest breakup ballad set to patchy, laid-back samples, is emblematic of the singer’s innovative, often jarring, genre blending.
Details:Metro. 9 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
The second installment of Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming series, Play, explores humans’ reliance on storytelling. The closing matinee on Sunday, November 12, features a relaxed atmosphere, including sign language interpretation and an option to come and go as you please.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$30. mcachicago.org
Carrie Hanson toasts her company’s 15th anniversary with The Making, a show that guides audiences through the iconic Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. After several dialogue-heavy works, Hanson returns to the body, investigating the silent physicality of personal and political power.
Details:Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Free–$25. theseldoms.org
Escape to Margaritaville
From Jimmy Buffett himself comes a new musical set in a paradise of bottomless adult beverages. Tony winner Christopher Ashley directs the Broadway-bound show.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. $33–$105. broadwayinchicago.com
The seventh Steppenwolf premiere from Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) skewers petty politics and small-town power brokers. Anna Shapiro directs her fifth Letts work, with a rock-solid ensemble, including William Petersen, Francis Guinan, and Penny Slusher.
Details:Steppenwolf. $20–$89. steppenwolf.org
Eclipse finishes its season of Kia Corthron plays with the tale of a young woman immersed in New York gang life. Raped as a child and ruthlessly violent as an adult, she serves as the vessel for a harsh, compelling, and ultimately eye-opening story.
Details:Eclipse Theatre at Athenaeum Theatre. $20–$35. eclipsetheatre.com
Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong’s drama goes deep on media manipulation and government collusion. Directed by Helen Young, this story of a professor gone missing in China and an editor tracking the case will surely resonate in the era of fake news.
Details:Silk Road Rising at Chicago Temple Building. $13–$35. silkroadrising.org
The Grammy-winning violinist appears for his annual gig with a recital of Stravinsky, Grieg, and Brahms. His accompanist, Alessio Bax, is a draw in his own right.
Details:Symphony Center. 8 p.m. $42–$121. cso.org
French Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz bring world music to a pop audience. Queens of the crossover, the sisters blend genres from R&B to electronic, and even enlisted jazz musician Kamasi Washington (see next listing) on “Deathless,” written about Lisa-Kaindé’s wrongful arrest by French police.
Details:Metro. 9:30 p.m. $15. 30days.redbullsoundselect.com
This L.A. saxophonist has worked with Kendrick Lamar and Run the Jewels, but his solo efforts are equally dynamic. His latest EP, Harmony of Difference, crafted for the Whitney Biennial, finds him traversing the landscape of American music, landing somewhere lush, complex, and hopeful.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $35–$95. ticketfly.com
Joel Kim Booster
The ex-Chicagoan performs at a release party for his new comedy album, Model Minority.
Details:Shubas. 7:30 p.m. $10–$12. lh-st.com
Younger fans may not know that before she played a spacy divorcée on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, Tomlin got her start on the 1960s show Laugh-In. Here, she returns to her comedic roots.
Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. 4 and 8 p.m. $58–$78. northshorecenter.org
Liz Chidester stars as the alleged ax murderess Lizzie Borden, charged with chopping her father and stepmother to bits in 1892. The production marks the debut of Firebrand Theatre, the country’s only musical company dedicated to putting women in charge onstage and behind the scenes. Expect a bloody great show.
Details:Firebrand Theatre at Den Theatre. $25–$45. firebrandtheatre.org
Auditorium Theatre’s Golden Celebration of Dance
Some of the world’s greatest dance companies meet for the 50th anniversary of the Auditorium Theatre’s 1967 reopening (the building closed during the Great Depression and was used by the USO during World War II). New York City Ballet was on the bill that night and will be here again, joined by American Ballet Theatre, Dutch National Ballet, locals Hubbard Street and Joffrey, and more.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $41–$121. auditoriumtheatre.org
Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra
Five years ago, the renowned local composer Augusta Read Thomas wrote a concerto called Resounding Earth for the renowned local quartet Third Coast Percussion. Now in possession of a shiny new Grammy, the group performs the world premiere of Thomas’s companion piece, Sonorous Earth, playing up the extensive bell collection amassed for the first one.
Details:Harris Theater. 3 p.m. $10–$75. chicagophilharmonic.org
A Love + Radio Listening Room
The podcast Love + Radio has a knack for teasing nuggets of humanity out of the most taboo of subjects: Interviewees have included a mafia gofer, a bank robber, an acid-dropping spiritualist, and a man who runs a strip club in his living room. Expect an intimate evening as a brand-new episode premieres to a darkened room of strangers.
Details:Hideout. 5 and 7 p.m. $12. hideoutchicago.com
Edward Hines National Forest
A century ago, the Chicago-based Edward Hines Lumber Company cut down an entire forest of Northwoods trees in Hayward, Wisconsin. Artists Sara Black and Raewyn Martyn commemorate the destruction by crafting a dazzling, abstract forest made from lumber byproducts—a commentary on the loss of native species for human gain.
Details:Hyde Park Art Center. Free. hydeparkart.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
For the CSO’s annual freebie, music director Riccardo Muti pairs two core-repertoire Austro-German works: Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. Tickets are required, even though the concert is free.
Details:Lane Tech College Prep High School. 7:30 p.m. Free. cso.org
Chicago Toy and Game Week
The week may kick off with two days of seminars for professionals, but this is no stuffy industry conference. The event culminates with an all-out toy fair, a massive public exhibition of kid-friendly booths and playtime demos.
Crystal: A Breakthrough Ice Experience
From Cirque du Soleil comes a spectacle of ice-themed pageantry and circus arts. In addition to the usual Cirque fare—ethereal music and elaborately costumed aerial artists— this show features figure skaters gliding through a surreal world.
Details:Sears Centre Arena. $30–$138. cirquedusoleil.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
For his one-week pre-Thanksgiving visit, CSO music director Riccardo Muti leads a subscription program of a Puccini student piece (he was a good student), a Richard Strauss orchestra suite, and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with Kirill Gerstein soloing.
Details:Symphony Center. $34–$221. cso.org
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
Near North Side
Anyone who’s experienced the wintertime blues will relate to the story of George Bailey and his debilitating holiday depression in American Blues Theater’s take on Frank Capra’s film. A bonus: milk and cookies after each performance.
Details:American Blues Theater at Stage 773. $19–$49. americanbluestheater.com
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Consider the McElroy brothers the first family of comedy podcasting. In addition to their weekly advice show, My Brother, My Brother and Me, the brothers each host at least one spinoff on the popular Maximum Fun network, and all three play Dungeons & Dragons with their dad on another show. The siblings may not always give the best advice, but their incredible chemistry ought to make this live performance a rollicking good time.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 7 p.m. $35. thechicagotheatre.com
Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum might not seem like a premium cold-weather destination, but as fall turns to winter, a one-mile stretch of trees gets decked out in stunning, colorful lights. This year’s incarnation of the perennially award-winning display features wearable medallions that flash to the pulse of festive music.
Details:Morton Arboretum. $6–$22. mortonarb.org
In July, more than a year after emerging with the breakout track “Caroline,” this Portland, Oregon, rapper dropped his debut album, Good for You. Though none of the songs are as stylistically sophisticated as his overnight hit, the intelligent collection separates Aminé from a new pack of young, mumbling rappers.
Details:Metro. 9:30 p.m. Sold out; see resellers.
Chicago Dance Crash
This local ensemble celebrates its 15th birthday in style, revisiting favorites from its history of hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary dance, peppered with tricks.
Details:Athenaeum Theatre. 8 p.m. $15–$32. chicagodancecrash.com
EMA (South Dakotan Erika M. Anderson) comes into her own on Exile in the Outer Ring, her lauded third LP. Written before the 2016 presidential election, the album examines those teetering on the edge of poverty on the fringes of cities. Like EMA’s first two records, it’s a poignant and relevant indictment of American culture, giving voice to our country’s outsiders with a mix of dirty synth and screeching guitars.
Details:Empty Bottle. 9 p.m. $15. ticketweb.com
This Oak Park native’s brother once described their indie band, Fiery Furnaces, as “sissy psychedelic Satanism.” Friedberger’s solo work skews more accessible: On 2016’s New View, she spins songwriter-centric rock ’n’ roll—adult contemporary for the twilight-year hippies out there. Though Friedberger decamped for New York decades ago, expect a cozy hometown vibe at this set.
Details:Hideout. 9 p.m. $20. hideoutchicago.com
Gold Coast, Evanston
Even though more than a month remains before unto us a child is born, the chamber choir Bella Voce handles Handel’s oratorio with the assistance of the Callipygian Players, a period-instrument baroque group. The small ensemble and choir make for a subtler, more precise Messiah.
Details:November 18: Fourth Presbyterian Church; November 19: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston. $10–$70. bellavoce.org
A Christmas Carol
Like clockwork, the holiday ghost story swoops into town. You probably already know how things turn out for the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, but the Goodman’s annual run of his tale stands to be as life-affirming as ever.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $25–$107. goodmantheatre.org
This Uruguayan intends for his paintings, drawings, and videos to go together like the pages of a novel. In Song, the conceptual artist brings his flair for obscure texts (say, those by surrealist Jorge Luis Borges) to his first solo exhibit in Chicago.
Details:Renaissance Society. Free. renaissancesociety.org
The Pearl Fishers
Two men swear to eternal friendship in the duet “Au Fond du Temple Saint” but find their bond tested by the arrival of a beautiful woman in this Bizet opera. Lyric’s cast for the Ceylon-
set piece includes baritone Mariusz Kwiecień, tenor Matthew Polenzani, and soprano Marina Rebeka.
Details:Lyric Opera House. $39–$319. lyricopera.org
If you don’t know Kinane, you haven’t been paying attention to Chicago standup—and it’s possible you haven’t been watching television. The Addison native has appeared on Comedy Central regularly since 2011, also showing up on Netflix’s Love and lending his gruff voice to Bob’s Burgers and Adventure Time. Expect a blowout at this hometown show.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8:30 p.m. $25. thaliahallchicago.com
Irving Berlin’s musical takes place in a Vermont inn suffering from a lack of snow—and a quartet of show-biz types who swoop in to save the day. Plan for squeaky-clean fun amid standards including “Let It Snow” and the seasonally ubiquitous title tune.
Details:Broadway in Chicago at Cadillac Palace Theatre. $18–$85. broadwayinchicago.com
The Q Brothers Christmas Carol
Long before Hamilton, Chicago’s own Q Brothers lent a hip-hop ethos to Dickens’s Yuletide chestnut, turning the well-worn story of Scrooge into a hilarious musical. The heart of the redemptive story remains the same, but the packaging is as fresh and innovative as ever.
Details:Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. $30–$52. chicagoshakes.com
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Sure, you could stay home and watch the festivities on TV, but the floats look much better in person. Just be sure to stake out a spot—the fun starts bright and early.
Details:State Street from Congress to Randolph. 8 a.m. Free. chicagofestivals.org
This Way Outta Santaland (and Other Xmas Miracles)
Few onstage duos are as charismatic as Mitchell J. Fain and Meghan “Big Red” Murphy. Here, they reprise their charming holiday hit, which features Fain regaling audiences with tales of his misspent youth and Murphy deploying holiday songs with a belt bigger than Santa’s.
Details:Theater Wit. $31–$39. theaterwit.org
A John Waters Christmas
Hairspray writer-director John Waters channels St. Nick and Krampus in equal measure in this festive standup set. In The Pope of Trash, Waters probes some seasonal mysteries (“Has Santa ever been nude? Is Prancer the only gay reindeer?”) while spreading his own brand of holiday cheer.
Details:Thalia Hall. 9 p.m. $35–$42. thaliahallchicago.com
In the Presence of Chasms
Race and politics bubble up in five works by rising choreographers Megan Rhyme and Tanniqua-Kay Buchanan.
Details:Hamlin Park Fieldhouse. $10–$15. rhymedance.com
Chicago Humanities Festival
This year’s series of lectures features Transparent creator Jill Soloway, astronaut Scott Kelly, author Colson Whitehead, and more.
Details:Various venues. $5–$60. chicagohumanities.org
Coming of Age
Aki Inomata’s transparent shells built for hermit crabs stand out in this seven-artist show of body-themed art. The actual crabs stayed home in Japan—Inomata considers them pets—but their 3D-printed shells carry the likenesses of miniature cityscapes.
Details:Sector 2337. Free. sector2337.com
Few cultural groups define Chicago’s ethnic mosaic more than Ukrainians and Puerto Ricans. This exhibit sets works by artists of both nationalities together, in hopes of uniting the shared concerns of different heritages.
Details:Various venues. $5 donation. uima-chicago.org
This collage artist, who claims on her website that she draws with scissors, mounts a new installation that mimics a greenhouse, with cut paper hanging from the ceiling to represent growing plants.
Details:Riverside Arts Center. Free. riversideartscenter.com
Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test
This wide-ranging exhibition of Soviet art and artifacts commemorates the October Revolution of 1917, which set the stage for workers’ rights movements and communism. Though political
in its intent, the revolution also inspired art by the likes of Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky, who produced abstract installations and theater sets with the belief they could sway public opinion. Here, hundreds of objects from that era—including posters from the Russian Civil War and works from Soviet art schools—tell the 100-year-old story.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu