Artistic director Jan Bartoszek premieres her latest, Futura, which uses dance and visual elements — eight-foot-long sticks and a gorgeous costume installation — to stimulate thoughts about confinement and isolation during eras of increased social and political nationalism.
Details:South Loop. Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $10–$30. dance.colum.edu
If there is something predictable about the annual Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design fair, it’s volume. This is the place where glass sculptors, neon artists, and ceramicists, among others, come to strut their technical stuff. Expect to be blown away by Anthony James’s geometric light pieces, Nancy Callan’s delicate glass teardrops, and the glassblowing furnace itself, which returns for live demonstrations at the Hot Glass Roadshow.
Details:Near North Side. Navy Pier. $25. sofaexpo.com
Daniel Barenboim served as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 15 years, leaving in 2006 after frostily declaring his lack of interest in fundraising and schmoozing with wealthy donors. The musicians declared him “honorary conductor for life” upon leaving, but he only now returns, so titled, to conduct. For his November 1 appearance at the CSO podium, his first in 12 years, he brings Bedřich Smetana’s tone poems Má Vlast (My Homeland). Barenboim hangs around another few days to lead the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Israeli-Arab ensemble he cofounded with the scholar Edward Said, on November 5.
Details:Loop. Symphony Center. $39–$268. cso.org
Unveiled: A Celebration of Music at DePaul
To fete a major new performance center for its conservatory, DePaul has clustered concerts with all its ensembles hosting eye-popping soloists. The wind ensemble will perform with percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the jazz band with trumpeter Nicholas Payton, the opera students with soprano Ana María Martínez, and the orchestra with violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Details:Lincoln Park. DePaul University. Free–$150 per concert. unveileddepaul.com
From Mary Shelley’s 19th-century novel to the 21st-century movie Mary Shelley, you’ve never encountered a Frankenstein quite like this one. Cooked up in the labs of Manual Cinema, Court’s production will feature a spectacle that’s handcrafted, low-tech, and literary. Puppets, people, and light are all used for an ingenious take on an old tale.
Details:Hyde Park. Court Theatre. $38–$74. courttheatre.org
This Bitter Earth
In Harrison David Rivers’s two-person drama for About Face Theatre, activism and art intersect as a young gay couple — a white activist for Black Lives Matter and a black playwright — struggle with differences that become intensified by the violence that surrounds them.
Details:Lake View. Theater Wit. $15–$38. aboutfacetheatre.com
Chicago New Media, 1973–1992
The cutting-edge electronic art of the 1970s had a special relationship to Chicago. Crossing the eclectic fields of video games, electronic music, and TV art, this exhibit shows how artists invented new technologies, or even hacked them. Visitors can interact with the vintage machines onsite.
Details:Near West Side. Gallery 400. Free. gallery400.uic.edu
Where the Future Came From
“Chicago is a place where women have built quite a bit of the culture, but it is not often talked about,” says Columbia College curator Meg Duguid. Her new exhibition collects artifacts, ephemera, and oral histories from the past 100 years to help write the unfinished history of women’s creative achievements in Chicago. The three-and-a-half-month run includes weekly lectures by local scholars, curators, and artists.
Details:South Loop. Columbia College Chicago. Free. colum.edu/deps
James Blood Ulmer
Somewhere in the rich American traditions of blues, jazz, funk, and the avant-garde, you’ll find this inventive musician’s liquefying approach to electric guitar. The 78-year-old’s long career exemplifies the unrestrained creativity of downtown Manhattan’s music scene during the late 1970s and early ’80s, so expect a similarly eclectic and imaginative take on modern jazz.
Details:Lake View. Constellation. 8:30 p.m. $30. ticketfly.com
Ishmael Houston-Jones, Ralph Lemon, and Bebe Miller
In Relations, three New York City heavy hitters share the stage for a fully improvised performance that will explore their past influences. Legendary lighting designer Stan Pressner will illuminate the occasion.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $30. mcachicago.org
Lucky Plush Productions
It’s been seven years since choreographer Julia Rhoads and director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig created The Better Half for Lucky Plush. Based on the 1944 noir film Gaslight, the work signaled a shift toward their signature style: a satirical combination of dance and theater. Anyone who missed it the first time around has an opportunity to see it in this three-week revival.
Details:Lincoln Park. Steppenwolf Theatre. $15–$60. luckyplush.com
Michael Koerner: My DNA
The artist’s mother was 11 years old, living near Nagasaki, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb. Exposure to gamma radiation ultimately led to the early deaths of her children and herself. Her one surviving son, Michael, born in Okinawa and now living in Illinois, makes abstract photographs using a process more akin to chemistry than fine art — an expression of his family’s traumatic history and the demise of their bodies.
Details:River North. Catherine Edelman Gallery. Free. edelmangallery.com
Christopher Gallant’s 16-track record, Ology (2016), primarily produced by up-and-coming beat maker Stint, was a smart collection of tunes tapping into the future of the R&B genre, full of trembling, eerie instrumentation with deep roots in gospel tradition, and it earned him a Grammy nomination for best urban contemporary album. Although there’s no official word of a new full-length, the singer continues to drop exciting tracks on his SoundCloud page, perhaps a taste of what’s in store in the coming months. Catch his soon-to-be hits before the rest of the country catches on.
Details:Logan Square. Concord Music Hall. 6:30 p.m. $20–$85. ticketfly.com
Loudon Wainwright III
The Long Island singer-songwriter has earned a decades-old cult following for his idiosyncratic tunes and his left-field concerts, which bridge musical performances with comedic interludes, a one-man reenactment of a show at a West Village café during the 1960s.
Details:Evanston. SPACE. 7 p.m. $25–$65. eventbrite.com
It’s rare in this millennium for a jazz artist to cross over to general audiences, yet Washington has done it. In 2017, the saxophonist released the critically acclaimed EP Harmony of Difference as part of the Whitney Biennial, a highly competitive event traditionally showcasing rising visual artists, an unusual outlet for a musical project. But his mainstream exposure is likely due to his collaborations with a who’s who of innovative popular artists, including Flying Lotus, Ibeyi, Run the Jewels, and Kendrick Lamar.
Details:Uptown. Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $37. ticketfly.com
Mass in B Minor
The chamber choir Bella Voce, always the kind of exacting singers you’d want to hear on a rococo masterwork such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, here debuts an ensemble of instrumental collaborators to match it in precision. The Bella Voce Sinfonia, a new chamber orchestra playing instruments historically faithful to the baroque period, will serve as the backing band, drawing in such mainstays of the preclassical scene as bassist Jerry Fuller and violinist Martin Davids.
Details:Nov. 3: River North. St. James Cathedral. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4: Evanston. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. 3:30 p.m. $10–$65. bellavoce.org
The third installment of Lyric’s new forging of Wagner’s Ring cycle launches the heldentenor Burkhard Fritz as Siegfried, his first go at one of the most athletic and grueling roles in the operatic canon and his first time singing on Lyric’s stage. During the five-hour production, Siegfried gets in several scraps, slays a dragon, and falls in love with a Valkyrie. Only four performances — at least until the opera’s return in the big Ring fest in the spring of 2020.
Details:Loop. Lyric Opera House. $119–$349. lyricopera.org
Red Bull Music Festival Chicago
The appearance of an energy drink company on the marquee of this monthlong citywide series of talks and performances might raise the eyebrows of effete record collectors, but Red Bull’s musical symposiums in New York, Montreal, and other cities have earned rave reviews for their stellar lineups, civic respect, and unique ability to host big-name artists in intimate settings. Highlights from this year’s Chicago edition include a showcase of Kanye West’s GOOD Music label (featuring Nas, Pusha T, and Valee), a three-stage collision of noise and experimental musicians, and drummer Makaya McCraven performing with the 11 musicians who helped him record his album Universal Beings.
Details:Various neighborhoods and prices. redbull.com/us-en/music/event-series/red-bull-music-festival-chicago
Who would have thought that 20 years after its hiatus, Jawbreaker would get back together and stick it out for more than a one-off performance? Reuniting in 2017 for Riot Fest, the punk-rock band quickly realized playing its old hits after a long break wasn’t so bad. Since then the group has continued to make appearances across the country in what seems like a never-ending tour, a fortunate turn of events for fans who were sure they’d never get to see Jawbreaker perform again.
Details:Uptown. Aragon Ballroom. 6:30 p.m. $54. ticketmaster.com
Painting the Floating World
Flourishing from the 17th to the 19th century, ukiyo-e was one of Japan’s greatest styles of art, depicting everything from Kabuki dancers and sumo wrestlers to volcanic landscapes and the ghostly afterlife. After viewing the Art Institute’s rare trove of these gorgeous prints and scrolls, walk a few paces to its impressionism galleries to see how ukiyo-e came to influence artists like Vincent van Gogh, who developed his brush technique in response to seeing these Japanese masterworks.
Details:Loop. Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu
Art or Artifact?
“Decolonize the museum” is the slogan of a movement to remove African cultural artifacts from art museums, much in the same way pillaged Greek and Roman antiquities are being repatriated to their countries of origin. The DePaul Art Museum brings the discussion about African art and artifacts to Chicago with a panel of prominent curators from national museums like the Smithsonian to discuss cultural politics.
Details:Lincoln Park. DePaul Art Museum. 5:30 p.m. Free. museums.depaul.edu
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale has all the hallmarks of a tragedy: star-crossed lovers, malevolent goblins, and a sewer rat who threatens discarded toys. Also looking for love from their perch in a nursery are a one-legged tin soldier and a toy ballerina balanced in an eternal arabesque. Mary Zimmerman creates a fable that shows ardor through flood and flame.
Details:Magnificent Mile. Lookingglass Theatre. $30–$85. lookingglasstheatre.org
Ping Pong Ball
Table tennis professionals battle local celebrities and athletes — including this year’s honorary event cochairs, former Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman and his wife, Jackie — to raise money for Jackson Chance Foundation, an organization that helps local families with children in neonatal intensive care units with the cost of their hospital parking. Attendees can sign up for other games like “prosecco pong,” bid on silent auction items, and enjoy food and cocktails throughout the night.
Details:Loop. St. Jane Chicago. 5:30 p.m. $125–$300. jacksonchance.org
Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to a Grammy Award for their 2010 recording of the Requiem of Muti’s beloved Giuseppe Verdi. The only difference here, other than eight years, is the vocal soloists quartet, with the superstar tenor Piotr Beczała and the gripping soprano Vittoria Yeo heading to that famous high B-flat in her CSO debut.
Details:Loop. Symphony Center. $44–$309. cso.org
The word “unclassifiable” gets tossed around a lot in music criticism, typically as an overly generous description of artists. Not so for Ogbonnaya, a genuine genre agnostic who gleefully leaps from hip-hop to prog rock to gospel to synthesized noise — sometimes in the course of a single song. After a set at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, it’s only a matter of time before the local chameleon vaults to the national stage — and starts selling out larger venues — so catch him now performing in the Empty Bottle’s intimate confines.
Details:Ukrainian Village. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m. $12. eventbrite.com
Theater types have pretty much run out of superlatives when describing Chicago playwright Ike Holter. Rightlynd is the fifth installment of a seven-play series that takes audiences to the beleaguered fictional 51st Ward and plunges them into the world of an alderman hell-bent on saving the neighborhood from gentrification.
Details:Lincoln Park. Victory Gardens Theater. $20–$61. victorygardens.org
Ross from Friends
Felix Clary Weatherall, who performs under the moniker Ross from Friends, describes his project as what happens when “a ’90s sitcom character undertakes a new role as an electronic music producer.” His highly intellectualized, kind of nerdy, yet fun dance tracks do channel the classic sitcom character, but he breaks away from some of the silliness of the late-night experiments of bedroom producers for something slicker and weirder.
Details:Avondale. Sleeping Village. 9 p.m. $18. ticketfly.com
War and the Human Heart
The World War I centennials draw to a close as Rembrandt Chamber Musicians commemorates Armistice Day, allying with vocal soloists and choruses from Valparaiso University for a program of music, film, and narration about the experience of war. Conscripted composers include Beethoven, Schumann, and WWI contemporaries Richard Strauss, Gustav Holst, and Percy Grainger.
Details:Near North Side. St. James Cathedral. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. rembrandtchamberplayers.org
Chicago Opera Theater has nestled into a niche as the city’s second-biggest opera company by programming lesser-known classics and recent American works, opting for the former with its season opener, Tchaikovsky’s shortish Iolanta, in its fully staged Chicago premiere. The production also marks the conducting debut of COT’s new music director, Lidiya Yankovskaya, the only female music director of a top 50 (by budget) American opera company.
Details:Loop. Studebaker Theater. $45–$145. chicagooperatheater.org
Roger Brown: La Conchita
Brown, whose mosaic murals can still be spotted around Chicago, was the city’s most famous Imagist painter from the 1970s until his death in 1997, and he’s still prized among top collectors. Known to ravage yard sales, swap meets, and even the Maxwell Street Market, he incorporated his curious finds as found objects alongside his canvases in his later years, blurring the line between sculpture and painting, as seen in this rare exhibit of his final work.
Details:West Loop. Kavi Gupta. Free. kavigupta.com
Collages of cats wearing plants and cacti on their heads have taken on a cult status: Chalk it up to the popularity of internet cat memes. This artist prods the cultural boundaries of cuteness with a second edition of his book Cats & Plants — the first one sold out — and his new collage-based artworks in this solo show.
Details:West Loop. Carrie Secrist Gallery. Free. secristgallery.com
It’s safe to say the United Center doesn’t host too many book tours, but you better believe the stadium makes room for the former first lady when she comes to town with a new memoir. Obama discusses Becoming, delving into everything from her childhood in Chicago to her time in the White House.
Details:Near West Side. United Center. 8 p.m. $785–$3,000. ticketmaster.com
A virginal Vietnamese girl martyrs herself when the GI she loves won’t divorce his American wife for her. Emily Bautista (who plays the doomed Kim) brought thousands to their feet in August with her unforgettable Millennium Park concert rendition of “I’d Give My Life for You.” Another plus: Chicago’s Christine Bunuan plays the titular character, aka Gigi Van Tranh.
Details:Loop. Cadillac Palace Theatre. $35–$110. broadwayinchicago.com
Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson
On their weekly anti-slut-shaming podcast Guys We Fucked, Fisher and Hutchinson talk with their exes, interview comedians about their sexual experiences, and address a wide range of listener questions with a mix of humor and sincerity. On this tour they step away from the standard podcast format, instead performing two separate standup sets imbued with a frank and unapologetic attitude.
Details:Old Town. Zanies. Sold out; see resellers
After making the rounds on the local music scene with her painfully earnest songs about her personal life, Margaret finally released her debut album, There’s Always Glimmer, this summer to positive reviews. Pitchfork described the record as “34 minutes of serene and perceptive storytelling,” a fitting description for Margaret’s brand of dreamy, wistful “sleep rock.”
Details:West Town. Hideout. 9 p.m. $10. ticketfly.com
Actéon and Pygmalion
The Toronto-based Opera Atelier has built a decades-long résumé on baroque opera productions with garish, provocative sets and costumes. On a world tour, the company stops in with a double bill based on Ovid: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Pygmalion. Both are accompanied by the top-notch Canadian orchestra Tafelmusik.
Details:Loop. Harris Theater. $35–$135. harristheaterchicago.org
Award-winning playwright (Eclipsed, In the Continuum) and actress (Black Panther, The Walking Dead) Danai Gurira’s 2015 drama brings out the best and the worst in a clan gathered for a wedding. But Gurira’s got more on her mind than a family feud. Expect a sharp generational portrait and a clash between contemporary U.S. culture and Zimbabwean traditions.
Details:Lincoln Park. Steppenwolf Theatre. $20–$99. steppenwolf.org
The Woman in Black
If you’re prone to recurring nightmares, maybe sit this one out. The two-person show, which premiered in London’s West End, first arrived in Chicago decades ago, terrorizing audiences with a chiller that contains at least two scream-out-loud moments. For this production, director Robin Herford will recreate his original West End staging.
Details:Lincoln Park. Royal George Theatre. $49–$69. theroyalgeorgetheatre.com
Ate9 Dance Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater
This season, the Auditorium Theatre’s Made in Chicago dance series boasts three one-night-only performances featuring triple, double, and single bills. In the first, local favorites Deeply Rooted and Visceral are joined by the Los Angeles–based Ate9, whose Chicago connections are with Ate9 executive director (and Joffrey Ballet photographer) Cheryl Mann and musical collaborator Glenn Kotche, whom you’ll likely recognize as Wilco’s percussionist.
Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $29–$68. auditoriumtheatre.org
This singer-songwriter has produced folkie meditations on America, inflected lightly with the sounds of his upbringing at the feet of his professional pianist father, Jeffrey Kahane. Gabriel’s latest album, Book of Travelers, is spun out from the nearly 9,000-mile train journey he took across the country, meeting strangers in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
Details:Lake View. Constellation. 8:30 p.m. $12–$15. constellation-chicago.com
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live!
Fans of this series tend to skew a little cultish — they were vocal enough about its cancellation in 1999 that Netflix released its crowdfunded revival last year. For the uninitiated, each episode sees human and “robot” (i.e., puppet) subjects participate in a grisly mad-science experiment: They are forced to watch and wittily comment on sci-fi and horror B movies. Expect plenty of prop comedy and shenanigans in addition to the trademark color commentary.
Details:Lake View. Athenaeum Theatre. 10 p.m. $43–$303. athenaeumtheatre.org
Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer
More than 200 breweries show off their best barrel-aged brews in the hope of winning best of the fest. Known as FOBAB, the annual beer-soaked bonanza hosted by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild judges beverages in nearly a dozen style categories. Tickets include up to 20 samples and a commemorative glass.
Details:University Village. UIC Forum. $85. fobab.com
The highlight of Rock Citizen, director Carrie Hanson’s deep dive into the intersections of 1960s music and politics, is the cast’s interactions with a huge web of sewn-together bras (designed by Bob Faust). After a successful run at the now-shuttered Storefront Theatre, Faust’s “brascape” and this excellent ensemble of dancers (who, in this production, also sing and act) venture to Dance Center Evanston’s cozy new black-box venue.
Details:Evanston. Studio5. $25–$50. theseldoms.org
Daughters and Ganser
The loud, captivating, and always enjoyable Providence band Daughters, which reunited in 2013, is the main draw, but arrive early to catch Ganser, a local act making postpunk in a time when the genre’s spindly guitars, uncomfortably honest lyrics, and haunting vocals feel fitting.
Details:Roscoe Village. Beat Kitchen. Sold out; see resellers.
Lyric Opera remounts its homegrown production of Verdi’s baby-snatching soap-operatic tragedy, originally by the buzzed-about director David McVicar. On this go-around, Lyric filled the leading roles with the soprano Tamara Wilson in her house debut, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and tenor Russell Thomas. Il Trovatore contains “Anvil Chorus,” where blacksmithing surfaces are repurposed as percussion.
Details:Loop. Lyric Opera House. $39–$299. lyricopera.org
A Christmas Carol
Yes, you know the story. Yes, you might have already seen it a million times. And yes, it’s one of the best shows around if you want a dose of holiday cheer. Dickens’s long-lasting ghost story gets a sumptuous, bighearted production year after year at the Goodman. Even stone-cold cynics will find themselves a little less stony once Mr. Fezziwig’s band starts playing.
Details:Loop. Goodman Theatre. $40–$112. goodmantheatre.org
West by Midwest
The artist Judy Chicago represents a familiar story in contemporary art history: Born in Chicago (from which she took her name), she became famous only after relocating to Los Angeles. This major exhibit of more than 80 artworks traces this route of artists from the Midwest looking for success and inspiration on the West Coast. In the process, they spread the ethos and kinship of Midwestern culture.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
There are eclectic bands, and then there’s Algiers, a group that combines what seem like ill-fitting genres such as post-punk and gospel. Its sound is frequently described as “dystopian soul,” and although the description might be a bit heavy-handed, it’s not entirely inaccurate. Algiers’s music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s sure to make an impact.
Details:West Loop. Bottom Lounge. 9 p.m. $18. ticketweb.com
The Book of Mormon
The lyrics to Robert Lopez, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone’s smash musical, returning for a second run, explain why the Garden of Eden is actually in Missouri and how Jesus has his own planet (and you can have one too!). If all door-to-door missionaries were this amusing, then no doors would be slammed on them. Bonus: The show’s chorus line of bespangled Satans singing about oral sex and Jeffrey Dahmer is divine.
Details:Loop. Oriental Theatre. $45–$125. bookofmormonbroadway.com
Chicago Thanksgiving Parade
While it may not be quite to the scale of the Macy’s New York shindig, a curbside view of a parade beats a TV broadcast any day. Chicago’s own McDonald’s-sponsored affair features a familiar lineup: Bevies of dancers, floats, and cartoon balloons stuff State Street.
Details:Loop. State from Congress to Randolph. 8 a.m. Free. chicagothanksgivingparade.com
Earlier this year, West Side rapper Saba released his critically acclaimed sophomore album, Care for Me, and proved he’s more than just a flash in the pan. First gaining local and national attention in 2016, Saba returned with a collection of songs more honest and raw than those of any of his peers. Care for Me is a voyeuristic glimpse into the inner workings of the young rapper’s mind as he grapples with death, depression, and the destruction of the world around him.
Details:Logan Square. Concord Music Hall. 6:30 p.m. $20–$23. ticketfly.com
Chicago Podcast Festival
This citywide digital audio takeover highlights local breakouts alongside nationally beloved shows. Check out live tapings of the headlining programs — High & Mighty, Off Book, and Yo, Is This Racist? among them — but the fest’s strongest draw is the opportunity to scope out innovative podcasts being made in our own backyard, like What About Chicago?, Don’t Ask Jen & Liz, and Please Make This.
Details:Various locations and prices. chicagopodcastfestival.org
Hello from the Magic Tavern
Sure, This American Life is good, clean entertainment — but when is the last time Ira Glass interviewed an orc? This sleeper hit from Chicago comedian Arnie Niekamp reimagines the inescapable genre of interview podcasts through the lens of Dungeons & Dragons, with weekly dispatches from the mythical land of Foon. Each episode centers on an interview with one of Foon’s inhabitants — a fantastical and totally improvised menagerie of elves, giants, and sentient plants voiced by local comedians. Niekamp and company tend to go all out in a live setting, with more costumes and props than you can conjure out of an alchemical potion.
Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. 9 p.m. $30–$40. eventbrite.com
Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Market
Get a little Christmas shopping in — and a peek at Lincoln Park Zoo’s ever-impressive ZooLights — at this gift market, which features dozens of local vendors and benefits the zoo’s year-round operations.
Details:Details Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park Zoo. 6:30 p.m. $10–$65. eventbrite.com
A John Waters Christmas
The “People’s Pervert” puts his spin on classic holiday pageants with this one-man show. In years past, the creator of Hairspray and Pink Flamingos has regaled audiences with his thoughts on the list of unsafe toys released every year and his deep hatred of Christmas cards — a celebration for the not so holly and jolly at heart.
Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. 9 p.m. $35–$55. thaliahallchicago.com
Years after making a name for himself with the Gap Band, Uncle Charlie continues to influence younger generations with his distinctly cheeky and nostalgic vocal style. It’s no wonder that many of today’s top artists, from Kanye West to Snoop Dogg to Justin Timberlake, have employed Wilson’s charisma to infuse their songs with something special.
Details:Near West Side. United Center. 8 p.m. $55–$159. ticketmaster.com