Although artist Erik Beehn was raised in a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, his paintings are neither tacky nor glitzy. The SAIC grad creates abstracts of floral imagery by painting with solvents over inkjet prints from the internet, dissolving the surface to reveal beauty beneath.
Details:Platform. Free. platform904.com
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre
Cerqua Rivera, known for blending live music, visual art, and contemporary dance, has a fall program boasting premieres by former River North Dance Chicago artistic director Sherry Zunker and 3Arts award winner Stephanie Martinez. An added bonus is Corner Sketches, a Miles Davis montage developed as part of an open rehearsal series.
Details:Links Hall. 7 p.m. $36–$44. linkshall.org
Lyric Opera’s years-in-the-making Ring cycle gets rolling, along with the house’s 2016–17 season, with Das Rheingold, the first (and shortest!) of the four operas in Wagner’s epic of gods and power. The bass-baritone Eric Owens plays Wotan throughout the cycle, spread over four seasons. For better or worse, this Ring will wed itself to Lyric’s reputation until the end of the decade.
Details:Civic Opera House. $34–$299. lyricopera.org
You may be familiar with ikebana—the Japanese art of flower arrangement—but you probably haven’t heard of Ikenobo, the ancient school that has kept the craft alive for more than five centuries. Expect some truly mind-bending bouquets at the Chicago chapter’s annual display.
Details:Chicago Botanic Gardens. Free. chicagobotanic.org
Natya Dance Theatre
Hema Rajagopalan, a master of the Indian Bharatanatyam style, teams up with Indonesian maestro Eri Mefri in The Incomplete Gesture, which blends the rhythmic footwork and gestures of classical Indian dance with Indonesian martial arts.
Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. 8 p.m. $20–$38. northshorecenter.org
Fifty years after Pet Sounds shattered the mold of American pop, Brian Wilson is dusting off the raw, emotional classic. Of course, Wilson has gathered a little dust himself: His set at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival was, at best, deflated, with Wilson toddling along to a musical backdrop by fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. Still, it’s not every day you get to see one of the best albums of all time trotted out by the genius who composed it.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $39–$154. ticketmaster.com
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
In 1935, Moholy-Nagy fled war-torn Germany and eventually brought modernism to Chicago with his avant-garde New Bauhaus school. The Hungarian photographer and mechanical sculptor was obsessed with new technologies and design, proposing that pure geometry—circles, rectangles, and straight lines—could express feelings. This 300-work retrospective celebrates his futuristic vision.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu
Christine and the Queens
In indie-rock circles, French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier is the next big thing. The Nantes native’s serene voice is a perfect match for the sparse, catchy synths she infuses each of her songs with. But make no mistake: Letissier’s brand of heady synth-pop is more indebted to the adult-contemporary flourishes of Jessie Ware than to anything out of the oft-cheesy ’80s.
Details:Vic Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $30. ticketfly.com
Ear Taxi Festival
Chicago’s new-music community, once the province of a few academically minded mandarins, now spreads its color and variety through many ambitious and mischievous ensembles. The downside of the abundance of groups, though, is that they mostly do their own thing. The composer Augusta Read Thomas wanted to change that, so she organized a festival encompassing all Chicago’s biggest new-music players, planned far enough in advance that the 32 events include 54 world premieres.
Details:Various venues. $24–$200. eartaxifestival.com
In Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s new detective musical, femme fatales, jaded private eyes, shady politicos, and doe-eyed ingénues prowl a city that never sleeps. A jazz-infused score and plentiful neo-noir dance numbers color this tale of greed, corruption, and crime.
Details:Chicago Theatre Workshop at the Edge Theatre. chicagotheatreworkshop.org
Near North Side
The five-year-old ballet company premieres five works, including those by artistic director Julianna Rubio Slager and former Houston Ballet dancer Caleb Mitchell. Slager’s Ripple Effect dissects the “sticks and stones” parable to uncover the power of words to hurt or heal.
Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $12–$25. ballet58.org
Bonobo and Leon Vynehall
This rare back-to-back DJ bill features the old and new guard in contemporary electronic music. The old, English producer Bonobo, made waves when he announced a new album slated to drop sometime in 2016. The new, prolific standby Vynehall, is still riding the wave of his second album in two years, Rojus (Designed to Dance), a lush journey of house styles interspersed with one-of-a-kind field recordings.
Details:Smart Bar. 10 p.m. $25–$30. smartbarchicago.com
Fall Bulb Festival
More than 200 varieties of crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are up for grabs at this garden sale, along with a spread of local treats, sweets, and seasonal essentials (fresh apple cider, anyone?). For bonus autumn points, snap a selfie in front of the picturesque Gourd Mountain. (October 7 open only to Chicago Botanic Garden members.)
Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. Free. chicagobotanic.org
Music Box Theatre Special Screenings
Lake View’s stalwart indie film house toasts the birthdays of three classics—Howards End’s 25th and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s and The Battle of Algiers’s 50th—with anniversary screenings (in new 4K resolution for Howards End).
Details:Music Box Theatre. $9–$11. musicboxtheatre.com
Near West Side, Rosemont
Regardless of your thoughts about West’s underwhelming The Life of Pablo, his concert is not one to miss. Expect brilliant lighting and theatrics to accompany a deep catalog of solo and collaborative material. That it’s a hometown show for Yeezy is gravy.
Details:United Center (Oct. 7), Allstate Arena (Oct. 8). $30–$140. ticketmaster.com
Andrew Hobgood directs Spenser Davis’s 1976-set exploration of the video game gurus at Atari and the culture clash that ensued after Warner Bros. bought the company. Can a group of pot-smoking arcade nerds adjust to life under the rule of a megacorporation? New Colony digs into the games that people (and businesses) play.
Details:New Colony at Den Theatre. $15–$20. thenewcolony.org
English singer James Blake recently took a page from Beyoncé’s book (perhaps after working with her) and surprise-released his third solo album, The Colour in Anything. This collection is Blake’s bleakest yet, featuring his stock somber vocals and often oppressive instrumentation. Expect that atmospheric depth to be doubly enveloping in this regal live setting.
Details:Cadillac Palace Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $25–$37. ticketmaster.com
Do You Have Cents for Nonsense? I Have Cents for Sensitive
Selina Trepp decided in 2012 that she would no longer bring any new art materials into her studio in a statement against a culture of overconsumption. To continue her work, she found free creative solutions, like painting on recycled photographs and drawing digital animations. Her new style ends up being a commentary on sustainability, the economy, and the nature of creativity itself.
Details:Cleve Carney Art Gallery. Free. clevecarneygallery.org
Jewelry for My Mother(s) and Other Microaggressions
Laura Davis makes jewelry not to be worn, but as ceramic sculptures to contemplate the way women care for and share heirlooms. In an artist talk, Davis explains how she thinks about “the ghosts of the women” haunting the spooky necklaces and bracelets on display.
Details:Chicago Cultural Center. 12:30 p.m. Free. cityofchicago.org
It’s been two years since Denise Nicole White (a.k.a. Avery Sunshine) released a new album. This summer, she has toured across the country in support of her latest, 2014’s The SunRoom, in effect reminding fans what they’re missing in a new LP of her soulful R&B.
Details:Thalia Hall. 8 p.m. $25–$480. ticketweb.com
Thodos Dance Chicago
Near North Side
The contemporary dance company teams up with Chicago Children’s Theatre to remount A Light in the Dark: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Dance and theater merge to tell the story of the blind, deaf, and mute girl whose life would inspire so many.
Details:Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $10–$39. chicagochildrenstheatre.org
The acclaimed ballet company’s fall program is a reprise of Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo & Juliet, the classic Shakespearean tragedy set to Prokofiev’s transcendent score. In this version, the story is moved to 20th-century Italy; striking projections provide context and highlight the political unrest of the period.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. $34–$159. joffrey.org
Rush Woman’s Board Fashion Show
The charity fashion show celebrates its 90th year.
Details:United Club at Soldier Field. 5:30 p.m. thefashionshow.org
The Seldoms present Philip Elson’s The Fifth, a peek inside hacktivism and the whistleblowers of cyberspace.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $15–$30. colum.edu/dance-center
Baroque performance generally inclines toward the buttoned-down: terraced dynamics, clock-like tempos, and proper cadences. Not so with the Cleveland-based orchestra Apollo’s Fire, named to evoke its lambent style, aflicker with dramatic phrasing. Here, the group plays some of its core repertoire, including two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
Details:Mandel Hall, U. of C. 7:30 p.m. $5–$35. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
Conversation: ART21—Chris Ware, Gary Panter, and Hillary Chute
Chris Ware, the Chicago artist who proved that comics aren’t just for kids with his emotional, conceptual graphic novels, makes a rare live appearance in conversation with Harvard comics expert Hillary Chute and iconic illustrator Gary Panter, whose set designs for Pee-wee’s Playhouse won him multiple Emmys.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with museum admission (RSVP online). artic.edu
Get your Halloween on with Maxine and Marco, whose book club takes a turn for the flesh-eating thanks to a dim-witted scientist and an experiment gone wrong. Expect epic gushes of brains and blood from the playwrights Corrbette Pasko and Sara Sevigny in a saga of voraciously hungry undead.
Details:Factory Theater. $18–$25. thefactorytheater.com
The Bottle Tree
Playwright Beth Kander takes on gun culture through the lens of a “forgotten” victim: the smart, struggling sister of a high school shooter. Using the setting of a small town where trauma runs deep and healing is in short supply, Kander explores whether hope and recovery are truly possible in the wake of an indelible tragedy.
Details:Stage Left Theatre at Theater Wit. $10–$30. stagelefttheatre.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The CSO’s 125th anniversary celebration culminates in a re-creation of its very first concert, given October 16, 1891. To modern eyes, the programming may look strange: two of the chestnuttiest pieces in the classical canon, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, bookended with overtures by Wagner and Dvořák. Hard to believe that back then, the concerto was less than 20 years old.
Details:Symphony Center. 6 p.m. $60–$199. cso.org
Lucia di Lammermoor
Donizetti’s tale of star-crossed love on the Scottish moors, by far the most famous of the free-flowing bel canto style of operas, features two all-time classic moments of the genre. The first, the passionate sextet in act 2, melds solo voices thrillingly as Lucia is condemned to marry for politics instead of love. The second, the “mad scene,” allows the soprano Albina Shagimuratova, as Lucia, to engage in pyrotechnic ornamentation and high notes while flailing around in a bloodstained wedding dress.
Details:Civic Opera House. $34–$299. lyricopera.org
Music Box of Horrors
Once a year, the Music Box Theatre transforms into a slaughterhouse chock-full of frights. This marathon of monsters and gore gives you serious bang for your buck: One $35 ticket ($25 in advance) allows come-and-go access to 24 hours of scary movies, from classics (Halloween III: Season of the Witch) and forgotten gems (Eyes of Fire) to bloody slapstick (Popcorn) and straight-up comedy (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein).
Details:Music Box Theatre. $25–$35. musicboxtheatre.com
Open House Chicago
If you’ve ever gazed at the façade of a majestic Chicago building and longed to know what lay on the other side, this citywide suite of free open houses from the Chicago Architecture Foundation is for you. Churches, concert halls, studios, and more open their doors, offering choice interior views. Don’t miss a rare free tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home studio in Oak Park and the vine-draped atrium of Englewood’s Yale Building, usually reserved for residents.
Details:Various locations. Free. openhousechicago.org
Near West Side
If any R&B singer will inherit Prince’s crown, it’s Miguel. The L.A. native exudes energy and sex appeal live, strutting his stuff in a slew of increasingly glitzy outfits as his band bumps life-affirming tunes up to an 11. The unfettered guitar solos don’t hurt.
Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $35–$150. ticketmaster.com
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry
Billy Bragg is no stranger to nontraditional songwriting: The singer famously fleshed out Woody Guthrie’s unrecorded back catalog with help from local Chicago band Wilco. More recently, Bragg and singer-songwriter Joe Henry boarded an Amtrak streamliner from L.A. to Chicago with their guitars and gear in tow, recording songs in train stations, waiting rooms, and rail yards along the way. Here they perform the fruits of their journey, plus some back-catalog hits.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $34–$46. thaliahallchicago.com
Kristiana Rae Colón’s rapid-fire battle between poetry slammers comes with a lofty pedigree: The piece won the 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award, and Colón herself is a vet of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. In this U.S. premiere, eight gifted wordsmiths vie for top honors as the personal and the political collide.
Details:Jackalope Theatre at Broadway Armory Park. $5–$30. jackalopetheatre.org
A-Squared Asian American Performing Arts Festival
An impressive lineup of Asian American dancers, musicians, puppeteers, and performance artists present pieces influenced in varying degrees by China, Philippines, India, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. A preshow dinner on Saturday, October 22, at 5:15 p.m., highlights the diverse cuisine of Vietnam.
Details:Links Hall. $15–$45. linkshall.org
Bronzeville Home Tours and Progressive Dinner
A rare look inside three South Side collections of contemporary African American and African art includes a guided tour, catered food, and cocktails at each stop.
Details:Various venues. 6–10:30 p.m. $250. art.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The marquee name for this concert is Emanuel Ax, the pianist playing the first installment in a comprehensive tour at Symphony Center this season of all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos. Each concerto has a different soloist, and Ax begins, fittingly, with No. 1. The name insiders will notice is David Afkham, who helms Beethoven and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, a broad canvas to show his acuity.
Details:Symphony Center. $40–$222. cso.org
“What is it about the male body, which happens to be black, that we are afraid of?” NYC-based dancer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire seeks to answer this question in Portrait of Myself as My Father. Audiences are allowed to get as close as they like to the boxing ring onstage as Chipaumire channels various cultural influences on black men, including African traditions, colonialism, religion, and the ongoing struggle for liberation.
Details:Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. $24–$30. colum.edu/dance-center
Born to Ecuadorian parents, Robert Carlos Lange is a modern renaissance man: a bilingual singer, composer, video artist, and sculptor. He’s best known musically for the aural mosaics he produces as Helado Negro. On his upcoming album, Private Energy, Lange tackles the Latin experience in America via his trademark groovy beats.
Details:Hideout. 9 p.m. $12–$14. hideoutchicago.com
The Mars Assignment
A schoolteacher, a talent manager, an ad exec, and a child all suffer from depression in Ronan Marra and Elsa Hiltner’s dive into the struggles of the mentally ill. The work aims to shine a light on the spectrum of diseases and disorders that impact millions across the globe but that are still so stigmatized they’re often spoken of in whispers.
Details:Collaboraction Theatre at Flatiron Arts Building. $10–$30. collaboraction.org
Part of a new wave of Australian artists who combine modern R&B and traditional folk, Ry Cuming’s music serves as a perfect primer for Chicago’s oncoming winter. Dawn, his second album and first as Ry X, features dexterous pop hooks beneath Cuming’s androgynous tenor.
Details:Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m. $18. lh-st.com
Draughtsman Clay Hickson (of Pilsen’s Tan & Loose Press) remembers the eighties as a pastiche of deco psychedelic style slathered in decadent neon and saxophone, which his illustrations satirically celebrate in this anticipated first solo exhibit.
Details:Johalla Projects. Free. johallaprojects.com
The Magic Play
Playwright Andrew Hinderaker (I Am Going to Change the World; Suicide, Incorporated) delves into wizardry in this tale of a nameless magician, the diver he loves, and the father who haunts him. Halena Kays directs the story of a showman whose power to astonish vanishes in the face of heartbreak.
Details:Goodman Theatre. $10–$40. goodmantheatre.org
Tegan and Sara
After more than two decades in the music industry, indie-rock sister duo Tegan and Sara only seem to be getting better—their lyrics sharper, their hooks so contagious they’ve started writing songs for other musicians. Catch the ever-charming siblings in their most natural and exciting form: front and center.
Details:Riviera Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $34. etix.com
The Arts Club Centennial Open House
This private club with a public exhibition program has for a century drawn the world’s most desired artists up its Mies-designed stairwell to meet with Chicago’s elite art patrons. Here, the organization pulls back the curtain with a day of free programming, including David Lang–commissioned music by Eighth Blackbird and artist talks by Suzanne Bocanegra, Derrick Adams, and Mark Dion.
Details:Arts Club of Chicago. Noon. Free. artsclubchicago.org
Chicago a Cappella
This versatile vocal ensemble presents an eclectic shock of classical, jazz, and pop tunes in a remounted program titled The Birds and the Bees: Songs of Nature and Naughtiness. The group hooks up with Ruth Westheimer and Laura Berman, who each narrate two performances.
Details:Various venues. $15–$43. chicagoacappella.org
Music of the Baroque
Before Handel got into the practice of writing religious-themed oratorios such as Messiah, he composed Alexander’s Feast, a recitative-aria-chorus collection about the power of music, based on a John Dryden ode about Alexander the Great. Nicholas Kraemer serves it up as the first course in Music of the Baroque’s 46th season.
Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (Oct. 23), Harris Theater (Oct. 24). $38–$75. baroque.org
This seven-person group exhibit takes the pulse of some of Ireland’s politically engaged artists, who, on this hundredth anniversary of an important fight for Irish independence, present new music, photographs, and film about the country’s mental health services, bee colonies, and other hot-button issues.
Details:Hyde Park Art Center. Free. hydeparkart.org
Singin’ in the Rain
Jeff-winning director William Brown helms this splashy rom-com about making movies during the dawn of the talkies. Expect a bevy of crowd pleasers, from the classic clown shenanigans of “Make ’Em Laugh” to the fast-tapping footwork of “Moses Supposes.”
Details:Marriott Theatre. $50–$55. marriotttheatre.com
Giordano Dance Chicago
Chicago’s pioneering jazz dance company kicks off its 54th season with a new work by Peter Chu. Revivals, including Ray Mercer’s 2015 Shirt Off My Back and Autumn Eckman’s improv-inspired Yes, And …, round out the program.
Details:Harris Theater. $15–$75. harristheaterchicago.org
Harriet Tubman: When I Cross That Line to Freedom
Hyde Park, South Shore
The proposed new face of America’s $20 bill gets the operatic treatment in a work by Nkeiru Okoye. The South Shore Opera Company, an ensemble striving to increase access to opera in underserved areas, produces the biography of the engineer of the Underground Railroad, starring the soprano Joelle Lamarre as Tubman.
Details:Logan Center (Oct. 28), South Shore Cultural Center (Oct. 30). $10–$250. southshoreopera.org
For its Día de los Muertos concert, the Sinfonietta costars with the Chicago Film Archives, screening silent movies alongside Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, and music by Latino composers.
Details:Wentz Concert Hall (Oct. 29), Symphony Center (Oct. 31). $10–$60. chicagosinfonietta.org
Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination
Creatures, humans included, are the subject of Los Angeles artist Diana Thater’s massive video projections. Viewing Thater’s surreal artworks is like walking into a digital fish tank—a poignant reminder that we live among the planet’s beasts.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $7–$12. mcachicago.org
Elvis Costello & the Imposters
If Elvis Costello is in town, you don’t miss it. At this show, expect a mix of classic hits and newer selections from his last proper solo album, 2010’s National Ransom, and his last collaborative album (with the Roots), 2013’s Wise Up Ghost.
Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $39–$154. ticketmaster.com
The speed-themed Chicago Humanities Fest opens with a day of lectures at Northwestern, including visits by Maureen Dowd and Jonathan Lethem and talks on such topics as teen texting.
Details:Various venues. $5–$50. chicagohumanities.org
The Love Potion (Le Vin Herbé)
Chicago Opera Theater opens its 2016–17 season with the Tristan and Isolde story Le Vin Herbé, by the 20th-century Swiss composer Frank Martin. An eight-piece chamber orchestra backs a 12-singer chorus in the piece, a sort of operatic oratorio that raises a question: How will a score of musicians fit up at the front of the old-time movie palace the Music Box?
Details:Chicago Opera Theater at Music Box Theatre. $15–$75. chicagooperatheater.org
Richardson Farm Corn Maze
This 29-acre maze of maize—said to be the world’s largest—dons a Star Trek theme to honor the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Also present at this “adventure farm”: a petting zoo, a pumpkin patch, community campfires, and a wagon ride, all open till midnight on evenings when the moon is full.
Details:Richardson Adventure Farm. $13–$16. richardsonadventurefarm.com
Today, no one would think of casting a white actor as Othello. But in 1833 England, black actors weren’t even allowed on the stage. Inspired by a true story, Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet takes off when the white lead in the Theatre Royal’s Othello collapses and a black actor steps in, sparking race riots. With Chicago’s theater community in the throes of a fractious discussion about whether an actor’s ethnicity should play a role in casting (see the response to Porchlight’s In the Heights and the Marriott’s Evita), Red Velvet couldn’t be more timely.
Details:Raven Theatre. $22–$46. raventheatre.com
When a nasty breakup strikes, Annie is forced to rethink everything from the love of her life to her passion for PBS fundraising. Jeff Daniels’s (yes, that Jeff Daniels) rom-com with a supernatural twist spotlights a woman who thinks she’s lost everything and the mysterious next-door neighbor who steps into her shattered world. Ron OJ Parson directs.
Details:Windy City Playhouse. $15–$55. windycityplayhouse.com