PITY THE FOOL who misses the French troupe Ilotopie’s big splash on the lake, Fous de Bassin (Water Fools).


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 08.19.09 through Tue 08.25.09:


theatre Fous de Bassin (Water Fools)
There’s no way we’d miss a production that promises "heads bursting into flames"—not to mention the fact that Chicago Shakes’ head honcho is getting knighted (yes, knighted) for his boosterism of French theatre before Friday’s performance. In short, we’re psyched for this waterborne spectacle, which dives into the lake following similar soakings on the Thames and the Seine.
GO: Aug 21, 22 at 9:15. Reserved seating is sold out, but free general-admission seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Ilotopie at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E Grand. chicagoshakes.com


concerts Barbara Dennerlein Organ Trio
If you like your Hammond B3 easy on the grease with a healthy dose of funk, this ferocious organ attack, featuring dexterous pedal work from Germany’s top jazz export, should have you declaring, "Ich bin ein Barbara fan."
GO: Aug 21 at 9; Aug 22 at 8. $12. Green Mill, 4802 N Broadway. greenmilljazz.com


classical Gabriela Montero
You don’t hear much improv in the classical world, but it’s Gabriela Montero’s signature. The pianist, best known for performing at Obama’s inauguration, makes her Ravinia debut with an evening of ad libs. (Bonus: Head back to the park for an indoor evening with the chiseled cellist Zuill Bailey and the cool, accessible pianist Simone Dinnerstein on Aug 25 at 8, when the pair tackles Beethoven in a concert coinciding with the release of the duo’s new recording; $35.)
GO: Montero: Aug 19 at 8. $10-$40. Ravinia, Lake Cook Rd and Green Bay Rd, Highland Park. ravinia.org


farrago Project Runway Premiere Party
The view of the river is perfectly charming, but the best reason to head to Cityscape Bar on Thursday is the spot’s viewing party for the long awaited, much anticipated, occasionally in doubt but ultimately unstoppable season premiere of Project Runway. The $6 themed martinis, including the Auf Wiedersehen (Malibu rum, Skyy cherry vodka, Godiva Chocolate and Cream), and free appetizers would be enough to put a smile on even Heidi’s haughty pucker. 
GO: Aug 20; show begins at 9. No cover. Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 15th floor, 350 W Mart Center. martplaza.com


farrago Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary Party
It’s a happening worthy of the Beats: In celebration of the 50th anniversary of William S. Burroughs’s seminal novel, a cast of characters including the star of Lunch’s 1991 film version (also, of Robocop), Peter Weller; the Andy Warhol–deigned superstar Penny Arcade; and Saturday Night Live‘s longtime musical director, Hal Willner, assemble for an evening of readings and performances. Also on tap: an exhibition of Burroughs’s drawings and paintings, and a preview of the documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within.
GO: Aug 28 at 5:30. $60-$75. Thinkart Salon, 1530 N Paulina, Ste F. An afterparty follows at Stop Smiling, 1371 N Milwaukee. thinkartsalon.com


concerts Red Red Meat
Before morphing into the dreamily experimental band Califone, Red Red Meat took grunge’s fuzzy guitars and meltdown vocals and, being from Chicago, added handfuls of soul and blues. This concert marks one of a handful of reunions the group has played in the last year.
GO: Aug 24 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. millenniumpark.org

dance Chicago Dancing Festival
Tickets to the fest’s first two nights at the Harris went faster than you can say "Lar Lubovitch," but this show-stopping finale features well-crafted comedic relief from the men in tights and tutus of Les Ballets Grandiva and the benefit of first-come, first-served seating on Millennium Park’s lush lawn.
GO: Aug 22 at 7:30. Pritzker Pavilion. millenniumpark.org

dance Summerdance
If the pros inspire you to give dancing a whirl, shake a leg to the superpopular Summerdance, the city’s dancing-in-the-park series that ends its season Sunday. One hour of dance lessons in a different style each night precedes two hours of hoofing to live music.
GO: Thru Aug 23: Thu-Sat from 6 to 9:30; Sun 4 to 7. Spirit of Music Garden, Grant Park, 601 S Michigan. chicagosummerdance.org


It’s a dark and creepy week: Watch a snippet of the otherworldly Fous de Bassin … See Barbara Dennerlein’s frighteningly fast footwork … Catch Zuill Bailey’s musical turn on HBO’s gritty Oz … Get a refresher on Weller’s unhinged turn in Naked Lunch (caution: very adult material).

PHOTOGRAPH: Jack Ng Khek Hian, Singapore