A scene from 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
LETTS THE GAMES BEGIN Amy Morton and Tracy Letts star in Who’s Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?
at Steppenwolf.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 12.08.10 through Tue 12.14.10:


theatre Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nobody tops Edward Albee for eviscerating dialogue. (“If you existed, I’d divorce you.”) And nobody is more equipped to deliver it than Mr. and Mrs. Steppenwolf, a.k.a. Tracy Letts and Amy Morton. The power pair bring on the emotional laceration, the lacerating comedy, and a deliciously degenerate parlor game (Get the Guests) in Steppenwolf’s much anticipated production.
GO: Previews through Dec 11; $20–$52. Run continues through Feb 13; $20–$75. Steppenwolf, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org


jazz Regina Carter, Esperanza Spalding
While her scalding-hot 2010 album, multiple White House appearances, and unorthodox bass-vocals combo—not to mention last week’s Best New Artist Grammy nom—virtually ensure Spalding will garner the lioness’s share of buzz, it’s the veteran violinist Carter who’s proved time and again on Chicago stages that nobody swings the strings harder. Good thing you don’t have to choose. Hear both virtuosi when the pair share a stellar split bill.
GO: Dec 10 at 8. $21–$72. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Hear the recent Blue Note signee (yes, it still happens) Ravi Coltrane road-test material for his upcoming album (on the same imprint, incidentally, as his dad’s 1957 landmark, Blue Train) when his quartet plays Jazz Showcase Dec 9–12.


classical Third Coast Percussion
A most intriguing head-scratcher: The critically acclaimed composer David T. Little pairs up with this local ensemble for the premiere of Haunt of Last Nightfall, an experimental play (lots of theatrical lighting, no actors) based on the 1981 massacre of more than 800 people in El Mozote, El Salvador. Is it just us, or does this have a whiff of Werner Herzog?
GO: Dec 13 at 7:30. $5–$15. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division. thirdcoastpercussion.com


theatre John Waters
He may not be divine, but he did discover the drag queen Divine and deliver such iconic movies as Hairspray (not the musical). Here, Waters delivers a monologue and hosts a Q&A. Given the season, it’s only natural to ask WWJWD?
GO: Dec 14 at 7:30. $45–$75. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org


comedy The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa
There’s still T-minus two and a half weeks and counting until Dec 24, but those already too excited to sleep can stay up all night with The Second City’s ninth-annual 24-hour fundraiser for Chicago families in need. This year’s lineup comes stocked with bits from the SC crew and musical performances by the likes of Robbie Fulks, Jeff Tweedy, and Tweedy’s kid’s teenybopper band, The Blisters. Plus, Santa comes early with raffle prizes including a lifetime pass for two to Lincoln Hall, a day in the studio with the legendary producer Steve Albini, and a private concert in your home with Tweedy the elder and 29 of your best friends. Start soliciting bribes now.
GO: From Dec 14 at 7 p.m. to Dec 15 at 6 p.m. $15. The Second City e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 N Wells. secondcity.com


One of the CSO's new composers-in-residence, Mason Bates
Mason Bates

Up next in our series of plans from notable, in-the-know locals (a.k.a. people we like): Mason Bates, one half of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s pair of new composers-in-residence.

“The holidays present way too many options for the curious listener. A good place to start is the CSO’s Friday afternoon concert, which will be a nice way to get some Tchaikovsky without enduring another Nutcracker. On Saturday night, I’ll be checking out Philter at Darkroom [Bates moonlights as the DJ Masonic], and on Sunday, assuming I’m not too wiped out from the night before, I’ll hit the Civic Orchestra’s performance of Bartók at Symphony Center.”

GO: If you missed the Music Now season opener in October, let Bates and his fellow CSO composer-in-residence, Anna Clyne, win you over with pizza, beer, and cutting-edge tunes at the series’ next installment, Dec 13 at 7 at the Harris Theater; tickets are $20.


kid friendly Family Fun Days at Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
No cartoons, no sugary cereal, no Kinect videogames: just free music, hot cocoa, and a family-friendly chance to soak up some history on Wright’s storied stomping grounds. This pair of Saturday-morning to-dos include Victorian Christmas–themed tours led by junior docents and hands-on playtime with the master architect’s favored Froebel blocks in his legendary drafting room.
GO: Dec 11 and 18 from 9 to 11. 951 Chicago, Oak Park. gowright.org

galleries The Daley Show
As in Richard M., not Stewart, Jon. This exhibition, a coproduction with Johalla Projects at Chicago Urban Art Society, fills some 3,800 square feet of gallery space with portraits and other works dedicated to the outgoing mayor by more than 20 local artists. The man himself has been invited, and while there’s no word yet on whether he’ll attend, we always say the more, the mayorier. Bonus: The opening is sponsored by Old Style, which equals free beer.
GO: Opening reception Dec 10 from 6 to 11; exhibition continues through Jan 8. Chicago Urban Art Society, 2229 S Halsted. chicagourbanartsociety.org


Photograph: Michael Brosilow