A scene from A Cowboy Song
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER  First staged in Houston in 2003, Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song makes its Chicago debut this week.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 07.21.10 through Tue 07.27.10:


theatre Late: A Cowboy Song
A trio of powerhouse Piven alums—the director Jessica Thebus, the actor Polly Noonan, and the Pulitzer finalist Sarah Ruhl—reunite for the Chicago premiere of Ruhl’s play about a singing equestrian. Bonus: Read our 2006 story on Ruhl’s play The Clean House and our 2007 interview with the playwright. And, if you like what you see, get tickets now for Piven’s just-announced addition to its current season: Ruhl’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, opening in October.
GO: Previews July 24-25; $15. Regular run continues through Aug 29; $23-$25. Piven Theatre, 927 Noyes, Evanston. piventheatre.org


museums Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century
Your inspiration for first-rate summer snapshots: some 300 decisive moments captured on film by the master of serendipity. A hint: Go July 27, when museum staffers host an exhibition overview at noon.
GO: July 25–Oct 3. Open Mon-Wed 10:30-5, Thu-Fri 10:30-8, Sat-Sun 10-5. Free (kids under 14) to $18; free Thu 5-8. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan. artinstituteofchicago.org


film Backyard Film & Music Festival
Summer’s coolest house party, minus the house: An amateur filmmaker moves his homegrown fest to Pullman and welcomes the public. Read more about the festival’s genesis, then visit the website below for a complete film and band lineup.
GO: July 24 at noon. $15. Pullman State Historic Site, 11057 S Cottage Grove. bfmf2010.com


classical Christoph Eschenbach
A bout of tendonitis has put Eschenbach’s two gigs from the bench on hold (though, replacement pianist or no, we’re psyched for the July 22 concert featuring the baritone Matthias Goerne), but the festival’s world-famous former music director still will take to the podium to conduct the equally renowned soprano Renée Fleming in Strauss’s Four Last Songs on July 24 as well as an all-French bill for his own 70th birthday on July 25.
GO: July 24 at 7:30, July 25 at 5. $10-$100. Ravinia, Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org


farrago ZoppÉ Family Circus
Think of it as the anti Cirque du Soleil. This six-generation (or seven, if the family’s nine-month-old addition makes his debut) clan of old-fashioned daredevils specializes in the low-tech, high-thrill tricks of yesteryear: breathtaking trapeze feats, audacious acrobatics, and gasp-inducing stunts via horseback, all under the baton of Giovanni—aka Nino the Clown, the youngest performer ever inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.
GO: July 21-23 at 7; July 24 at 1, 4, and 7; July 25 at 1 and 4. Kids $14 or free with a coupon; adults $7-$18. Caputo’s Fresh Markets parking lot, 1250 Lake, Hanover Park. 773-255-6788


theatre Yamaha 300
As an actor, Ricardo Gutierrez has dazzled crowds at some of Chicago’s biggest houses (Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens), but as a director his work has been largely out of town. That changes when he helms Cutberto López Reyes’s harrowing play about a young drug smuggler desperate to get out of the business, part of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival.
GO: July 25 at 8. Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org

classical A Child of Our Time
Sir Michael Tippett’s World War II oratorio, inspired by the real-life assassination of a German diplomat at the hands of a Jewish teenager, is inherently gripping, but this hour-long performance features an especially talented cast of international opera stars, including the bass-baritone John Relyea, who wowed audiences earlier this year as the devil in the Lyric’s Damnation of Faust.
GO: July 23 at 6:30, July 24 at 7:30 as part of the Grant Park Music Festival. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. grantparkmusicfestival.com

festivals Pierogi Fest
Sort of like Chicago’s street fests—except with better food, less self-consciousness (the pierogi toss and polka contests are deliciously irony-free), and no admission. Follow the aroma of fried beef to Victor’s, a favorite vendor of the fest’s director.
GO: July 23-24 from 11 to 11, July 25 from 11 to 5. Indianapolis and 119th, Whiting, Ind. pierogifest.net

Photograph: Chris Tzoubris