A production of Abigail's Party
’GAIL FORCE  A Red Orchid Theatre restages its Jeff-recommended Abigail’s Party, starring the unsinkable Kirsten Fitzgerald (far right), at Theater on the Lake.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 06.30.10 through Tue 07.06.10:


theatre Abigail’s Party
If the play’s two springtime extensions didn’t convince you, maybe the third time’s the charm: A Red Orchid Theatre reprises its Jeff-recommended take on Mike Leigh’s dark comedy—in which AROT’s artistic director and femme fatale, Kirsten Fitzgerald, proffers cigarettes and booze like instruments of mutual destruction—on the lakefront.
GO: June 30–July 4. $17.50. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore. 312-742-7994


festivals American Music Festival
FitzGerald’s annual Fourth of July weekend—the area’s best red-white-and-blues jam, hands down—is equal parts rock, country, food, booze, and communal spirit. Highlights include the delightful boogie pianist and the fest’s de facto den mother, Marcia Ball; the zydeco accordionist C. J. Chenier; the New Orleans bandleader Trombone Shorty; and the roots rockers The Nighthawks, with the legendary Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin sitting in.
GO: July 1 from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., July 2 from 4:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., July 3 from noon to 3 a.m., July 4 from noon to 2 a.m. $25-$35 per day; $100 fest pass. FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn. fitzgeraldsnightclub.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Wait—were we sleeping? When did Taste of Chicago get hip? Passion Pit brings its indie-electronic dance party to Grant Park, July 4 at noon.


lit The First Time: First Jobs
Reading series are a dime a dozen, but this one combines a theme (getting nickel and dimed) and an organizer (Chicago Independent Radio Project) you can rally around. In this week’s installment, local writers reminisce about the joys of a first job, with CHIRP’s house band playing in between yarns. If the 9-to-5 trudge gets you down, glasses of sangria are on special for $5.
GO: June 30 at 8. $10 suggested donation benefits CHIRP; call for dinner reservations in the music room. Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon. 773-465-9801


concerts John Hiatt, Levon Helm
Growing old never sounded as feisty or as fun as it does on Hiatt’s new album, The Open Road, wherein the veteran Indianan rips through songs built on early rock ’n’ roll. Meanwhile, Helm, the cornerstone of the iconic rustic rockers The Band, similarly defies time with a late-career revival that finds his tumbling drumming and exuberant singing as vital as ever. Take that, Pitchforkers.
GO: July 1 at 7. $22-$45. Ravinia, Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org


theatre Film Fest IX: The Perils of the Neo-Futurarium
Fair warning: The caveat’s right there in the title (see “Perils”). The Neo-Futurists’ summertime series, featuring staged readings of some of the Worst Films Ever, kicks off with 1984’s Supergirl. What, you’ve never heard of this classic about a Kryptonian masquerading as Superman’s cousin? Us either. And yet, we’re ready and willing to hate it with unbridled glee. Other flicks soon to get ripped: 1957’s The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent and 1986’s My Little Pony: The Movie.
GO: Supergirl: July 1 at 8; series continues Thursdays through Aug 5. $8-$10. The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland. neofuturists.org


film Avatar
So what if you’ve already seen this marathon of a movie? Two-and-a-half hours spent watching lanky blue critters save the world is so much more pleasant in the open air than inside a sticky Cineplex. Be there when Block Cinema screens James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster as part of its free alfresco film series.
GO: June 30 at 8:30. East lawn of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus, Northwestern U, Evanston. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/blockcinema

lit Frank Bruni
A lovingly cautionary tale in the wake of those Fourth of July cookouts: The former New York Times restaurant critic and self-proclaimed fat kid reads from and discusses his recent memoir, Born Round.
GO: July 6 at 6. Museum of Contemporary Art Theater, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Park District