This Means War
Irish playwright and novelist Roddy Doyle (The Commitments) is hugely famous in his native land—but if there’s one thing that rivals his popularity among his countrymen, it’s pub trivia. Doyle takes on the game, and 16 working-class characters devoted to it, in the comedy War. The play, in a production by Seanchai Theatre Company, makes its U.S. début Friday, August 31st at 7:30 p.m., with shows continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through October 7th, at Storefront Theater (66 E. Randolph; 312-742-8497). Tickets run $15 to $20.

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Save on cash, splurge on culture when high art plays to the people—for free—in Blockbuster Week, a series of free concerts and events in Millennium Park. We like the sound of Cool Vibrations, in which the Joffrey presents three works paired with popular music: Deuce Coupe, set to a Beach Boys soundtrack; Motown Suite, set to Motown’s greatest hits; and Sometimes It Snows in April, set to the music of Prince. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 5th in Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park; 312-742-1168).

• The following evening, Thursday, September 6th at 6:30 p.m., John Mahoney and other Steppenwolf ensemble members team up with Chicago Children’s Choir for I Sing America, a performance combining poetry and music, featuring works by Gwendolyn Brooks, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Alan Ginsberg. Free; Pritzker Pavilion.

• It’s a long way from tra-la-la Disney to science-fiction love stories, but Alan Menken, who composed songs for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, has made the leap. In Weird Romance: Two One Act Musicals of Speculative Fiction, one plot follows a homeless woman’s soul that makes its way into a female android; the other, a scientist who resurrects a woman through holography. The show runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5:30 p.m. Sundays, through September 22nd at Strawdog Theatre (3829 N. Broadway; 312-771-1310). Tickets are $15 to $20.

• One of the longest-running fests in Chicago, Chicago Jazz Festival returns this year with the best lineup we’ve seen in years, thanks to the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Headliners include Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood (8:30 p.m. Friday, August 31st); Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra (8:30 p.m. Saturday, September 1st); and Mingus Big Band (8:30 p.m. Sunday, September 2nd). The fest runs on three stages through Sunday beginning at noon daily in Grant Park (300 S. Columbus Dr.; 312-744-3315).

• What’s funnier than one Sedaris? Two. Hilarious siblings Amy and David co-wrote The Book of Liz, about a nun who ventures out into the big, bad world; the play comes rife with the family’s trademark twisted humor. The Chemically Imbalanced Comedy production runs through September 30th at the Cornservatory (4210 N. Lincoln Ave.; 800-838-3006). Tickets are $12 to $18.

• Make the most of summer’s last weekend with bands that know a thing or two about holding on to yesterday. At Naperville’s The Last Fling, music headliners include the former Men at Work frontman Colin Hay (8 p.m. Friday, August 31st), the BoDeans (8 p.m. Saturday, September 1st), and Cheap Trick (8 p.m. Sunday, September 2nd). Other attractions include a beer garden, carnival rides, and dancing. The fest runs Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along the Riverwalk (100 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville; 630-961-4143). Admission to the performances runs $7 to $12; entry to the rest of the fest is free.

• In a bill that defies explanation, acts from bittersweet indie rockers The Shins to Snoop Dogg play the Download Festival at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island (1300 S. Linn White Dr.; 312-540-2668). Don’t try to make sense of the lineup. Just go. The 10-band roster begins Saturday, September 2nd at 1 p.m. Tickets run $20 to $40.

• We always thought being quiet in the library was overrated; turns out, the Newberry (60 W. Walton St.; 312-255-3700) agrees. On Wednesday, September 5th, the library hosts the mixer-slash-lecture-slash-performance “Here, There and Still Everywhere: The Beatles in Contemporary Pop Culture.” Read the Beatles author June Skinner Sawyers takes attendees on a fast-forward tour of the band’s career, with takes on classic tunes by singer-songwriter Bucky Halker and mandolin player Don Stiernberg. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m.; the presentation starts at 6:15 p.m. Admission is $9.

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