The People’s History of the United States

Puppet Government

Puppets have always helped out with difficult lessons: Bert and Ernie taught the importance of tooth brushing; Kermit served as poster boy for the power of positive thinking. Now it’s time to take the subject matter up a notch. Quest Theatre Ensemble offers a look at the good, the bad, and the altogether ugly in The People’s History of the United States, a puppet and live action performance based on Howard Zinn’s revolutionary book. The show runs through Sunday the 24th at The Blue Theatre (1609 W. Gregory St.; 312-458-0895). Admission is free.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

Nico Muhly, the new-music It Boy who came up under the tutelage of none other than Philip Glass, is making classical cool again. Hear him perform pieces from his most recent album, Mothertongue, along with Thomas Bartlett and Sam Amidon of the indie band Doveman, 8 p.m. Thursday the 28th at Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway; 773-472-3492). Tickets are $15.

Turns out he paints more than his face. Portraits and abstract art by Paul Stanley, better known as a member of the glam-metal rock group KISS, are on view now at Wentworth Gallery (in the not-so rock-’n’-roll Woodfield Mall, Golf Road and I-290, Schaumburg; 847-995-1190). Stanley stops by to schmooze from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday the 22nd and 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday the 23rd. Entry is free.

A don’t-miss weekend freebie: Chicago Sinfonietta sets the night to music with a bill anchored by Gustav Holst’s The Planets, accompanied by an interstellar slideshow from Adler astronomer José Francisco Salgado. The popular program makes its Pritzker Pavilion debut (Millennium Park, Randolph Drive and Michigan Avenue; 312-236-3681, ext 2) 7:30 p.m. Friday the 22nd. Bonus: Purists can take advantage of telescopes located on the lawn to check out the real stars during the performance.

The truly ambitious can reenact “Jeff Ruby’s Day Off” (See The Closer in Chicago’s September issue, on stands now). Everybody else can sit back and watch the original onscreen: The inaugural Port Clinton Film Festival features flicks set or filmed in the festival’s hometown of Highland Park—including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pollock, and Ordinary People—5:30 p.m. to midnight Friday the 22nd through Sunday the 24th at Landmark Renaissance Place Cinema (1850 2nd St., Highland Park; Day passes are $20.

In 1993, Elvis Costello and Britain’s Brodsky Quartet composed a melancholic show inspired by a news story about a professor who had been responding to letters addressed to Juliet Capulet. The resulting little-known gem, The Juliet Letters, plays 8 p.m. Monday the 25th and Tuesday the 26th at Skokie Theatre (7924 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie; 847-677-7761). The show features Devin DeSantis, recently seen in Altar Boyz at Drury Lane, and the Mercutio String Quartet; tickets are $15.

Stock up on bathroom reading for free: Party with the literati at the Printers’ Ball, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday the 22nd at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-787-7070). In addition to a free take-home buffet of local print publications, the night features live music and performances, including a reading of Killing Him: A Radio Play, by Yehuda Amichai, considered one of modern Israel’s top poets.

Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography