Magical Mystery Tour

Go through the looking glass this weekend with imaginative, off-the-wall entertainment.

For starters, the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-397-4010) plays host to a wacky rock show, Necessary Monsters, inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’s The Book of Imaginary Beings. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt and six other musicians don wild costumes for two dramatic concerts, 7:30 p.m. Friday the 29th and Saturday the 1st; a talk with the performers follows the Friday show. Tickets run $19 to $24.

Across town, choreographers Jennifer Kayle and Lisa Gonzales perform Kinetic Evidence. Selections from their dances include “The Sound That Escapes Light,” in which a preacher, depicted by a puppet, grapples with his place in a post-Katrina New Orleans. Performances run 8 p.m. Friday the 29th and Saturday the 1st, 7 p.m. Sunday the 2nd, at Links Hall (3435 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-281-0824). Tickets are $15.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week Peek

  • This is where the magic happens: Get a rare backstage pass when the Lyric Opera of Chicago (20 N. Wacker Dr.; 312-827-5626) offers behind-the-scenes tours of its wardrobe department, scenery facilities, dressing rooms, and main stage on March 2nd, 16th, and 29th from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person, $150 for the VIP version; reservations required.


  • Who says pageant queens are all looks? Former Miss Illinois and Miss America runner-up Jade Simmons performs her acclaimed brand of percussive piano at the next installment of Ravinia’s Rising Stars (Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Park, Lake Cook Road at Green Bay Road, Highland Park; 847-266-5100), 8 p.m. Friday the 29th. Tickets are $20. Just to show you can’t take the pageant out of the girl, she designs her own gowns to boot.


  • Gussy up a shopping cart, throw together a costume, and race for a good cause in the Chiditarod 2008. The event takes only its inspiration from its Alaskan cousin: no dogs required. Teams of five race shopping carts across Chicago’s West Side, collecting 20 pounds of nonperishable food items along the way. Registration is $5 (plus a $25 refundable deposit) and runs from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday the 1st at the intersection of Damen and Shakespeare Avenues. The race begins at 12:30 p.m. and benefits Burners Without Borders and Onward House, with cash prizes for winners, best costumes, and best wipeouts. BYO cart. Visit for details.


  • Garth Fagan, the Tony-winning choreographer of Broadway’s The Lion King, brings his dance company to Chicago this weekend for the first time in a decade. Performances combine elements of modern and postmodern dance, ballet, and Afro-Caribbean techniques, and run 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday the 1st at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.; 312-334-7777). Tickets are $20 to $75.


  • If all those exotic Oscar noms gave you a hankering for more foreign flicks, get your fix at the ninth annual Chicago Irish Film Festival, kicking off 7 p.m. Friday the 29th at the Beverly Arts Center (2407 W. 111th St.; 773-445-3838) with an open bar, buffet, traditional Irish music, and the Cannes-award winning Garage, a feature-length dramedy about an outcast’s search for love. Opening night tickets run $25 to $30. The fest runs through March 5th. Visit for a full schedule.


  • Take a gander at Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” in a setting befitting the iconic image—nighttime—at the Art Institute of Chicago’s next After Dark event (111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-575-8000). The mixer includes tours of the Hopper exhibit, music, appetizers, and a cash bar, and runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday the 29th. Tickets are $20.

Photo by Piotr Redlinski