A Very Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol
Photo by Ryan Ward Thompson

Stores have had their halls decked since Halloween, but for those of us not running a retail establishment, the holiday season is just getting started. This year, leave consumer culture to the mallrats (who has money for excessive shopping anyway?) and go rogue with a couple of irreverent holiday shows.

Nothing is sacred in A Very Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol: Even Scrooge gets the boot. In this deconstructed take on the Dickens classic, personal experience stands in for the old codger’s visits from the spirits; the cast—and even audience members—reminisce about their own Christmases past and future. Caroling begins 20 minutes prior to showtime, so arrive early. The play opens 8 p.m. Saturday the 22nd at The Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-275-5255) and runs through December 23rd. Tickets are $10 to $15. And then there’s WNEP Theater’s Soiree Dada: Schmückt der Hallen, an absurdly funny show that involves performers speaking in faux-German accents. The play opens 7:30 p.m. Friday the 21st at Storefront Theater (66 E. Randolph St.; 312-742-8497) and runs through December 21st. Tickets are $20.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

Holiday-themed shows aren’t the only productions getting tweaked: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave.; 312-595-5600) features a South Asian cast of acrobats, dancers, martial artists, and musicians who incorporate their native languages—Hindi, Sanskrit, and Tamil, among them—into Shakespeare’s prose. Buzz is high for this international touring show, which opens 7:30 p.m. Tuesday the 25th and continues through December 7th. Tickets run $60 to $75.

Native Chicagoan and internationally renowned choreographer Lar Lubovitch brings his Lar Lubovitch Dance Company back to town as part of the troupe’s 40th anniversary tour. Tickets for the 1 and 7:30 p.m. shows Saturday the 22nd at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.; 312-334-7777) run as much as $75, but a brown-bag lunch performance Friday the 21st at noon is only $5.  

The equal-opportunity offender Jim Jeffries, an Australian comedian who gained YouTube notoriety when he was punched onstage during a performance, brings his act to the Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway; 773-472-3492) with five shows scheduled Friday the 21st through Sunday the 23rd. Tickets are $20; fisticuffs are discouraged.

The inaugural Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival runs Saturday the 22nd from noon to 11 p.m. with an 18-act lineup at the Congress Theater (2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.). Not sure you’re into bluegrass? Check out Ha Ha Tonka at 6:15 p.m. The Missouri natives’ blend of indie rock and bluegrass should win over even the uninitiated. Tickets are $31.

Kimya Dawson
—one half of the Moldy Peaches, a little band that rose to fame on the Juno soundtrack—plays two concerts at the Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-6000) Saturday the 22nd. Adults hoping to booster their indie-rock cred can catch the 8 p.m. show; pint-size cool kids get their own 5 p.m. performance. Tickets run $15 to $20.

Parents, don’t fall prey to Black Friday impulse shopping; test out toys before you buy at Chicago Toy and Game Fair, one of the only toy expos open to the public. The fair runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd in Festival Hall A on Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.). Tickets are $5 to $10.

And a couple of nods to tradition: Grand Marshal Mickey Mouse flips the switch on more than one million lights during the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (Chicago Avenue from Chestnut Street to the river). The parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday the 22nd, but events earlier in the day include concerts by pop stars The Cheetah Girls (12:30 p.m.) and Jason Mraz (2 p.m.) at Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.). Plus, drop by Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Ave.) to help break the world’s record for the largest holiday carol; stay for fireworks over the river. Also, for those not confined to the kitchen, McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade steps off from State Street and Congress Parkway at 8 a.m. Thursday the 27th and continues north along Congress to Randolph Drive. U.S. softball star and 2008 silver medalist Jennie Finch serves as grand marshal. Both events are free.