One of the standout images in "Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography" is of a lone, faceless rail man—back to the camera, his all-denim outfit stamped with grime—as he leans over to throw a switch at Chicago's vast Proviso Yard, a couple dozen sets of vacant tracks stretching into the background. Then shot epitomizes the magnitude of Chicago's railway system in the mid-20th century, when its reputation as a crucial hub for the railroading industry was undeniable. But most importantly, it depicts the grind. Continue reading >> $14, $12 students and seniors
Christopher Guest's 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman follows a group of delusional Broadway hopefuls from the fictional town of Blaine, Missouri, who put on an amateur musical about their little burg in anticipation of a Broadway producer who'll supposedly be attending. Now iO has brought that musical, Red, White, & Blaine, to life, adding interludes of reenactments from the film and a few original songs. Bri Fitzpatrick especially shines as travel agency owner and superserious thespian Shelia Albertson, whose overwrought facial expressions, exaggerated vocal patterns, and "subconscious" mouthing of other people's lines make her a hilarious focal point. The show's definitely not for everyone; an uninitiated friend was utterly confused. But fans of Guest and Waiting for Guffman will be rewarded—sometimes quite literally. On opening night a lightning round of Blaine trivia resulted in one lucky audience member walking away with a DQ gift card. —Brianna Wellen $14
$25 plus two-drink minimum
Comedy duo Pinque Pony presents a variety show inspired by a musician, who also serves as subject for a second act of long-form improv. $10http://pinquepony.com
After 17 seasons (plus a one-year hiatus), Hell in a Handbag's regularly updated annual production of Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer is almost as much a Christmas tradition as its animated inspiration. This year is its first without longtime Handbag ensemble member Matthew Gunnels, who died of cancer last month. The cast honors him with a hilarious, raucous show during which Rudolph comes to accept his natural flair for accessorizing, Herbie the Elf finds his own way of being gay, Ruth Claus overcomes her drinking problem, and everyone learns that being normal is overrated. The actors vamp and camp and belt wholeheartedly, despite the small stage at Mary's Attic. A warning: sit too close and you'll see parts of Santa you can't ever unsee. —Aimee Levitt $16-$25http://handbagproductions.org
The playwright discusses her first book, 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater.
Fans of the reality show can watch it projected on seven screens. Kit Kat house diva Jade, a past contestant, will make “special appearances.”http://kitkatchicago.com