Clothes from around the world, as curated by Maria Pinto. Opens Fri 9/14.
A retrospective of the work of street artist Chaz Bojorquez, dating back to his earliest works from the late 60s. Reception Fri 11/9 6/9 PM.
Over 40 new acquisitions, featuring work by notable contemporary Native American artists, including Kevin Red Star and Barbara Gonzales.
I know it'll seem incomprehensible to you fans of talking turds, but I've never paid Comedy Central's South Park much mind one way or another. And when New York fell all over itself last year appreciating The Book of Mormon, I wondered if there wasn't just a smidge of hyperbole in calling the musical by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (along with Robert Lopez) the best of the "century." Now that I've seen the Chicago production, however, I've been—well—converted. A wise mix of nasty satire and compassionate truth telling, Parker, Stone, and Lopez's tale of Mormon missionaries in Uganda is as entertaining—and, strangely, uplifting—a piece of work as anything in recent American theater. Although the book draws whole quivers full of big red arrows to everything that's ludicrous about the Mormon way, it also ends up making a case for the hope we all derive from silly myths. Meanwhile, playful as it is, it ranks up there with Lynn Nottage's Ruined in exposing the danger, dignity, and distortions of African life. The cast is uniformly and perfectly seductive. And is that Steppenwolf's famously earnest James Vincent Meredith, showing a new side of himself as the Ugandan village chief? Incredible. —Tony Adler $65-$125
Exhibit on sea creatures that survive without blood, bones, or brains.
At the Briar Street Theatre since 1997, the cobalt zanies have added wizard-worthy tricks to an already potent mix of visual puns, physical stunts, and cultural commentary. The latest edition conjures up a 2.5-D universe, giant "GiPads" that perform outsized multitasking, and Lady Gaga hat spin-offs. The same subversive spirit fuels the show's still-potent signature bits, including splatter-crazed "paint drumming." The secret of their cerulean success? Understanding that laughter and thought can be BFFs. —Lawrence Bommer $49-$59
Re-creating a legendary 1956 jam session involving Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, this crowd-pleaser is basically a vehicle for crackling renditions of classic tunes, including "Blue Suede Shoes," "That's All Right," and "Great Balls of Fire." The show's emotional center is Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, a man caught between competing personal and business pressures. —Albert Williams $25-$70
Part of a national chain of comedy clubs, this company is known for quick improv games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but it also stages long-form improv. LCD screens and sophisticated lighting and sound systems amplify the sports-style improv of the company's eponymous production, ComedySportz. There's a snobbery in the Chicago improv community that looks up at the "art" of the long form, with its emphasis on story and characters, and down on the "entertainment" of the short, with its emphasis on games and punch lines. ComedySportz falls emphatically in the entertainment camp; its bottom line is laughter, and it gets plenty of it. The show is structured as a competition between two teams performing multiple games that require audience participation. A referee ensures that the players--a rotating roster from a company of about 50--work clean or they finish the game with a brown bag over their heads. The formula is practically foolproof: players may flash their quick wits in winning responses, but they're even funnier when they fail. In one game a team had to devise a pick-up line, each member contributing a word. Moving rapidly from player to player, the line developed: "Tonight-I'll-tango-with-your-face." Probably wouldn't work at a bar, but at ComedySportz it killed. --Ryan Hubbard $19
A bona fide born-in-Chicago international hit, this simultaneously nostalgic and satirical comedy by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan concerns a nun instructing her students—that's you—on the dos and don'ts of dogma. —Jack Helbig $30
The Neo-Futurists perform 30 plays in 60 minutes in this "futurist evening in the grand Italian tradition." The fare changes weekly in this long-running production; between two and 12 new scripts are performed each week depending on the roll of a die. This is funny, wise, nakedly honest, sometimes unsettling, and invariably entertaining theater. â€”Jennifer Vanasco $9 plus the roll of a die ($10-$15)
For someone mourning the lack of live studio audiences in Chicago since Oprah's departure, this late-night talk show provided welcome relief. And drinks, not Kleenex, were free flowing. On the night I attended, host Tom Bambara interviewed members (human and canine) of the Dog Saving Network and graphic designer Kevin Scarbrough. The dogs' cuteness factor was high, but Bambara's distaste for slobber and witty banter were equally amusing. Then he introduced "more tame but equally as hairy" Scarbrough, who reminisced about drunken tattoos and crazy clients like Big Ass Dog pet food. Andi Woody was charming as Bambara's less-flustered cohost, and musical accompanist James Manno coolly played the sunglasses-wearing Paul Shaffer to Bambara's Letterman. —Marissa Oberlander
I'm pretty sure I fall outside the Cupid Players' target demographic. Judging by this show's content, the troupe's ideal audience member is young enough to be weirded out by the thought of his parents having sex but old enough to worry that he's starting to act like his dad. He dreads romantic rejection almost as much as he fears commitment. And he's not above a hand of strip solitaire. A longtime married man with kids, I don't merely fail to fit the profile--I may be its antithesis. But I had a great time with Cupid Has a Heart On all the same. Directed by Brian Posen, who also plays piano and sings barbershop bass, this late-night show takes a standard element of improv revues--the satirical song--and makes it a raison d'etre. A charmingly goofy cast of ten performs no less than 15 original ditties, mostly keyed to the sensibility of the young, single, heterosexual urban male on the make. That this doesn't result in an unwatchable testosterone fest is testament to a wit that's always firmly based in character and in situations that remain truthful however far they get pushed. Also see this Reader's Choice review and video clip from the 2008 Best Of Chicago issue. --Tony Adler $20
Like the Cupid Players, another musical comedy act that performs at iO, the Deltones have a penchant for the nasty and the absurd. But unlike the Players, the Deltones improvise. Accompanied by veteran iO keyboardist Dave Asher, they create varied song structures and impressively catchy lyrics, and demonstrate a good feel for when to turn scenes into tunes, capitalizing on fortuitous openings in plot or character development. At the show I saw, the suggestion of "couch" led to an authentic long-form piece with intertwining characters--including a hilarious couch potato who fell onto a plumber, prompting her husband to beg, "Aw, don't pull tools out of your folds, hon!" (RH) $14
Answering the prayers of nerdy straight guys everywhere, this Geek Girl Burlesque show features a bunch of scantily clad women reenacting the first Star Wars movie. The only character who isn't played by a woman, R2-D2, is represented by a trash can. M.C. Curran's script closely follows the plot of the original except that the action frequently pauses so cast members can strip down to pasties and panties. Even Chewbacca gets a turn. In the spirit of Minsky's, Timothy Bambara's staging is more suggestive than raunchy and as concerned with laughs and novelty as with titillation. It also offers the rare chance to see Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi perform a posthumous striptease to the Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke." —Zac Thompson $35