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100-Proof Comedy

Mondays, 8 p.m.

Local standups perform. $10

ComedySportz Theatre (map)
929 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

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Angela of Death

9/12-11/7: Fri 8 PM

A musical comedy about a high school girl whose boyfriends all mysteriously die. $20, $15 for students

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

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The Arsonists

8/28-9/27: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 4 PM

The Arsonists isn't the best thing Swiss writer Max Frisch ever wrote, but it's almost certainly the most popular—especially in the United States, where great Frisch novels like I'm Not Stiller and Man in the Holocene sit at numbers 187,790 and 559,401, respectively, on Amazon's sales list. At least The Arsonists (aka The Firebugs and, in the original German, Biedermann und die Brandstifter) gets performed on a regular basis. Right now it can be seen at Strawdog Theatre, in a version that does many things well . . . though not enough of them. The secret of The Arsonists' (comparative) popularity? Moral and political simplicity. Continue reading >> $28

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Strawdog Theatre Company (map)
3829 N. Broadway St.
Lakeview
phone 773-528-9696
The Arsonists

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Avenue Q

Through 10/26: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 6:30 PM

The brilliance of this foulmouthed 2003 Broadway musical comedy (book by Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) is not just that it skewers a certain long-running PBS kids' show, but that it does so while telling a compelling story, about a callow recent college grad coming to grips with the real world and all the downwardly mobile misfits he meets in his edgy New York neighborhood. L. Walter Stearns packs his production with adept quadruple threats (they sing, they act, they dance, and they work puppets). Jackson Evans earns lots of laughs as the hapless hero who finds himself all the way out on Avenue Q. But the heart of the show belongs to Adam Fane and Daniel Smeriglio, playing closeted knockoffs of Sesame Street's odd couple, Bert and Ernie. —Jack Helbig $20-$59

Mercury Theater (map)
3745 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-325-1700

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Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508

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The Big Yellow Bus

Open run: Sun 9:15 PM

A core cast performs a different type of long-form improv each week, with guests. The actors meet once just before going on, which gives a frenetic unpredictability to their bits and leads to prankish pushing and pulling, but it also produces occasional fumbling to discover others' sensibilities. —Ryan Hubbard donation requested

Playground Theater (map)
3209 N. Halsted St.
Lakeview
phone 773-871-3793

Black Prairie, Jonah Tolchin

Wed., Sept. 17, 8 p.m.

When this Portland combo got started about seven years ago, it was a side project for three members of the Decemberists—an eclectic, mostly instrumental string quintet. But since then Black Prairie has evolved into a working band that hybridizes various folk styles with indie rock, and these days it puts hooky vocals front and center. Old-time music, bluegrass, and Irish folk dominate its recent third album, Fortune (Sugar Hill), but now they’re wedded to a nimble, pummeling rock rhythm section, namely drummer John Moeh and bassist Nate Query; even string specialist Chris Funk sometimes plays through effects pedals. The best songs feature the gorgeous singing of violinist Annalisa Tornfelt, whose honeyed voice transcends genre with its spirited charm. —Peter Margasak $18

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Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508
Black Prairie, Jonah Tolchin

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Blue Man Group

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 7 PM, Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM, Sun 4 and 7 PM
phone 773-348-4000

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

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Briar Street Theatre (map)
3133 N. Halsted St.
Lakeview
phone 773-348-4000

Bri-Ko

Open run: Sat 2 PM

How many bumbling buddies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Or juggle? Or deliver a meal in a water balloon? On Saturday afternoons at Stage 773, the answer is three—specifically the three members of Bri-Ko. The sketch-comedy troupe Rube Goldberg would've created if Rube Goldberg had created sketch-comedy troupes, Bri-Ko puts on a silent clown show for the sort of kid who'd appreciate British humor. The name suggests bricolage—i.e., art improvised from materials found at hand. But the many kooky props at hand here (Nerf darts, ping-pong balls, various foodstuffs) are used to make a great, big mess. Tim Soszko, Brian Peterlin, and Chicago Sketch Fest founder Brian Posen bop happily about like Beaker the Muppet, contriving difficult ways to accomplish routine tasks. High art it's not, but the slapstick is practiced and the dumb smiles on these bozos' faces are contagious. —Asher Klein $10-$20

Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252

Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play

Open run: Fri-Sat 8 and 10 PM
phone 773-904-8777

A show about and with drinking. $20

http://thepubtheater.com
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Public House Theatre (map)
3914 N. Clark St.
Lakeview
phone 800-650-6449

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Casamigos Tequila Dinner

Thu 9/18, 7:30 PM

A prix fixe dinner prepared by chef Lupe Navejas in celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

Revolucion Mexican Steakhouse (map)
3443 N. Broadway Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-661-9893

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Chicago LGBT International Film Festival

Fri 9/19, 5:30 PM

The 32nd annual Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, aka Reeling, opens tonight with a screening of Boy Meets Girl, an indie comedy about a transgender girl living in a small town. It'll be a veritable red-carpet event as director Eric Schaeffer and star Michelle Hendley attend a prescreening reception with champagne, wine, and hors d'oeuvres. After the film the party moves to Gingerman Tavern, where there's beer courtesy of Lagunitas. $35 opening reception, $12 per screening, $45-$130 festival pass

http://reelingfilmfestival.org
Music Box (map)
3733 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-871-6604

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Chicagoland and Fish Nuts

Open run: Tue 8 PM

At the start of each show an all-star ensemble creates a tableau onstage, then asks after a blackout, "Where in Chicago did that take place?" "Soccer practice" was the response the night I was there, and after an hour the improvisers—intensely alert and feisty—had crafted a veritable community, complete with idiosyncratic characters, unpredictable backstory, and tragicomic intrigue. Veteran T.J. Jagodowski, recognizable from a series of Sonic commercials he's done with quick-witted cast member Peter Grosz, played a thick-accented German coach. Abruptly launching a new scene by charging to the front of the stage, he squatted and gestured as he yelled at his coed youth team, "I will yank on your nuts like the Hunchback of Notre Dame working a bell!" —Ryan Hubbard $8

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Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693
Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508

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Clemente: The Legend of 21

Through 9/14: Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

This worshipful account of the short life of Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente has much to admire. Presented by Chicago's NightBlue Performing Arts Company in conjunction with New York's ArtoCarpus theater, the show is well suited to family audiences in its portrayal of Clemente as an inspirational figure who overcame language barriers and racism to become an American sports icon. It chronicles Clemente's rise from a working-class small-town boyhood to international fame as a player for the Pittsburgh Pirates—the first Latino to receive a National League Most Valuable Player award—before his untimely death in a 1972 plane crash while delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Though writer-director Luis Caballero's earnest script is pretty stilted, the bilingual musical benefits from a lilting score (by Caballero and composer Harold Gutierrez), lively dances, and passionate, authentic, charismatic performances by Modesto Lacen and Jonathan Amaro, playing Roberto as a grownup and a teenager respectively; Carlos Miranda as Roberto's brother (the story's narrator); Willie Denton and Xiomara Rodriguez as his parents; Ricardo Puente in a string of colorful supporting roles; and Lorraine Velez, exquisite as his wife. Film footage showing the real Clemente and depicting life in the sugarcane fields of Puerto Rico enhances the story's effect. —Albert Williams $35

Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252

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