An exploration of the origin of the universe and how it coincides with the origin of mankind.
Featuring the restored Gemini 12 spacecraft and artifacts commemorating the 40th anniversary of its mission and other lunar adventures; astro labs and various historical space reading devices; interactive displays on galaxies, planets, and other nonterrestrial entities. The museum's regular sky shows start on the half hour, virtual reality presentations every 90 minutes.
Interactive and all-ages exhibit on space flight, including simulated rides and extra-terrestrial exploration.
Adler Planetarium offers a 3D visual experience through orbits in space.
Work by Joseph Grigely and Amy Vogel. Reception Sat 12/7, 11 AM-5 PM.
Prepare to be gently insulted. Fine Print Theatre's year-in-review musical, which weaves a tepid story line about cast infighting through a series of sketches about current events, Chicago, and the holidays, has some kind of jab in store for nearly everyone. Some of the bits, by cowriters David Himmel and Patrick Kenney, are lazy (piling on Ventra or Kim Kardashian, for example), but they're rarely mean-spirited, and nearly always fair. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, director Aaron Graham's cast know the power of self-deprecation, and turn the brunt of the satire inward. But there's enough left over for a shot at a petty Reader critic, whose uncharitable review ignites the backstage subplot. An insult and a badge of honor, I guess. At least somebody's reading. —Keith Griffith $25http://thefineprinttheatre.org
The wholesome twosome shows off its signature holiday cheer.
American Theater Company members broke off to form American Blues Theater a few years back (long story), and one result is that Chicago now has two competing "radio" versions of It's a Wonderful Life. The ABT production is sentimental, sweet, and festive, with jovial cast members working the audience before the show begins. I've recommended it. This one, from ATC, is more conventionally theatrical in style and arch in spirit. Under the direction of PJ Paparelli, the conceit—that we're witnessing a 1948 studio broadcast—is strictly maintained. Rather than hobnob with us, the actors act, well, like actors: voice talent hired to perform the classic tale of how American everyman George Bailey copes with the worst crisis of his life. They're distanced from the material, sometimes to the point of eye rolling. Will Allan foolishly reminds us of who he isn't by imitating Jimmy Stewart as George; Mike Nussbaum undermines George's guardian angel, Clarence, by playing him as a fop as opposed to a naif. On the other hand, Mary Hollis Inboden makes herself irresistible in several roles. —Tony Adler $35-$40
Unlike its all-female sister production, Late Night Tit-Bits, this all-male combination improv and strip show features no burlesque. In fact, it's a stretch to say the guys even do striptease. Nonchalantly removing one piece of clothing at a time over the course of several quick, usually nonsexual two-person scenes, they get down to bare buns as unseductively as possible. Yet they're not going for man-boob or tighty-whitey laughs, either. Though these guys aren't the Chippendales, they're in pretty good shape, and a few are downright hunkish. The result is an awkward situation where the nakedness and comedy distract from each other, discouraging us from fully enjoying either one. --Ryan Hubbard $7
Three original 20-minute shows. $5http://annoyanceproductions.com
Baby Wants Candy--a tight troupe now famous for its improvised musicals--began in 1997 as one of the dozens of ImprovOlympic teams formed every year. Somehow they've avoided the usual dissolution of such groups. More impressive, they've never experienced the artistic conservatism that paralyzes improvisers eager to "do it right"--and reap the reward, presumably, of a career in NYC or LA. Instead the troupe has become the very model of smart, physical, quick-thinking, and just plain silly long-form improvisers; they still play well together and manage to entertain. Inspired by the improbable suggestion "So this is it" at the show I saw, nine actors (backed by the five-member Yes Band) improvised a complicated, hilarious, tongue-in-cheek tale of three partnerships on the rocks--two marriages and a professional relationship--and the narrator who helps bring the couples back together. --Jack Helbig $15