Events with Recommended | Chicago Reader

Events with Recommended

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Blue Man Group

Open run: Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM, Sun 4 PM
Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$49-$104

The long-running show (22 years and counting in Chicago) featuring performers in blue latex paint, drumming, video, comedy, and other assorted mayhem continues. 800-258-3626

Always . . . Patsy Cline

Through 1/25: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; no performance Thu 12/26
Den Theatre 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago Wicker Park/Bucktown

Buy TicketsPreviews 11/16-11/17, $25 general, $35 cabaret table; regular run 11/21-12/15, $40 general, $50 cabaret, $20 students, industry, and rush

Ted Swindley's musical portrait of the friendship between country crooner Patsy Cline and fan Louise Seger, who took Cline into her home after a show one night and struck up a correspondence that lasted until Cline's premature death, gets a production with Firebrand Theatre under Brigitte Ditmars's direction. Christina Hall and Firebrand artistic director Harmony France, who have both played Cline before in this show, will alternate in the two roles through January 4. The final weeks of the run will feature France as Patsy and Firebrand founding member Danni Smith as Louise, a role she played to Hall's Patsy in Theo Ubique's 2014 production. 773-697-3830

Turn Here—Sweet Corn

1/3-1/26: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM
Edge Theater Off-Broadway 1133 W. Catalpa, Chicago Edgewater

Buy Tickets$19, $14 students and seniors

Saltbox Theatre Collective presents an adaptation by Jim Stowell of the memoirs of Atina Diffley, an organic farmer and activist in Minnesota who successfully led a crusade against pollution from Koch Industries. Megan Wells plays Diffley in this one-woman show, directed by Scott Jones.

I'm Not a Comedian . . . I'm Lenny Bruce

Through 2/16: Thu 7:30, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM
Royal George Theatre Center 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lincoln Park

Buy Tickets$69-$79

Ronnie Marmo's solo play about the pioneering comedian/social commentator, developed in association wth Bruce's daughter, Kitty, and directed by Joe Mantegna, comes to Chicago after long runs In Los Angeles and off-Broadway. 312-988-9000


12/6-1/26: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 7 PM
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre 721 Howard, Evanston Evanston

Buy TicketsPreviews 12/6-12/15, $35-$45; regular run 12/19-1/26, $42-$57 (optional dinner $29)

Studs Terkel's 1974 book, in which "people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do," was turned into a musical in 1977 and was first staged at the Goodman prior to its 1978 Broadway run. It features a score with songs by Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers, Craig Carnelia, and Micki Grant, and a book by Schwartz and Nina Faso. It's been revised several times since (in part to include jobs that didn't exist at the time of the original production). This version at Theo Ubique also features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Christopher Chase Carter directs and choreographs a cast of six. 773-347-1109


1/9-2/15: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 4 PM; also Mon 1/13, 7:30 PM (opening) and Mon 1/27, 7:30 PM (industry)
Strawdog Theatre Company 1802 W. Berenice, Chicago North Center

Buy TicketsPreviews Thu-Fri 1/9-1/10, 7:30 PM and Sun 1/12, 4 PM, $18; board night Sat 1/11, 7:30 PM, $55; regular run 1/16-2/15, $35, $26 seniors; half-price rush and student tickets for every performance depending upon availability.

In C.A. Johnson's dystopian drama, set in the aftermath of a devastating war and drought, a couple has made a home for themselves and their child in a clearing in the woods, but they must confront racial segregation and other conflicts to survive. Andrea J. Dymond directs the midwest premiere for Strawdog. 773-644-1380

The Other Cinderella

10/26-1/19/2020: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; no performance Thu 11/28 or 3 PM Sat 10/26 and 11/2
Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago Uptown

Buy TicketsPreviews 10/26-10/27 and 11/1-11/2, $45; regular run 11/3-1/19/2020 $55 Thu and Sat matinees, $65 Fri, Sat evenings, and Sun matinees

Jackie Taylor's popular musical reimagining of the Cinderella story from the perspective of a Black girl from the projects whose stepmother works at the post office and whose fairy godmama is from Jamaica first premiered 43 years ago and has been remounted by Black Ensemble Theater many times since. This current incarnation is directed by Taylor and stars Jayla Williams-Craig as Cinderella, Blake Hawthorne as the Prince, Rhonda Preston as the stepmother, and Robin DaSilva as the fairy godmama. 773-769-4451

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

12/7-12/29: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Sun 12/8, 7:30 PM only and Tue 12/10, 7:30 PM; no performance Thu 12/12
The Edge Theater 5451 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago Edgewater

Buy Tickets$15-$25

Rupert Holmes's 1985 musical, which gives a music-hall comedic twist to Charles Dickens's unfinished murder mystery, gets a revival with Blank Theatre Company under the direction of Danny Kapinos. The ending changes depending upon how the audience votes each night. 773-769-9112

Whisper House

1/10-2/15: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM
Athenaeum Theatre 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$30

Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) composed the score, with book and additional lyrics by Kyle Jarrow (Spongebob Squarepants Musical) for this ghostly tale of a young boy sent to live with his mysterious aunt after his father is shot down in World War II. Black Button Eyes presents the Chicago premiere, directed by artistic director Ed Rutherford, with choreography by Derek Van Barham and musical direction from Micky York. 773-935-6875

Love, Chaos & Dinner

Through 3/29/2020: Wed-Fri 7 PM, Sat-Sun noon and 7 PM
Hotel Cambria 32 W. Randolph, Chicago Loop

Buy Tickets$99-$189 (includes a four-course meal)

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

11/1-1/26: Tue-Wed 7:30 PM, Thu 2 and 7:30 PM, Fri 7:30 PM, Sat-Sun 2 and 7:30 PM; also Wed 11/27, Fri 11/29, and Tue 12/24 and 12/31, 2 PM;. check website for holiday schedules.
Lookingglass Theatre Company Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville

Buy TicketsPreviews 11/1-11/2, $35-$55; regular run 11/6-1/26, $45-$85

Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale returns to Lookingglass after its lauded premiere last season. 312-337-0665

Dance Nation

12/12-2/2: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Sat-Sun 3 and 7:30 PM; see website for holiday schedule

Buy TicketsPreviews 12/12-12/18, $20-$84; regular run 12/20-2/2, $20-$94

Clare Barron's play, a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, follows a group of middle-school girls and competitive dancers (played by adults) through the guts and glory and griminess of preadolescent anguish. Lee Sunday Evans, who directed and choreographed the New York production, stages the show for Steppenwolf. 312-335-1650

The Magic Parlour

Through 7/1: Fri 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Sat 4:30, 7:30, and 9:30 PM
Palmer House Hilton 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago Loop

This magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling. House Theatre of Chicago member Dennis Watkins blends quick-witted improv and physical comedy with freewheeling patter as he performs classic illusions. Though his sleight of hand is impossibly subtle, it was the mind-reading tricks that seemed to have drawn several inquisitive skeptics back for another look on the night I attended. A curio-shop intimacy encourages audience participation, and Watkins, with his Eagle Scout looks, clearly takes a mischievous pleasure in the unexpected. Just let your cell phone go off during the show and see what kind of fun he has. Drinks (wine, beer, and soda) are included in the cost of admission. —Keith Griffith 312-726-7500

Wet Cash

Open run: Fri 8 PM
Dark Tower Comics 4835 N. Western, Chicago Lincoln Square

Stand-up with a very big twist. Each week, performers at this showcase can do anything they want. One time, they ran a show where everybody on the bill and in the audience was named Derek. Plus, all donations benefit the fishbowl they toss their money in—hence the title. Expect, well, everything. 773-654-1490

The Harold

Open run: Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10:30 PM, Sat 10:30 PM, Sun 8 PM, Mon 10:30 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

Improv teams use an audience suggestion to create interweaving story lines that result in a connected long-form narrative.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

Seven strapping men in swashbuckler shirts improvise a two-act Shakespearean play based on a title suggested by the audience. At the show I saw, "The Taming of the Jew" inspired the Bard's usual themes (religion, family, betrayal) and plot devices (murders, disguises, fortunes gained/lost) as well as an uncomfortably funny circumcision. Director-performer Blaine Swen, a veteran of long-form Shakespearean improv who swears they don't conspire during the intermission, has assembled a vigorous ensemble of actors and proven improvisers. Their experience doing Shakespeare flowers in the language: they relish iambic dialogue, execute perfectly timed asides, occasionally utter rhyming couplets (some hilariously forced: "Let us be quick-sa, and get to the bar mitzvah!"), and drop parodic phrases ("scurvenous knave," "midfortnight report") and well-placed anachronisms (the bar mitzvah had a DJ). Even the ending echoed the real plays: story lines resolved tidily—and uproariously. —Ryan Hubbard

ComedySportz Theatre

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 6, 8, and 10 PM
ComedySportz Theatre 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$19

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 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

Women’s March Chicago

Sat., Jan. 18, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Grant Park S. Columbus Dr. & E. Jackson Dr., Chicago Loop

Marchers will start gathering in Grant Park at 9 AM. The main entrance is located at Ida B.Wells and Columbus Drives. An accessible entrance for persons with disabilities is located at Columbus Drive and Monroe.

March organizers say, "Gather on Columbus Drive with your fellow marchers. Check out everyone’s signs. Organize some chants. Take selfies and post them on social media (#WomensMarchChicago2020, #WomensMarchChi2020, #MakeItCount). Get to know the people next to you. Watch for appearances by local performers (weather permitting). Get ready to make your voices heard about the issues that matter to YOU! Note: This is a March only, there will be no formal programming preceding the March. The March will take place rain/snow or shine!"

The march steps off at Columbus Drive and Jackson at 11 AM. 312-744-3315

José Santiago Pérez: Palacios (fantasy structures)

Roman Susan 1224 W. Loyola Ave., Chicago Rogers Park/West Rogers Park

The fantasy structures in this body of work are a series of small abstract baskets which began in 2019. José Santiago Pérez is a Chicago-based artist who is the 2019-2020 HATCH resident. 773-270-1224

Bunny's Book Club

Through 2/16: Sat-Sun 11 AM and 1 PM; also Sat 2/1, 3 PM (autism/sensory-friendly performance)
Lifeline Theatre 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago Rogers Park/West Rogers Park

Buy Tickets$20, $15 children 2-18

Annie Silvestro's chiildren's book about a bunny who wants to start a book club, but isn't sure if animals are allowed in the library, is adapted for Lifeline's KidSeries by Aly Renee Amidei and directed by Anthony Kayer. On Saturday, January 18, there is a special performance with audio description at 11 AM, preceded by a touch tour at 10 AM. The performances on Sunday, January 19 at 11 AM and 1 PM are both presented with open captioning. There is also a special autism/sensory-friendly performance on Saturday, February 1 at 3 PM. For more information about accessibility, visit 773-761-4477

The Blackout Diaries

Open run: Sat 10 PM
Lincoln Lodge 956 W. Newport, Chicago North Center

The gregarious Sean Flannery tells stories about adventures he's had inebriated out of his mind. He's joined each week by other comedians and the occasional layman—each with a drunken tale to tell. 773-251-1539


Mon., Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Riviera Theatre 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago Uptown

Buy Tickets

moved to Riviera; tickets purchased for the Vic will be honored; sold out 773-275-6800

Manic Mondays

Open run: Mon 9 PM
Frances Cocktail Lounge 307 E. 75th, Chicago Other South

Lauded stand-ups Taneshia “Just Nesh” Rice and Marlon Mitchell trade off the hosting for this weekly comedy showcase and open mike. 224-858-8304

The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootennany

Open run: Mon 8 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

An old standby, this weekly show transforms performer monologues (delivered by a different guest each time) into inspiration for a night of masterful long-form improv. The best-of-the-best iO talent typically make up the cast, so the show hops from literal moments from the story to abstract, playful scenes with aplomb.