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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
Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$49-$99


After 20 years and god knows how many bald caps and gallons of paint, this Chicago staple stays true to its mission: “Blue Man Group—enemy of monotony, remedy for boredom, promoter of overjoy and elation.” That experimental, interactive theater can remain both current and family friendly in equal measure speaks to the show's healthy mix of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wit and larger-than-life clowning. Audience participation, voluntary and involuntary, is still a key component, whether it’s sharing Twinkies with the trio, donning a poncho in the splash zone, or being shamed as a latecomer, in showstopping fashion. Cultural references and parodies have certainly changed with the times (and devices), but the keys to Blue Man Group remain its hypnotic music and lively energy—if you’re not out of your seat dancing when the 90 minutes are up, you probably don’t have a pulse. —Marissa Oberlander 773-348-4000

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

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

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hudson Taylor

Fri., May 24, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Steven Adler with the Ricky Dehainaut Band

Fri., May 24, 8 p.m.
Arcada Theatre 105 E. Main St., Saint Charles Suburbs Northwest

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630-587-8400

Johnnyswim, Beoga

Sat., May 25, 7:30 p.m.
Riviera Theatre 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago Uptown

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773-275-6800

The Wild Party Variety Hour

Open run: every last Saturday of the month, 11 PM
HQ 1914 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago Wicker Park/Bucktown


Burlesque, vaudeville, shtick, and other types of performance, hosted by Silent Theatre. 312-533-8023

Paul Gilbert

Wed., May 29, 7:30 p.m.
Arcada Theatre 105 E. Main St., Saint Charles Suburbs Northwest

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630-587-8400

Gogol Bordello, Nu Folk Rebel Alliance

Sat., June 1, 7:30 p.m.
Riviera Theatre 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago Uptown

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773-275-6800

Ludovico Einaudi

Thu., June 6, 7:30 p.m.
Cadillac Palace Theatre 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago Loop

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312-902-1400

Jenny Lewis, Serengeti

Sat., June 8, 7:30 p.m.
Riviera Theatre 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago Uptown

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Rescheduled from 3/30 date; previously purchased tickets will be honored. 773-275-6800

David Gray

Thu., June 13, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Rosanne Cash, Ry Cooder

Tue., June 18, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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Carly Rae Jepsen

Tue., July 9, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Diana Ross

Wed., July 10, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Andrew Bird, Madison Cunningham

Tue., July 16, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Gipsy Kings

Fri., July 19, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Lord Huron, Bully

Fri., July 26, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Earth, Wind & Fire

July 27-28, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Bryan Ferry

Thu., Aug. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Gladys Knight

Sat., Aug. 10, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Squeeze

Sat., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Mark Knopfler

Sun., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Glen Hansard

Fri., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

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312-462-6300

Adam Ant

Sat., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.
Riviera Theatre 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago Uptown

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773-275-6800

King Crimson

Tue., Sept. 10, 8 p.m.
Auditorium Theatre 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago Loop

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800-982-2787