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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

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 Infinite Wrench

Open run: Fri-Sat 11:30 PM, Sun 7 PM
Neo-Futurarium 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago Andersonville


Greg Allen gave and Greg Allen took away. On December 31, 2016, the Neo-Futurists founder made good on his promise to kill off the company's signature cult show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, ending an unprecedented run of 28 years. The current generation of ensemble members weren't happy. Now they've pretty much reconstituted TMLMTBGB in everything but name, running on the same schedule at the same venue with the same exuberance. Though their new baby is superficially different from the original (where before the plays were numbered, for instance, now they're color coded), it retains the identical goal of offering 30 original short plays in 60 minutes. The performance I saw lapsed occasionally into reductive political posturing, having more to do with tribal affirmation than revelation. But it also had its share of wit, insight, emotional frankness, and dancerly physicality. —Tony Adler 773-275-5255

The Forced Transfer

Opens Tue 6/7
National Cambodian Heritage Museum 2831 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago Ravenswood


As a young Buddhist monk in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, during the 1960s, Kompha Seth studied the Brahmi alphabet and Magadhi—a root language of modern Khmer—which had been preserved and passed down for generations. Today, he's one of only a few Cambodians in the world who understands these dialects and their links to modern Khmer. Continue reading >> 773-506-1280

Dream Freaks Fall From Space

Open run: Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 4 PM, Tue 8 PM
Second City 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$29-$46


Second City is in denial. Donald Trump is our president, and along with that comes a host of issues regarding race, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and police brutality, among other things. The cast of the brand-new yet already outdated main-stage revue Dream Freaks Fall From Space tackle these loaded topics by mentioning them, then moving right along. And speaking of denial, scenes break one of the most fundamental rules of improvisation—embody the spirit of "yes, and . . . " to complement your partner onstage. Here instead actors deny ideas with "What are you talking about?" Second City is the tentpole of Chicago comedy for the rest of the country, but Dream Freaks feels like it was concocted in an intermediate-level improv class where mere nods get laughs and politics get skewered with Pixy Stix. Continue reading >> 312-337-3992

Twisted Knots

Open run: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 4 PM


Longtime married couple Frank and Carla—a stressed-out salesman and an underappreciated nurse—try to get back their conjugal mojo by role-playing a call-girl scenario (Carla plays the call girl) in their hotel room on New Year’s Eve. The Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue provided furnishings and decor to lend verisimilitude to Greg Pinsoneault and Shaun Renfro’s set design in this production directed by Tara Branham. In fact, it’s Dale Danner’s script that could use some authenticity; the couple’s sex games and the husband’s much-discussed superstitious streak feel contrived and strained. Only when the charade is dropped toward the end do we glimpse genuine disappointment and fatigue. Ryan Kitley’s Frank seems detached from the proceedings, but Mary Cross turns in lively, tangy work as Carla. —Zac Thompson

ChicoMaloTrio

Sundays, 4 p.m.
Edgewater Lounge 5600 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago Edgewater


773-878-3343

jazz improv session

Sundays, 5 p.m.
Cafe Mestizo 1646 W. 18th St., Chicago Pilsen/Little Village


312-421-5920

Fat Babies

Sundays, 8 p.m.
Honky Tonk BBQ 1800 S. Racine, Chicago Pilsen/Little Village


With few exceptions, those practicing the sort of traditional jazz popularized in New Orleans and Chicago during the 20s and early 30s essentially believe and traffic in museum-grade preservation. They play for audiences living in time-travel fantasies, preferring to ignore the music made over the last 80 years as they seek Charleston partners. The members of Chicago’s Fat Babies might perform in shirtsleeves and neckties and meticulously record interpretations of the trad-jazz repertoire in glorious mono, but they also play music of other eras—whether it’s drummer Alex Hall working in the Flat Five or bassist Beau Sample storming through Jazz Manouche with Alfonso Ponticelli. The Fat Babies perform with such a vitality—never jacking up the pitch-perfect rhythm or playing postmodern games—that I don’t even see what they do as an act of reclamation. The ebullient polyphony and drive on their third album, Solid Gassuh (Delmark), is pure pleasure, a riot of motion and multilinear melody as banjoist Jake Sanders flails propulsive chords alongside the Baby Dodds-inspired rhythmic spill of Hall and Sample’s unerring pulse-and-harmony anchor. That leaves plenty of space for the raucous yet lyric playing of pianist Paul Asaro, reedists Jonathan Doyle and John Otto, trombonist Dave Bock, and cornetist Andy Schumm. While the occasional white-bread vocal might suggest a hokey costume party, there’s little to disrupt the spell these guys cast their long-running weekly residencies. 312-226-7427

Nicholas Barron

Sundays, 10 PM
The Motel Bar 600 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago River West


312-822-2900

Kimberly Gordon Organ Trio

Sundays, 11 p.m.
Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway St., Chicago Uptown


773-878-5552