Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Bejar is the smart-alecky savant in a writers’ workshop, the bearded guy with his feet on the table casually exhaling wry and picturesque lyrics in a nasal drawl. (Look no further than the opening lines of 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies: “Dueling cyclones jackknife / They got eyes for your wife / And the blood that lives in her heart.”) A former member of the Canadian indie-rock supergroup the New Pornographers, Bejar’s solo releases as Destroyer have ranged from florid Ziggy Stardust homages to sophisticated synth-pop.
Details:Thalia Hall. Pilsen. 7 p.m. $25. eventbrite.com
Minimalist and mysterious, with lyrics like “Think of a number, divide it by two / Something is nothing, nothing is nothing,” this London band’s 1977 debut, Pink Flag, countered the blunt aggression of first-wave British punk without sacrificing noise or energy. The group has reinvented its sound countless times since then, including on its 17th album, Mind Hive, released in January.
Details:Metro. Wrigleyville. 8 p.m. $25–$30. etix.com
Since being runner-up in the NBC competition show Bring the Funny last fall, this New York–raised comic has been busy delivering irreverent takes on motherhood at increasingly high-profile standup gigs. In her warm style, she tells stories of overly sensitive parents, failed weight-loss ventures, and navigating the dating scene with three noisy children.
Details:Zanies. Old Town. $25. chicago.zanies.com
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Most people venture to this annual touring show to see familiar repertory like Revelations, but dance aficionados will be handsomely rewarded this year: All four lineups feature new works and local premieres. If you have to pick one, bet on the roster with Jamar Roberts’s Ode and Aszure Barton’s Busk. The former is a timely tribute to victims of gun violence; the latter showcases staccato hip-hop moves paired with Barton’s silky contemporary style.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. Loop. $35–$120. auditoriumtheatre.org
Grifting meets game theory in Carla Ching’s crime comedy about an Asian American family of con men and women. Daniel Dae Kim’s production company is developing a TV series for AMC based on the 2014 play, but you can see the original when Jackalope Theatre Company stages the Chicago premiere.
Details:Broadway Armory Park. Edgewater. $10–$35. jackalopetheatre.org
What the Constitution Means to Me
Playwright and actress Heidi Schreck’s one-person show, a 2019 Pulitzer finalist and an unlikely Broadway hit, was inspired by her teenage experiences speaking about the Constitution at American Legion–sponsored competitions, along with her grown-up qualms about the document’s limitations. The canny actress Maria Dizzia (Orange Is the New Black) takes over Schreck’s performing duties for this touring production.
Details:Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Streeterville. $27–$112. broadwayinchicago.com
Carl Cox, Chip E.
A British DJ and producer, Cox is a giant of international dance music, having built his name in the ’80s rave scene, played a monthly show on BBC Radio 1 since the late ’90s, and held down a 15-year residency in the renowned club Space Ibiza. Cox is joined by Chicago native Chip E., who came of age alongside Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy in the formative days of house music. It’s going down at a former steel factory just recently transformed into a performance venue.
Details:Radius Chicago. East Pilsen. 10 p.m. $45–$50. axs.com
Chicago European Union Film Festival
The largest showcase of European cinema in the United States is a reliable way to see some of today’s finest foreign movies, especially ones under the radar of even fairly committed film buffs. This year’s notable screenings include the Croatian dramedy Comic Sans, about a graphic designer who must reconcile with his estranged father, and Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden, an Italian adaptation of Jack London’s 1909 novel that follows a poor writer who seeks love within upper-class society.
Details:Gene Siskel Film Center. Loop. $6–$12 per screening. siskelfilmcenter.org
Richard III goes to high school in Mike Lew’s dark comedy, which turns Shakespeare’s hunchbacked antihero into an outcast with cerebral palsy who’s determined to win the race for class president at any cost. Fans of Election and 10 Things I Hate About You will appreciate the tone of this local premiere.
Details:Theater Wit. Lake View. $12–$42. theaterwit.org
In their 1975 cult-classic documentary (the source material for this 2006 musical), the Maysles brothers visited the crumbling estate of mother-daughter recluses “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, eccentric relations of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The War Paint team of Doug Wright, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie uses double casting to invent a 1930s-set backstory for the pair in the first act before jumping ahead to the documentary’s setting in the second.
Details:Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Evanston. $35–$54. theo-u.com
My Dad Wrote a Porno
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all fathers must possess at least one hobby, whether it’s model trains or coin collecting. But what if your old man spent his weekends penning erotica? In this live version of the popular British podcast, TV writer Jamie Morton and friends read chapters of his dad’s wacky romance novels.
Details:Chicago Theatre. Loop. 8 p.m. $35–$350. ticketmaster.com
Sight + Sound: A Sonic Art Exhibition
Chicago Sinfonietta drifts away from the ear and toward the eye for this tribute to visual art, with compositions inspired by artworks from Mark Rothko, Viktor Hartmann, and others. Making its worldwide debut is Courtney Bryan’s Syzygy, a piece that celebrates women artists such as Frida Kahlo, Maya Lin, and Alma Thomas.
Details:Mar. 7: Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College. Naperville. Mar. 9: Symphony Center. Loop. $10–$99. chicagosinfonietta.org
David Heo: Honey and Smoke
This local painter is interested in the complexities of desire — namely, the paradox of wishing for something while, for whatever reasons, undermining efforts to attain it. In his latest solo exhibition, he meditates on the sweet but hazy nature of longing.
Details:Vertical Gallery. Humboldt Park. Free. verticalgallery.com
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
As the subtitle of Jocelyn Bioh’s 2017 comedy suggests, this show examines how high school hierarchies (as depicted in Tina Fey’s Mean Girls and dozens of other teen movies) might play out in a different cultural context: specifically, the Ghanaian girls’ boarding school that Bioh’s mother attended before immigrating to America. Director Lili-Anne Brown makes her Goodman main stage debut.
Details:Goodman Theatre. Loop. $20–$70. goodmantheatre.org
El Greco: Ambition and Defiance
More than 55 works by the great painter of the Spanish Renaissance known for his dramatic religious scenes constitute this monumental survey, including the breathtaking The Assumption of the Virgin, commissioned for the altarpiece for a church in Toledo.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. Loop. $26–$32. artic.edu
Do Not Touch Me, Memory
The Isbister Chambered Cairn, a Neolithic tomb on one of Scotland’s Orkney Islands, houses the remains of more than 300 humans and scads of sea eagles. The Dante + Chin Duo, a vocalist and flutist who also comprise a subset of the new-music ensemble Fonema Consort, presents a world premiere of the story of the tomb, spun out onstage with the help of a set made of three 10-foot-long painted narrative scrolls. When performing the work of other composers with Fonema, the dyad pushes voice and flute technique to its most advanced edges; here, on its own music, Dante + Chin can place the limits wherever it wants.
Details:Constellation. Lake View. 8:30 p.m. $10. constellation-chicago.com
Pranaya: Romances in Poetry
In the latest production of the South Asian arts collective Mandala, performers use two classical Indian dance forms — bharata natyam and odissi — to portray stories from the Natya Shastra, an ancient Sanskrit text, about the emotions that arise in romantic relationships.
Details:Logan Center, University of Chicago. Woodlawn. 2 p.m. $15–$25. mandalaarts.org
Soo Shin: Paths Between Two Steps
With work that evokes bodily gestures, this local artist addresses notions of uncertainty and vulnerability that emerge from trust. In this exhibition, she presents traces of her own body, including one piece in which the soles of her feet are imprinted into slabs of vitreous china, each precariously balanced on black ceramic spikes to form a parade of eerie, suspended footprints.
Details:Goldfinch. East Garfield Park. Free. goldfinchgallery.org
Back to using his last name after a spell of Cher-ish mononymous identification, the Chinese pianist still flashes the showmanship that’s sparked comparisons to his countryman Lang Lang (ever since Li became the youngest-ever winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition two decades ago). Here, his program promises plenty of pianistic pyrotechnics, including an entire second half of Rachmaninoff of superhuman difficulty.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. Loop. 8 p.m. $79–$249. auditoriumtheatre.org
Hit Her With the Skates
Chicago-area native Christine Rea grew up spinning her wheels to disco-era jams at the roller rinks of the south suburbs. That retro milieu inspires this new musical by Rea and her husband, Rick Briskin, about a rising rock star who finds herself transported back to her childhood. American Idol–turned–musical theater performers Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young (also real-life spouses) lead the cast.
Details:Royal George Theatre. Lincoln Park. $40–$99. ticketmaster.com
Since 1995, Austrian guitarist and composer Christian Fennesz has dealt in heady electronic explorations that have almost nothing to do with the dance floor. He is more about ambience, from his droning takes on ’80s pop to his avant-garde collaborations with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and ex–Japan frontman David Sylvian. His latest, last year’s Agora, consists of four sweeping soundscapes whose subtle shifts are hypnotic.
Details:Empty Bottle. Ukrainian Village. 9 p.m. $18–$20. eventbrite.com
Master choreographer Ohad Naharin compiled this medley of works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago two seasons ago, and its return marks one of just two more appearances by the company before its residency at the Harris ends. It might be a while before you can again see Hubbard Street perform the powerful cornerstone of the program — Minus 16, set to the Passover song “Echad Mi Yodea” — and nobody does it better.
Details:Harris Theater. Loop. $25–$110. hubbardstreetdance.com
The Lady From the Sea
Amid the flood of usual Ibsen suspects (the city has gotten its fill of variations on A Doll’s House) comes this rarely produced work by the Norwegian master. The buoyant Chaon Cross leads the cast as a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who must choose between her dull but safe marriage and the sensual siren call she hears coming from beyond the shore.
Details:Court Theatre. Hyde Park. $38–$84. courttheatre.org
Blood Orange, Tei Shi
The artist otherwise known as Dev Hynes has a signature sound somewhere between Prince and Arthur Russell, a blend of ’80s R&B and avant-pop. His songwriting credits span from Solange to Carly Rae Jepsen; most recently, he composed the score for 2019’s Queen & Slim. He’s joined here by Tei Shi, a dreamy Colombian Canadian singer and frequent Hynes collaborator.
Details:Vic Theatre. Lake View. 7:30 p.m. Sold out; see resellers. eventbrite.com
Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, natives of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, are the sole constants of this storied Southern rock band, which has been around since the mid-’90s and boasts alt-country star Jason Isbell as a former member. Nearly a quarter century after its formation, the group is still prolifically recording and touring its dependably energizing combination of imaginative countrified storytelling and Skynyrd-esque multibranched guitar playing.
Details:Metro. Wrigleyville. 7:30 p.m. $35. etix.com
Daniel Beltrá: The Amazon
For more than two decades, this Seattle-based photographer has documented the changing state of the Amazon rainforest from a helicopter. His expansive aerial images — flooded lowlands, iron mines, and other associated ecological devastations — reveal the scale of humanity’s impact on the planet and form a visual plea to combat climate change.
Details:Catherine Edelman Gallery. West Town. Free. edelmangallery.com
Apsáalooke Women and Warriors
In the fall of 2018, the Field Museum began its three-year renovation of the Native North American Hall, refreshing dated, colonialist displays with more authentic representations of indigenous communities. This exhibition examines the critical but distinct roles of the women and men of the Apsáalooke Nation through finely crafted objects like war shields and cradleboards. It’s the museum’s first major exhibition curated by a Native American scholar, Nina Sanders, who also invited contemporary artists to showcase paintings, fashion, photography, and more.
Details:Field Museum. Near South Side. $17–$40. fieldmuseum.org
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade
In any other city, a radioactively green river would provoke a state of emergency, but in Chicago, it’s cause for raucous celebration in every Irish pub in town. The river dyeing kicks things off, and the parade — featuring Irish dancing, bagpipes, and kilts as far as the eye can see — will rumble through downtown at noon.
Details:Columbus from Balbo to Monroe. Loop. 9 a.m. Free. chicagostpatricksdayparade.org
David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe, the founders of the influential composers’ collective Bang on a Can, usually write music separately, as they did for Lang’s and Wolfe’s individually won Pulitzers. For the neo-oratorio Lost Objects, they all worked together, enlisting a baroque choir and orchestra, here Bella Voce and its Sinfonia, alongside electric guitarist Brandon Acker and DJ Dan Dehaan.
Details:Mar. 14: St. James Cathedral. Near North Side. Mar. 15: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Evanston. $10–$65. bellavoce.org
The weirdest contemporary addition to the jazz canon is L.A. oddball Stephen Bruner, probably the only artist to follow a Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins collaboration with a Kendrick Lamar duet. Expect a bonkers show from the supremely gifted bassist and notorious jokester.
Details:Riviera Theatre. Uptown. 8 p.m. $29. eventbrite.com
The nonprofit Common Threads provides opportunities for underprivileged families to learn more about healthy dieting and nutrition. Counterintuitively, the organization celebrates its 15th anniversary with some of the most decadent cuisine in town, courtesy of prominent local chefs such as Stephanie Izard (Little Goat), and Paul Kahan (Blackbird).
Details:Zhou B Art Center. Bridgeport. 6:30 p.m. $100–$250. commonthreads.org
Chicago Works: Deborah Stratman
In this exhibit, the MCA screens the local artist, filmmaker, and UIC professor’s The Illinois Parables, which explores how sites of sociopolitically fraught events (such as the Chicago Police Department’s 1969 raid on the headquarters of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party) are informed by their landscape and geography.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Streeterville. $15. mcachicago.org
Chicago Flower & Garden Show
Founded in 1847 as an expo for exceptional-looking flowers and fruits, this floral fest is now a playground for the Pinterest-minded. Visitors can walk through more than 20 elaborately themed gardens; tour the Plant Truck, a 1974 van outfitted with plants and gardening materials for sale; and create their own container gardens at “potting parties.”
Details:Navy Pier. Near North Side. $5–$25. chicagoflower.com
American Ballet Theatre
If you were forced to pick three works to sum up 20th-century ballet, you might opt for the “Kingdom of the Shades” scene from La Bayadère (a 19th-century ballet, though famously staged for ABT in 1980 by ballerina Natalia Makarova), Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden (from 1936), and Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe (1973). Luckily, you can see all these masterpieces together as part of ABT’s spring tour. Even better, superstar Misty Copeland is slated to appear in three performances.
Details:Auditorium Theatre. Loop. $50–$130. auditoriumtheatre.org
Jennie C. Jones: Constant Structure
In jazz speak, “constant structure” refers to a progression of chords all of the same type (all major seventh chords, for example). The concept informs this new series by Brooklyn-based Jones, who explores dissonance and harmony through minimalist paintings and works on paper, each colored with hues produced by an acoustic textile manufacturer.
Details:Arts Club of Chicago. Streeterville. Free. artsclubchicago.org
The Canadian producer born Dan Snaith has cycled through aliases over the past two decades, from his early work as Manitoba (which he abandoned after a ludicrous lawsuit from New York rock singer Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba) to his house-inspired recent turn as Daphni. But his longest-running and most widely recognized output comes via Caribou, the project that’s evolved over 15 years from glitchy folktronica to shimmering dance-pop. Suddenly, Snaith’s first album since 2014, was released in February.
Details:Riviera Theatre. Uptown. 7:30 p.m. $30. eventbrite.com
Fantastic Felines Art Show
Working in a range of styles and media, the 25 artists in this loopy exhibition are bound by one commonality — cats, obviously. See housecats, jungle cats, and even mystical cats, mostly in works on paper, from pop-surrealist portraits by Jimmer Willmott to part-sci-fi, part-gothic furballs envisioned by local comic artist Jamie Primack.
Details:4Art Space. Bridgeport. 6 p.m. Free. 4artinc.com
Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention
Whether you’re into Post Malone–esque face tattoos or delicate designs primed for Instagram, you’ll be able to find the right artist to mark you for life. Afterward, catch one of the performances by contortionists, acrobats, and fire-breathers happening all weekend.
Details:Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Rosemont. $22–$45. villainarts.com
Gergiev Conducts Shostakovich
Valery Gergiev, one of the world’s most sought-after conductors, is in some ways the perfect choice to lead Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”). Not only does the Ossetian native have Russian music in his blood, but also a couple of his main gigs are in St. Petersburg (once called Leningrad). In other ways, he’s the wrong fit, as Shostakovich’s quiet resistance to Soviet aesthetic ukases is politically distant from Gergiev’s cozying up to Putin.
Details:Symphony Center. Loop. $41–$222. cso.org
Grifting blends with game theory in this crime comedy by Carla Ching about an Asian American family of con men and women. Actor Daniel Dae Kim’s production company is developing a TV series for AMC based on the 2014 play, and Jackalope Theatre Company is staging its Chicago premiere.
Details:Broadway Armory Park. Edgewater. $10–$35. jackalopetheatre.org
You wish this standup comic had taught you sex ed in middle school. Brash and charming, she takes topics traditionally taboo for women — horniness, consent, and the absurdity of taking a husband’s last name — and hides her salient observations inside raunchy jokes. Her Netflix special Bangin’ came out in October.
Details:Vic Theatre. Lake View. 9:30 p.m. $36–$137. eventbrite.com
MusicNow: Ecstatic Science
Quince Ensemble, four female vocalists with strong Chicago ties, guests at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new-music series with a world premiere of Requiem (by Courtney Bryan) and a new movement of the oneiric In Dreams (by local composer David Reminick). The subtitle of the concert takes its name from an instrumental sextet by Missy Mazzoli, the CSO’s composer-in-residence, who ex officio programs MusicNow, and given that she planned the whole season without repeating any composers, your one chance to see her music at MusicNow is now.
Details:Harris Theater. Loop. 7 p.m. $29. cso.org/musicnow
Who Represents Us?
In 1980, at the suggestion of art dealer Ronald Feldman, Andy Warhol completed portraits of 10 notable Jewish figures of the 20th century, including Gertrude Stein, Sarah Bernhardt, and Franz Kafka. Although the series — photographs silk-screened over paint — caused an uproar among critics, who accused Warhol of exploitation, it was generally well received by Jewish audiences. Judge for yourself at this exhibition, which juxtaposes the works with highlights from the Spertus collection.
Details:Spertus Institute. South Loop. Free. spertus.edu
Dal Niente + Ken Vandermark
The new-music group Ensemble Dal Niente and the jazz saxophonist Vandermark serve as exponents for the work of two giants in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the experimental-music organization now in its sixth decade. Roscoe Mitchell recasts an improvised piece, now titled “Last Trane to Clover Five,” and the ensemble trots out a repertoire staple, George Lewis’s 2013 composition Assemblage.
Details:Thalia Hall. Pilsen. 8 p.m. $15–$35. thaliahallchicago.com
In the heartbreaking coming-of-age story Real Life, an introverted black student from Alabama must navigate new friendships, the intricacies of higher education, and racial trauma in a Midwestern university town. Taylor, a staff writer at Literary Hub and an Iowa native known for his introspective and poignant narratives, will read from his debut novel and answer audience questions.
Details:American Writers Museum. Loop. 6:30 p.m. $10. americanwritersmuseum.org
Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story
Perhaps the only thing this Cinderella shares with the 1945 original is Sergei Prokofiev’s gorgeous score. In her version, Hyde Park School of Dance owner August Tye — who doubles as the Lyric Opera’s chief choreographer — teams up with her top-notch faculty to transform this time-tested tale into a story about a young refugee making her way in Chicago.
Details:Mandel Hall, University of Chicago. Hyde Park. $10–$25. hydeparkdance.org
Dhaba on Devon Avenue
Set on the stretch of the Far North Side street that’s sometimes called Chicago’s Little India, Madhuri Shekar’s new play centers on a decades-old family restaurant whose fate is the subject of an all-out family war. This world premiere will be the last production staged by Victory Gardens artistic director Chay Yew before he steps down from his post this summer (after nine seasons).
Details:Victory Gardens Theater. Lincoln Park. $25–$65. victorygardens.org
An apparent passion project for Goodman artistic director Robert Falls (it’s his only directing credit at the theater this season), this 1994 work by the late Irish dramatist Brian Friel focuses on a blind woman who’s persuaded by her husband and doctor to undergo an experimental sight-restoring procedure — though the men don’t seem to care whether Molly shares their vision.
Details:Goodman Theatre. Loop. $15–$50. goodmantheatre.org
The rapper’s golden years may be in the rearview, but the NOLA icon and former Hot Boy has earned his spot among hip-hop’s all-time greats, having spent the 2000s perfecting smart, screwball one-liners (2004’s “Go DJ”) and foretelling the coming wave of Auto-Tuned singsong rap (2008’s “Lollipop”). Even his ill-fated pop-punk phase, circa 2010’s Rebirth, feels prescient in hindsight.
Details:Radius Chicago. East Pilsen. 10 p.m. $70. axs.com
Sound of Silent Film Festival
Before talkies, movie theaters employed organists to heighten the drama happening soundlessly onscreen. Filmmakers have continued making silent movies, but few still create live music to accompany them. One organization reversing the trajectory is Access Contemporary Music, the Hydra-like outfit whose composer-collective head creates scores for modern silent films in this annual festival.
Details:Davis Theater. Lincoln Square. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $20 per show; $35–$50 for both. acmusic.org
Capping a big year in Chicago for the composer Jake Heggie, whose Moby-Dick breached at Chicago Opera Theater in the spring and Dead Man Walking strode into Lyric in the fall, Chicago Fringe Opera gives the local premiere of his pair of stories spun from the diaries of two Holocaust survivors. In one, a woman catalogs the personal items of Auschwitz prisoners; in the other, an old man is visited many years after the war by the ghost of his male lover, whose book of poems he has kept.
Details:Stage 773. Lake View. $25–$45. chicagofringeopera.com
A regular on the recital circuit, this versatile pianist swings two full concerts’ worth of the season-long Symphony Center project to appease Beethoven’s ghost in honor of his 250th birthday by playing all his piano sonatas. Schiff is rewarded for his gameness by getting to perform some of the best-known examples: “Quasi una Fantasia” and the ever-gleaming “Moonlight” on March 29, and “À Thérèse” and “Les Adieux” on March 31.
Details:Symphony Center. Loop. $29–$97. cso.org