April 2015 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your April in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits

Photograph: Max Herman
Costumed attendees flock to McCormick Place for the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2).

So long as it's not one of those Aprils cursed by snowstorms, it's finally safe to crawl out of winter hibernation and go on an Easter egg hunt. Celebrate the arrival of spring by pigging out on sizzling dishes with fellow pork enthusiasts at the annual Baconfest. Get out and see the folks behind your new favorite records, including shows from Father John Misty and José González. Slip into your favorite spandex jumpsuit and hit the floor at C2E2, where comic legends like Stan Lee will hold court amid a sea of fans and merch. Kickstart your spring with the help of our April events calendar for Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2015

Featured events in April 2015

Belle & Sebastian

Critics' pick

For years we've argued with friends that Belle & Sebastian is not just a twee act. The band rocks & rolls live, even on the tender stuff, and on its last few albums it has punched up the guitars, leaned back into funk grooves and polished the sound with an L.A. producer. The Scots' new comeback record is anything but milksop mumblecore. No, it's not EDM, but you can drop it on the dancefloor to great effect.

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Riviera Theatre Friday April 3 2015

Chicago Quarter Marathon

Critics' pick

If an entire marathon seems a little too daunting, try going one-fourth of the distance at the Chicago Quarter Marathon. The 6.55-mile race kicks off outside Soldier Field and takes participants south along the Lake Michigan shoreline before looping back to the stadium's shadow for a post-race party with snacks, awards and live music. Proceeds from the event benefit Prevent Child Abuse America.

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Soldier Field Saturday April 4 2015

Easter in Chicago guide

Easter in Chicago means different things to different people. This year, the multifaceted holiday falls on April 5. Plan out your Easter egg hunts and a visit with the bunny with the help of our guide to the most colorful spring holiday.

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By: Zach Long

CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights

Critics' pick

Vinyl lovers can sift through thousands of records, including rare finds, at this annual event hosted by CHIRP Radio. Enjoy sets from local DJs and sip on some suds (or a a cup of joe) as you dig for that original pressing of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats.

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Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall Saturday April 11 2015

Neil Diamond

Critics' pick

On his recent Rick Rubin–helmed albums, including his latest, Melody Road, Neil Diamond stripped away the schmaltzy layers that he accumulated over the decades, to fine effect. Though he's touring in support of that album, we're willing to bet that the singer may favor a more hits-based act at this show. Though Diamond has left the sequined shirts behind, don't bet on a fully austere Neil: to completely purge Neil Diamond of kitsch would be to steal his soul.

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United Center Tuesday April 14 2015

Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

Critics' pick

Entering its seveth year, CIMMfest seems primed to expand even more after last year's sprawling affair spread to venues like the Metro, Concord, Double Door, City Winery, the Logan, Subterranean, Hideout, Empty Bottle, Concord and Lincoln Hall. Expect a healthy mixture of films screenings, director Q&A's and performances by up-and-coming bands as well as indie legends.

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Various venues Thursday April 16 2015 - Sunday April 19 2015

Lake FX Summit + Expo

Critics' pick

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the inaugural Lake FX Expo + Summit will give practicing artists and creative professionals a place to meet and learn more about their craft. The four-day conference will feature keynotes by industry leaders, workshops, networking opportunities and showcases of local music and film. Confirmed guests include Sire Records founder Seymour Stein and a Second City creative team.

Read more
Chicago Cultural Center Thursday April 16 2015 - Sunday April 19 2015 Free

Baconfest

Critics' pick

Fried-pork cultists flock to this fest showcasing the best of the best bacon inspired foods, drinks, and crafts. This year's event will feature greasy dishes cooked up by notable chefs, including the folks from Bottlefork, Three Floyds and Trenchermen. Did we mention everything has bacon in it? Tickets for the sizzling celebration go on sale on February 16.

Read more
UIC Forum Friday April 17 2015 - Saturday April 18 2015

The Daily Show Writers Standup Tour

Critics' pick

The writing staff behind the "fake news" staple, The Daily Show step out from behind the scenes to take their moment in the spotlight in the stand-up showcase, followed by a Q&A where you can ask all those personal questions about Jon Stewart.

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Lincoln Hall Saturday April 18 2015

Sufjan Stevens

Critics' pick

We Chicagoans should feel lucky. Illinois is one of two states checked off the list in Sufjan Stevens not-really-ever-gonna-happen 50 states album project. Though, in a way, his new one, Carrie & Lowell, named for his parents, could be the de facto Oregon record, with references to Portland, the Dalles, Tillamook, Spencer's Butte and the state bird, the meadowlark. After the progressive Age of Adz, the indie heartthrob is returning to his folkier roots. Though of course everyone is going to want to hear ""Casimir Pulaski Day" and "Chicago."

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Chicago Theatre Friday April 24 2015 - Saturday April 25 2015

C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Critics' pick

Celebrating its fifth year in Chicago, C2E2 brings a ton of comic book creators and some notable TV and movie stars to McCormick Place. If you hit the floor, you'll find costumed attendees mingling in a sea of comics, toys and assorted memorabilia. The event also offers a slate of panels, including another appearance by Stan Lee. If you want to nerd out for a weekend, this is the con you’re looking for.

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McCormick Place Friday April 24 2015 - Sunday April 26 2015

Concerts in April 2015

Amen Dunes

Critics' pick

Amen Dunes, the tripped-out bedroom-psych vehicle of Damon McMahon, takes the stage in support of a new effort, Love. He crafts lackadaisical psychedelic rock, with some nice melodies and scratchy violin as well as guitars and drums. If you're brave enough and you can find a patch that isn't too sticky, lie down on the floor and soak it up.

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Schubas Wednesday April 1 2015

Father John Misty

Critics' pick

With a voice like a cactus, one man Band Joshua Tillman has managed to fill the void of his erstwhile group Fleet Foxes (what ever happened to them?). The bearded crooner brings windswept indie-folk from his new Sub Pop release, I Love You, Honeybear. He's the kind of artist who once stuffed a novella into the liner notes of a record. We're assuming the new one is not a concept album about the former Chicago Bears cheerleading squad, but who knows?

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Vic Theatre Friday April 3 2015

OK Go

Critics' pick

The playful power-pop quartet and masters of the viral music video return to their former hometown, bringing songs from its fourth album, Hungry Ghosts, along with "Here It Goes Again" (the treadmills), "This Too Shall Pass" (the Rube Goldberg device), "This Too Shall Pass" (the Notre Dame marching band hidden in a field). Go watch the stunning optical illusions. They are the Cheap Trick of the YouTube era.

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Metro Chicago Friday April 3 2015

Wand

Critics' pick

Los Angeles’ Wand released their fuzzed–out psych–rock debut on Ty Segall's God? Records in 2014, and those music fans who like Segall's more far–out excursions should defintely cotton to Ganglion Reef. Like–minded hooligans Heaters open.

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Empty Bottle Sunday April 5 2015

Jessie Ware

Critics' pick

On her debut, Devotion, the breathy British crooner brings buttery Sade sexuality to dubstep, building a bridge between Adele and James Blake. In 2014, she returned with grander ambitions, teaming on Tough Love with wunderkind pop producer Benny Blanco, who crafts candy bangers for Katy Perry. Thankfully, the vibe remains understated and downtempo. Bring a date. If not, go home with one.

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Metro Chicago Monday April 6 2015

Hookworms

Critics' pick

Leeds–based neo–krautrockers Hookworms ride their motorik grooves into the Empty Bottle on the heels of November's sophomore release, The Hum, an apt title given the quintet's penchant for drone–y but danceable rock.

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Empty Bottle Friday April 10 2015

Nosaj Thing + Clark

Critics' pick

LA-based Jason Chung crafts synthetic, ambient hip-hop as Nosaj Thing. Expect some new tracks thrown in among tracks from his debut LP Drift. He's produced beats for Chance and Kendrick, but is dreamy by his lonesome, too. Opening is Warp Records veteran Clark, who stunned us with his recent self-titled release, which sounds like the used future of Blade Runner.

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Lincoln Hall Friday April 10 2015

Caribou

Critics' pick

If you liked 2010's Swim, then Caribou's new album of pure, exacting electronica will make your heart sing. It's intimate, ambitious and certainly not for everyone; too slow and strange to dance to, Our Love forces a more concentrated appreciation of its soulful tribute to love. Live, Dan Snaith turns his intimate electronica into mesmerizing motorik. Bliss out.

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Metro Chicago Saturday April 11 2015

José González + Ólöf Arnalds

Critics' pick

A delightful pairing of graceful, minimalist chamber-folk from Scandinavia, this bill brings González, who's haunting and hushed Swedish pop won new fans in Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty movie, and the mystical domestic Icelandic charms of Arnalds, who has a voice like an elf knitting you a sweater. González drops his first LP in eight years in early 2015, Vestiges & Claws, while Arnalds released the ornate Palme in 2014.

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Lincoln Hall Tuesday April 14 2015

Milky Chance

Critics' pick

Because an acoustic guitar is involved, this German duo is tagged with the "folk" label, which is not appropriate. It's like calling Soul Coughing "jazz," and in a way Milky Chance has more in common with that act's chillaxed college-dorm beat. There is the air of a curious '90s one-hit-wonder to this Simon & Garfunkel for the EDM generation. Thankfully, the rest of the twosome's material is interchangeable with that one hit, "Stolen Dance." The other half of the band's formula, opposite raspy rap-crooner and guitarist Clemens Rehbein, is the electronic rhythm of Philipp Dausch. There's a steady locked groove to this electroacoustic dance-pop, making for the most melancholy of dancefloors.

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Vic Theatre Friday April 24 2015
See more April 2015 concerts

Festivals in April 2015

Chicago Latino Film Festival

Critics' pick

In its 31st year, the venerable Latino Film Fest offers a wide selection of features, documentaries and shorts from throughout the Spanish-speaking world. For a full schedule of screenings, check out the festival's website.

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AMC River East 21 Thursday April 9 2015 - Thursday April 23 2015

CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights

Critics' pick

Vinyl lovers can sift through thousands of records, including rare finds, at this annual event hosted by CHIRP Radio. Enjoy sets from local DJs, a cup of joe from Dark Matter Coffee and food from Moxee American Kitchen as you dig through crate in search of that elusive original pressing of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats. If you already have too many records, come for the live Chic-A-Go-Go dance party, CHIRP music trivia or a miniature First Time storytelling session.

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Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall Saturday April 11 2015

Lake FX Summit + Expo

Critics' pick

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the inaugural Lake FX Expo + Summit will give practicing artists and creative professionals a place to meet and learn more about their craft. The four-day conference will feature keynotes by industry leaders, workshops, networking opportunities and showcases of local music and film. Confirmed guests include Sire Records founder Seymour Stein and a Second City creative team.

Read more
Chicago Cultural Center Thursday April 16 2015 - Sunday April 19 2015 Free

Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

Critics' pick

In its seveth year, CIMMfest expands after last year's sprawling affair spread to venues like the Metro, Concord, Double Door, City Winery, the Logan, Subterranean, Hideout, Empty Bottle, Concord and Lincoln Hall. The array of music-themed movies is frankly overwhelming. We recommend seeking out the retrospective of British director Julien Temple, especially Absolute Beginners and The Filth and the Fury, his Bowie and Sex Pistols flicks, respectively. Also of note: Electronic-psych band Chandeliers performs a live score to trippy cult Hungarian cartoon Son of the White Mare. The Devo documentary looks interesting, too. Beyond that, happy hunting.

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Various venues Thursday April 16 2015 - Sunday April 19 2015

Baconfest

Critics' pick

Fried-pork cultists flock to this fest showcasing the best of the best bacon inspired foods, drinks, and crafts. This year's event will feature greasy dishes cooked up by notable chefs, including the folks from Bottlefork, Three Floyds and Trenchermen. Did we mention everything has bacon in it? Tickets for the sizzling celebration go on sale on February 16.

Read more
UIC Forum Friday April 17 2015 - Saturday April 18 2015

Chicago Taco Takedown

Get ready to stuff your face with meats wrapped in carbs at the Chicago Taco Takedown, where local chefs will attempt to create the ultimate version of this ubiquitous Mexican dish.

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Lincoln Hall Sunday April 19 2015

Chicago Improv Festival

Critics' pick

The 18th annual Chicago Improv Festival celebrates the art of "yes, and..." with a week of off-the-cuff performances at various venues, featuring local talent as well as national performers.

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Various venues Monday April 20 2015 - Sunday April 26 2015

C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Critics' pick

Celebrating its fifth year in Chicago, C2E2 brings a ton of comic book creators and some notable TV and movie stars to McCormick Place. If you hit the floor, you'll find costumed attendees mingling in a sea of comics, toys and assorted memorabilia. The event also offers a slate of panels, including another appearance by Stan Lee. If you want to nerd out for a weekend, this is the con you’re looking for. There is also a family headquarters complete with various shows, improv and more geared toward the younger set.

Read more
McCormick Place Friday April 24 2015 - Sunday April 26 2015

Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival

Head to the Chicago French Market for a day full of small-batch food, beer, spirits and wine from close to 100 culinary artisans. The free event includes tastings of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, confections and more.

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Chicago French Market Saturday April 25 2015 Free

NFL Draft Town

Critics' pick

Even if you can't get inside the NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre, fans will still be able celebrate their favorite teams at Draft Town in Grant Park. This free event will feature flag football competitions, a skydive simulator, a Super Bowl memorabilia museum and a bar serving up adult beverages. All 32 NFL teams will have houses where fans can gather and purchase exclusive merchandise.

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Grant Park Thursday April 30 2015 - Saturday May 2 2015 Free

Free events in April 2015

Macy's Flower Show

Find bouquets, finely manicured gardens and more at this annual spring event at Macy's.

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Macy's Until Saturday April 4 2015 Free

The Paper Machete

Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day.

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Green Mill Cocktail Lounge Saturday March 28 2015 - Saturday December 26 2015 Free

Relax Attack Jazz Series

Critics' pick

Every Tuesday, the bar hosts a jazz artist to soothe guests who may be suffering from the beginning of the week blues. Settle in with a craft cocktail and watch one of the greats of the local avant-garde post-bop scene like bassist Matt Ulery.

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The Whistler Sunday March 29 2015 - Tuesday December 29 2015 Free

"Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity"

The Museum of Contemporary Photography's latest exhibit explores the concept of the "Black Dandy", a popular culture phenomenon that defies stereotypical understandings of Black masculinity. Made up of photos depicting Black males mixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities, "Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity" highlights young men who are breaking the mold, one outfit at a time.

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Museum of Contemporary Photography Monday April 6 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015 Free

Schubas Gear Swap

Critics' pick

Have a dusty old amplifier or a neglected guitar that could use a new home? The Schubas Gear Swap is the perfect place to connect your instruments with a new owner, without having to deal with shady strangers on Craigslist. Revolution Brewing will be taking over to all of the taps at Schubas to fuel your deal-making, serving up rare and unreleased brews.

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Schubas Saturday April 11 2015 Free

Soul Summit

Critics' pick

This killer monthly of dusty grooves and rare soul has been going strong for five years. The dance party is so popular it has its own line of apparel. Resident DJs Dave Matta, Duke Grip and Sloppy White regularly invite crate-digging experts like the Numero Group guys to spin dirty, deep 45s. Get down to vintage rhythms every third Saturday at Double Door.

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Double Door Saturday April 18 2015 - Saturday December 19 2015 Free

NFL Draft Town

Critics' pick

Even if you can't get inside the NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre, fans will still be able celebrate their favorite teams at Draft Town in Grant Park. This free event will feature flag football competitions, a skydive simulator, a Super Bowl memorabilia museum and a bar serving up adult beverages. All 32 NFL teams will have houses where fans can gather and purchase exclusive merchandise.

Read more
Grant Park Thursday April 30 2015 - Saturday May 2 2015 Free

Theater in April 2015

Murder Ballad

Bailiwick Chicago turns part of the Flat Iron Arts Building into a downtown dive bar for the Chicago premiere of this immersive rock & roll musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash. Amanda Horvath, Chris Logan and Matthew Miles occupy the corners of a dangerous love triangle, with Camille Robinson as the slinky narrator. James Beaudry directs.

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Collaboraction Thursday April 2 2015 - Saturday May 9 2015

The Herd

A 21st birthday party for Andy, whose severe developmental disabilitiies have had him living in a long-term care facility, reveals strains on his extended family in a warm comedy by British actor Rory Kinnear. Frank Galati directs the U.S. premiere with a cast that includes Francis Guinan, John Mahoney, Molly Regan, Lois Smith, Cliff Chamberlain and Audrey Francis.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Thursday April 2 2015 - Sunday June 7 2015

An Issue of Blood

This premiere from Marcus Gardley was announced in January to take the place of a previously scheduled Gardley premiere, after the playwright felt an urgent need to address recent events including the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. An Issue of Blood, which Gardley only began writing in December, ventures back to 17th-century America and a woman known as Negro Mary in order to refllect upon current events. Chay Yew directs.

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Friday April 3 2015 - Sunday May 3 2015

Carousel

The Lyric Opera's spring staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel—the third in a series of five annual R&H productions—stars Steven Pasquale and Laura Osnes as Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan. Also in the principal cast are Jenn Gambatese (Maria in Lyric's 2014 The Sound of Music) and opera star Denyce Graves, who's set to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" as Nettie Fowler, along with Matthew Hydzik (Enoch Snow), Tony Award winner Jarrod Emick (Jigger Craigin), and multiple Tony nominees Charlotte d’Amboise (Mrs. Mullin) and Tony Roberts (Starkeeper). Rob Ashford directs.

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Civic Opera House Friday April 10 2015 - Sunday May 3 2015

Martyr

A teenage boy unaccountably adopts extreme fundamentalist Christian views, to the consternation of his mother and teachers and the potential danger of his fellow students. Joanie Schultz directs the U.S. premiere of a drama by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg (The Ugly One).

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Steep Theatre Thursday April 16 2015 - Saturday May 23 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Rome if you want to: House slave Pseudolus tries to make a match for his master to earn his freedom in the 1962 musical comedy loosely based on the plays of Plautus. The first Broadway outing to feature both music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Forum completes Porchlight Music Theatre's all-Sondheim season. Michael Weber directs.

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Stage 773 Friday April 17 2015 - Sunday May 24 2015

Art and dance in April 2015

"Spreading Devotion: Japanese and European Religious Prints"

The invention of print made religious images and texts available to a wider audience, resulting in beautiful books and pamphlets that combined scripture with intricate art. The Art Institute's new exhibition examines religious prints from the East and the West, including woodblock prints of patron saints and Japanese deities.

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Art Institute of Chicago Saturday April 4 2015 - Sunday June 21 2015

"Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity"

The Museum of Contemporary Photography's latest exhibit explores the concept of the "Black Dandy", a popular culture phenomenon that defies stereotypical understandings of Black masculinity. Made up of photos depicting Black males mixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities, "Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity" highlights young men who are breaking the mold, one outfit at a time.

Read more
Museum of Contemporary Photography Monday April 6 2015 - Sunday July 12 2015 Free

Ragamala Dance + Rudresh Mahanthappa: Song of the Jasmine

Critics' pick

South Indian dance and music ensemble Ragamala Dance Company collaborate with jazz saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa on this interpretation of work by Tamil mystic poet Andal. "Song of the Jasmine" incorporates traditional costumes and dances, exploring the spiritual and sensual underpinnings of Indian culture.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Theater Friday April 10 2015 - Sunday April 12 2015

"Joffrey Ballet: New Works"

Critics' pick

The Joffrey Ballet closes its 2014-2015 season with a mixed repertory program at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The showcase includes the Chicago premiere to "In Creases," a ballet by choreographer Justin Peck set to the music of Philip Glass. "Liturgy" by Christopher Wheeldon, "Evenfall" by Nicolas Blanc and "Incantations" by Val Caniparoli will also be performed.

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Cadillac Palace Theatre Wednesday April 22 2015 - Sunday May 3 2015

"Liz Larner"

Los Angeles sculptor Liz Larner presents her first Chicago installation in more than a decade, displaying two of her most recent sculptures on the Art Institute's Bluhm Family Terrace.

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Art Institute of Chicago Friday April 24 2015 - Sunday September 27 2015

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