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February 2016 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your February with the best things to do in Chicago this month for Valentine's Day, the Chinese New Year and more

Photograph: MK Feeney/Flickr

February's arrival means the final stretch of winter but not always the nicest weather, couple that with scouring the city for the best things to do on Valentine's Day in Chicago and the month can be a serious drag. The year's shortest month gives reason to celebrate though, with tons of ice skating rinks in Chicago and a plethora of bars wth hot cocktails, and you'll be set for the remainder of the season. So don't sit around! Lace your boots and check out the best events this February in Chicago. Well, if you're snowed in, you can always order the best deep dish pizza in the country.


RECOMMENDED: The best events in Chicago

Featured February 2016 events

Groundhog Day

Check out the Groundhog Day celebration featured in the classic 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. Attendees gather to see area groundhog Woodstock Willie leave his tree trunk home and predict if winter will stay or go. Should he see his shadow, winter will last for six more weeks, and if not, spring will arrive early. Or at least that's what the legend says. Though February 2 is the official Groundhog Day Prognostication, Woodstock is holding a whole week's-worth of events leading up to Mardi Gras.

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Until Tue Feb 2

Valentine's Day ideas

Whether you're looking to make a grand romantic gesture or just don't want to spend another Valentine's Day alone on the couch, we've assembled a guide to dates, gifts and more for couples and singles.

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Chicago Auto Show

Motorheads, here's your chance to check out what's new in the world of cars. At this annual showcase, close to 1,000 different vehicles will be on display, along with accessories, auto-related exhibits, competition vehicles and collector cars.

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McCormick Place , South Loop Saturday February 13 2016 - Sunday February 21 2016

Chinese New Year parades and celebrations in Chicago

We're already a few weeks into 2016, but those of you looking for an excuse to get a fresh start on your resolutions are in luck. Give yourself another chance to begin anew on Chinese New Year, which falls on February 8 this year (though the festivities occur all month long). Whether you want to witness a dragon dance or ring in the Year of the Monkey at a great Chinese restaurant, we've rounded up some of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in Chicago. 

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By: Zach Long

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

This year-round concert performance series showcases emerging solo and ensemble artists performing classical music, just in time for your Wednesday lunch break. The afternoon shows are held in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall on the 3rd floor. Find the full schedule below and more detailed information about the performers on the city's website. Jan 6: Sean Chen (piano)Jan 13: Allant Trio (piano trio)Jan 20: Daria Rabotkina (piano)Jan 27: Tekalli Duo (violin and piano)Feb 3: Gorgojo-Tsomaia Duo (violin and piano)Feb 10: Jay Campbell (cello), Conor Hanick (piano)Feb 17: Richard Ollarsaba (bass-baritone), Maureen Zoltek, (piano)Feb 24: Asiya Korepanova (piano)

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Wednesday February 10 2016 - Wednesday February 24 2016

MCA Prime Time: ⌘R

The Museum of Contemporary Art new after-hours series offers up an evening of live music, performance art, film screenings and local food. In February, the museum teams up with indie tastemakers Pitchfork to present a headlining multimedia performance by electronic artist Holly Herndon. The evening will also feature performances by local krautrockers Bitchin Bajas and lo-fi crooner Jimmy Whispers, as well as DJ sets from How To Dress Well and Tim Kinsella.

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Until Fri Feb 5

Retro Ski Lodge Block Party

Get all gussied up in your best retro ski digs and trek through Gold Coast on this winter bar crawl. Ski goggles, fuzzy ear muffs and leg warmers and spandex are all recommended. Participating bars and restaurants include Butch McGuire's, Coconutz, Hopsmith Tavern, The Original Mother's, McFadden's and The Hangge Uppe.

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Saturday February 6 2016

Indoor Bar Crawl Through Navy Pier

Celebrate Mardi Gras with "the world's largest indoor bar crawl" at Navy Pier. Attendees can wander Navy Pier's indoor grounds with drinks in hand while trading beads, getting face-painted masks, playing games and lapping up all the drinks specials on tap. Check in before 4pm for event entry. Participating bars and restaurants include: Harry Caray’s Tavern Billy Goat Tavern Riva Crab House Spirit of Chicago Margaritaville DMK Burger Bar Big City Chicken Giordano's Bubba Gump Crystal Gardens

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Until Sat Feb 6

Cupid's Undie Run

Dash through Wrigleyville in your unmentionables to raise dough for the Children's Tumor Foundation. Participants can raise funds to earn prizes, including shirts, undies and engraved flasks. There's also an afterparty at John Barleycorn where you can rub shoulders with people who have already seen you half-naked.

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John Barleycorn , Wrigleyville Saturday February 13 2016

Handmade Market Chicago

Critics' pick

Handmade Market Chicago returns to beloved Ukie Village club The Empty Bottle for an October–April market. More than 30 sellers will ply their homemade arts and crafts for this monthly celebration of the local and artisanal.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Saturday February 13 2016

The Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt

Critics' pick

Search out bathing beauties, sultry sirens, a woman enjoying a golden shower from Zeus and more provocative art at this Valentine's Day scavenger hunt in the Art Institute. You'll view some of the museum's best nudes, while learning about art history and enjoying the company of your fellow peeping Toms.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Loop Saturday February 13 2016 - Sunday February 14 2016

Adler After Dark

Critics' pick

The Adler Planetarium's monthly 21 and up night time event invites adults to explore the Museum Campus attraction while enjoying drinks and entertainment. This month's theme is "First Contact." It details the efforts to find life on other planets in our solar system and beyond, and what might happen should we find alien life in space.

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Adler Planetarium , South Loop Thursday February 18 2016 - Thursday December 15 2016

Hideout Makeout Party

Critics' pick

Even if you're without a main squeeze on this greeting card holiday, you can enjoy "An Evening of Aural Intercourse" at the 9th annual Hideout Makeout Party. An orchestra of local musicians will gather and work their way through a selection of original music, film soundtracks and love songs. Stick around after the show for some upbeat tunes from the Yo Cupid! DJs.

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Hideout , Noble Square Saturday February 13 2016

My Geeky Valentine

Geeky couples can head over to Geek Bar for a night of table top gaming along with a five-course meal and "love punch."

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Geek Bar Saturday February 13 2016

Chic-A-Go-Go Bowie Tribute Dance Party

David Bowie tributes will never get old, and neither will the chance to be on television on Valentine's Day. Chic-A-Go-Go is taping a David Bowie-themed dance party to honor the late musician from 1-2pm. Guests are welcome to pop in and leave at their leisure.

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Chop Shop , Bucktown Saturday February 13 2016

Neighborhoods of the World

Critics' pick

Every Sunday at Navy Pier, Neighborhoods of the World showcases Chicago's most vibrant cultural communities with live music, authentic cuisine, dance performances and art. This year's nine-week series kicks off with Chinese New Year, then explores the traditions of Africa, Mexico, Greece and more. Sunday, February 21: Celebrate Chinese New Year Sunday, February 28: Celebrate Africa Sunday, March 6: Celebrate Italy Sunday, March 13: Celebrate Lithuania Sunday, March 20: Philippines Celebration Sunday, March 27: Greek Celebration Sunday, April 3: Celebrate Mexico Sunday, April 10: Celebrate Poland Sunday, April 17: Celebrate Amazing India

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Navy Pier , Streeterville Sunday February 21 2016 - Sunday April 17 2016

Polar Adventure Days

The eleventh annual Polar Adventure Days features all sorts of winter activities for the family. Check out birds of prey from the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, tour the new Northerly Island Natural Area, and see Siberian huskies and wolves. Cocoa, snowshoes, and winter crafts all help to make the experience more authentically winter.

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Northerly Island , Downtown Saturday February 20 2016

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

Critics' pick

Stave off the winter blues inside the Chicago Botanic Garden's Regenstein Center, where the greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids. On Saturday and Sundays, the Orchid Marketplace allows you an opportunity to purchase the plants.

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Chicago Botanic Garden , Glencoe Saturday February 13 2016 - Sunday March 13 2016

70mm Film Festival: The Ultimate Edition

Critics' pick

After installing a gigantic 41-foot screen and 7.1 channel sound system for its 70mm screenings of The Hateful Eight, the Music Box presents nearly three weeks of classic films projected in the immersive, large-scale format. This year's 70mm Film Festival is bigger and better than ever before, featuring classic movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo. Also on the schedule this year: Ghostbusters, Interstellar, Cleopatra, Starman, Inherent Vice and more.

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Music Box Theatre Friday February 19 2016 - Thursday March 10 2016

Music in February 2016

Sam Prekop

Critics' pick

Last year, Sea and Cake frontman and Chicago music scene stalwart Sam Prekop released his latest solo album, The Republic, which coaxed melodies and noise from a modular synthesizer. Expect to hear some new synth tunes and songs from his catalog at this special solo performance—we expect that Prekop will be accompanied by frequent collaborator Archer Prewitt. Jeremy Lemos and Peter Speer will open the show.

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Until Mon Feb 1

Killing Joke + The Soft Moon

Critics' pick

Harnessing a monstrous sound that influenced industrial acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, English band Killing Joke was ahead of its time when it began releasing albums in the early ’80s. These days, the reunited band’s output splits the difference between metal and shoegaze, demonstrating blissed-out guitars and heavy riffs on its new LP, Pylon. Moody synth-punk act the Soft Moon opens the show.

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Thalia Hall , Pilsen Tuesday February 9 2016

Daley

Critics' pick

He shares a surname with some of Chicago’s most infamous mayors, but Gareth Daley is a British R&B crooner who started, as most artists do, creating music in his bedroom. Early in his career, he caught the ear of Britpop Renaissance man Damon Albarn, who enlisted Daley to sing on the Gorillaz track “Doncamatic.” Daley's 2014 debut, Days & Nights, contrasts classic influences and modern production, sounding like Al Green serenading a drum machine.

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Thalia Hall , Pilsen Thursday February 11 2016

Disappears

Critics' pick

Chicago krautrock act Disappears return to the Empty Bottle, taking a well-deserved victory lap in the wake of its 2015 record, Irreal. Most recently, the group released a recording of its reinterpretation of David Bowie's seminal 1977 release Low which lends visceral post-punk energy with hazy atmospherics to the moody album. Negative Scanner and Hide support.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Friday February 12 2016

Metric + Joywave

Pagans in Vegas, the latest album from new-wavey indie rockers Metric doesn't break the mold—it's another collection of upbeat anthems with soaring refrains. Sharing members with Broken Social Scene, the Canadian outfit has seen its profile rise in recent years, thanks to tours with acts like Imagine Dragons and Paramore. The kids must be alright with dance-rock these days. Brooklyn electro act Joywave opens the show.

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House of Blues Chicago / Live Nation , River North Friday February 12 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Critics' pick

Canadian outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor's records are seminal entries in the post-rock cannon, but the group's live shows have achieved a legendary status among genre fans. Backed by black and white film loop projections, the band stretches its already expansive instrumental compositions into lengthy medleys that blend triumphant guitar symphonies and cacophonous noise.

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Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago , Hyde Park Saturday February 13 2016 - Sunday February 14 2016

AC/DC

Critics' pick

Returning to Chicago after a sold-out gig at Wrigley Field last summer, AC/DC takes its classic rock indoors at the United Center. The band is still touring behind its 2014 album Rock or Bust, which sounds like all the rest, with stiff blues riffs and enough juvenile puns to fill a college ruled notebook ("Emission Control" is one of the more clever ones). Expect to see cannons, pyrotechnics and the shortest shorts that longtime-guitarist Angus Young can squeeze into.

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United Center , Near West Side Wednesday February 17 2016

Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Critics' pick

Alt-folk oddball Will Oldham (better known as Bonnie "Prince" Billy) has been unusually quiet as of late, save for a few singles. After reworking one of his more recent records, the usually prolific singer-songwriter is reaching back into the past once again, debuting a compilation of songs we recorded with longtime BBC DJ John Peel, entitled Pond Scum. Returning to the Vic, Oldham is likely to trot out plenty of old tunes (and probably a couple of new ones for good measure).

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Vic Theatre , Lakeview Thursday February 18 2016

Future

Critics' pick

Five years ago, Future (the stage name of Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn) was releasing independently-produced mixtapes. Now he's debuting joint-tapes with his buddy Drake—What a Time to Be Alive, indeed. The Atlanta-native comes to Chicago behind his latest studio-album, DS2, which straddles the line between R&B and rapping, laying woozy trap beats beneath his Auto-Tuned Southern drawl. The subject matter (drugs, the cost of fame) may be dark, but Future's intensity is undeniably mesmerizing. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Donald support.

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Aragon , North Side Thursday February 18 2016

TEEN

Critics' pick

TEEN is the brainchild of former Here We Go Magic member Teeny Lieberson along with her sisters and longtime friends. The all-female Brooklyn five-piece balances seductive R&B with taut vocal harmonies, creating kaleidoscopic arrangements. The quartet's latest, Love Yes, dials up the synthesizers and channels Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan. Local synth-pop trio Songs for Gods opens the show.

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Hideout , Noble Square Sunday February 21 2016

Music Frozen Dancing: Black Lips + The Spits + Meat Wave

Critics' pick

Well, here's a crazy idea. The Empty Bottle thumbs its numb nose at Jack Frost by throwing a block party in the dead of winter. Headlining is psychedelic garage rockers the Black Lips, who most recently released the Patrick Carney-produced album Underneath the Rainbow, but are still perhaps best known for their boisterous 2007 single, "O Katrina!" Joining the band out in the cold are Michigan punks The Spits, local post punk outfit Meat Wave and angular Atlanta act Muuy Biien. Goose Island will provide the booze and Dark Matter will have coffee to keep you warm. Did we mention that it's free?

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Saturday February 27 2016

Eleanor Friedberger

Critics' pick

While Chicago über-indie darlings the Fiery Furnaces sustain their not-broken-up hiatus, Eleanor Friedberger carries on with tunes from her latest solo album. New View, her third record, is another helping of jaunty, sophisticated pop which blends Friedberger's buoyant vocal melodies with the simple accompaniment of her backing band, Icewater.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Wednesday February 24 2016

Animal Collective + Ratking

Critics' pick

Made up of a group of friends with nicknames like Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist, Animal Collective seems destined to become indie rock's Phish equivalent. The band has become known for its dense glitchy beatscapes, oddly stretched-out melodies and the synthesized digital mayhem of its epic live shows—all that's missing is a few mini-trampolines. Animal Collective's latest album, Painting With, seeks to rein in the band's more expansive tendencies without sacrificing its eclectic, strange sonic palette (case in point: The Beach Boys harmonies and springy synths of lead single "FloriDada").

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Concord Music Hall , Logan Square Saturday February 27 2016
See more Chicago concerts in February 2015

Art events in February 2016

“Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions”

Get a look at the creative process behind Martin Puryear’s whimsical sculptures with this display of the contemporary artist’s personal sketchbooks, drawings and prints. A former Chicago resident, Puryear collaborated with the Art Institute, loaning the museum many pieces that have never been exhibited in public before.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Loop Until Tuesday May 3 2016

"Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen"

Dutch artist and physicist Theo Jansen makes moving art, both figuratively and literaly. His giant Strandbeests are complex sculptures outfitted with sails that convert wind into kinetic energy that propels them forward. Eight of Jansen's creations will be on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, where visitors can also view sketches and photographs of his previous work.

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Chicago Cultural Center , Loop Until Sunday May 1 2016

"Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times"

Much of the appeal of TV's British historical drama Downton Abbey, in addition to the soapy narratives and acidic one-liners from old folk, lies with the show's fantastic costumes. To celebrate the show's final season, the Driehaus Museum will showcase almost 40 costumes from the show's run, so the show's fans can see the fashion evolve over time, just like the characters we all know and love.

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Richard H. Driehaus Museum , Chicago Tuesday February 9 2016 - Sunday May 8 2016

“Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago”

In the late ’40s, Chicago painter Leon Golub led a group of Midwest artists dubbed the “Monster Roster,” drawn together by their shared reverence for mythology and ancient art. The Smart Museum examines the lasting influence of the collective, bringing together a selection of major paintings and sculptures made by its members.

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Smart Museum of Art , Hyde Park Thursday February 11 2016 - Sunday June 12 2016

“Van Gogh’s Bedrooms”

Vincent van Gogh was so taken with his 1888 painting of his bedroom that he created two additional versions of the work, one of which resides in the Art Institute’s permanent collection. This exhibit explores the differences between the three paintings, in addition to 36 other works by the artist, including paintings, drawings and illustrated letters.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Loop Sunday February 14 2016 - Sunday May 8 2016

Theater in February 2016

The Flick

Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize winner, an intentionally languid three-hour portrait of employees at a movie theater, gets its Chicago premiere, helmed by Dexter Bullard.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company , Lincoln Park Until Sunday May 8 2016

Domesticated

Critics' pick

Bruce Norris’s 2013 satire about a politician brought down by a sex scandal is framed by a school presentation given by the pol’s middle-school aged daughter, Cassidy (Emily Chang). The topic: Sexual dimorphism in the animal world. The device, along with Norris’s title, parallels the argument that Bill (Tom Irwin), disgraced, increasingly frustrated but never really contrite, eventually makes: that marriage and monogamy are unnatural and misery-making behaviors. But Norris makes Bill earn that caustic declaration. After his initial resignation speech, more acknowledgement than apology, Bill doesn’t get another word in for most of the first act, which documents the fallout for his kids (Melanie Neilan portrays Cassidy’s older sister, Casey, with perfectly insufferable teen self-righteousness) and his wife, Judy. The latter is played by the spot-on Mary Beth Fisher with increasingly withering fury as she learns the full extent of her husband’s transgressions. Bill gets his turn in Act II, letting loose on a female bartender (Rae Gray) about the true purpose of marriage as it’s practiced today: “restriction, reproduction and real estate.” He follows with a startlingly ugly recollection of the birth of his first child. Bill's rhetoric only gets uglier as he attempts to return to work (a gynecologist by profession, his newfound infamy as a man who frequents prostitutes makes doctor-patient relations rather complicated), and Irwin is convincingly corrosive. But as persuasive as

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company , Lincoln Park Sunday February 7 2016

No Wake

William Donnelly's 2010 play, receiving its Midwest premiere under the direction of Kimberly Senior, is a love triangle of sorts between a long-divorced couple and the ex-wife's new husband. But Design for Living this ain't. The occasion of the threesome's meeting is the memorial service for the estranged daughter of the formerly married Edward (Stef Tovar) and Rebecca (Lia Mortensen), who has apparently committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness. 

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Greenhouse Theater Center , North Side Sunday February 7 2016

Pop Waits

Malic White and Molly Brennan co-created this new Neo-Futurists show, billed as “an athletic, participatory, clown-rock opera” about songwriting that’s inspired in part by Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.

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Neo-Futurarium , Andersonville Thursday February 11 2016 - Saturday March 12 2016

Far from Heaven

Porchlight Music Theatre mounts the Chicago premiere of the 2013 musical drawn from Todd Haynes's 2002 film, which inserted frank sexuality into a Douglas Sirk–esque 1950s domestic drama. The score is by Grey Gardens songwriters Michael Korie and Scott Frankel.

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Stage 773 , Lakeview Until Sunday March 13 2016

The Hairy Ape

Director Monty Cole stages Eugene O'Neill's 1922 expressionist take on the plight of the worker with an all African-American, all-male cast featuring Julian Parker, Tony Santiago, Bradford Stevens, Rashaad Hall, Michael Turrentine and Breon Arzell.

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Oracle Theatre , Lakeview Until Saturday March 12 2016

Another Word for Beauty

If it was fiction, the premise would seem impossibly contrived: a women's prison holding an annual beauty pageant? But not only do Buen Pastor Prison and its pageant really exist in Bogotá, Colombia, but José Rivera's new play is influenced by interviews with actual inmate-contestants.

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Goodman Theatre , Loop Until Sunday February 21 2016

London Wall

Critics' pick

Griffin Theatre Company's 2014 unearthing of Men Should Weep, a bleak 1947 domestic drama by Scottish playwright Ena Lamont Stewart that had never been performed in Chicago, earned the company three Jeff Awards, including one for director Robin Witt. She successfully returns to Griffin with another obscurity from the British Isles, this 1931 workplace dramedy by English playwright John Van Druten, better known as the author of Bell, Book and Candle and I Am a Camera. Set in a small London law firm, the play centers on the office typists' pool at a moment when women were relatively new to the workforce. 

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The Den Theatre , Wicker Park Until Sunday February 14 2016

2666

Goodman artistic director Robert Falls and director-playwright Seth Bockley adapt the late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño's epic, complex, 900-page final novel into a five-hour, 15-actor play.

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Goodman Theatre , Loop Until Sunday March 13 2016

Byhalia, Mississippi

Of all life’s significant milestones, the act of bringing a baby into the world may hold the potential to be the most world-rocking. That’s surely the case in Byhalia, Mississippi. A co-production of the New Colony and Definition Theatre Company, the layered drama centers on Jim and Laurel Parker (playwright Evan Linder and Liz Sharpe), a struggling white couple whose lives are upended when the child they were expecting comes out black.

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The Den Theatre , Wicker Park Until Sunday February 14 2016
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