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May 2017 events calendar for Chicago

The arrival of May 2017 events in Chicago means summer's just around the corner. Find things to do, festivals and more.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Thomas Anderson

Alright, Chicago, it’s time to spring into action. May is one of the most glorious months to be in Chicago. After months indoors, we can finally traipse around in light jackets (incredible!), hit up Chicago’s best outdoor restaurants and rooftop bars—don’t forget to bring your dog! This month boasts the first street festivals and music fests in the city, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day and more. That is, plenty of very good reasons to get your butt off the couch and go explore the city. 


RECOMMENDED: Our complete Events calendar for Chicago in 2017

Featured events in May 2017

Mayfest

This Lakeview neighborhood tradition typically kicks off street festival season, celebrating its 21st anniversary with food and music in a giant heated tent. Munch on pretzels, grab a brew from the outdoor beer garden and get ready for a summer full of weekends spent drinking on the street.

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3100 N Ashland Ave , Lake View Friday May 19 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017

Mother's Day

Your mother brought you into the world; the least you can do is show her a good time on Mother's Day. From brunch to gifts to shopping and spa treatments, start planning out your day with the help of our guide to things to do on Mother's Day.

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By: Nick Kotecki

Bike the Drive

Recommended

Have you ever dreamed of cruising down Lake Shore Drive on your bicycle? Bike the Drive makes that dream a reality for one day this year, closing down the popular lakefront thoroughfare to cars early on a Sunday morning. Participants can bike from Bryn Mawr Ave to the Museum of Science industry (and back) during the five hours of car-free riding.

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Bike the Drive Route , Edgewater Sunday May 28 2017

Chicago Beer Classic

Enjoy the best beer Chicago and the Midwest have to offer. Sample brews from the more than 30 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites, including Half Acre, Revolution, Bucket List, Empirical and more. Attendees receive 48 2-ounce samples as well as access to new and limited-release brews, activities and games and interactive learning opportunities to get better educated about the beer-making process. Beer drinkers are also able to cast their votes for the best beer of the day. The winner receives the Most Valuable Brew award.

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Soldier Field , Museum Campus Saturday May 6 2017

Beer Under Glass

Enjoy a cold one from every concievable local craft brewery (seriously, check out the list yourself and salavate like Homer Simpson) while you walk among the beautiful tropical plants of the Garfield Park Conservatory. This annual event traditionally serves as the kick off to Chicago Craft Beer Week.

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Garfield Park Conservatory , East Garfield Park Thursday May 18 2017

Chicago Critics Film Festival

Recommended

In its fourth year, this festival, created by the Chicago Film Critics Association, features undistributed gems and fest favorites. Catch the buzziest movies of the year before they're out on wide release.

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Music Box Theatre , Wrigleyville Friday May 12 2017 - Thursday May 18 2017

Lincoln Park Wine Fest

Sample more than 80 wines from all over the world while listening to classical music at the inaugural Lincoln Park Wine Fest. Yes, it doesn't get much more sophisticated than this. Our advice? Cozy up to the most nicely dressed person in attendance and ask them to take you for a post-fest ride on their yacht.

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Jonquil Park , Sheffield & DePaul Saturday May 20 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017

Kids and Kites Festival

Recommended

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

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Montrose Harbor , Uptown Saturday May 6 2017

Memorial Day

Each summer, Chicago honors the men and women who died protecting our country with one of the nation's largest Memorial Day parades in the Loop. Prepare for the long weekend with our guide to downtown attractions, weekend getaways and more.

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By: Zach Long

Memorial Day Parade

Recommended

After a wreath is laid at the eternal flame in Daley Plaza, Chicago's annual Memorial Day Parade heads down State Street, from Lake to Van Buren, as onlookers wave the stars and stripes. The procession has been a city tradition since 1870, honoring the men, women and families who have fought for our country.

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Daley Plaza , Loop Saturday May 27 2017

Soldier Field 10-Mile

If you’ve never raced 10 miles before, great news: You’re bound to PR here! The course runs up and down the Lakefront path, starting and ending at the home of the Bears.

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Soldier Field , Museum Campus Saturday May 27 2017

Anime Central

The largest anime, manga and Japanese pop culture convention in the Midwest reconvenes for its nineteenth year of concerts, dances, educational panels, workshops and more. Expect to see plenty of cosplayers showing off spiked hair and gigantic (fake) weaponry.

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Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Friday May 19 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017

The Girl Talk

DNAinfo deputy editor Jen Sabella and activist Erika Wozniak join forces for their monthly conversation series, The Girl Talk. Self-described as "The monthly show featuring Chicago's most influential women," Sabella and Wozniak host a Monthly Squad of guests to discuss local feminist activism and highlight grassroots organizing happening in Chicago. 

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Hideout , River West/West Town Wednesday April 26 2017 - Wednesday May 24 2017

Flick Lit

Cinema comes to life offscreen via this monthly live storytelling show inspired by the silver screen. Storytellers tell nonfiction tales about movies that have changed their lives, punctuated by musical guests, a short debate segment and clips from the movies themselves.

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Logan Theatre , Logan Square Wednesday April 12 2017 - Wednesday June 14 2017

PBR Bingo

On the first Monday of every month, Boiler Room turns into a hip, Logan Square nursing home for its monthly PBR Bingo night. Guests can grab a few slices, sip a beer and wait for their numbers to be called while competing for various Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed prizes.

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The Boiler Room , Logan Square Monday April 3 2017 - Monday December 4 2017

Trivia at Joe's on Weed

Joe's on Weed St has a pop culture trivia night for everyone. Pick your poison: from Harry Potter to Friends to Hamilton, here's your chance to flex that useless TV knowledge you've been racking up. The theme changes every week, so keep an eye out for your latest obsession to take the stage.

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Joe's Bar , River North Wednesday March 29 2017 - Wednesday December 6 2017

Parts and Labor Trivia Night

In the mood for a no-fuss burger, great craft beer and low-key trivia? Look no further than Parts and Labor’s weekly trivia night, a Logan Square institution. The trivia night even partners with a local brewery or distillery the last Monday of every month, so try a new drink while flexing your deep-cut '80s movie knowledge.  

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Parts & Labor , Logan Square Until Tuesday August 22 2017

Trivia and Bingo Night at Beauty Bar

Every Wednesday night the Beauty Bar hosts a trivia and bingo night with dancing to follow. Get a group of 2-4 to play themed trivia or play bingo solo. Enjoy specials like a $6 beer and shot combo and win concert tickets, dinner packages and more.

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Beauty Bar , River West/West Town Wednesday March 29 2017 - Wednesday December 27 2017

Concerts in May 2017

The xx + Sampha

British indie pop trio the xx imbues its latest album, I See You, with a renewed sense of vigor, injecting sparse R&B arrangements with an expanded palette of instruments and a Hall and Oates sample. The course correction (likely the work of instrumentalist Jamie xx, who became a star in his own right through his solo album In Colour) leaves the intimate lyricism of vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim intact, while adding some much-needed levity to a group that often comes off as overly-serious. Singer-songwriter Sampha, best known for producing songs for Solange and Drake, opens the show.

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Aragon , Uptown Monday May 1 2017

Deadmau5

For mouse-eared EDM mascot Joel Zimmerman (a.k.a. Deadmau5), music almost seems like an afterthought these days. After bestowing his latest record with the mundane title W:/2016ALBUM/, Zimmerman stated on Twitter, "i don't even like it. it was like... so fucking rushed." He seems to be putting more thought into his latest tour, upgrading his signature cube DJ booth so that you'll at least have something pretty to look at when he opts to play his newest tracks.

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Aragon , Uptown Thursday May 4 2017 - Friday May 5 2017

Mastodon + Eagles of Death Metal + Russian Circles

Recommended

Virtuoso progressive metal may not be en vogue, but the mighty Mastodon resolutely sticks to its guns (tusks?) on its latest, Emperor of Sand. It may sound like a sequel to Dune, but the record is actually an extended meditation on the trials of cancer, inspired by the experiences of friends and family members. While the subject matter may to weighty, the group approaches it with its usual array of heavy riffs and brutal technicality. Blues rockers Eagles of Death Metal and local instrumental metal trio Russian Circles open the show.

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Aragon , Uptown Saturday May 13 2017

Ty Segall

Recommended

It's a cliché to say that Ty Segall is staying busy, but it continues to be entirely accurate. He may have slowed down a bit in recent years, but he still has more side projects (the kind that actually release albums) than your average SoCal rocker. His new self-titled record plays like a greatest hits album comprised of entirely new songs—almost every side of Segall is on display, from the blistering punk energy of his early output to the more restrained, acoustic-leaning numbers that populate his recent work. Experience the entirety of the Segall spectrum when he brings his band back to Chicago for a pair of shows.

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Metro Chicago , Wrigleyville Saturday May 13 2017 - Sunday May 14 2017

Bonobo

Recommended

Simon Greene is yet another British DJ who has augmented his turntables and samplers with a band, turning his Bonobo project into a blend of electronica and grandiose live instrumentation. On Migration, Greene presents his most nuanced collection of tracks to date, shifting from vocal-assisted dance club pop to more experimental (and expansive) synthesizer symphonies.

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Concord Music Hall , Logan Square Thursday May 18 2017

Jambinai

Using traditional Korean instruments, including the fiddle-like haegum, piri flute and zither-dreived geomungo, Jambinai bring folk and classical-inspired sounds to its cacophonous post-rock. The South Korean trio comes to the Bottle behind its latest album, A Hermitage, which wallows in the furious waves of distortion that populated early Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor records.

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Empty Bottle , Ukrainian Village Thursday May 18 2017

The Weeknd

Once an anonymous singer-songwriter, Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) is now the one of the biggest artists in pop music—a Starboy, if you will—who is able to flesh out his hazy, nihilistic slow jams with contributions from the likes of Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

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Allstate Arena , Suburbs Tuesday May 23 2017

Festivals in May 2017

Cinco De Mayo Parade

Yes, it takes place on the Uno of Mayo, but no Cinco celebration is more authentic than the parade in Little Village. The parade memorializes the victory of Mexican forces over the French during the Battle of Puebla back on May 5, 1862.

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Chicago Beer Classic

Enjoy the best beer Chicago and the Midwest have to offer. Sample brews from the more than 80 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites such as Half Acre, Revolution, Bucket List, Lagunitas and more. Attendees receive 48 2-ounce samples, as well as access to exclusive brews, activities and games, and interactive learning opportunities to get better educated about the beer-making process. Beer drinkers are also able to cast their votes for the best beer of the day. The winner receives the Most Valuable Brew award. In 2017, the new Chicago Beer Classic Tailgate lets attendees hangout at Soldier Field's Gate 0 before or after their designated session. Check out brewer merchandise, purchase a pint or grab some food from a variety of food trucks.

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Soldier Field , Museum Campus Saturday May 6 2017

Kids and Kites Festival

Recommended

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

Read more
Montrose Harbor , Uptown Saturday May 6 2017

Polish Constitution Day Parade

The Polish Constitution was signed on May 3rd, 1791 and for over 100 years Chicago has celebrated the date with a parade through the Loop. More than 250,000 attendees are expected to flock to the celebration's route along State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street to watch the procession and honor Europe's first democratic constitution.

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Columbus Dr and Balbo Ave , Grant Park Saturday May 6 2017

Chicago Critics Film Festival

Recommended

Now in its sixth year, the Chicago Critics Film Association throws an annual film fest for the public’s shot at seeing some of the hottest unreleased films. Catch this year's buzziest movies before they're out on wide release.

Read more
Music Box Theatre , Wrigleyville Friday May 12 2017 - Thursday May 18 2017

Chicago Craft Beer Week

Recommended

The annual event from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild brings the Chicago beer community together for more than a week of tastings, tappings, dinners and other beer-focused events at locations all over the city. 

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Various venues , Loop Thursday May 18 2017 - Thursday May 25 2017

Zoo-ologie

The Lincoln Park Zoo's annual fundraiser features cocktails, live music and, of course, up-close animal encounters. Proceeds help keep the zoo's admission free for visitors year-round.

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Lincoln Park Zoo , Lincoln Park Saturday May 20 2017

Mayfest

This Lakeview neighborhood tradition typically kicks off street festival season, celebrating its 22nd anniversary with food and music in a giant heated tent. Munch on pretzels, grab a brew from the outdoor beer garden and get ready for a summer full of weekends spent drinking on the street.

Read more
3100 N Ashland Ave , Lake View Friday May 19 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017

International Mr. Leather Weekend

Rooted in a 1979 bar contest, this four-day event features parties, a fetish and leather market, a physique competition, a sexy shoe-polishing competition and, of course, the annual crowning of International Mr. Leather. In additional to the daily Leather Market, there are the big evening events: the Opening Ceremonies, Physique Competition, International Mr. Leather Contest, IML Victory Celebration Party, and the Black and Blue Ball. Visitors can enter the leather market in return for a $10 donation.

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Congress Plaza Hotel , Downtown Thursday May 25 2017 - Monday May 29 2017

Mole de Mayo

Pilsen's annual Mole de Mayo street festival returns to the Near South Side neighborhood to honor the classic traditional Mexican sauce. A cook-off, lucha libre wrestling performances and live music adds to the festive mood near 18th and Ashland. Local art vendors also ply their wares in the open air market, making Mole de Mayo a true neighborhood tradition.

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18th St. and Ashland Ave. (CLOSED) , Lower West Side Friday May 26 2017
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Art in May 2017

“#Aiweiwei”

Recommended

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was taking photos that bluntly confront political and social issues long before Twitter or Instagram was invented. You’ll find some of his best shots (including one of him giving the White House the bird) collected in this exhibit, which is based around diaristic photographs he took during the 1980s and '90s in New York and Beijing. 

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Museum of Contemporary Photography , Loop Thursday April 13 2017 - Sunday July 2 2017

“Whistler’s Mother: An American Icon Returns to Chicago”

"To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public to care about the identity of the portrait?" James McNeill Whistler asked about his 1871 portrait, original entitled "Arrangement in Grey and Black." Appearing at the Art Institute for the first time in more than 60 years, Whistler's subtle but striking masterpiece anchors a new exhibition dedicated to the artist, featuring 25 of his works.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Grant Park Until Sunday May 21 2017

"Design Episodes: Form, Style, Language"

Ahead of the Fall 2017 opening of the Art Institute's permanent display of architecture and design works, the museum exhibits examples of postmodern design in the 1970s and ’80s, including colorful pieces by Italian group Memphis and architectural firm Coop Himmelblau.

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Art Institute of Chicago , Grant Park Until Sunday June 25 2017

"MCA DNA: Riot Grrrls"

The MCA's latest exhibition in its ongoing DNA series confronts the gender inequality that still haunts the art world. Named after the ‘90s feminist punk movement, "Riot Grrrls" showcases paintings by notable female artists like Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl and Judy Ledgerwood. The exhibition also features work by younger artists, including Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Amy Feldman.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Tuesday March 28 2017 - Sunday June 4 2017

"L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters"

Immortalized on the walls of cafés, bistros and dorm rooms across the nation, vintage French posters are a decorative staple that date back to the late 1800s. The Driehaus Museum's latest exhibition presents 45 turn-of-the-century French posters from its collection, celebrating the affichomania (the "poster craze") that inspired art collectors to acquire these impressionistic creations from the streets of Paris.

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Richard H. Driehaus Museum , River North Tuesday March 28 2017 - Sunday January 7 2018

"Classicism"

Art historians have long debated the exact meaning of the term "classicism," which typically denotes a reverence for Ancient Greek and Roman art. The latest Smart Museum exhibition explores how interpretations of classicism have evolved, assembling more than 70 paintings, sculptures and replicas that draw inspiration from ancient art forms.

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Smart Museum of Art , Hyde Park Tuesday March 28 2017 - Sunday June 11 2017

"Above, Before & After"

A painter may insist on hanging their canvases on a gallery wall, but some artists prefer to blur the line between their work and the environment in which it is presented. In "Above, Before & After," the MCA assembles a collection of two- and three-dimensional works that exploit the relationship between art and the viewer, including intricate mobiles by Alexander Calder and lightbox sculptures by Alfredo Jaar.

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Tuesday March 28 2017 - Sunday June 18 2017

"Tania Pérez Córdova: Smoke Nearby"

Using borrowed items—such as a cell phone SIM card or a single earring—Mexican artist Córdova creates sculptures that force viewers to consider the interactions involved in obtaining her materials. In "Smoke Nearby," Córdova's first solo U.S. museum exhibition, she showcases a selection of works featuring found objects, which she calls "contemporary relics."  

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Museum of Contemporary Art , Streeterville Saturday April 15 2017 - Sunday August 20 2017
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Free events in May 2017

Kids and Kites Festival

Recommended

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

Read more
Montrose Harbor , Uptown Saturday May 6 2017

Cinco De Mayo Parade

Although most Americans use Cinco De Mayo as an excuse to drink margaritas, the holiday actually commemorates the victory the Mexican forces had over the invading French army on May 5, 1862. This annual celebration in Pilsen fills the streets with colorful attire and traditional music. The parade starts at Cermak and Wood and travels west to Kedzie.

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Until Sun May 3

PBR Bingo

On the first Monday of every month, Boiler Room turns into a hip, Logan Square nursing home for its monthly PBR Bingo night. Guests can grab a few slices, sip a beer and wait for their numbers to be called while competing for various Pabst Blue Ribbon-themed prizes.

Read more
The Boiler Room , Logan Square Monday April 3 2017 - Monday December 4 2017

ACTIVATE

Recommended

Each month, Chicago Loop Alliance throws a party in a nondescript downtown alley with the help of local artists and DJs. This month, the event takes place in the Sullivan Center's alley, where Johalla Projects will present Nightbloom, a new installation exploring the relationship between light and dark.

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13 Oct 2016

Bridgeport Art Center 3rd Fridays

On the third Friday of every month, Bridgeport Art Center resident artists open their studio doors to the public for a night of mixing, mingling and, of course, art. Tour individual artist work spaces and shop for one-of-a-kind works from local painters, sculpters, photographers and more. Free parking, and BYOB.

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20 Nov 2015

Memorial Day Parade

Recommended

After a wreath is laid at the eternal flame in Daley Plaza, Chicago's annual Memorial Day Parade heads down State Street, from Lake to Van Buren, as onlookers wave the stars and stripes. The procession has been a city tradition since 1870, honoring the men, women and families who have fought for our country.

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Daley Plaza , Loop Saturday May 27 2017

Chicago House Party

Recommended

As the resurgence of electronic music continues, it's important to remember that Chicago is the birthplace of house music, a sub-genre rooted in minimalistic production and four-on-the-floor rhythms. In 2014, the city honored the late house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles with a dance party in Millennium Park, featuring a lineup of notable Chicago DJs. This year, the city is throwing another tribute to indigenous electronic music with the Chicago House Party at Pritzker Pavilion, which will feature performances by the House Legacy Project, Peven Everett and Vick Lavender Ensemble. The free event will also host DJ sets by Joe Smooth, Steve Miggedy Maestro as well as Superjane’s DJ Heather and Lady D.

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Until Sat May 28

Theater and dance in May 2017

Hamilton

Recommended

Let’s not mince words, since we’ve already spilled so many of them: Hamilton, writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of Alexander Hamilton as refracted through a hip-hop, pop and R&B lens, is a sprawling, stunning, singular achievement. By filtering the story of the American Experiment’s beginning into modern, meticulously rhymed vernacular and populating the stage with performers of color to play the likes of Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison, Miranda and his regular collaborators (director Thomas Kail, music supervisor Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler) make the founding fathers feel fresh and, miraculously, human. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Hamilton Chicago Weeks out from the country’s naming its 45th president, Hamilton’s new Chicago company arrives to remind us our democracy has always been messy, political, personal, and worth fighting for. Kail and Blankenbuehler fill designer David Korins’s spare set—which suggests that, like the country, it’s still under construction—with movement as thrilling and dense as Miranda’s lyrics. (The few moments of stillness are also used to great counter effect.) The nearly all-new Chicago cast (ensemble member Emmy Raver-Lampman is the sole transfer) easily lives up to the originals while finding their own new moments and shades. Miguel Cervantes is a rather more grounded Hamilton than the more frenetic Miranda, who originated the role, but Cervantes conveys the man’s vital, fatal

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The PrivateBank Theatre , Loop Tuesday March 28 2017 - Sunday September 17 2017

That's Weird, Grandma

Want to look cool to your favorite pipsqueak (and adult friends, too)? Introduce them to Barrel of Monkeys' joyously long-running public show. The troupe conducts writing workshops with CPS grade school students by day, then transforms the kids' stories into hilarious or heartfelt skits and songs, performed with abandon by a spirited ensemble.

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Neo-Futurarium , Uptown Until Monday August 28 2017

Spamilton

This parody of the musical Hamilton, from Forbidden Broadway mastermind Gerard Allesandrini, follows its source material from New York to Chicago. The satire replaces central character Alexander Hamilton with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda himself, as he grapples with ubiquitous fame and Disney dollars.

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Royal George Theatre , Lincoln Park Tuesday March 28 2017 - Monday May 29 2017

Comments

1 comments
morgan H
morgan H

May is also prime concert month -- tons of shows are coming up including Madeon on 5/1, Hiatus Kaiyote on 5/11, and Passion Pit on 5/14!