Your perfect holiday: November 25–December 1
A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration
Pulitzer-winning playwright Paula Vogel sets this new show on Christmas Eve, 1864, with characters ranging from a runaway slave searching for her lost daughter to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln singing carols on the streets of Washington, D.C. Henry Godinez directs a powerhouse cast headed by Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields (The Color Purple) and 16-time Jeff Award nominee Paula Scrofano. Through Dec 19 at Northlight Theatre. (9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, 847-673-6300, northlight.org). $35–$55.
Bring your Americana-loving mom.
“Without You I’m Nothing: Art and Its Audience”
It’s all about you at this exhibition of works by Bruce Nauman, Andrea Zittel and other artists from the MCA’s permanent collection. Many pieces are interactive; a related performance series involves visitors in searches for native plants, tattooing sessions and other activities. Through May 1 at Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E Chicago Ave, 312-280-2660, mcachicago.org). $12 suggested admission, students and seniors $7, kids under 12 free. Tuesdays free.
Bring your attention-seeking younger sister.
Fa La La La…Fuck It
Did you really think the Annoyance Theatre, home to Co-ed Prison Sluts and Fisting, would take it down a notch just for Santa? In this outing, mother Catherine is addicted to pain meds while husband Carl abuses hooch and daughter Christine is wrapped up in teen angst. Saturdays through Dec 18 at Annoyance Theatre (4830 N Broadway, 773-561-4665). $15, students $10.
Bring your most liberal friends and family.
Richie Hawtin’s more stripped-down alter ego, Plastikman, ushered in a minimal techno craze from Detroit to Berlin that still thrives. Resurrecting the guise for this summer’s Detroit Electronic Music Festival, the techno god is now on tour. Thu 25 at Spy Bar (646 N Franklin St, 312-337-2191). 10pm, $20.
Bring your computer-obsessed dorm roommate.
Black Friday sale at Cerato
Forget about the pigskin and skip the big-box stores in favor of this boutique, which focuses on local designers. Arrive early and enjoy coffee, muffins and pastries from neighboring Safari Cup. Plus, look for 20 percent off select items. Fri 26 at Cerato Boutique (3451 N Southport Ave, 773-248-8604, ceratoboutique.com). 8am–noon.
Bring your comfortable shoes.
12 Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl
This boozy bar crawl will shuttle ho ho homosexuals between Boystown and Andersonville: “Nice” buses will deliver folks north to Atmosphere, Big Chicks, Crew, the Call, Jackhammer and SoFo, while southbound “naughty” buses take in Cell Block, the Closet, Hydrate, North End, Scarlet and Sidetrack. A portion of proceeds benefit BEHIV. Fri 26, 5–11pm. $10 for bus pass.
Bring your alkie friends. Downing 12 spiked eggnogs ain’t for the booze shy.
Vintage Bazaar Pop Up
The massive, roving vintage sale, cohosted by Katherine Raz and Libby Alexander, goes micro-scale with this weekend’s pop-up shop, featuring home decor, housewares and other giftables from five vintage vendors. Sat 27, Sun 28 at 2955 W Lyndale Ave (thevintagebazaar.com). Sat 11am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm.
Bring your nest mate. Why not treat each other to gifts you can share?
iO slams the brakes on its improv offerings for this Grinchian twist on the most overbloated of holidays with a musical spoof featuring sick numbers such as “Christmas Suicide Hotel,” “Severed Swedish Heads” and “Jingle Death.” Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Tue 30–Dec 16 at iO Theater (3541 N Clark St, 773-880-0199). $14.
Bring your friends who dig a good carol, twisted or otherwise.
Second City Dysfunctional Holiday Revue
Chicago’s vaunted comedic institution unwraps a smorgasbord of cherished holiday scenes from its vault, plus some new material. Think parents who buy wildly inappropriate gifts for their children and a boyfriend trying to impress his Jewish girlfriend with obscure Hanukkah trivia. Mon–Wed, Sat, Sun, Tue 30–Dec 27 at Second City (1616 N Wells St, 312-337-3992). $16–$22.
Bring your visiting relatives, after an exhausting day shopping with them on the Mag Mile.
Holiday Movies in the Park
And you thought over–air-conditioned chain theaters were blustery! Bring a blanket (or ten) and sit on the lawn of Pritzker Park—the former Loop home of the giant “Eye” sculpture—to catch classic flicks It’s a Wonderful Life (Wed 1), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dec 8) and A Christmas Story (Dec 15). Wed 1, Dec 8, Dec 15 at Pritzker Park (310 S State St, winterwonderloop.com). All movies at 5:30pm, free.
Bring your Canadian cousins who think, Eh, it’s not that cold.