C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo Anime addicts, comic-book fans and video-game junkies, rejoice: The granddaddy of comic expos is back, and a slew of authors, celebs, costume contests and screenings awaits. Adam West (of course), Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt and Audrey Niffenegger are among those scheduled to make appearances. McCormick Place. Fri 10am–10pm; Sat 10am–10pm; Sun 10am–5pm. $25–$65.
Chicago Anarchist Film Fest You might think it antithetical for a bunch of anarchists to organize anything, let alone a film festival, but this is the 13th go-round of the city's anarcho-cinema event. The three evenings of shorts, documentaries and animations have been broken up by theme: sabotage, wild cat strikes again and nine lives. After the final screening on Sunday, the fest migrates to Township in Logan Square for (what else?) a punk-rock karaoke wrap party. Meztli Cultural Organization. Fri, Sat 7pm; Sun 4pm. $5–$10 donation.
Ghostface Killah + Adrian Younge's Venice Dawn Wu-Tang's Iron Man has not lost an ounce of his lyrical skill-set, continually spewing poetically formless, detail-dense, quasi-fantasy tails of the urban game. His moody, chopsocky latest, Twelve Reasons to Die, is a collaboration with producer Adrian Younge, who opens the night with his '60s-inspired soul project, Venice Dawn, a cross of Italian soundtracks and French chanson—you know, the stuff of Quentin Tarantino's dreams. Abbey Pub. 9pm. $20–$25.
Eighth Blackbird with Shara Worden, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly
Save that tax refund, because May is going to be lousy with brilliant live music. Bridging the Apr/May divide are local heroes Eighth Blackbird alongside My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, the National's Bryce Dessner and composition/piano paragon Nico Muhly. Other than Philip Glass's Two Pages (1968), the program is comprised entirely of music written in the past five years, including works by Tristan Perich, Steve Mackey, David Lang, Muhly, Dessner and Worden. We are especially curious to hear a world premiere original by 8bb pianist Lisa Kaplan, scored for piano four hands. Museum of Contemporary Art. May 1 (and Apr 30) at 7:30pm. $28, members $22.
Pearson Sound U.K. game-changer Pearson Sound (a.k.a. Ramadanman) fills the room with his progressively techy house-not-house and stripped-down low-end sounds, as widely heard in his high-profile remix of Radiohead's "Morning Mr Magpie." Smart Bar. 10pm. $15, advance $10, before midnight $12, students or before midnight with R.S.V.P. $5.
ART & DESIGN
Laydeez Do Comics Chicago In the immortal words of the Beastie Boys, "Hey ladies in the place, I'm callin' out to ya!" (So, yeah, not their most inventive lyric.) Anyway, this installment of Laydeez Do Comics Chicago, a monthly comics salon that originated in London, features Chi-based cartoonist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Vader's Little Princess). No, he's not a lady comics artist, but he's friends with some. Close enough. Quimbys. 7pm. Free.
We're All in This Room Together The e.t.c.'s 36th revue is a breezy and carefree charmer and features outstanding energy and performances from a mostly new cast. We loved it. The Second City e.t.c. Thu 8pm; Fri 8pm, 11pm; Sat 8pm, 11pm; Sun 7pm. $23–$28.
Johnny Marr What took the legendary guitarist 49 years to release his debut solo album, The Messenger? Well, he's been rather busy, initially with the Smiths, of course, and more recently as a gun-for-hire in the Cribs and Modest Mouse. Alone, he has a surprisingly lovely voice and a penchant for sturdy Britpop. Naturally, his gift for arpeggiated chords and melancholic jangle remain. Any Anglophilic '90s nostalgist should drool. Metro. 8pm. $30.
Dawn, Quixote Director Blake Montgomery and his cast use a familiar Building Stage tactic in their devised adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s 17th-century epic (which closes April 27): The ensemble members perform as a collective, sharing and trading roles with a fluid flair. In this case, the three male and three female actors’ baseline personas are iterations of Don Quixote, clad in roughly matching black pantaloons, gray wigs and bushy fake beards and projecting a gung-ho sense of purpose while strumming ukuleles. The cheeky, spaghetti-Western–flavored retelling can feel a bit thin and more than a little repetitious. Yet Montgomery and company’s climactic confrontation with Cervantes’s decisive conclusion plays a moving metatheatrical card. Building Stage. 8pm. $25–$30, kids and students $15–$20.
The Goodman Theatre has completed casting for Mary Zimmerman's new adaptation of The Jungle Book, headed by ten-year-old Akash Chopri as Mowgli. Other lead actors include Usman Ally as panther Bagheera; Anjali Bhimani as Raksha, the Mother Wolf; André DeShields as orangutan King Louie; Kevin Carolan as Baloo the bear; Thomas Derrah as the snake, Kaa; and Larry Yando as the crafty tiger Shere Khan. The ensemble cast also includes Glory Curda, Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Nehal Joshi, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson and Victor Wisehart.
Based on Rudyard Kipling's stories and the Walt Disney animated film, and with backing from Disney Theatrical Productions, Zimmerman's adaptation of The Jungle Book plays the Goodman June 21–August 4 before moving on to a fall run at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company. Music director Doug Peck has reorchestrated the Sherman Brothers' film score for a 12-member band that mixes jazz musicians with traditional Indian instrumentalists (hear a bit of "The Bare Necessities" in this video clip from an early music workshop). Tickets are on sale now.
TBS Just for Laughs Chicago has revealed the first wave of headliners for the fifth annual comedy fest in June, to include the likes of Bill Maher, Seth Meyers, Bob Newhart and David Cross, all performing at the Chicago Theatre.
"David Cross and His Super Duper Pals"—pals remaining to be announced—hit State Street Thursday, June 13, just a few weeks after the new season of Arrested Devlopment pops up on Netflix. Meyers, SNL's "Weekend Update" anchor and head writer, shows up June 14 with The Daily Show's Al Madrigal and Chicago native Hannibal Buress. Stand-up legend Newhart, also a Chicago native as well as a Loyola alum, headlines Saturday, June 15, while HBO's Real Time host Maher is on the marquee for June 16.
Talent announced for other venues during the June 11–16 festival includes Anjelah Johnson, Nick Swardson and the cast of truTV's Impractical Jokers at the Vic, and John Hodgman, Dylan Moran and Maria Bamford at the Park West. (Bamford and Johnson are the sole women among the initial slate of 25 comedians, which is about par for the course for Just for Laughs headliners.) Tickets for the currently announced shows go on sale Saturday, April 27 at 10am; additional shows, taking place in a total of 15 venues, will be announced in coming weeks.
Mayor Rahm has promised to recharge the stale festival. Already he has shortened the event, moved it from the 4th of July weekend and added food trucks for 2013.
So what about the bands? Until this morning, only fun. had been announced for the opening Wednesday, July 10. A rather large get, considering the trio has been ubiquitous on the airwaves over the last year. As for the rest of the headliners? Well, it's the typical mix of B-list poppers and a token rock icon.
Robin Thicke, hot off a funky viral NSFW video, follows Estelle on July 11. Led Zeppelin howler Robert Plant brings his global blues on July 12. Pleasant diva Jill Scott croons Saturday 13. Las Vegas' Killers disciples Neon Trees close the fest with their clean, hyper power-pop on Sunday evening.
Seats at the Petrillo Music Shell pavilion cost $25. As always, the lawn is free. Click here for more details.
Aleksandar Hemon The award-winning Chicago author reads from his fantastic new essay collection, The Book of My Lives. Women and Children First. 7:30pm. Free.
Anchee Min The author, whose New York Times best-selling memoir Red Azalea detailed her turbulent adolescence living in China during the Cultural Revolution, lectures. Loyola University. 7pm. Free.
Chicagoland Sexcon The annual sex convention hits the club with porn stars, sex-toy vendors, strippers and much more naughty stuff, plus DJs and booze—all making the usual night of clubbing look quite innocent. As a night out, it's not for those of Victorian disposition. The Castle. 9pm. Advance $25 at Chicagosexcon.com.
Joffrey Ballet: "Othello" So much more likable then the boy king from Game of Thrones, this Joffrey production is nonetheless as powerful and passionate. "Othello" is a perfect vehicle for showcasing the company's dynamo dancers. The contemporary ballet contains jealousy, betrayal, forbidden love and a propulsive score by Oscar winner Elliot B. Goldenthal. Auditorium Theatre. Wed–Fri 7:30pm; Sat 2pm, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm. Through May 5. $31–$152.
The Tomkat Project Seven actors dazzle in the roles of more than 50 characters in Brandon Ogborn's exhilarating new comedy about celebrity culture where fact and fiction blur seamlessly. The Playground Theater. 8pm. $15.
The Chicago Humanities Festival asks the deep questions we ask ourselves before we fall asleep at night, or stare out at the grandeur of Lake Michigan on a warm summer's eve, or take a toke of something greenish (legally, that is…in Colorado or Washington). Questions like: What makes us human? How do we make sense of life on this planet? Where can I get a Doritos Locos Taco, stat?
But whereas our Q's only prompt more Q's, the CHF attempts to answer them—or at least have experts present their research, experiences and creative discoveries. The fall 2013 festival—which takes place October 13 and 20 and November 1 through 10—considers "animal" from various angles. Specifically, how recent scholarship on the human-animal relationship has evolved and changed, with, as CHF artistic director Matti Bunzl notes, "unprecedented convergence in once-distant fields."
The CHF fest's real strong suit is pondering a theme across multiple disciplines—film, visual art, science, literature, etc.—and this year features more than 100 diverse events that explore what it means to be human or animal. Among the presenters are animal scientist Temple Grandin, medical scholar and surgeon Atula Gawande, novelist Sherman Alexie, primatologist Frans de Waal, New Yorker writer Susan Orlean, psychoanalytic theorist Julia Kristeva, author Justin Torres and Harvard prof/fairy tale expert Maria Tatar.
The full schedule will be announced in August, and tickets go on sale on September 3 (for CHF members) and September 16 (for the general public). Don't miss the chance to get a liberal arts education in just a couple weeks.
New theater season announcements have rolled out in the last 24 hours from three very different theater companies.
Profiles Theatre has released the slate for its 25th season at its two neighboring venues. The fall lineup includes: In God's Hat by Rhett Rossi, directed by Joe Jahraus (August 23–October 18); Neil LaBute's Wrecks—because no Profiles season would be complete at this point without a Neil LaBute play—directed by Jason Gerace (September 27–November 17); and the seasonal return of Will Kern's Hellcab (November 14–January 12).
In the new year, Profiles will mount the Chicago premiere of Gidion's Knot, for which playwright Johnna Adams was awarded the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award earlier this month at the Humana Festival of New American Plays; Jahraus will direct (January 17–March 9). Darrell W. Cox will direct Mike Bartlett's Olivier Award–winning Cock (February 14–April 6); Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's Hunter Gatherers closes the season, helmed by Rick Snyder (May 16–June 29).
Porchlight Music Theatre's 19th season, presented entirely at Stage 773, will kick off with the Chicago premiere of the musical quick-change farce Double Trouble, by Bob and Jim Walton (August 31–October 6). Next is the Fats Waller revue Ain't Misbehavin' (February 1–March 9), followed by a revival of a rather large musical for a small stage: the 1961 satire How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (April 21–June 6).
Porchlight also inaugurates a new series of concert readings focused on a single year in musical-theater history, titled "Porchlight Revisits…". This season's readings, all from 1964, include Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents's Anyone Can Whistle (September 25); Golden Boy (February 26), based on the Clifford Odets play with a score by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse; and Fade Out–Fade In, by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne (May 21).
Chicago Children's Theatre remains in residence at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, where it will present a remount of its inaugural production, A Year With Frog & Toad, again directed by Henry Godinez (October 9–November 24). A new R&B-flavored musical, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, is based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy) and features a score by the father-son team of Lamont and Paris Dozier, directed by Derrick Sanders (January 21–March 2). The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar will have a return engagement, playing one weekend at Skokie's North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (April 25–26) before settling in at CCT (April 29–June 1).
Also in early 2014, Chicago Children's Theatre will launch a "Later Stages" series for older children, with programming presented by groups like Theater Un-Speak-Able and Manual Cinema, as well as Red Kite, Blue Sky, a performance created specifically for children on the autism spectrum, presented at Pritzker Pavilion's rehearsal room (dates for both to be announced).
The lyrics of Phoenix's fifth album read like a litany of luxury: "chandelier," "crystal," "Caledonian rich and young," "Scandinavian leather," "Voyageur canoes," "the bronze, the silver, the gold," "Bel Air," "cruise ship," etc. The music is equally grandiose, layered in dense vintage synthesizers that shroud each song like a thick coat of statically charged mink. There's a clever trick employed throughout, where each instrument is doubled in the left and right channels, the sonic equivalent of a higher thread count. The results are immersive, a mineral mud bath to ease into. If the preceeding Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix signaled the quartet's move into its Classical period, then Bankrupt! must be their majestic Romantic record. Their Hector Berloiz Phoenix.