Daley Plaza Christmas Tree Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the city's first municipal Christmas tree on November 26. At 6pm, Mayor Emanuel flips the switch. Show up at 5pm to watch live performances by Darlene Love and the Joffrey Academy of Dance. As usual, the UL Santa House is open in conjunction. Visit the replica Santa's workshop for kid-friendly amusements and photo ops. Daley Plaza. 11am–8pm.
Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker With designs that suggest a pop-up book come to life and choreography that honors both the narrative and Tchaikovsky's score, Robert Joffrey's 1987 Nutcracker (with contributions by Gerald Arpino) is among the country's best versions of the holiday ballet. The Chicago Sinfonietta provides live accompaniment, along with a children's choir, which performs in the lobby before curtain and during the intermission. Through Dec 28; visit joffrey.com for further details. Auditorium Theatre. 7pm. $31–$117.
Individual tickets for the first national tour of Motown the Musical will go on sale this Friday, December 13, at 10am, Broadway in Chicago said today. The new jukebox tuner by Motown mogul Berry Gordy, with songs from the Motown records catalog made famous by the likes of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson 5, is set to kick off its touring production with a 12-week stint at Chicago's Oriental Theatre, April 22–July 13. See broadwayinchicago.com for box office details.
The Goodman Theatre today named four Chicago playwrights to the fourth iteration of its Playwrights Unit residency program. The Gift Theatre ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker, Theater Oobleck cofounder Mickle Maher, Chicago Dramatists resident playwright Anne García-Romero and Laura Schellhardt, head of undergraduate playwriting at Northwestern University, join the fourth iteration of the Goodman's residency program.
The Goodman also named Erica Weiss, associate artistic director of Route 66 Theatre Company, the recipient of the 2013/2014 Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship. Weiss, recently a nominee for Best Next-Generation Stage Director in Time Out Chicago's Best Awards, will assist on a Goodman production to be named.
Martín Zimmerman's The Solid Sand Below, currently onstage in a workshop production as part of the Goodman's New Stages festival, was developed as a part of the Playwrights Unit residency of 2011/2012.
Last winter’s trendy Canadian comfort food poutine is showing up again this year just as frigid temperatures begin to set in. Not familiar with the dish? The popular bar snack is composed of deep-fried potatoes, rich meaty gravy and a handful of squeaky-fresh cheese curds. Quickly becoming a new cult favorite, the dish is still popping up on menus across the city, has its very own festival (disclaimer: we’re the organizers of Poutine Fest), and is even appearing as a take-home freezer meal-in-a-bag from Trader Joe’s.
During December, Mercadito is throwing their gravy boat into the ring with a rather unusual spin on poutine for their Tacos for Strength campaign, which donates 5 percent of sales to Share our Strength, an organization focused on ending childhood hunger. This month’s unholy taco combination is the brainchild of Paul Tanguay of Tippling Bros., who has worked in many of Quebec’s best restaurants. We headed in to find out what happens when you combine the cuisines of our country’s neighbors to the North and South.
A corn tortilla is folded around a heap of braised beef and topped with bits of fried potatoes, cheese curds and serrano gravy. The ratio of traditional poutine is turned on its head, with the majority of the filling consisting of beef instead of fries. The tacos turned out to be surprisingly tasty and reproduced all the gooey flavor of poutine in an easy-to-eat taco package. We wouldn’t have minded getting our hands a little dirty in exchange for more of the serrano gravy, as the dish lacked a decent level of heat and the rich, slow-cooked wholesomeness of gravy. The poutine tacos come four to an order at dinner ($16.50) and three during lunch ($12.50).
Lovers of random punctuation and capitalization in band names got an early Xmas last night, as Q87.7FM threw its Twas the Night Before bash at Aragon. Emo-pop act Panic! at the Disco headlined, as Alaska-born rock act Portugal. The Man served up songs off its Danger Mouse produced seventh album, Evil Friends. Electronic-tinged, female-fronted pop acts MS MR and NONONO took the opening slots. This past summer, the local alternative rock radio station hosted its PIQNIQ with Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Holiday Cheers! Grab your tasting glass and enjoy a selection of local spirits, wine, and winter brews at Burnstein Hall at the Chicago Botanic Garden. As you enjoy tastings from the city's breweries, distilleries and wineries, you'll be surrounded by the Wonderland Express model train exhibition. Tickets include a wristband, tasting glass and tasting guide. Must be 21 or older to attend. Chicago Botanic Garden. 6pm–8pm. $23/$28, $20/$25 advance.
No Tell Motel Deb hosts the weekly sex-capades of Chicago's sleaziest and sexiest performers on the main-floor stage, er, room No. 13 of No Tell Motel. Rockers from local bands are scheduled to drop in for sets alongside burlesque regulars and resident DJ Andrew Vonn. Performances take place at midnight. Debonair Social Club. 10pm.
The warring Westons of August: Osage County battled it out onscreen at a preview showing last night. During a post-screening Q&A, Tracy Letts was asked what he thought the film adaptation added to his Pulitzer-winning play, which premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2007.
The other members of the cast and crew present—actors Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and producer Steve Traxler—looked over at Letts as the playwright thought for a moment. "Osage County," Letts said. "You can see it [in the film]. In the play, we could only suggest what was beyond the walls of that house."
CH Distillery has been making vodka, gin, rum and whiskey for awhile in its West Loop distillery/cocktail bar, and now it's added another spirit to its lineup—limoncello. The citrusy liqueur, made with lemons, vodka and sugar, is easily made at home, but CH has teamed up with Naples native Giuliana Vitagliano, who wanted to work with a distillery to distribute her family’s recipe.
“We’re really making it on a contract basis with Giuliana, but it’s more of a joint venture,” Tremaine Atkinson, who founded CH with Mark Lucas, tells us. “We’re going to be making it indefinitely, as long as people want to keep buying it.”
We sampled it at the distillery last week, and bottles are also available for purchase. We found the liqueur was creamier than we’re used to, and there’s a good reason for that—it’s a milk-based limoncello.
“The milk makes it a little bit unusual,” Atkinson says. “It gives it a lovely creaminess. But the real reason why it tastes so good is that we use fresh lemon peels, and that’s where the lemon flavor comes from. There’s the equivalent of four lemons in each bottle.”
Atkinson says that CH bartenders have been making martinis with vodka and a splash of limoncello, but it’s mostly being served straight. And with a sweetness that’s refreshing but not cloying, it’s a pretty ideal way to end an evening at CH.
“I refer to it as dessert in a glass,” Atkinson says.
1. Jerry Seinfeld When he's not getting coffee in cars with other comedians, Seinfeld is still honing new stand-up material. Find out what the deal is with 2013 as he stops by the Chicago Theatre for three shows. Chicago Theatre. December 13 at 7pm; December 14 at 7, 9:30pm. $49–$83.
2. The Yeah Buddy Awesome Time Comedy Show No dough for Seinfeld? We feel you. Check out this free monthly show at Brainstorm Comics, on the third floor of the Flat Iron Arts Building. December's lineup includes Ricky Gonzalez, Sarah Gallagher, Zach Peterson, Dave Losso, Mike Knish and more. Brainstorm Comics. December 14 at 8:30pm. Free/BYOB.
3. The Lincoln Lodge It's a double-header this Friday at the alt-comedy institution. The regular 9pm show features Trey Brown, Katie McVay, Adam Burke and host Ricky Gonzalez; at 11pm, Chicago ex-pat and Comedians You Should Know co-founder Drew Michael is back in town to try out an hour of new material, with support from Raymond Holleb and Alex Stone. The Lincoln Lodge. December 13 at 9pm. $10. December 13 at 11pm. $5.
4. The Nasty Show Chicago comedians pull out their raunchiest material for this night of blue humor hosted by Aaron Foster. The Laugh Factory. December 14 at 10pm. $20.
5. pH Standup Showcase Kenny Metroff and Eric Oren host this weekly stand-up throwdown at pH's Andersonville home. pH Comedy Theater. December 13 at 9:30pm. $15, students $10.
Oscar Isaac’s breakout role comes in a film all about trying to break out. In the latest from Joel and Ethan Coen, the darkly comedic Inside Llewyn Davis, the 33-year-old Isaac plays the title character, an aspiring singer-songwriter in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the bitter winter of 1961. Still reeling from the suicide of his musical partner, the itinerant Davis becomes a connoisseur of couches as he trudges through slushy streets from the usual gig at the now-legendary basement coffee shop Gaslight Café to a silly studio session (with Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver as fellow folkies) and headlong into a number of creative and personal setbacks. All the while, he's chasing that elusive beast, success, which arrives in the form of a slippery orange cat.
Back in October, when the Guatemalan-born actor was in town for the local premiere of Inside Llewyn Davis at the Chicago International Film Festival, I asked him about his own couch-surfing experiences. “I didn’t have to do too much of that,” said Isaac, his voice hoarse from a developing cold. The River North hotel where we met was just a half mile from the former location of the Gate of Horn, the famed folk venue at Chicago Avenue and Dearborn Street to which Isaac’s character makes the westward trek for an impromptu audition with the talent manager Bud Grossman (a wonderfully cold-blooded F. Murray Abraham), who is based on the real-life Chicago music businessman Albert Grossman.
Isaac, who up to this point was perhaps best known for playing Carey Mulligan’s ex-con hubby in Drive, admitted he has personally never known the struggles of his character. “I’ve been very fortunate that I went to Julliard, and as soon as I got out, I started working and have worked pretty consistently since. That has a lot to do with luck, and I think the Coens recognize that they’ve been very fortunate, too. In a way, Llewyn Davis is their acknowledgement that it all could’ve easily gone the other way.”
French Pinot Noir Tasting: Burgundy and Beyond Warm up at Telegraph, where sommelier Jeremy Quinn pairs French pinot noirs with hearty dishes. Tickets available here. Telegraph. 2601 N Milwaukee Ave. Dec 10 at 7pm. $40.
Lunch and Learn with Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern Learn how to cook like Gramercy Tavern chef Michael Anthony over lunch, which includes a reception and cookbook signing. Tickets available here. The Standard Club. 320 S Plymouth Ct. Dec 10 at 11:30am. $40
ART & DESIGN
"State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970" An extensive survey of avant-garde and conceptual art that emerged in California during the late 1960s and early '70s, this thematically organized exhibition features work by 60 artists and collectives, including Ant Farm, Bas Jan Ader, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Lynn Hershman, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler and Ed Ruscha. Originally part of the Pacific Standard Time series, the show features more than 150 socially charged, experimental and pioneering works, including installations, video, films, photographs, artists' books and more. Smart Museum of Art. 10am–5pm.
Relax Attack Jazz Series Every Tuesday, the art-inspired lounge hosts a Jazz artist to come soothe guests who may be suffering from the beginning of the week blues. The Whistler. 9:30pm. Free.
Beyoncé It's the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour Starring BEYONCÉ (her caps). Hey, they don't call her a diva for her humility. United Center. Dec 13 at 8pm. $45–$250.
The Breeders The bad news is that Kim Deal has left the Pixies. The good news is that means you can catch both the Breeders and Pixies in Chicago this winter. The Dayton band will rip through Last Splash and Pod in their entireties. Metro. Dec 14 at 9pm. $28.
The Christmas Schooner A family brings the first Christmas-tree ship to Chicago in this bittersweet historical musical by John Reeger and Julie Shannon, a long-standing tradition. Read Gwen Purdom's four-star review. Mercury Theater. Dec 11 at 7:30pm; Dec 12 at 2, 7:30pm; Dec 13 at 8pm; Dec 14 at 2, 8pm; Dec 15 at 2pm. $20–$55.
Hubbard Street Dance Company: Winter Series Back by popular demand, the full-length, full-company production One Thousand Pieces, inspired by Marc Chagall’s America Windows, highlights choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and music by Philip Glass. Harris Theater. Dec 12 at 7:30pm; Dec 13, 14 at 8pm; Dec 15 at 3pm.
Many visitors to the John Hancock Building (ourselves among them) bypass the Observatory and head to the 96th-floor Signature Lounge, which affords the same breathtaking views—80 miles into the distance, of four states—without the steep admission fee. Soon we might have a compelling reason to stop on 94, though. Crain's Chicago Business reported today that the owner of the Observatory—the Paris-based Montaparnasse Group 56, which purchased it in 2012 for $44.2 million—plans to create an extreme tourist experience called "the Tilt."
Two things we've gathered from the description: 1) It sounds like a nightmare for anyone who fears heights; 2) It makes the Ledge, the popular glass balcony extending from the Willis Tower Skydeck, sound like kiddie shit. "The Tilt" is an enclosed glass box protruding from the Observatory that would hold several thrill-seeking visitors at a time and, once they were strapped in, would tilt downward to offer a new persepective of the city.
Good job, everyone! We ate everything at Eataly last week, so the Italian megastore is closed today to restock and "preserve our standards of quality and service," DNAInfo.com reports. We paid our first (of many) visits to Eataly last week and it was packed, so it's not at all surprising to hear that more than 120,000 shoppers and 80,000 diners visited in the first week the store was open. Eataly will reopen tomorrow at 8am.
Fresh starts can be hard to come by, but when former Midlake frontman Tim Smith left the group last year, the band's remaining members were left with no choice but to begin anew. Guitarist Eric Pulido took the reigns, guiding the Texas outfit through the recording of its fourth LP, Antiphon. A departure from the Jethro Tull–indebted folk of The Courage of Others, Midlake's newest album channels the lush prog-rock of groups like Pink Floyd and Camel. The six-piece band filled the stage at Schubas on Thursday night, introducing its reconfigured lineup to a sold-out crowd. Fellow Denton resident Sarah Jaffe opened up the evening with a performance that showcased her versatile voice. Clad in a hot pink Hawaiian shirt that seemed out of place among the festive wreaths and garlands adorning the concert hall, the native Texan praised the attentive crowd while bemoaning the frigid weather. Making her way through the pulsating synth-pop of "Defense" and the confessional balladry of "Vulnerable," Jaffe's confident demeanor commanded the attention of those in attendance, even as latecomers shuffled into the venue.
The slicked-back wolfman hair. The mustache. The aviators. The aggro gum chewing. And, of course, the Bears sweater vest. The Mike Ditka costume is pretty obvious, but you have to have a certain something to pull it off. We were hoping for more contestants like this at the Mike Ditka Look-Alike Contest last night at Double Door, which raised money for the Otis Wilson Charitable Association (check out Wilson in the audience—he was a judge), but these Da Coaches are dead ringers. The winner received two tickets to tonight's Bears vs. Cowboys game at Soldier Field, when Ditka's number will be retired.
Dillon Francis + Anamanguchi Prepare to go bonkers. NYC outfit Anamanaguchi uses vintage electronics to pay tribute to bleepy, action-packed Nintendo soundtracks, creating the most perverse take on the Zelda score, ever. Moombahton pioneer Dillon Francis, like all Mad Decent bass-droppers, tries his damnedest to make white kids twerk. The bill is branded IDGAFOS (I Don't Give a Fuck or Santa). As Frosty said before playing in the sun, "YOLO!" Aragon. Dec 14 at 8pm. $27.50.
Girl Unit + Nguzunguzu Girl Unit's a Night Slug. Gross, right? Hardly. One of a number of increasingly prominent U.K. bass-music innovators, joined under the banner of the Night Slugs label, GU has a deep-seated love of American R&B and hip-hop, and it comes out in his productions, which are nonetheless decidedly from the U.K.: soulful and full of that low-end 808 whomp whomp dubstep fans crave. L.A. digi-tropical duo Nguzunguzu are hot off producing alien R&B for Kelela's wonderful Cut 4 Me.