The Mix: Cool things to do Jan. 20-26 in Chicago

“The Gem of the Ocean” at the Goodman Theatre, Kane Brown in concert, the Chicago International Puppet Festival and “Disney on Ice” are among the entertainment offerings in the week ahead.

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Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse star in “Disney on Ice: Mickey’s Search Party.”

Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse star in “Disney on Ice: Mickey’s Search Party.”

Courtesy Disney On Ice

Family Fun

  • Favorite Disney characters return for “Disney on Ice: Mickey’s Search Party.” Mickey and pals embark on a journey as they follow Captain Hook’s treasure map for clues to find Tinker Bell after he attempts to capture her magic for himself. Characters from Disney films — “Coco,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen,” “Toy Story,” “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid” — help Mickey on his quest. From Jan. 20-Feb. 6 at Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont. Tickets: $15+. Visit


  • The drama that begins August Wilson’s epic 10-play American Century Cycle — “The Gem of the Ocean” — returns to the Goodman Theatre stage where it premiered nearly two decades ago. It’s 1904 and slavery’s shadow looms large but there’s solace to be found at the home of 285-year-old Ester Tyler, keeper and transmitter of African American history and cleanser of souls. Chuck Smith directs a stellar cast featuring Sharif Atkins, Sydney Charles, Lisa Gaye Dixon, Gary Houston, Kelvin Roston Jr., A.C. Smith and James A. Williams. From Jan. 22-Feb. 27 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: $25-$80. Visit
Alex Syiek (left) plays TV weatherman Phil Connors and Phoebe González plays Phil’s producer, Rita, in Paramount Theatre’s regional premiere of “Groundhog Day: The Musical.” | Photo by Thomas J. King

Alex Syiek (left) plays TV weatherman Phil Connors and Phoebe González plays Phil’s producer, Rita, in Paramount Theatre’s regional premiere of “Groundhog Day: The Musical.”

Advance photo by Thomas J. King

  • The Paramount Theatre kicks off the new year with the regional premiere of “Groundhog Day,” Danny Rubin and Tim Minchin’s Tony Award-nominated musical, based on the movie about cynical weatherman Phil Connors who is living a never-ending nightmare stuck in a small town where he becomes caught in a time loop. The 25-member cast features Alex Syiek as Connors with Phoebe Gonzalez as his producer Rita Hanson; artistic director Jim Corti directs. From Jan. 26-March 13 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena. Tickets: $36-$79. Visit
  • Northlight Theatre presents Donja R. Love’s “Fireflies,” a drama in which the playwright looks at the often overlooked role Black women played in the American civil rights movement. A charismatic preacher (Al’Jaleel McGhee) relies on his wife (Chanell Bell) to pen his fiery speeches but her tolerance for playing the supporting role is wearing thin. Mikael Burke directs. From Jan. 20-Feb. 20 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets: $30-$89. Visit

“The Bluest Eye” | Photo by Luke Younge

Luke Younge

  • The 4th annual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival returns Jan. 20-30 with a line-up of more than 20 productions from Chicago and across the country (travel restrictions didn’t allow for any international acts this year). Among the contemporary puppet works are Margaret Laurena Kemp and Janni Younge’s “The Bluest Eye,” Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s coming-of-age novel; Nick Lehane’s “Chimpanzee,” about chimpanzee’s raised as children in human homes; Bread and Puppet Theater’s “The Persians,” an adaptation of Aeschylus’ ancient tragedy; Cabinet of Curiosity’s “Sea Change,” an exploration of the power of the sea; and Rootstock Puppet Company’s “Timber,” about a forest, its inhabitants and the artist who defends it. Plus, there’s Robin Frohardt’s “The Plastic Bag Store,” an interactive, public art installation in the Wrigley Building which features a grocery store stocked with thousands of hand-sculpted items from rotisserie chickens and sushi to cupcakes and veggies, each made from discarded single-use plastic. For a full schedule and locations of performances, visit
  • Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet of Solo Festival returns as a streaming event Jan. 21-Feb. 13. Celebrating Chicago’s enduring storytelling and live lit scene, the event features work by 10 storytelling collectives and 28 solo performers including Christina Calvit, Jimmy Carreane, Jimmy Doyle, Ayun Halliday, Amanda Link, Kim Morris, Mike Speller and many more. The storytelling collectives include Back Room Stories, Serving the Sentence, Stir-Friday Night, Sweat Girls and Tellin’ Tales Theatre. Tickets: pay-what-you-can (Lifeline suggests $45) for access to the full roster of artists plus live virtual events including panel discussions and workshops. For more information, visit
  • Barry Ball’s “Sons of Hollywood” is a look back in time to 1920s Hollywood through the eyes of gay silent film stars Ramon Novarro and William Haines. From Jan. 26-April 16 at Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park. Tickets: $55-$75. Visit … First Folio Theatre presents David Rice’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “The Secret Council,” a mystery about a plot to undermine the governments of the U.S. and the U.K shortly after the Great War. From Jan. 26-Feb. 27 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st and Rt. 83, Oak Brook. Tickets: $49, $59. Visit


Boogie woogie, blues and jazz piano master Erwin Helfer. | Photo by Jim DeJong

Erwin Helfer

Photo by Jim DeJong

  • Boogie woogie, blues and jazz piano master Erwin Helfer celebrates his 86th birthday with the release of his book “Blues Piano and How to Play It” and a concert where he’ll perform with longtime collaborators John Brumbach, Katherine Davis, Davide Ilardi and Skinny Williams. Gospel music legends Elsa Harris and Pastor Donald Gay will also perform and be part of this Sirens Records celebration of Helfer’s long and continuing contributions to Chicago music. At 7 and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $22. Visit
Tedeschi Trucks Band

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Photo by Caitlin Moore

  • Tedeschi Trucks Band is back on the road and coming to town for a four-night residency at the Chicago Theatre. Led by guitarist Derek Trucks and singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, the shows will feature the full, reunited 12-piece band including new drummer Isaac Eady. At 8 p.m. Jan. 21-22, 28-29 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets: $19+. Visit Also, the film, “Learning to Live: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishman,” a documentary about Trucks and Tedeschi’s reunion of performers involved in Joe Cocker’s legendary 1970 tour, will be screened at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway, Aurora. Tickets: $20, $22. Visit
Kane Brown performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Z100 Jingle Ball 2021 in New York City.

Kane Brown performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Z100 Jingle Ball 2021 in New York City.

Getty Images

  • Called “the future of country” music by Billboard, 28-year-old Kane Brown has released chart-topping albums and won his share of awards. He’s also known for his interesting collaborative streak (John Legend, Khalid, Swae Lee, Chris Young), which continued last fall with the release of the slow-burning “Blessed & Free,” written and recorded with R&B singer-guitarist H.E.R. Brown recently launched his own label, 1021 Entertainment, and has said his goal is to work on inclusivity initiatives in music. Brown performs at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Tickets: $25+. Visit
Branford Marsalis performs “America the Beautiful” before the Men’s Singles final match on Day Fourteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 13, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City.

Branford Marsalis performs “America the Beautiful” before the Men’s Singles final match at the 2020 US Open in New York City.

Getty Images

  • Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis is a concert collaboration that explores the meeting of jazz and classical music. The program selections range from Debussy’s jazz-inspired “Rhapsody” to a world premiere by Courtney Bryan that is a contemporary take on themes from “Carmen,” Bizet’s classic 1875 opera. At 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets: $34-$105. Visit
  • Jackie Smook and her pianist Joey Chimes return to Davenport’s with “The Jackie Smook Program of De-Dumbification,” a puppet-filled, comedic show which takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride through her true self-help journey of growth. At 8 p.m. Jan. 24, Feb. 5, April 2, May 7, June 14; 10:30 p.m. March 5 at Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $20, plus 2-drink minimum. Visit

Museums & Galleries

  • The Rebuild Foundation and Anthony Gallery are collaborating on a yearlong series of exhibitions showcasing Black art and Black artists. The first exhibit, “Is where it’s at!,” features the collage work of Chicago-based Nigerian American artist Adeshola Makinde. Featured are new and existing works drawing from Ebony and Jet Magazines and paying homage to the Johnson Publishing Company’s reign in documenting, celebrating and amplifying all aspects of Black life in America. From Jan. 21-Feb. 27 at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Admission is free. Visit
  • The exhibit “A Site of Struggle: American Art Against Anti-Black Violence,” explores the various ways American artists have grappled with anti-Black violence. Featured are nearly 65 works in a range of media spanning more than 100 years from the anti-lynching campaigns of the 1890s to the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement. Among the artists represented are Laylah Ali, George Bellows, Elizabeth Catlett, Darryl Cowherd, Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and many more. From Jan. 26-July 10 at Northwestern University’s Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston. Admission is free. Visit

NOTE: Check events’ websites for COVID policies.

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