Things to do in Chicago Nov. 17-23: The Mix

Zoolights, the Millennium Park tree lighting, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Goodman’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ are all part of an especially festive week in the Chicago area.

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The annual Zoolights display transforms Lincoln Park Zoo.

Christopher Bijalba


  • Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” celebrates its 45th anniversary with Larry Yando returning as Ebenezer Scrooge. He leads a cast of 32 in the annual staging of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story. Director Jessica Thebus says it’s “a story that feels fresh every year, thanks to the unique, invigorating energy of all the voices telling it.” From Nov. 19-Dec. 31 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: $25+. Visit
  • “Mosque4Mosque” is Omer Abbas Salem’s new comedy about a queer, Arab-American Muslim man (Omer Abbas Salem) navigating his first real relationship while his immigrant mother (Rula Gardenier) tries to find the perfect man for him to marry. Sophiyaa Nayar directs. From Nov. 17-Dec. 17 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: pay-what-you-can $5-$35. Visit

Lionesses dance in the national tour of “The Lion King.”

Deen van Meer

  • Julie Taymor’s groundbreaking adaptation of the classic Disney movie “The Lion King” returns for a nine-week run. The musical features songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. From Nov. 17-Jan. 14 at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets: $33+. Visit

Audrey Billings and Brandon Dahlquist in “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”

Michael Brosilow

  • Take a trip to Bedford Falls at American Blues Theater’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!,” the annual radio-play adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic film. Gwendolyn Whiteside directs. From Nov. 23-Dec. 23 at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Tickets: $25-$65. Visit
  • “Frank Ferrante’s Groucho” is the actor-comedian’s solo show celebrating the style and spirit of Groucho Marx through songs, stories and improvisation. Dreya Weber directs. At 7 p.m. Nov. 22 at Cabaret ZaZou, Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph. Tickets: $45-$85. Visit
  • The Second City rings in the holidays with “What the Elf?” (Nov. 17-Jan. 1), an original sketch, variety and improv celebration of the season, and “The Best of The Second City Holidays” (Nov. 21-Dec. 31), a compilation of more than 60 years of sketches with a holiday theme. The Second City, 230 W. North. Tickets: $29+. Visit
  • Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents “Season’s Greetings,” Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy about the anxiety and hijinks of an average family during the holidays. Connie Canaday Howard directs. From Nov. 17-Dec. 18 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn. Tickets: $42. Visit


Pianist Erwin Helfer.

Pianist Erwin Helfer.

Steven Dolins

  • A Blues, Boogie and Gospel Keyboard Party teams up Chicago musical treasure Erwin Helfer and Spain’s Lluis Coloma for an evening of blues and boogie woogie piano. They are joined by three accomplished and soulful gospel keyboard artists: Bishop Dwayne Mason, Richard Gibbs and Cliff Dubose. At 7 and 9:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $24. Visit
  • Two stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — Peppermint and Jujubee — co-headline a performance with a live band (no lip-syncing here). They’ll perform selections from their recent albums “Moment of Weakness: Letter to My Lovers” and “good juju Vol. 1 & 2.” At 8 p.m. Nov. 23 at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston. Tickets: $25-$35. Visit
  • Chicago Opera Theater presents “King Roger,” a Polish-language grand opera that combines a 120-person choir, a full orchestra and national and international soloists including Polish opera stars Mariusz Godlewski and Iwona Sabotka making their Chicago debut. At 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 3 p.m. Nov. 20 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets: $25-$165. Visit



Engel Leonardo’s “Jimayaco” (2017), part of “Forecast Form.”

Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Sahira and Gerber

  • “Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today” focuses on art from the Caribbean diaspora and features work by 37 artists. The exhibition challenges conventional ideas about the region and reveals the Caribbean as a place defined not by geography, language or ethnicity but by constant exchange, displacement and movement. From Nov. 19-April 23 at Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Admission: $15. Visit

A helmet mask attributed to Ofunwa Ume of Awka is part of “The Language of Beauty in African Art.”

Dierking Collection, Zurich. Photo by Thomas Scheidt.

  • More than 250 sculptures from diverse cultures across the African continent are featured in “The Language of Beauty in African Art.” The exhibit seeks to decolonize the Western aesthetic standards long placed on these objects and to elevate the local indigenous perspectives of the works’ makers and communities. Nov. 20-Feb.27 at Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. Admission: $14-$35. Visit



“Haute Couture” will screen at the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival.

Roger Do Minh

  • JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with a series of films running over three weekends. From Nov. 17-20, the films are Rodrigo Cortes’ “Love Gets a Room,” about a group of actors performing in the Warsaw Ghetto; Sylvie Ohayon’s “Haute Couture,” the story of a Dior seamstress who takes care of a young thief; Marvin Samel’s “iMordecai,” about a Holocaust survivor facing the realities of the modern world. and Krzysztof Lang’s “March ’68,” the story of two students who fall in love in 1960s Warsaw. In person at Landmark Renaissance Place, 1850 2nd St., Highland Park. Streaming also is available. The festival continues Jan. 26-29 and Feb. 23-26. Tickets: $15, $100 festival pass. Visit

The late Charlie Trotter is profiled in “Love, Charlie.”

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

  • When a documentary about late Chicago chef Charlie Trotter had its world premiere last fall at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper praised it as “the definitive look at the man’s life and times” in his 3.5-star review. “Love, Charlie” is available on demand starting Friday and can be seen at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 and 7 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave. Q&A’s will follow each screening. Tickets: $11. Visit

Family Fun


“Forts” at Filament Theatre.

Audia Inc.

  • “FORTS: Build Your Own Adventure” is an immersive play experience for families. Using cardboard boxes, sheets, clothespins and more, participants let their imagination go wild as they bring their fort-building fantasy to life. From Nov. 19-Jan. 8 (1, 3 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. Sundays) at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $10-$15. Adults can get in on the fun at 7 p.m. Friday evenings at “FORTS: Adult Night Experience,” $15. Visit

Holiday Fun


The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink opens Friday at Millennium Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

  • Chicago’s massive and very beautiful Millennium Park Christmas tree will be illuminated at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Michigan and Washington. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink opens Nov. 18-March 5. Admission is free but online tickets are required. The Art Market returns Nov. 18-20 with artists selling jewelry, pottery, paintings and more. Also returning is the park’s Holiday Sing-Along on Fridays Nov. 25-Dec. 16 and featuring choruses from around the city. Millennium Park at Michigan and Randolph is open 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. For more information, visit
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Parade kicks off with a tree lighting and musical entertainment at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Wrigley Building Centennial Plaza, 410 N. Michigan. Daylong family activities continue at 11 a.m. Nov. 19, including musical performances by the Pointer Sisters, the Spinners, Debbie Gibson and C&C Music Factory. The festival culminates in a parade at 5:30 p.m. on Michigan from Oak to Wacker with grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. All events are free. For a complete list of events, visit
  • The beloved holiday favorite Christkindlmarket returns with its annual array of holiday gifts, food, mulled wine, hot chocolate and, of course, a new collectible mug. From Nov. 18-Dec. 24 in Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, and RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora. From Nov. 18-Dec. 31 in Wrigleyville’s Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark. Admission is free. Visit
  • Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights returns for its 28th annual holiday display with the zoo grounds transformed into a land of twinkling lights, including a re-envisioned Candyland Light Show. Plus a Ferris wheel, a light maze and more. For adults there’s Brewlights (Dec. 1), Chris White Trio’s Tribute to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Dec. 11, $35), Adults Night Out: Holidaze (Dec. 15, $15+) and Zoo Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, $20+). From Nov. 18-Jan. 1 at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark. Tickets: $5, free on Monday. Visit
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