The Mix: Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and more cool things to do in Chicago Nov. 26-Dec. 2
There’s much to see and do in Chicago in-person and online in the week ahead.
Here’s a holiday gift from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: a free virtual season throughout December beginning with a 60th anniversary celebration of the company’s signature work “Revelations” on Dec. 2. Included are commentary and analysis by Ailey experts and former dancers plus the debut of a new dance, “Testament,” by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano, which speaks to their personal experiences with the iconic work. The season also includes the world premiere of Jamar Roberts’ “A Jam Session for Troubling Times,” set to the music of Charlie Parker, and a program featuring newly recorded performances of dances Ailey created to Duke Ellington’s music. For more information, visit alvinailey.org.
Holidays at the zoo
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic lights up the zoo with more than a million twinkling lights, animal sculptures, a 600-foot-long tunnel with lights synchronized to music and, what sounds like a lot of fun, a Game of Gnomes scavenger hunt. From Nov. 27-Dec. 31 at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield. (The zoo will be closed Jan. 1-Feb. 28.) Tickets: $17.95-$24.95. Visit czs.org.
Pioneering Chicano play
In a special arrangement with L.A. Theatre Works, Porchlight Music Theatre is presenting a 2001 radio broadcast of Luis Valdez’s groundbreaking musical “Zoot Suit.” Pulsing with the beat of big-band music and traditional Latin songs, the show uses the Sleepy Lagoon murder case in which 12 Latino youths were unjustly convicted by a biased judge to examine the zoot suit culture in the 1940s. The free stream is available Nov. 27-Dec. 30. Visit porchlightmusictheatre.org.
An epic tale
In celebration of the Indian holiday of Diwali, the National Indo-American Museum presents “The Story of Ram 2020,” a virtual performance by Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, with guest appearances by artists from around the world. They perform a modern, cross-cultural interpretation of the epic “Ramayana” incorporating South and Southeast Asia dance theater and music traditions to tell the ancient story of Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman exiled in the forest — and at odds with the brilliant king Ravana. Streams in four episodes Dec. 1-4 with the entire story streamed on Dec. 5. Tickets: $25 for the entire series. Visit niam.org.
Broadway star shines
The Sarah Siddons Award winner is usually celebrated at a gala ticketed event. But this year all theater fans can get front-row access when Tony Award-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell accepts the award at a free virtual event. Mitchell’s Broadway accomplishments and his leadership with the Actor’s Fund are celebrated via congratulations from colleagues and songs from his stage career performed by up-and-coming Chicago talent. Previous Siddons award winners range from Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall and Angela Lansbury to Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. The free event streams at 5 p.m. Nov. 29; advance registration is required. Visit sarahsiddonssociety.org.
Podcast for kids
History’s greatest women are celebrated through storytelling and Broadway-style songs in the children’s podcast “What Will She Do Next?” Created by Ernie Bird and Gabrielle Mirabella, a New York-based musical theater writing team, the family-friendly podcasts are performed by professional actors. The newest episode debuting Nov. 30 features Yasmeen Sulieman (Broadway’s “Beautiful”) as Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Among the previous podcasts are the stories of astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, ballerina Maria Tallchief, journalist Nellie Bly and author Mary Shelley. The podcasts are free but donations, which go to the actors, are appreciated. Access the podcast at whatwillshedo.com.
In an intimate recital recorded in Orchestra Hall, pianist Jorge Federico Osorio performs a program of works by Granados, Debussy, Brahms and more. The performance is part of the digital series Symphony Center Presents, which features performances by Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians and guest artists. Streams Nov. 29-Dec. 28. Tickets: $15. Visit order.cso.org/11263.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.