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The Mix: Cuban Jazz Festival, Steppenwolf’s ‘Red Folder’ and more things to check out Jan. 21-27

There’s lots of entertainment to check out online in the week ahead in Chicago.

Roberto Fonseca
Roberto Fonseca
Arien Chang

Jazz across borders

Chicago-based HotHouse has teamed with Cuba’s Instituto de la Musica to curate an exciting mix of Chicago and Cuban artists for “Jazz Plaza: HotHouse Meets Havana.” Jazz Plaza, Cuba’s annual jazz festival, will for the first time be available to an international online audience. Among the many performers are Roscoe Mitchell, Bobby Carcasses, Coco Elysses, Ari Brown, Roberto Fonseca, Ben La Mar Gay, Orlando “Maraca” Valle, Tomeka Reid, Junius Paul, Alejandro Falcon and Harold Lopez-Nussa. The recorded performances stream from 7-9 p.m. Jan. 21-24; a dance party with DJ Madrid kicks off each evening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: pay-what-you-can. Visit

First grade woes

Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Carrie Coon narrates “The Red Folder.”
Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Carrie Coon narrates “The Red Folder.”
Courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Steppenwolf Theatre opens the New Year with ensemble member Rajiv Joseph’s short film “Red Folder,” the third of six productions in the streaming Steppenwolf NOW series. The Obie Award-winning playwright (“Guards at the Taj,” “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”) has written, directed and illustrated this story about a first-grader, his red folder and a quest for vengeance. Ensemble member Carrie Coon provides the narration. Rajiv admits that filmmaking came to him quite unexpectedly: “It’s something I never would’ve conceived of doing outside of the restrictions that the pandemic has imposed on us.” Tickets for the film, which streams Jan. 27-Aug. 31, are $75 and include access to all six of the series’ productions. Visit

Fashionable tunes

Most know Isaac Mizrahi for his contributions to the fashion world, but his interests don’t end there. Mizrahi also is an accomplished cabaret performer and often can be found on the stage at New York City’s Café Carlyle. Now during the pandemic, he has filmed a series of virtual concerts at the venue with his six-piece band led by Ben Waltzer. Mizrahi’s guest for the current show running through Feb. 8 is actress and Second City alum Jackie Hoffman. The New York Times says Mizrahi is “a founding father of a genre that fuses performance art, music and stand-up comedy.” Upcoming shows are scheduled for Feb. 12 and March 19 and are on demand for 30 days each. Tickets: $19. Visit

Channeling the legends

Zachary Stevenson
Zachary Stevenson
Ehrin Marlow Photo

A new online music series, The Garage, showcases the musical talent of the artists at American Blues Theater. First up in a live interactive concert is artistic affiliate Zachary Stevenson, performing music from his stage career including the songs of Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams and more. Coined a “dead ringer for dead singers” for his portrayal of legendary vocalists, Stevenson was nominated for a Jeff Award for his starring role in ABT’s critically acclaimed staging of “Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story.” He’s currently writing an American Blues solo show based on folksinger Phil Ochs. Streams at 7 p.m. Jan. 22. Tickets: $25 or pay-what-you-can. Visit

Classical and more

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra continues its season with “Wind Melodies,” a concert featuring IPO’s wind musicians performing Valerie Coleman’s “Red Clay & Mississippi Delta” and Mozart’s “Gran Partita.” Streams Jan. 23-Feb. 12. Tickets: $15. Visit ... Concertmaster Gina DiBello leads the Music of the Baroque in Vivaldi’s iconic “Four Seasons” with Christopher Kenney reading the original sonnets composed for the concertos. Streams at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24. Tickets: $25. Visit ... New Philharmonic presents “A Night of Broadway and Opera” with soprano Alisa Jordheim, mezzo-soprano Kate Tombaugh, tenor Jesse Donner and bass/baritone Bill McMurray. Streams Jan. 23-Feb. 28. Tickets: $40. Visit

Art and environment

Expo Chicago presents “Alternate Assembly: Environmental Impact in the Era of Pandemic,” a three-day online symposium addressing contemporary art’s role in confronting the current climate crisis. Programs feature curators, artists and scholars from Chicago and around the country as well as films illustrating new ways artists are thinking about the environment. Streams free from Jan. 21-23. For a complete program list, visit

Virtual stage

Tarell Alvin McCraney
Tarell Alvin McCraney
Getty Images

Porchlight Music Theatre’s continuing celebration “Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable” presents a discussion of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” with Broadway actor Raul Esparza, Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls and actor-director Lonny Price. Available online beginning at 7 p.m. Jan. 16. Visit ... Pride Arts presents a reading of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet,” a coming-of-age story of a young gay man in the South. Streams at 7 p.m. Jan. 26. Tickets: $10. Visit ... Artemisia Theatre’s 2021 season begins with “We Women Podcasts,” a series of eight free audio performances of plays beginning Jan. 20, with Sharai Bohannon’s “What About the Children,” a drama about the wife of an ICE officer who has had enough. Visit

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.