- In the tenement houses of New York City’s Five Points slum in 1863, Irish immigrants and free-born Black Americans lived alongside one another, intermarried, raised families and shared their cultures. This is the setting for “Paradise Square,” the new musical that delves into conflicting notions of what it meant to be an American in this tumultuous era. In its pre-Broadway run, the show is directed by Moises Kaufman, with choreography by Bill T. Jones and a book by Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, and a score by Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare. From Nov. 2-Dec. 5 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets: $39+. Visit broadwayinchicago.com.
- “The Magic Flute” is Mozart’s final opera, in which a prince and princess triumph over obstacles in their search for wisdom, enlightenment and love. This inventive production, created by Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky and directed by Tobias Ribitzki, features eye-popping projections by animator Paul Barritt and innovative stage design and costumes by Esther Bialis. Taking its inspiration from silent films, the production foregoes the traditional spoken dialogue in between the operatic scenes. Instead, texts are projected onto the stage with musical accompaniment. From Nov. 3-37. Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker, $49+. Visit lyricopera.org.
- One of Chicago’s longest running musicals, “Pump Boys & Dinettes,” returns for a run at Porchlight Music Theatre. Set in a North Carolina dinette, it’s filled with toe-tapping music and wise downhome advice; directed by Robert Reddrick. From Oct. 30-Dec. 12 at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. Tickets: $45-$74. Visit porchlightmusictheatre.org.
- Music Theater Works presents “Ragtime,” Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ musical based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel about the search for the American Dream. Set in the early years of the 20th century, it tells the stories of an upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a young Harlem musician who desire a brighter future but must unite to achieves their dreams. Stacey Flaster directs. From Oct. 28-Nov. 7 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets: $20-$108 Visit musictheaterworks.com.
- The Tony- and Grammy Award-winning Broadway hit “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical” returns for a short downtown run. The musical chronicles the career of the pop singer-songwriter who fought her way into the record business and created a songbook filled with now classic tunes including “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” From Nov. 2-Nov. 7 at CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe. Tickets: $31+. Visit broadwayinchicago.com.
- Ronnie Marmo returns with his one-man show “I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce.” Directed by Joe Mantegna, it’s the story of the life and early passing of the legendary comedian who, according to Marmo, “exposed many of the ‘untouchable’ subjects that are in the news again now.” Includes added content from Bruce’s repertoire not featured in the production’s previous Chicago run. The open run begins Nov. 3 at Venus Cabaret Theater, 3745 N. Southport. Tickets: $69-$79. Visit lennybruceonstage.com.
- The Second City e.t.c. returns with “The Best Decision You’ve Ever Made.” Directed by Frank Caeti, the show is performed and written by returning ensemble members Atra Asdou, EJ Cameron, Mark Campbell, Laurel Krabacher and Chuck Norment plus new cast member Alex Bellisle. Performances begin Oct. 28 in an open run. Tickets: $29+. Visit secondcity.com.
- Trap Door Theatre presents Laura Ruohonen’s “Queen C” in which a queen pushes back against being defined by the obligations she was born to fulfill. Michael Mejia directs. From Oct. 28-Dec. 4 at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland. Tickets: $20, $25. Visit trapdoor.com.
- The New Coordinates stream a radio play adaptation of Omer Abbas Salem’s drama “Love in the Time of Jonestown,” which explores the splendid ache of acceptance and the profound bliss of betrayal. Directed by Sophiyaa Nayar. Streams Oct. 28-Nov. 21. Tickets: $15. Visit thenewcoordinates.org.
- Congo Square Theatre’s digital sketch comedy series, “Hit ‘Em on the Blackside,” returns Oct. 29-Dec. 10 for 12 new episodes. The cast brings back memorable characters from Season 1 and introduces new characters and storylines with nods to social themes including justice and equality, cancel culture and what it means to be a hero. Suggested donation: $10. Visit congosquaretheatre.org.
- Theatre in the Dark presents a virtual audio version of H.G. Wells’ Martian invasion tale “War of the Worlds” for three performances Halloween weekend. Using a streamlined script that runs around 70 minutes, it will be recorded and available for seven days following the live performances. Streams Oct. 29-31. Tickets: pay-what-you-can. Visit theatreinthedark.com.
- Stacey Rose’s “America v.2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro” is presented in a filmed virtual production by Definition Theatre. The play follows a company of actors tasked with re-telling the history of the American Negro who find themselves fighting for their survival. Directed by Tyrone Phillips. Streams from Nov. 2-21. Tickets: $15-$100. Visit definitiontheatre.org.
- Visceral Dance Chicago performs two world premieres — “Madre” by Los Angeles choreographer Mike Tyus and “From Then On” by Spanish choreographer Monica Cervantes — plus three works by artistic director Nick Pupillo: “Avow,” “Ash in the Rainbow” and “Synapse.” At 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, 30 at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets: $21-$58. Visit athenaeumtheatre.org.
- Delmark Records artist Dave Specter celebrates the release of his new album, “Six String Soul: 30 Years on Delmark.” His musical journey on Delmark began in 1991 with the release of his debut album, “Bluebird Blues.” Over a dozen albums and three decades later, “Six String Soul” showcases the guitarist, singer/songwriter and producer surrounded by a stellar lineup of special guests from late greats Otis Clay and Jack McDuff to living legends like Jimmy Johnson, Billy Branch and Jorma Kaukonen. Specter’s career has been intertwined with the deepest roots of Chicago blues and Delmark’s rich musical history. Guests Jimmy Johnson and Tad Robinson join Specter at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston. Tickets: $15, $20. Visit evanstonspace.com.
- Ms. Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel of the legendary hip-hop group Fugees have reunited for their first world tour in 25 years and first shows in 15 years to celebrate the anniversary of 1996’s “The Score,” considered one of the greatest albums of all time (it’s No. 134 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums). “As I celebrate 25 years with the Fugees, my first memory was that we vowed, from the gate, we would not just do music we would be a movement,” Jean says. “We would be a voice for the un-heard, and in these challenging times, I am grateful once again, that God has brought us together.” At 8 p.m. Nov. 2 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Tickets: $59+. Visit ticketmaster.com.
- The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary music series, MusicNow, curated by Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery, returns at 7 p.m. Nov. 1. The first concert, “Homecoming,” celebrates composers with ties to Chicago including Ted Hearne, Elijah Daniel Smith, Nathalie Joachim and Montgomery. Performed by CSO musicians. Tickets: $20. Visit cso.org.
- Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center — Wu Han (piano), Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola) and David Finckel (cello) — perform works by Dvorak, Suk and Brahms. The concert celebrates friendship and family via the music of three composers who mentored and inspired each other. At 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets: $30-$70. Visit harristheaterchicgo.org.
- The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ 55th Anniversary Concert features world premieres of commissioned works by three internationally renowned artists: The Honorable Elizabeth A. Baker, Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Adegoke Steve Colson, and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble performs the works. At 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. Admission is free but reservations are required. Visit tickets.uchicago.edu.
- “A Century of Radio,” a new exhibit at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, examines the intertwined stories of the business, the science and the culture of an industry that transformed the American experience. Artifacts on display include Larry Lujack’s famed Smith-Corona typewriter used to write “Animal Stories” for WLS Radio; Edgar Bergen’s original ventriloquist partners Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker; a 1912 Spark-gap transmitter, the first ever transmitter which generated a frequency of electromagnetic waves; WGN Radio’s original Studio A, which featured personalities Bob Collins, Roy Leonard, Spike O’Dell and Steve and Johnnie, and a rare collection of vintage radio premiums. The exhibit runs now through summer 2022 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 N. State. Admission is free. Visit museum.tv.
- PrideArts Fall Film Festival features 32 international queer-themed shorts in four weekly programs. The festival’s first week of films (Nov. 1-8) features 11 films from Pakistan curated by the Aks International Minorities Festival, a global human rights initiative designed to facilitate socio-political and cultural dialogues. Among the films is “Four Fifty-Five ML,” about a middle-aged trans-woman who helps a critically ill boy, and “Dead Dad,” about a young man who confronts his dying father. The festival streams from Nov. 1-29. Tickets: $12 per program; $30 festival pass. Visit pridearts.org.
- For some retro fun check out The Chicago Pinball Expo, the event that salutes pinball designers and artists. Taking place since 1985 in Chicago, the home of pinball, the four-day event is filled with speakers, a game area, competitions and vendors. There also are virtual options. From Oct. 28-30 at Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel, 1551 N. Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg. Tickets: $30+. Visit pinballexpo.com.
- Fun and games are on the menu at Laurie Berkner’s Halloween Party as the children’s musician invites families to a virtual event where they can sing along to original Halloween tunes and old favorites. There’s also a live chat with audience members throughout the show and a fun-filled pre-show virtual lobby with music, videos and a Halloween game. Streams at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 31. Tickets: $20 per family. Visit laurieberkner.com.