The Mix: Cool things to do in Chicago March 17-23

‘Moulin Rouge,’ a Sparks concert and a Manual Cinema shadow puppet show are among the events to check out in the week ahead.

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Actors rehearse the touring production of “Moulin Rouge: The Musical!” last week at the Nederlander Theatre.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times


  • The highly anticipated North American tour of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical!” debuts in Chicago under the direction of Alex Timbers. Based on Baz Luhrmann’s film, the Tony Award-winning musical is set in a world inhabited by Paris bohemians and aristocrats and tells the complicated love story of Satine (Courtney Reed) and Christian (Conor Ryan). The stage version features 160 years of music including many of the iconic songs from the film plus hits released since the movie premiered 20 years ago. From March 19-May 14 at the Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets: $52.50+. Visit
  • About Face Theatre’s 27th season opens with Samantha Mueller’s “Laced.” In the drama, three 20-something bartenders try to piece together the events of the night before, when the queer bar where they work was vandalized. Lexi Saunders directs. From March 17-April 16 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $5-$35. Visit

Jim Ortlieb in “Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight.”

Carlos Hernandez

  • American Blues Theater presents the Chicago premiere of “Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight,” written and directed by John Kolvenbach. In the one-man show, Jim Ortlieb stars as a man desperate for connection, bent by isolation and deeply in love with the audience itself. From March 18-April 9 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. Tickets: $25-$45. Visit
  • “Isaac’s Eyes” is playwright Lucas Hnath’s take on the history of science, which he centers around Isaac Newton and his would-be mentor, British scientist Robert Hooke. Part historical drama, part contemporary satire. From March 17-April 24 at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr. Tickets: $35. Visit
  • First Folio Theatre presents Phil Timberlake’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” a light-hearted comedy about young Emma’s goodhearted attempts at matchmaking. Vero Maynez stars; Rachel Lambert directs. From March 23-April 24 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st, Oak Brook. Tickets: $49, $59. Visit
  • Vicki Quade’s trivia-filled “Easter Bunny Bingo” returns with Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien, a former nun, ready to play bingo and talk about Easter traditions ranging from why Easter is never on the same day to why we love/hate Peeps. From March 18-April 16 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $ 35. Visit


  • The winners of the Joffrey Academy of Dance Winning Works Choreographic Competition — Audrey Ipapo Baran, Edson Barbosa, Taylor Carrasco and Derick McKoy — present their new pieces, performed by dancers of the Joffrey Studio Company and the Joffrey Academy Training Program, at a “Winning Works” showcase March 18-20 at MCA Theater, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets: $30. Visit



Ron (left) and Russell Mael of Sparks.

Philippe Mazzoni

  • Fifty years into their career, brothers Ron and Russell Mael, who make up the cult band Sparks, are having a renaissance. The pop-rock duo played a pivotal role in musical movements from glam rock to new wave to synth-pop and have had a longtime following in Europe if not so much in the United States. Wider notice came with Edgar Wright’s 2021 sprawling documentary film “The Sparks Brothers,” and also with the movie musical “Annette,” on which they collaborated with director Leos Carax. Sparks’ latest album, “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip,” was released in 2021. At 8 p.m. March 19 at Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence. Tickets: $39.50-$79.50. Visit
  • Gregory Alan Isakov tours behind his Grammy-nominated album “Evening Machines,” which NPR praised as showcasing his “emotionally evocative songwriting style; rich in narrative detail and beautifully atmospheric.” Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now residing in Colorado, the singer-songwriter, when not writing and recording, spends time running a farm that provides produce to local restaurants and food banks. Joe Purdy opens the show at 8 p.m. March 18 at Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. Tickets: $36-$56. Visit

Kiefer Sutherland

Clayton Cooper

  • Actor Kiefer Sutherland has long been among the handful of actors who have crossed over to a different stage. He and his band are currently touring behind the new album “Bloor Street.” Sutherland’s first two discs were country-oriented but his third is also seasoned with rock and R&B. The album’s title comes from the Toronto street where he experienced many of life’s firsts. At 5 p.m. March 20 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main, St. Charles. Tickets: $49. Visit

Museums & Galleries


“Try Me Better” by Jewel Ham

Rebuild Foundation/Anthony Gallery

  • The Rebuild Foundation and Anthony Gallery present “i said what i said,” an exhibit of works by Jewel Ham. Included are portraits that explore the complexity of Black experiences within everyday environments. To April 10 at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Admission is free. Visit

Laura Gilpin’s “The Grand Canyon” at “Shifting Perspectives.”

Gift of the Sheldon M. Barnett Family. Copy photo by John R. Glembin. © 1979 Amon Carter Museum of American Art

  • “Shifting Perspectives: Landscape Photographs from the Collection” explores how photography can transform our understanding of the physical world. The more than 65 photographs range from work by contemporary artists such as Sky Hopinka and Pao Houa Her to iconic names like Ansel Adams and Lewis Baltz. From March 18-July 3 at Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee. Tickets: $22, children under 12 free. Visit



Buddy Guy in “The Torch.”

IFC Films

  • Jim Farrell’s documentary “The Torch” celebrates Buddy Guy’s dedication to passing the torch to a younger generation. The film, filled with performance footage, looks at the iconic blues musician’s remarkable career and his longtime determination to pass to younger players the lessons he received from the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. From March 18-24 at Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets: $12. “The Torch” is also available on streaming services. Visit

Family Fun


Sarah Fornace and Jeffrey Paschal in “The Magic City.”

Chuck Osgood

  • Manual Cinema presents “The Magic City,” a cinematic shadow puppet performance for ages 5 and up. An adaptation of Edith Nesbit’s 1910 novel, it tells the story of 9-year-old Philomena, whose loves to build miniature structures out of books, toys and other found objects. When she builds her largest miniature city ever, she wakes up to discover it has come alive. At 2 p.m. March 19 at Harris Theatre, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets: $10, $15. Visit

Bert Lahr (from left), Ray Bolger, Judy Garland and Jack Haley in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Warner Bros.

  • The Davis Theater hosts a children’s Oscar party screening of “The Wizard of Oz.” There’ll be a red carpet set up in the lobby for photos and free mini Oscar statues for each child. Guests are encouraged to find inspiration from their favorite character and dress up in their “Oz” best. The classic film was nominated for best effects and best picture at the 1940 Academy Awards. At 5 p.m. March 21 at Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $5. Visit
  • “Disney Princess: The Concert” is a two hours of music performed by actresses who have portrayed the aforementioned royalty on Broadway stages. The spring leg of the tour features Susan Egan (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”), Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Anneliese Van Der Pol (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”) and Syndee Winters (Nala in “The Lion King”). Adam J. Levy is the all-around Prince. More than 30 favorite songs from Disney productions are performed. For ages 6 and up. At 7:30 p.m. March 19 at Rosemont Theater, 5400 N. River Rd. Tickets: $37+. Visit
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