STD (Stuff to Do)—April 11, 2008

By Ben Rossi

Friday/April 11

Tour the artists’ enclave of East Pilsen tonight when studios and galleries open their doors for public receptions and new art showings as part of Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays. Just walking around this funky neighborhood with its historic architecture and beautiful courtyard gardens on a spring night is worth it. (Information booth at 1821 South Halsted Street, 6–10 p.m., free)

After a blockbuster run on Broadway, The Drowsy Chaperone has finally made its way to Chicago. It’s a quirky little musical-within-a-show about a lonely cardigan-clad New Yorker who plays the vinyl recording of an obscure 1920s revue called The Drowsy Chaperone, which magically comes to life in his living room. The inventive framing device allows us to enjoy what ensues, both on the level of irony and genuine appreciation for the magic of musicals in general. (151 West Randolph Street, 8 p.m., $25–75)

Saturday/April 12

Bringing together vinyl vendors from across the Midwest, the Chicago Independent Radio Project Record Fair, now in its sixth year, is a great opportunity to find rare and used records, as well as DVDs, CDs, and even eight-tracks at bargain prices. The ticket is rounded out with live entertainment, food, and drinks. Part of the proceeds will go toward establishing a new community radio station in Chicago. (Pulaski Park Field House, 1419 West Blackhawk Street, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., $7)

Swing like it’s 1935 at Dance Weekend, an event hosted by Folk Arts Community and Student Government, featuring two days of swing and contra (line) dancing, jamming, and workshops. Nightingale, a folk group, will provide musical accompaniment for the rhythmic gesticulations. (Various campus locations, 7 a.m.–10 p.m., free, check website at for more info)

A Navy pilot comes home from war to discover his wife’s been sleeping under strange sheets. Next thing he knows, she turns up dead with a bullet from his gun. Framed for her murder, he must find some way to redeem himself in George Marshall’s 1946 film The Blue Dahlia, screening today and tomorrow as part of the Music Box’s Matinee Series. (3733 North Southport Avenue, 11:30 a.m., $9.25)

Sunday/April 13

In one of the more disturbing artworks/social experiments I’ve seen this year, Amber Hawk Swanson brought a silicone replica of herself named “Amber” to social events and then took photographs of actual men molesting the dummy with a hidden camera. Both grotesque and thought-provoking, this comment on the feminine splitting of the self is among the stronger pieces at Medicine Park’s multi-media show Henbane: Dialectics of the Feminine Sublime, continuing through April 21. (2659 West Chicago Avenue, noon–6 p.m., free)

Before this fascinating exhibit closes down, take the bus to the Spertus Institute to see The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation. In this show, mostly Jewish-American artists address themes of tradition, family, culture, and religion as they try to assert an autonomous identity without forgetting their roots. (610 South Michigan Avenue, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., $5)

Redmoon Theatre’s new show, Boneyard Prayer, tells the simple story of an alcoholic rake who rues his life’s blunders in a Depression-era cemetery. An ensemble of mud-speckled puppets, original music, and stellar visuals infuse the work with an idiosyncratic poignancy that brings to mind T.S. Eliot, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, and William Kennedy’s Ironweed. (1463 West Hubbard Street, 3 p.m., $15)

Monday/April 14

Allá draws on a wide range of musical genres including Motown and Mexican ballads to produce an entrancing sound that overcomes the limits of rock ’n’ roll. The group’s newest album rolls into stores June 10, but while you wait, you should see them at the Empty Bottle, flanked by top Chicago avant-rock bands. (1035 North Western Avenue, 9 p.m., free, 21+)

As part of Chicago Public Library’s spring One Book, One Chicago event, which chose Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye as this year’s feature novel, Judith Friedman will read from her book The Long Embrace at the Harold Washington Library tonight. Friedman’s book is about Chandler’s relationship with his wife, Cissy. If you can, catch Robert Altman’s film version of The Long Goodbye starring Elliot Gould—good stuff. (400 South State Street, 6 p.m., free)

Tuesday/April 15

The World Beyond the Headlines series, co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies, presents Michael Levine discussing his new book, The Next Great Clash. Levine envisions a new world order in which a Chinese-Russian axis threatens American hegemony—the war on terror being only a minor distraction. (International House, 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., free)

Wednesday/April 16

Campus activists should head over to the Global Activism Expo tonight, featuring guests from the Global Activism series on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview as well as representatives of over 80 local and national political organizations. (5917 North Broadway, 6 p.m., $10)

The Gene Siskel Film Center screens John Ford’s classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance tonight. Jimmy Stewart plays a settler, John Wayne a cowboy, and Lee Marvin an all-purpose baddie, in this story about the fading glory of the West. (164 North State Street, 6 p.m., $7 for students)

Thursday/April 17

Come see The Lottery at Improv Olympics Cabaret, where seasoned improvisers perform with green recruits and then cede the stage to members of iO’s acclaimed Harold team. The name of the show comes from the method of determining the ticket price—a random drawing at the end of the evening. Do you feel lucky? (3541 North Clark Street, 10:30 p.m., $1–$4)