Things to do in Chicago January 20-26: Theater, Music, Family Fun

Family fun

  • Favorite Disney characters return for “Disney on Ice: The Search for Mickey”. Mickey and his friends embark on a journey as they follow Captain Hook’s treasure map for clues to find Tinker Bell after he tries to capture his magic for himself. Characters from the Disney movies – ‘Coco’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ – help Mickey on his quest. From Jan. 20 to Feb. 20 6 at Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont. Tickets: $15+. Visit


  • The drama that begins August Wilson’s 10-part American Century Cycle epic – “The Jewel of the Ocean” – returns to the stage of the Goodman Theater where it premiered nearly two decades ago. It’s 1904 and the shadow of slavery looms large, but there is solace in the home of Ester Tyler, 285, keeper and transmitter of African-American history and purifier of souls. Chuck Smith leads a stellar cast including Sharif Atkins, Sydney Charles, Lisa Gaye Dixon, Gary Houston, Kelvin Roston Jr., AC Smith and James A. Williams. From Jan. 22 to Feb. 22 27 at the Goodman Theater, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: $25 to $80. Visit

Alex Syiek (left) plays TV weatherman Phil Connors and Phoebe González plays Phil’s producer Rita in the regional premiere of ‘Groundhog Day: The Musical’ at the Paramount Theater.
Advanced photo by Thomas J. King

  • The Paramount Theater kicks off the new year with the regional premiere of “Groundhog Day,” The Tony Award-nominated musical from Danny Rubin and Tim Minchin, based on the film about cynical weatherman Phil Connors who lives a never-ending nightmare stuck in a small town where he’s caught in a time loop. The 25-member cast includes Alex Syiek as Connors with Phoebe Gonzalez as his producer Rita Hanson; art director Jim Corti directs. From January 26 to March 13 at the Paramount Theater, 23 E. Galena. Tickets: $36 to $79. Visit
  • Northlight Theater presents Donja R. Love’s “Fireflies”, a drama in which the playwright delves into the often overlooked role that black women have played in the American civil rights movement. A charismatic preacher (Al’Jaleel McGhee) relies on his wife (Chanell Bell) to write his fiery speeches, but his tolerance for playing the supporting role wanes. Mikael Burke conducts. From Jan. 20 to Feb. 20 20 at the Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets: $30 to $89. Visit

“The Bluest Eye” | Photo by Luke Younge
Luc Younge

  • The 4and annual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival returns Jan. 20-30 with a lineup of more than 20 productions from Chicago and around the country (travel restrictions didn’t allow for any international acts this year). Contemporary puppet works include “The Bluest Eye” by Margaret Laurena Kemp and Janni Younge, Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s coming-of-age novel; “Chimpanzee” by Nick Lehane, about chimpanzees raised as children in human homes; Bread and Puppet Theatre’s “The Persians,” an adaptation of Aeschylus’ ancient tragedy; Cabinet of Curiosity’s “Sea Change,” an exploration of the power of the sea; and Rootstock Puppet Company’s “Timber,” about a forest, its people, and the artist who defends it. Plus, there’s Robin Frohardt’s “The Plastic Bag Store,” an interactive public art installation in the Wrigley Building that includes a grocery store stocked with thousands of hand-carved items, from roast chickens and sushi to cupcakes. and vegetables, each made from simple throws. -use plastic. For the full schedule and performance locations, visit
  • Lifeline Theater solo net festival returns as a streaming event from January 21 to February 21. 13. Celebrating enduring storytelling and the lit scene live from Chicago, the event features the work of 10 storytelling collectives and 28 solo artists, including Christina Calvit, Jimmy Carreane, Jimmy Doyle, Ayun Halliday, Amanda Link, Kim Morris , Mike Speller and many more. Storytelling collectives include Back Room Stories, Serving the Sentence, Stir-Friday Night, Sweat Girls and Tellin’ Tales Theatre. Tickets: Pay what you can (Lifeline suggests $45) to access the full roster of artists plus live virtual events including panel discussions and workshops. For more information, visit
  • Barry Ball’s “Sons of Hollywood” is a look back at 1920s Hollywood through the eyes of gay silent film stars Ramon Novarro and William Haines. From January 26 to April 16 at the Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park. Tickets: $55 to $75. Visit… First Folio Theater presents David Rice’s adaptation of Agatha Christie “The Secret Council” a mystery about a plot to undermine the governments of the United States and United Kingdom shortly after the Great War. From Jan. 26 to Feb. 26 27 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st and Rt. 83 Oak Creek. Tickets: $49, $59. Visit


Erwin Helfer, master of boogie woogie, blues and jazz piano.  |  Photo by Jim DeJong

Erwin Helfer
Photo by Jim DeJong

  • Master of boogie woogie, blues and jazz piano Erwin Helfer turns 86and anniversary with the release of his book “Blues Piano and How to Play It” and a concert where he will perform with his longtime collaborators John Brumbach, Katherine Davis, Davide Ilardi and Skinny Williams. Gospel music legends Elsa Harris and Pastor Donald Gay will also perform and be part of this Sirens Records celebration of Helfer’s long and ongoing contributions to Chicago music. At 7 and 9:30 p.m. on January 22 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $22. Visit

Tedeschi truck band

Tedeschi truck band
Photo by Caitlin Moore

  • Tedeschi truck band is back on the road and coming to town for a four-night residency at the Chicago Theater. Led by guitarist Derek Trucks and vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, the shows will feature the full 12-piece band together, including new drummer Isaac Eady. At 8 p.m. Jan. 21-22, 28-29 at the Chicago Theater, 175 N. State. Tickets: $19+. Visit Additionally, “Learning to Live: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishman,” a documentary about the reunion of artists from Trucks and Tedeschi involved in Joe Cocker’s legendary 1970 tour, will be screened at 6 p.m. on January 23. at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway, Aurora. Tickets: $20, $22. Visit

Kane Brown performs onstage during the 2021 iHeartRadio Z100 Jingle Ball in New York City.

Kane Brown performs onstage during the 2021 iHeartRadio Z100 Jingle Ball in New York City.
Getty Images

  • Called “the future of country music” by Billboard, 28 Kane Brown released chart-topping albums and won his share of awards. He’s also known for his string of interesting collaborations (John Legend, Khalid, Swae Lee, Chris Young), which continued last fall with the release of the recently written and recorded slow-burning track “Blessed & Free”. with R&B singer-guitarist HER Brown. launched his own label, 1021 Entertainment, and said his goal was to work on inclusivity initiatives in music. Brown performs at 7 p.m. on January 22 at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison. Tickets: $25+. Visit

Branford Marsalis interpreter

Branford Marsalis performs “America the Beautiful” before the men’s singles final match at the 2020 US Open in New York.
Getty Images

  • Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Branford Marsalis is a concert concert that explores the meeting of jazz and classical music. Program selections range from Debussy’s jazz-inspired “Rhapsody” to a world premiere by Courtney Bryan that’s a contemporary take on themes from “Carmen,” Bizet’s classic 1875 opera. At 8 p.m. on January 22 at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets: $34 to $105. Visit
  • Jackie Smook and his pianist Joey Chimes return to Davenport’s with “The Jackie Smook De-Dumbification Program”, a comedy-filled puppet show that takes audiences on a roller coaster ride through their true journey of self-directed growth. At 8 p.m. on January 24, February 5, April 2, May 7, June 14; 10:30 p.m. March 5 at Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $20, plus 2 minimum drinks. Visit

Museums & Galleries

  • The Rebuild Foundation and Anthony Gallery are collaborating on a year-long series of exhibitions featuring black art and black artists. The first exhibition, “This is where it’s at!” features the collage work of Chicago-based Nigerian American artist Adeshola Makinde. Featuring new and existing works from Ebony and Jet magazines and paying homage to the Johnson Publishing Company’s reign in documenting, celebrating and amplifying all aspects of black life in America. From Jan. 21 to Feb. 21 27 at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Free entry. Visit
  • The exhibition “A Site of Struggle: American Art Against Anti-Black Violence”, explores the various ways in which American artists have fought against anti-black violence. Nearly 65 works featured in a range of media spanning over 100 years, from the anti-lynching campaigns of the 1890s to the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement. Artists featured include Laylah Ali, George Bellows, Elizabeth Catlett, Darryl Cowherd, Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and many more. From January 26 to July 10 at the Block Museum at Northwestern University, 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston. Free entry. Visit

REMARK: Check event websites for COVID policies.

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