The Windy City arts scene is coming up roses this spring—here's a must-see sampling of the season.
Green scene: Ed Paschke’s Cobmaster (1975) highlights the Elmhurst Art Museum’s world premiere exhibit Kings and Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, one of the season’s cultural must-sees.
#1: The Invention of Morel, Chicago Opera Theater Drummer Stewart Copeland is as much at home creating for the concert hall as he was playing arenas with The Police. His latest post-pop project is this riff on a surreal desert-island romance by Argentine author Adolfo Bioy Casares for Chicago Opera Theater. The score, says COT artistic director Andreas Mitisek, “is propelled by pulsing rhythms and driving energy that leave you breathless.” February 18, 24, 26
#2: Kings and Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, Elmhurst Art Museum The Chicago Imagists (a group that includes Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, and Ed Paschke) are hardly unknown, but here’s a twist from The Elmhurst Art Museum: The exhibition pairs the painters—who found inspiration in comics, advertising, and the everyday— with actual examples of the great arcade game, whose visual punch and ding-ding-ding constitute an art form of its own. February 25–May 7
#3: Some of a Thousand Words, Harris Theater Former New York City Ballet star Wendy Whelan’s latest outing, created with Harris Theater choreographer-in-residence Brian Brooks, offers solos and duets accompanied by string quartet Brooklyn Rider. “I’ve attempted to illustrate the resistance and opposition in our lived bodies,” shares Brooks. “I am tethered to the ground, and she seems to be always in flight.” February 24
#4: Celebrating Plácido, Civic Opera House Plácido Domingo has been bringing audiences to their feet for more than 50 years and shows no signs of stopping. Last season he sang Macbeth in Los Angeles and Vienna before doing Nabucco at the Met; now he’s swinging by Lyric Opera for this love-fest with soprano Ailyn Pérez (in her Lyric debut) and tenor Michael Spyres. March 9
#5: Destiny of Desire, The Goodman Theatre When it comes to over-the-top drama and to-the-max glam, Latin telenovelas put American soaps to shame. Karen Zacarías—one of the most widely produced contemporary playwrights in the country—draws from the powerfully popular entertainment in this story of—yes—two baby girls switched at birth by a conniving beauty queen. Says Zacarías, “It’s unapologetically feminist, it’s unapologetically Latino. It will feed the mind and feed the heart.” March 11–April 16
#7: The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, The House Theatre Seems like a fool’s errand to wander over the rainbow when MGM nailed it back in 1939. But L. Frank Baum’s classic tale tempts again and again, and House Theatre —known for its willingness to go out on a creative limb—heads down the yellow brick road with its own inventive imagining of Dorothy’s wind-borne adventures. March 17–May 7