About the Town in November



By Philip Vidal




I’m still trying to see exhibitions and events that opened in October, while considering what November has to offer.   At the same time, Christmas seems to be upon us.



One of the many works featured at the exhibition “Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue,” now through January 31, 2022. Photo by Tony Fitzpatrick.


The Cleve Carney Museum of Art at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn opened their fall season with “Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue,“ an exhibition featuring the works of Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick. It continues through January 31, 2022. A bit farther afield, see “Private Eye: The Imagist Impulse in Chicago Art” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, curated by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey of Chicago’s Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery.  This show continues through December 5.


November opens with the first concert in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series. The “Homecoming” concert on November 1 features composers with ties to Chicago.  MusicNOW showcases contemporary works, but I’m reminded that the world premiere of Serge Prokofiev’s opera “The Love of Three Oranges” opened a century ago in Chicago at Chicago Opera. Chicago has a long-tradition of presenting innovative music.


The outdoor festivals of the summer move indoors and/or are virtual in November.   The 8th edition of MAKE’s Lit & Luz Festival: A Celebration of Language, Literature, and Art featuring celebrated artists and authors from Chicago and Mexico is November 1-6.  The festival is a hybrid with virtual programs during the day and in-person events around Chicago in the evening.  The 27th Black Harvest Film Festival, November 5-December 2, at the Gene Siskel Film Center kicks off with the documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” and includes locally made shorts like “It’s Different in Chicago” about Chicago’s house and hip-hop music.  The longest-running underground film festival in the world, the 28th Chicago Underground Film Festival, holds its screenings at the Logan Theatre November 5-7.   The oldest and one of the only Oscar-qualifying children’s film festivals in the world, the 38th annual Facet’s Chicago International Children’s Film Festival is November 5-14. It’s virtual with limited in-person screenings.  The Chicago Critics Film Festival is back at the Music Box Theatre, November 12-14.


The Monkees’ Farewell Tour takes place at the Rosemont Theatre, November 5. Photo by Rosemont Theatre.


The documentary “Julia” about cookbook author and TV chef Julia Child opens in Los Angeles and New York City on November 12.  I hope it comes to Chicago or is available for streaming.  She was an inspiration to me and many.  Who can forget Dan Ackroyd’s portrayal of Julia Child on “Saturday Night Live (SNL).”  Stars of the original “Ghostbusters,” including Dan Ackroyd, Wilmette native, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver, are back in “Ghost busters: Afterlife,” which opens November 19.   Chicago actress Carrie Coon also stars.  Other blasts from the past this month are the Bob Dylan “Rough and Rowdy Ways” concert at the Auditorium Theatre on November 3, and The Monkees’ Farewell Tour at the Rosemont Theatre on November 5.  Genesis kicks off its first U.S. tour in 14 years at the United Center on November 15-16.


The favorite “Late Nite Catechism” continues at the Greenhouse Theatre Center now through January 2022. Photo by Nuns4Fun Entertainment Inc.


My past includes stints at a Catholic grammar school, high school and university in Chicago.  It not only made a mark on me, but it seems Chicago’s theater scene as well.   As part of their Porchlight Revisits series, Porchlight Music Theatre presents “Nunsense” on November 17-18 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.  Spoiler alert: the plot centers around a bad batch of Sister Julia-Child of God’s vichyssoise. The perennial favorite “Late Night Catechism” continues at the Greenhouse Theatre Center through January 2022.  Mercury Theater Chicago opens its 2021/2022 season with “Sister Act” starring legendary Chicago actresses Hollis Resnik and Alexis J. Roston, November 5-January 2, 2022.


Another legendary Chicagoan, Mavis Staples –  the gifted blues, gospel and pop singer –  performs at the Beyond Hunger benefit concert at Thalia Hall on November 19 and Fitzgerald’s on November 20. Mavis Staples, along with the late Dr. Joann Smith of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, is one of this year’s eight recipients of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ Order of Lincoln, the state’s highest honor for professional achievement and public service. The 57th convocation is at the Chicago History Museum on November 6.


Watch the broadcast for the Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards on November 9. Photo by Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards.


The Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards  will honor author (“The Joy Luck Club”) Amy Tan with the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, artist Theaster Gates with the Arts Award and actress, director and playwright J. Nicole Brooks with the 21st Century Award.  No ticket or registration is required to view the broadcast on November 9 featuring the recipients in conversation in front of a live audience of sponsors.


Nicole Brooks wrote and directed “Her Honor Jane Byrne.” I was the guest of my good friend Doris Timmen when we saw this play at Lookingglass Theatre on March 5, 2020, just a few days before theaters were shuttered. It’s worth seeing again.  Brooks is back directing her play from November 11 to December 19. It tells the story of Mayor Jane Byrne’s move into the Cabrini-Green Homes housing project in 1981. In 2011, the last Cabrini-Green hi-rise was razed.


Porchlight Music Theatre’s 27th season opens with “Pump Boys & Dinettes” through December 12. Photo by Porchlight Music Theatre.


Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens for live performances with a revival of Tracy Letts’ “Bug” November 11-December 12 featuring ensemble members Randall Arney, Carrie Coon and Namir Smallwood.  It was also closed in early March 2020. The first live in-person performance of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s 44th RE/CHARGE season is “RE/TURN” at the Harris Theater, November 18-21.  Broadway continues to use Chicago as a beta site for new works.  The pre-Broadway run of “Paradise Square” is November 2-December 5 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. On the other hand, one of the longest-running shows in Chicago theatre history, “Pump Boys & Dinettes,” opens Porchlight Music Theatre’s 27th season and continues through December 12 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.


I’m trying to avoid “Christmas creep,” the phenomenon of featuring Christmas themes earlier and earlier, but if you’re looking to entertain the kids, there is a lot on offer that portends the holiday season.  The House Theatre of Chicago opens its 20th season with “The Snow Queen” featuring magic and puppets at Chopin Upstairs Mainstage Theatre, November 12-January 2, 2022.   Part of the “Broadway in Chicago” series, “Disney’s Frozen” is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, November 19-January 22, 2022.  Chicago Children’s Theatre’s “Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party” is back this year, live, in-person and recommended for children ages 2-6, November 20-December 24.   It’s billed as “a seasonal rite of passage for Chicago tots.”


Join Chicago’s CH Distillery at their Chicago Handshake launch party on November 8. Photo by Transit Tees.


A rite of passage for Chicago adults is having a shot of Jeppson’s Malört®.  Despite living in Chicago all my life, I’ve never had had this bitter liqueur, nor have I had a Chicago Handshake (a beer and a shot of Malört).  The Chicago Handshake is the namesake of Transit Tees’ latest Chicago-centric game, the Chicago Handshake drinking card game Chicago’s CH Distillery now produces Jeppson’s Malört® and is hosting a Chicago Handshake launch party at their tasting room on November 8 for Transit Tees’ new game that tests players knowledge of Chicago and is billed as the first Chicago-inspired drinking game.   The game is available online, at Transit Tees’ shops in Andersonville and Wicker Park, and at Garfield’s Beverage locations. Bottoms up!


The group exhibition “Agave!” at the Epiphany Arts Center in the repurposed 1885 Church of the Epiphany is a cocktail of art and alcohol, of sorts.  Agave fibers are a byproduct of mezcal production. This exhibition features the work of several artists who use these fibers in their works, including my friend Michael Olszewski, whose work I first saw in a textile show at the Art Institute.   


The 26th annual Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza is back this year in-person, November 19-December 24. Photo by Christkindlmarket.


By tradition, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the third Thursday in November. This year it’s November 18.  A holiday tradition in Chicago is to collect the glühwein mugs from the Christkindlmarket.  The 26th annual Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza is back this year in-person, November 19-December 24.  The Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way next to Wrigley Field runs November 19-December 31.  I was saddened to learn that Ray Lotter, founder of the Christkindlmarket Chicago, passed away in May.  The opening of the Christkindlmarkets coincides with the 108th Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Washington and Michigan in Millennium Park on November 19.   The annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Tree-Lighting Parade down North Michigan Avenue is November 20.


Let’s enjoy the moment, despite the early onset of Christmas themed music and Christmas creep.  Happy Diwali and Happy Thanksgiving!



Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information, rules, mandates and guidelines.