Friday 23

A slew of area folkies appear at a benefit tonight for the Neediest Children’s Fund at the No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park. The event runs from 7 PM to 1 AM, and performers include Mark Dvorak, Kim Hughes, Beggar’s Alley, and the Mitey Fine String Band. Admission is $10; the coffeehouse is at 6970 N. Glenwood. Call 743-3355 for more.

For his seasonal schlockfest, Winter Show, new age pianist George Winston looks into the wonders of the Hawaiian slack guitar. On the side, he’s been producing a series of albums by venerable practitioners of the art, and he’ll show off his own chops at the concert along with his usual atmospheric piano meanderings. It starts at 8 tonight at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets cost $18.50 to $30; call 435-6666.

Saturday 24

What if you’re gay or lesbian–and as a consequence feel rejected by the Catholic Church–but you still want to celebrate mass? We don’t really understand the impulse, yet Dignity/Chicago, the gay and lesbian Catholic group, takes a more charitable approach. They’re offering midnight mass tonight, with lessons and carols beginning at 11:45. A social hour follows the service. It’s at the Broadway United Methodist Church, 3344 N. Broadway. Admission is free; “all are welcome.” Call 296-0780 for more.

Sunday 25

Everyone assumes there’s nothing to do on Christmas. But a couple of local theater companies have taken steps to change that perception this year. First up is the National Jewish Theater’s production of Club Soda, playwright Leah Kornfeld Friedman’s bittersweet tale about life after high school in 1950s Brooklyn. The show plays today at 1 and 5 PM in the theater of the Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center, 5050 W. Church in Skokie. Tickets are $15; call 708-675-5070 for reservations. Northlight Theatre remounts its 1985 hit staging of Quilters, Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek’s musical collage about pioneer women in the American west. The show plays tonight at 5 PM at Northwestern University’s Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 1979 South Campus Drive. Tix are $23 to $29 (half-price for children). Call 708-869-7278 for details.

Monday 26

The kids are probably tired of their new toys already, so the Chicago Historical Society has planned a series of diversions for children this week. It starts today at 1 PM with Adventures in Rhythm, a program of stories and songs from different cultures compiled by folk singer Ella Jenkins. Tomorrow there’s a two-hour quilt-making project for kids that gets under way at noon. Wednesday it’s From Minsk to Maxwell Street: Jewish Tales of Wit and Wisdom, with storyteller Sid Lieberman; the show starts at 1 PM, and it’s recommended for children ages ten and older. All of the programs are free with museum admission, which is a suggested donation of $3, $2 for seniors and students, and $1 for children. It’s at Clark and North; call 642-4600 for details.

Tuesday 27

More kid stuff: The Field Museum is also offering a week’s worth of activities for children. Today kids can help paint an animal mural from 10 AM to 4 PM. Beginning at 11 AM, there’s a four-hour program called Spiders, which includes stories, art activities, and a visit from the museum’s own Spider Woman. And at 1 PM the GAIA Theater presents A Quirky Carol, a holiday tale about endangered species. The museum is at Roosevelt Road and Lake Shore Drive. It’s all free with regular admission of $5, $3 for children and seniors. Call 332-8859 for more information.

Wednesday 28

Chicago native Ed Coffey is a key animator for Walt Disney, having worked on such films as The Lion King, Aladdin, and the upcoming Pocahontas. He’ll demonstrate how drawings are turned into motion pictures at 2 PM at the Chicago Public Library’s West Belmont Branch, 3104 N. Narragansett. Kids will also get a chance to create drawings that Coffey will later turn into a 60-second video. It’s free, but reservations are required; call 746-5142.

Gloria Estefan’s new album of 70s disco nuggets–Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me–provides the nightclub Berlin with another opportunity for a lip-synching contest. They’d like you to mug and swagger to Estefan’s renditions of songs like “Everlasting Love” and “Turn the Beat Around.” The grand prize is a round-trip for two to Miami and two nights in Estefan’s South Beach hotel, the Cordoza. If you want to participate, you’ll have to sign up by 11:30 PM; the contest starts sometime after that. The club is at 954 W. Belmont; there’s a $2 cover. Call 348-4975 for more.

Thursday 29

For the last evening before New Year’s weekend, you have two choices. You can gather your family around for a night of quiet reflection–or kick the holiday spirit into overdrive with World Championship Wrestling at the Rosemont Horizon. Tonight’s main event is a tag-team match with Hulk Hogan and Sting going pecs-to-pecs against Avalanche and the Butcher. Matches between lesser grapplers include Dustin Rhodes facing Arn Anderson, a world title match teaming Stars and Stripes against Pretty Wonderful, and a U.S. title contest with Hacksaw Jim Duggan “wrestling” Vader. The Rosemont Horizon is at 6920 N. Mannheim in Rosemont. Tix are $35, $18, and $12; call 559-1212.

December 30 through January 5

The healthy-minded and the slightly nutty will be happy to know that the Galter LifeCenter is once again presenting its New Year’s Eve Revolutions night run. There’s a two-mile walk-or-run or a four-mile “fun run” on what is sure to be a frigid evening with a party to follow, all starting at the Galter LifeCenter fitness club, 5157 N. Francisco. Warm-up exercises begin at 8:30; races start at 9:45. A nonalcoholic toast is offered at midnight. Entrance fees are $20 for the race, $30 for the race and party (fees are $5 less if you pay in advance). Call 944-6667 for details.

The pranksters posing as a German performance group named Die Hanswurste revive their show of nihilistic clowning, Klown: Prick Us and We’ll Burst, for a monthlong run at the Organic Theater. The theater calls it “a deconstructionist ride through the twisted landscape of the mind,” but the troupe says the show “spoofs mankind’s most sacred object–itself.” When the show opened in September, Reader critic Jack Helbig called it “sophisticated . . . winning laughs not with pratfalls but with . . . wry comments on human nature.” The show reopens Thursday, January 5, running every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 PM through February 4. Tix are $12 for what the theater calls a “safe seat,” $10 for a “dangerous” one. Performances are in the south hall of the Organic Theater Greenhouse, 3319 N. Clark. Call 327-5588 for reservations.

“Walk the streets of Paris during the French Revolution, battle the windmill with Don Quixote, or unlock the secrets of Bluebeard’s chateau through the magic of animated film,” invite the folks at the University of Chicago’s DOC Films. The group opens the retrospective A Tribute to French Animation, 1956-1992 on Wednesday, January 4, at 8 PM in the Max Palevsky Cinema of Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th. The first night features works by animation partnerships and current cutting-edge practitioners. Admission is $5, $3 for students. Call 702-8596 for other program information.