Tree House–the cat shelter at 1212 W. Carmen that gives the animals the run of the place–has a policy against euthanasia, and as a consequence doesn’t receive government funding. Its 25 staffers–and the cats, for that matter–get by on private donations. The shelter’s 20th anniversary dinner tonight features two special guests: big-time cat fancier Cleveland Amory, author of The Cat Who Came for Christmas and its sequel, who’ll be speaking, and Morris the cat, who’ll be on display and offering “paw-tographs.” It’s at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Roosevelt and Butterfield in Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets are $50, whch includes a reception, dinner, dancing, and an appearance by ventriloquist Ronn Lucas. Amory will emcee. Things starts at 6 PM. Call 784-5488 for more information.
An appearance by Jonathan Demme is the highlight of the three-day Festival of Illinois Film and Video Artists, kicking off tonight at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. The festival’s offerings were chosen by a group of local film professionals, with Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum serving as secretary of the jury. Programs include compilations of winning works from the festival, a selection of films from the Prague School of Fine Arts, and selections from the Sony-sponsored Visions of U.S. Video Exhibition (all the entries are low-budget). The schedule: today at 5, selections from the Sony exhibition; at 7, Prague films; at 9, festival winners. Tomorrow, things get under way at 3, with more films from Prague, Sony films at 5, winning works at 6, an awards ceremony at 8, Demme at 8:30, and a champagne reception at 10:30. On Sunday, more Sony films start at 3, Prague films at 5, and winning films at 7. It’s $6 on Friday, $4 for students and seniors, $10 and $6 on Saturday ($6 and $4 for the Demme appearance only), and $6 and $4 on Sunday. Call 663-1600 ext. 434 or the Music Box at 871-6604 for more details.
The Persian Gulf war has its veterans, but so does the protest against it. The New World Resource Center says one of its volunteers was arrested without cause and roughed up by Chicago cops during a downtown demonstration February 25. The center is holding a legal-fee fund-raising party tonight on the first floor of 3514 W. Diversey at 8:30. There’ll be beer, wine, and music. It’s $10. Call 348-3370 for details.
You can dance the Two-Step, the Snake Dance, and the Crow Hop today at the American Indian Festival, an all-day affair of dancing, poetry, and music hosted by the Blackhawk Native American Youth Dance Troupe at North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski. There’ll be two “grand entries” for the dances–highly stylized rituals, complete with a rendition of the Great Lakes tribes’ flag song, an Indian anthem that varies from region to region–at noon and 6. Then begin four-hour dance demonstrations everyone can join; music is by drummers from across the country. There’s a break at 4:30 for poetry. It’s $4, $1 for seniors, and $2 for children under 12, servicemen and -women, and singers and dancers. Call 784-2434 for details.
Those with a highly developed aesthetic, good taste, or just plain common sense might do well to avoid the Vic tonight, when Dread Zeppelin and Mojo Nixon bring their tour to town. Dread Zeppelin could be the ultimate high-concept band: they do reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs with an Elvis impersonator as a front man. Mojo Nixon spends his time constructing nuclear-strength ad hominem attacks like his masterpiece “Don Henley Must Die” (“Don’t let him get back together / With Glenn Frey”). The shebang starts at 7:30 PM; tickets are $17.50. Call 472-0449.
Classic animation, much of it weird, is the focus of a part film, part video program at the Curious Theatre Branch tonight. Comic-strip fans will be interested in two films animated by “Little Nemo” creator Winsor McCay in 1911 and 1916; there’ll also be Act Without Words, a 1965 film based on a script by Samuel Beckett; various bits of computer animation; submissions from the innovative Fleischer Brothers (including Superman–The Mechanical Monsters), and various experimental stuff. The program, dubbed Animania, is a presentation of the Curious Film Series; it starts at the theater, 1900 W. North, at 7. It’s $4. Call 327-2854 for more information.
A dizzying spectrum of artists, performers, and poets is turning out at Club Lower Links tonight to register new members for Greater Chicago Citizens for the Arts, a group being organized to put pressure on pols to support the arts. Tonight you can see free performances by the Blue Rider Theatre’s Donna Blue Lachman, rock group Artistic Feet’s Mike Kroll, poet Michael Warr, Do the White Thing’s Aaron Freeman, jazz singer Rita Warford, singing satirist Jimi Jihad, feminist rappers the Cunning Stunts, and more. Things get under way at 8 at 954 W. Newport. It’s free. Call 248-5238.
Tonight at 8 is the final preview performance of The Lisbon Traviata, the Terrence McNally play about a gay relationship and an operatic obsession; Judy O’Malley directs Harry Althaus, Christopher Cartmill, John Hines, and Richard Sherman. The play will go into repertory starting tomorrow in the Bailiwick Repertory Pride Performance Series, a festival of gay and lesbian theater. Lisbon plays Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2. Among the seven other plays in the series are an all-male version of Moliere’s The Misanthrope (Thursdays at 8, Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30); a multimediaish set piece by Beth Tanner, The Adored and the Adorned (Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays at 8:30); and If You See Yourself, Say Amen, spoken-word and musical pieces by someone named Jera (Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30). Bailiwick is at 3212 N. Broadway in the Jane Addams Hull House. Tickets are $10 for previews and $15 for repertory performances, with four-play ($37.50) or eight-play ($60) passes available. Call 883-1090 for more.
Chicago, already practically overrun with theater critics, is going to be positively bursting at the seams as the American Theatre Critics Association opens its 17th annual get-together today. The critics will be seeing plays, hobnobbing with local theater celebs, and jawing in meetings through Sunday in mostly private affairs; but there’s a daylong series of meetings open to the public today. Three forums are on the bill at the Blackstone Theatre, 60 E. Balbo. Chicago Theater: A Briefing, moderated by the Trib’s Richard Christiansen, begins at 1; National Theater: A Challenge, with the Sun-Times’s Hedy Weiss, starts at 2:30; and International Theater: An Opportunity, led by the Dallas Times-Herald’s Porter Anderson, commences at 4. They’re free. Call 248-9307.
For a while the Insiders seemed to be the next big Chicago rock thing; but after their second record for CBS didn’t get off the ground, they went back to the local clubs. You can see three-fifths of the band on a busman’s holiday tonight and every Wednesday in May at Oz, 2917 N. Sheffield. John (Siegle), Gary (Yerkins) & Ed (Breckenfeld) play Insiders favorites and covers galore starting about 10. It’s $3. Call 975-8100.
Talk about pop art–TV’s Best Commericals, an annual presentation of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, focuses this year on soft drink commercials from throughout history and around the world. Four 50-minute reels are the program, including “A Look Back,” commercials from the late 40s to the present; “Cola Wars,” in which not just Coke and Pepsi but everyone gets into the act; “Foreign Accents,” including a Thai version of the Pepsi spot in which the Michael J. Fox character (played by a Thai) goes through a Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish ordeal to get a Pepsi for a pretty neighbor; and a compilation of winners of national and international film awards. There’s also a reel of Ad Age’s submission of the best commercials of 1990, which aren’t exclusively soft drink oriented. The films show Wednesday through Saturday noon to 5 and Sunday 2 to 5. Admission is $3, $2 for students, and $1 for kids. The museum is at 800 S. Wells; call 987-1500 for details.