Theater (Kerry Reid)
You can take the red line instead of the A train to Porchlight’s salute to Duke Ellington, a revival of a 1981 Tony-winning musical revue stuffed with Ellington classics such as “Perdido,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” and “Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce.” Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris codirect and choreograph a cast of 15, with Jermaine Hill serving as music director. Ruth Page Center for the Arts, through 3/6, porchlightmusictheatre.org.
How to Defend Yourself
After one of their “sisters” is raped, a group of sorority women band together in a self-defense course, which forces them to confront the deepest strains of rage, trauma, rape culture—and their own desires. Victory Gardens developed Liliana Padilla’s script through the Ignition Festival, and Marti Lyons directs the co-world premiere in association with Actors Theatre of Louisville. Victory Gardens Theater, through 2/23, victorygardens.org.
The Boys in the Band
After enjoying huge success with their immersive production of Southern Gothic, Windy City Playhouse returns to the winning formula of turning their audience into flies on the wall at a fraught social gathering. Carl Menninger directs Mart Crowley’s landmark (and controversial) 1968 play about nine gay men at a birthday party where secrets about themselves pour out along with the booze. However, unlike Southern Gothic, the audience, though seated in the apartment set, won’t be moving from room to room. Windy City Playhouse, through 4/19, windycityplayhouse.com.
Roan @ The Gates
A civil rights attorney and her wife, an analyst for the National Security Agency, find their personal lives in conflict with murkier agendas in Christina Telesca Gorman’s play. Lexi Saunders directs for American Blues Theater. Stage 773, 1/31-2/29, americanbluestheater.com.
Lifeline artistic director Ilesa Duncan and David Barr III collaborated on this adaptation (directed by Duncan) of Charles Johnson’s novel, which won the 1990 National Book Award. First staged in a rollicking production with Pegasus Theatre Chicago in 2016 under the title Rutherford’s Travels, the picaresque tale follows Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave from Illinois who tries to escape a forced marriage by hopping on an outbound ship—which turns out to be a slaving vessel headed for Africa. Lifeline Theatre, 2/14-4/5, lifelinetheatre.com.
Dance (Irene Hsiao)
Same Planet Performance Project premieres two new works that contemplate our troubled relationship with the wilderness, literally and figuratively. In Ammonite, named for spiral-shelled mollusks that went extinct with the dinosaurs, New York-based guest choreo grapher Ivy Baldwin reenacts the destruction of the natural world. Bad Bunny, by SPPP artistic director Joanna Read, places dancers in a forest of artificial trees to reflect on the thorny issue of consent, boundaries, permission, and the word “yes.” 2/21-2/22, 7:30 PM, Dance Center of Columbia College, dance.colum.edu.
Whether it’s shark week, Aunt Flo’s turn to call, or Satan has let the sacrificial waterfall gush from the cursed abyss of hell, Loud Bodies Dance and the Chicago Period Project partner to put some punctuation on the month of February with a program that combines hip-hop, contemporary, social dance, and comedy in Legalize Menstruation. Top considerations for this dance collective committed to social justice include overcoming the taboo around Mother Nature’s gift and considering that not all who surf the red tide identify as women. Audience members are invited to contribute menstrual hygiene products to be given to homeless and in-need residents of our city. 2/29, 7:30 PM and 3/1, 5 PM, Preston Bradley Center, loudbodiesdance.com.
Comedy (Brianna Wellen)
Rap Transit: The L
Evelyn Troutman and Sukhjit Singh debut their new show that pits stand-ups against each other during head-to-head comedy rap battles. Local producers provide professional beats and the night closes out with a set from Groovebox. A portion of the proceeds will benefit GlobalGiving’s wildfire relief fund. 2/7, 8 PM, Cards Against Humanity, 1551 W. Homer, facebook.com/raptransit, $5.
The Chicago Puntathlon
Start working out your wordplay because anyone can be a contestant in this pun competition. Winners are determined by celebrity guest judges and audience applause, and the top punner walks away with $100. 2/10, 8 PM, Call Bar, 1547 W. Bryn Mawr, facebook.com/thechicagopuntathlon, $15, $10 in advance.
Tim and Eric: 2020 Mandatory Attendance World Tour
The infamous comedy duo bring their unique brand of goofs to town (plus unnamed special guests!) for what is sure to be a perfectly bizarre live performance to fill that Awesome Show-shaped hole in your heart. 2/22, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, msg.com/the-chicago-theatre, $47.50. v