When the Illinois Storytelling Festival pulled the plug on its fall event this year for lack of funds, Palatine’s plucky Wood Street Theater Company jumped in to fill the void. They’ve set up an ambitious nine-performance schedule for Palatine’s first Storytelling Festival, including workshops, sing-alongs, improv sessions, and open mikes together with stories spun by the pros. It starts tonight and continues at 7:30 Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 Sundays through September 19 at Cutting Hall Theater, 150 Wood St., Palatine. Tickets are $10 ($12 on September 18, a benefit for the Illinois Storytelling Festival); series passes are $20 for individuals, $30 for families. Call 847-338-0706 or see for a complete schedule.

The 25th annual Taste of Polonia festival provides plenty of those four essential Ps: pierogi, potato pancakes, Polish sausage, and polka, including a set by the Polkaholics. It starts tonight at 5 at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, Chicago, and runs through Monday, September 6. Admission this evening is $3 ($1.50 for seniors); Saturday through Monday it’s $6, $3 for seniors, and free for kids under 12. Call 773-777-8898, ext. 12, or see

The female-to-male drag troupe the Chicago Kings meets another kind of king tonight at the Empty Bottle: Elvis impersonator Patty Elvis. Also: musicians Ember Swift and Ellen Rosner, the Lickety Split Radical Cheerleaders, and DJ Pussy Galore. It’s a benefit for the International Drag King Extravaganza, a three-day conference set for October. The show starts at 10 at the Bottle, 1035 N. Western, Chicago, 773-276-3600; it’s $10.


The organizers of the Chicago International Toy & Game Fair are pitching it as an early chance to check out holiday gift ideas. What child wouldn’t be thrilled to find Disorderly Conduct, the “game of American federal and state law,” or the Fitness Challenge, “a personal trainer in a box,” under the tree? It’s not all spinach, though–exhibitors include Hasbro and the makers of Cabbage Patch Dolls, and there’s a 2,500-person game of Twister scheduled today at 2. The fair takes place in Festival Hall at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, Chicago; hours are 10 to 6 this weekend and 10 to 5 Monday. Single-ticket admission is $5, $10 for a weekend pass; families pay $10 per day, $20 for a pass. Call 847-677-8277 or see

Artist and Chicago native Buzz Spector returns to town today to give a talk in conjunction with “Fine Words Butter No Cabbage,” an exhibit celebrating 26 years of WhiteWalls, the art and language journal he cofounded. More than 40 works by contributors over the years are on display, including pieces by Lawrence Weiner, Helen Mirra, and locals Carol Jackson and Tom Denlinger. Spector’s talk is at 3 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., Chicago, 773-324-5520. Hours at the exhibit, which opened August 29 and runs through October 2, are 9 to 5 Mondays through Fridays and noon to 5 Saturdays.

The performance piece Petitmal posits Ren McCormack, the character played by Kevin Bacon in Footloose, as a “symbol of the battle of free will,” says Tyler B. Myers, who with Stephen Fiehn makes up the performance duo Cupola Bobber. Their piece, which debuted at this year’s PAC/edge Performance Festival, is staged partially in silhouette behind three large screens and uses images, text, and dialogue. “It’s really genuine and sweet, not powerful arty-farty stuff,” Myers says. Petitmal’s tonight at 8 at Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, Chicago; the show runs Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7, through September 12. Tickets are $10; call 773-281-0824.


Trade in the air guitar and learn how to actually play along with records at today’s Spontaneous Guitar workshop, where Old Town School of Folk Music instructor Charles Kim will explain chord progressions, rhythm basics, and some easy scales. It’s from 2 to 4 at the Old Town School, 4544 N. Lincoln, Chicago, and it’s $20; call 773-728-6000.


DJs pledge to spin a “festering mix of all things new and potentially interesting” at Reckless Records’ New Release Ping-Pong Party, where employees of the record store will officiate at an alcohol-enhanced table tennis tournament. Schubas is making this party a monthly event. It starts at 9 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, Chicago, 773-525-2508. There’s no cover, but you must be 21.


Get a closer look at the spaceship without suffering through a Bears loss. Today’s tours of Soldier Field include stops in both old and new sections of the stadium (including the chichi sky suites), the visitors’ locker room (which some Bears have grumbled is far too comfortable), the Cadillac Club, and along the historic colonnades. The 45-minute tours run from 9 to 5 at Soldier Field, 14th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. They’re $15 ($7 for seniors, $4 for kids under 12, and free for tots under 3), and reservations are required; call 312-235-7244.

Winged Migration, the acclaimed avian documentary by director Jacques Perrin, plays for free tonight at Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit “Free the Birds,” which features more than 60 birdhouses by Chicago artists and architects. The outdoor screening’s at 8 at the park, 1827 S. Indiana, Chicago; regular park hours are from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM. There are birdhouses on display at Clarke House (also at 1827 S. Indiana) too; admission there is free on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to noon and 3 to 5. “For the Birds” runs through October 15; call 312-744-6630.


You don’t have to be a blond Viking named Ivar to attend a gathering of the members of Skando Chicago, but you might want to have at least a passing interest in lutefisk, vodka, and other things Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and/or Finnish. The “klubb” meets tonight from 7 to 11 at Zella, 1983 N. Clybourn, Chicago, 773-549-2910. It’s free.

ComedySportz turned improv into a competitive team sport 17 years ago, then cloned the concept all over the country. Now it’s bringing its signature show, The Interactive Improv Experience, to the northwest suburbs. Red and Blue teams from the Chicago troupe will face off as audiences pick the situations and decide the winners at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre each Wednesday through November 3. The games begin at 7:30 tonight at the center, 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Tickets are $20; call 847-577-2121 or see


The four specially commissioned works that make up tonight’s installment of the Third Coast Festival Listening Room’s “ShortDocs” series take a look at postmortem photography, visit a Swiss restaurant run in total darkness by a visually impaired staff, offer an exploration of darkness by gentleman author Rick Moody and electronic musician Jerome Schmidt, and provide an “aural portrait” of babies at night. The evening starts off with Gianofer Fields, a producer with WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight, interviewing festival directors Johanna Zorn and Julie Shapiro. It’s from 7 to 9 at Steppenwolf’s Garage Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, Chicago. Tickets are $5, $3 for students and Chicago Public Radio members; call 312-948-4682 or e-mail

At tonight’s Dance With the Dancers, members of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago step off the stage and onto the floor to show the rest of us some Latin moves. It’s from 6 to 8:30 at Aldo Castillo, 233 W. Huron, Chicago, and it’s $40, which includes drinksand hors d’oeuvres, plus a chance to win a trip to New York to see the troupe in action. Call 312-850-9744, ext. 199.