The Mix: Things to Do in Chicago Dec. 16-22Mary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson December 16, 2021 at 12:00 am

“Mary” is a modern twist on the traditional Black Nativity told through ballet, hip-hop, tap and contemporary dance presented by Black Girls Dance. | Jordyn A. Bush

There’s plenty to see and do online and in-person in Chicago in the week ahead.


Black Girls Dance, an organization that empowers young women of color to pursue professional dance, presents the world premiere of Erin Barnett’s “Mary.” The piece is a modern twist on the traditional “Black Nativity” and told through ballet, hip-hop, tap and contemporary dance. The cast of dancer-actors includes students from Juilliard, Chicago Academy for the Arts, the Joffrey Conservatory program and the Black Girls Dance studio. At 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. Tickets: $20, $40. Visit


Music Theater Works presents Elton John and Lee Hall’s “Billy Elliot the Musical.” The Tony Award-winning musical, about a young boy’s desire to express himself through dance, is directed by Kyle A. Dougan with choreography by Clayton Cross. From Dec. 23-Jan. 2 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets: $20.50-$92. Visit
Here’s a streaming holiday treat from the Houston Grand Opera. Composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney’s have adapted “The Snowy Day,” the classic children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats. Written in 1962 and the winner of the Caldecott medal, the book and opera recount the adventures of young Peter after he wakes up to the first snow of winter and sets off to explore the world, learning lessons along the way. The free stream is available through Jan. 9. Visit

Dean Kalyan
Charles Ross stars in “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy.”
Charles Ross performs his family-friendly solo show, “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy,” a mind-bending whirlwind in which he recounts the classic movies in 60 minutes — all the characters, the music, the ships and the battles. Jan. 5-6 at Apollo Theater, 2550 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $19-$39. Visit

“Yippee Ki-Yay Merry Christmas! A Die Hard Musical Parody” runs through Jan. 7 at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont. Tickets: $25. Visit … The Second City roasts the season with a mix of sketch comedy and improv in “It’s a Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Life” (Dec. 18-30, $30-$60) and Vicki Quade’s holiday show, “Christmas Bingo — It’s a Ho-Ho-Holy Night” (7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, $30), brings together two of the best things about being Catholic — Christmas and bingo. Both shows are at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights. Visit


Courtesy of Mariachi Herencia de Mexico
Mariachi Herencia de Mexico
Filled with music and dance, “Mariachi Herencia de Mexico: A Very Merry Christmas Concert,” is a celebration of Mexican holiday traditions. The Latin Grammy-nominated group, Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, performs Mexican and American holiday favorites including, “Feliz Navidad,” “Los Peces en el Rio,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Ave Maria,” “O Holy Night,” and much more. At 8 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2, 5, 8 p.m. Dec. 18 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $28. Visit
The Chicago Children’s Choir, the organization that unites young people from diverse backgrounds through music, presents its holiday concert “Songs of the Season.” The performance features a diverse repertoire of songs ranging from “Faure’s Requiem” and “O Holy Night” to “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Shosholoza” (South Africa) and “En Mi Viejo San Juan” (Puerto Rico). At 5:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland. Tickets: $30. Visit
Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang unite once again for their annual Winter Solstice Concerts. Since 1990, the percussion duo and their musical guests have met annually to welcome the sun on the shortest day of the year. This year there are five in-person performances — sunrise concerts at 6 a.m. Dec. 21-23 ($35) and evening concerts at 6 p.m. Dec. 21-22 ($17, $22). The evening concerts will also be livestreamed. At Links Hall/Constellation, 3111 N. Western. Visit

“Merry, Merry Chicago!” returns to Symphony Center under the baton of Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis. Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra share music of the season with Broadway star Jessica Vosk as the guest vocalist. Classic holiday tunes are performed along with orchestral music of the season including Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on “Greensleeves” and music from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Snow Maiden” and Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” Plus, there’s an appearance by a certain jolly ole fellow. From Dec. 17-23 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets: $36+. Visit

Jess Wasson/Courtesy of Lucky Brand
Andrew Bird
For more than a decade, Andrew Bird has welcomed winter with his “Gezelligheid” concerts, a communal experience filled with comforting music at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. Last year’s performance was upended by the pandemic and instead was streamed from the orange groves of Ojai, California. This year Bird recreates the “Gezelligheid” atmosphere in a livestreamed performance from an undisclosed location in Los Angeles. The performance livestreams at 6 p.m. Dec. 19. Tickets: $20. Visit

The Chicago Symphony Chorus returns to the stage of Orchestra Hall to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and soloists for performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” led by Nicholas McGegan, music director laureate of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale. Featured soloists include soprano Yulia van Doren, countertenor Reginald Mobley, tenor Ben Bliss and bass-baritone Dashon Burton. From Dec. 16-19 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets: $39+. Visit

Elliot Mandel
Music of the Baroque

Music of the Baroque performs its annual “Holiday Brass & Choral Concert,” which traces the holiday story through Renaissance and baroque works for brass, music for a cappella choir and celebratory works for the entire ensemble. At 8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division, River Forest; 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at St. Michael Church, 1633 N. Cleveland; 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at Saints Faith, Hope & Charity Church, 191 Linden, Winnetka; 2 p.m. Dec. 19 at Alice Miller Chapel, Northwestern University, 1870 Sheridan, Evanston. Tickets: $48-$100. Visit

“The Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings Christmas” features the jazz artist saluting the holidays (5, 9 p.m. Dec. 19, $45-$60; livestream also available) and singer-songwriter “Michael McDermott’s Mischief & Mistletoe” performs his annual holiday show (8 p.m. Dec. 20-23, $30-$42). Both shows at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. Visit

Family fun

Getty Images
Shane “Scooter” Christensen, No. 16 of the Harlem Globetrotters, balances a ball on his head in the layup line before the team’s exhibition game against the Washington Generals at the Orleans Arena on August 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Finish up your holiday shopping at the Renegade Craft Fair where DIY creators will be offering all sorts of items including art prints, stained glass, paper goods, candles, jewelry, ceramics, textiles, purses and much more. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 18-19 at Revel Fulton Market, 1215 W. Fulton. Admission: pay what you can. Visit

For some full-court family fun, check out The Harlem Globetrotters and their amazing floor show full of ball spinning that defies gravity, innovative dunks, new on-court characters and lots of laughs. Plus, after the game players stick around for some autograph action. At 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 28 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont. Tickets: $25+. Visit

Jayme Thornton Photo
Laurie Berkner
Laurie Berkner, “the queen of kids’ music,” celebrates the season with two streaming shows at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 18. Berkner along with band members Brady Rymer, Susie Lampert and Bobby Golden will perform holiday favorites (“Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,”) along with originals from Laurie Berkner’s album (“Santa’s Coming to My House Tonight”) and Hanukkah tunes (“Candle Chase,” “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel”). Kids should plan to bring their instruments, dancing shoes and a stuffed animal (for their heads). Tickets: $20. Visit


(C) 2021 The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust
“Go West, 1980,” by Robert Colescott
“Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott” is the first comprehensive retrospective of one of America’s most compelling and provocative artists. In his large-scale paintings, Colescott (1925-2009) confronted deeply embedded cultural hierarchies involving race, gender, and social inequality in America with fearless wit and irony. “Robert Colescott’s work has never been more relevant,” said Lowery Stokes Sims, co-curator of the exhibition with Matthew Weseley. “He expanded modes of Black representation in art, and questioned aesthetic and social values that have determined the perception of the Black body. His masterful appropriations of art history addressing the suppression and distortion of the contributions of Black people in world art and history, offer us a means — if we are up to the task — to forthrightly confront issues of identity, social mores, capitalism and colonialism in the current American landscape.” To May 29 at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Admission is free. Visit

Courtesy of the artist
Brenton Good, “Nine Patch Diptych”
“Rituals” features the work of three artists: Brenton Good, Mandy Cano-Villalobos and Marissa Voytenko who all regard ritual as an integral part of their varied work. Hailing from Pennsylvania Amish country, Good’s checkerboard woodcut prints draw from traditional quilt patterns; Cano-Villalobos assembles mementos into shrine-like sculptures; Voytenko uses waxy encaustic paint to create images through the use of repeated shapes and lines. To Jan. 30 at Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago. Admission: $5. Visit

NOTE: For COVID-19 safety protocols, visit the venues’ websites.

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