Things to do in Chicago Dec. 14-20: The Mix

A Grinch musical, a hip-hop ‘Nutcracker’ and holiday concerts from jazz, blues and CSO musicians are among the highlights of the week ahead.

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James Schultz plays the Grinch with Aerina DeBoer as Cindy-Lou Who.

James Schultz plays the Grinch with Aerina DeBoer as Cindy-Lou Who in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Jeremy Daniel


  • That mean Mr. Grinch is up to no good once again in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” The holiday classic follows the scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” as he plots to steal Christmas from the holiday-loving Whos. The 85-minute production for ages 5 and up is filled with colorful sets and costumes; Matt August directs. From Dec. 19-31 at Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets: $35-$105. Visit
  • “The Christmas Schooner” is Julie Shannon and John Reeger’s holiday musical based on the true story of the shipping captain who brought Christmas trees to homesick German American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago. From Dec. 14-23 at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th. Tickets: $40. Visit
  • In Denise McGowan Tracy and Kathleen Butler-Duplessis’ musical “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish,” a rag doll living at the North Pole learns that wishing is simply not enough to make your dreams come true. Gregg Dennhardt directs. From Dec. 20-31 at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest. Tickets: $20. Visit

‘The Nutcracker’

“Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker”

“Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker”

Jon Taylor

  • “Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker” is a jazz-steeped reimagining of the classic tale set to the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Taking place in the 1930s, this “Nutcracker” is seen through the eyes of a girl in a high-society family and her fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. From  Dec. 20-30 at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells. Tickets: $44+. Visit
  • “The Nut Tapper” features Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin and his annual staging of the holiday classic recreated with rhythms of tap, Spanish flamenco and Mexican zapateado. At 4:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Tickets: $20. Visit


Peyton Smith in “Mary, A Holiday Dansical.”

Peyton Smith in “Mary, A Holiday Dansical.”

Jordyn A. Bush

  • Black Girls Dance, which empowers young women of color to pursue professional dance, presents “Mary, A Holiday Dansical,” a modern twist on the traditional “Black Nativity” told in styles including ballet, hip-hop and tap. At 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. Tickets: $40, $20 for 12 and under. Visit
  • Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater presents its annual family holiday performance featuring company favorites including Dame Libby Komaiko’s “Zapateado,” Raquel Gomez’s “Sur,” Irma Suarez Ruiz’s “El Baile De Luis Alonso” and more. At 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium, 5500 N. St. Louis. Tickets: $25, $42.50. Visit


  • Get in the holiday spirit at Symphony Center’s popular “Merry, Merry Chicago.” The event showcases members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing carols and holiday tunes along with vocalist Ashley Brown, who originated the title role in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway. From Dec. 15-17, 22-23 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets $45+. Visit
  • Delmark Records’ Holiday Concert is a blues and jazz extravaganza with performances by Mud Morganfield, Jimmy Burns, Demetria Taylor, Dave Specter, Mike Wheeler, Sheryl Youngblood, the Soul Message Band, and more. At 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport. Tickets: $30, $40. Visit
  • Chicago Sinfonietta’s “Holiday of Light,” with guest conductor Chelsea Tipton, features a program ranging from “White Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad” and Lukas Richman’s “Hanukkah Festival Overture” to Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and Johan Strauss’ “Champagne Polka.” At 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells. Tickets: $25+. Visit
Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

  • A Blues Christmas brings together Alligator Records’ artists for a celebration featuring songs from the label’s Christmas albums. The lineup includes Toronzo Cannon, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch, Lil’ Ed Williams and Ivy Ford. At 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom, 840 E. Grand. Admission is free. Visit
  • Chip Davis’ annual Mannheim Steamroller Christmas features classics and other works from the distinctive Mannheim songbook. At 8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Tickets $29.50-$95. Visit
Tammy McCann photo by Mary Rafferty

Tammy McCann.

Mary Rafferty Photo

  • A Jazz Christmas features vocalist Tammy McCann and an all-star band performing soulful renditions of holiday songs. At 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston. Tickets $30-$60. Visit
  • Music of the Baroque presents a musical journey through time, from the medieval era to the present, with works by Gabrieli, Praetorius and much more at its Holiday Brass and Choral Concerts. At 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division, River Forest ($25-$85); 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at St. Michael Church, 1633 N. Cleveland ($35-$100); 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Church, 191 Linden, Winnetka ($35-$115), and 2 p.m. Dec. 17 at Alice Miller Chapel, Northwestern University, 1870 Sheridan, Evanston ($45-$115). A streaming option is available beginning at midnight Dec. 22 ($15). Visit


Tanaka Yu’s “Bag Work” (2018) is part of “Radical Clay.” 

Tanaka Yu’s “Bag Work” (2018) is part of “Radical Clay.”

Carol & Jeffrey Horvitz Collection of Contemporary Japanese Ceramics

  • “Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists” features 40 stunning works by 36 established and emerging women artists from across Japan. From Dec. 16-June 3 at Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. Admission: $14-$32. Visit
“House #4, Providence, Rhode Island,” a photo by Francesca Woodman, is part of “Descending the Staircase.”

“House #4, Providence, Rhode Island,” a photo by Francesca Woodman, is part of “Descending the Staircase.”

Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection. © 1975-1976 Francesca Woodman. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

  • Novel artistic approaches to representing the human body are the focus of “Descending the Staircase,” which presents figures of all kinds: Puppets, masks and automations merge bodies with objects; abstract sculptures evoke the human form using materials such as nylon, wax and latex; other pieces use the living body as a medium. The immersive exhibit is drawn primarily from the museum’s collections and includes new works and old favorites. From Dec. 16-Aug. 25 at Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Admission: $10-$22. Visit

Holiday markets

  • Shop from over 170 curated artists at the Renegade Craft Fair, which features local and national businesses offering unique goods and handmade gifts. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 16-17 at Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N. Morgan. Admission: $5. Visit
  • With more than 100 vendors, Chicago Artisan Market showcases the Midwest’s best in one-of-a-kind food, fashion, home goods and art. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 16-17 at 4325 N. Ravenswood. Admission: $8-$20, under 12 free. Visit

Holiday fun

Light of Christmas at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Light of Christmas at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Jason Darland

  • Catch Guaranteed Rate Field’s new drive-through holiday experience, Light of Christmas, a wonderland filled with light displays synchronized to holiday tunes that can be listened to via a car radio. From 5-9 p.m. daily to Jan. 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field parking lot, 3326 S. Wentworth. Tickets per car: $24.99 (Monday-Wednesday), $39.99 (Thursday-Sunday and all days after Dec. 21). Visit
  • Honeycomb Project, an organization for family volunteering, presents its Holiday Cheer Challenge which features a scavenger hunt that infuses giving back with a downtown adventure as small groups race to perform simple holiday-themed tasks that make others smile, such as singing at Cloud Gate or delivering thank you notes to city workers. The event kicks off at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 at the InterContinental Magnificent Mile Hotel, 505 N. Michigan. Tickets: $65+. Visit
  • Jack Frost Christmas Holiday Pop-Up offers an all-ages winter wonderland filled with ice skating, a holiday market, cocktails and mocktails, bumper cars, ice curling, festive photo ops, Santa and more. From 2-10 p.m. weekends and 4 p.m.-10 p.m. weekdays to Jan. 5 at 170 Green St. Tickets: $8-$52. Visit
Jack Frost Christmas Holiday Pop-Up 

Jack Frost Christmas Holiday Pop-Up.

Courtesy of Bucket Listers

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