Where to be and what to see this week: New openings at Lookingglass Theatre and American Theatre Company, ‘Cocktails & Cacti’ at the Goodman and the Hamburg Ballet at Harris Theater, a fundraiser at the MCA, an appearance by architect Jeanne Gang and a fun family event at the Cultural Center.
‘Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo’
Jan. 30-March 17: Leave it to Lookingglass Theatre to take on a show of such peculiar proportions. Rajiv Joseph’s Pulitzer-nominated play riffs on a real-life incident that became a metaphor for the U.S. presence in Iraq: An American soldier loses part of his arm when he offers a tiger a kebab. Joseph imagines the ghost of that tiger (killed after the incident) wandering Baghdad, a wisecracking witness to the zoo the city has become. Tickets: $34-$70. Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan. Call (312) 337-0665 or visit Lookingglasstheatre.org.
‘Cocktails & Cacti’
Jan. 31: The Goodman Theatre’s Scenemakers Board invites theatergoers to get up close and personal with the cast of its current dysfunctional family dramedy, “Other Desert Cities” (pictured above). Enjoy cactus-infused cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a meet and greet with director Henry Wishcamper. After a performance of the play, mingle with the cast and crew at a reception. It’s a sweet opportunity to learn what makes a show — and its performers — tick. Tickets: $60. 170 N. Dearborn. Use promo code CACTI for tickets at Goodmantheatre.org or call (312) 443-3800.
Feb. 1: Heard “The Wheels on the Bus” one too many times? Turn your child onto something different (and give your ears a break) at Juicebox, the new music and performance series for pre-kindergarteners. Taking place every other Friday at 10 a.m. at the Cultural Center, the program kicks off this week with the Spektral Quartet, acclaimed for bringing a fresh approach to serious music and engaging audiences of all ages. Free. 78 E. Washington. Visit Cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html for more information.
Feb. 1-2: One of the world’s most respected dance companies, the Hamburg Ballet launches its American tour at the Harris Theater. Led for 40 years by Milwaukee-born John Neumeier, the troupe performs his dynamically dramatic “Nijinsky,” which explores the talented and troubled 20th century Russian dancer/choreographer whose highly-charged sexuality and compositional innovations shocked audiences and injected modernism into classical ballet. Tickets: $30-$75. 205 E. Randolph. Call (312) 334-7777 or visit Harristheaterchicago.org.
Feb. 1-March 10: In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, American Theater Company revisits the event that launched the national dialogue on gun violence: the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Conceived and directed by Artistic Director PJ Paparelli, “Columbinus” draws from interviews with teens across the country (including survivors of the attack) and incorporates never-before-released information on the shooters and their families. Tickets: $33 through Feb 5; $38-$43 thereafter. 1909 W. Byron. Call (773) 409-4125 or visit Atcweb.org.
ArtEdge at the MCA
Feb. 2: The Museum of Contemporary Art presents some of the most challenging work out there, so it’s not surprising that it takes an avant-garde approach when it comes to fundraisers. Set in the MCA’s warehouse, this annual benefit uses industry as its theme, with supporters sipping cocktails in settings such as the Chain Link Room and Automation Room. After dinner (which arrives via conveyor belt), guests will groove to indie rock band Fitz and the Tantrums. Tickets: $1,000 for entire evening; $150 for dessert reception and concert. 1747 W. Hubbard. Call (312) 397-3868 or visit Mcachicago.org/artedge.
‘Archi-Salon: Inside Studio Gang Architects’
Feb. 2: As Jeanne Gang has demonstrated — and as the Art Institute’s current exhibition of her work illustrates — architecture is much more than four walls and a roof. The brains behind the Aqua Tower, Gang takes an unconventional approach to how buildings relate to the landscape. Check out the exhibit, located in the Modern Wing, then hear more from Gang as she engages in a discussion with her peers, led by architect and University of Illinois professor Clare Lyster. Free with museum admission. 159 E. Monroe. Call (312) 443-3600 or visit Artic.edu.
—Story by Thomas Connors