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“Blue Man Group” ★★★

“Blue Man Group” has been play­ing at Briar Street since 1997, a re­mark­able run of 20-plus years. There have been only two ma­jor over­hauls in that time; the lat­est adds selfie sticks, new mu­sic and a live­lier fi­nale. I’d ar­gue the Blue Men need a big­ger over­haul — they still chomp marsh­mal­lows, bang drums and paint up au­di­ence mem­bers — but this re­mains a fine gate­way for the young into the arts. If you’ve never had the plea­sure, go. Open run at the Briar Street The­atre, 3133 N. Hal­sted St.; $49-$69 at www.tick­et­mas­

“Fa­mil­iar” ★★★

The aptly named “Fa­mil­iar,” now at Step­pen­wolf un­der the skilled di­rec­tion of Danya Tay­mor, is by Danai Gurira, a hugely suc­cess­ful Zim­bab­wean-Amer­i­can ac­tress and play­wright and the daugh­ter of im­mi­grant par­ents. It’s about the mar­riage of a young lawyer named Tendikayi (Lanise An­toine Shel­ley) to an Amer­i­can named Chris (Erik Hell­man), and the de­bate of how much at­ten­tion the in­ter-racial nup­tials should pay to Zim­bab­wean tra­di­tions. This pro­duc­tion some­times sac­ri­fices truth for laughs, but “Fa­mil­iar” is writ­ten with great em­pa­thy. Through Jan. 13 at the Step­pen­wolf The­atre, 1650 N. Hal­sted St.; $20-$109 at 312-335-1650 or www.step­pen

“Gaslight District” ★★★

The best work in the new Sec­ond City e.t.c. Stage re­vue “Gaslight District” en­gages at an equal level with the pay­ing cus­tomers in the seats. For ex­am­ple, there’s a ter­rific Uber Pool bit mock­ing the faux com­mu­ni­ties that emerge in the traf­fic­snarling world of shared rides. And cast mem­ber Jas­bir Singh Vazquez plays a guy who shows up at the of­fices of the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, re­quest­ing his own de­por­ta­tion. Vazquez is as good as any­one I’ve seen on the e.t.c. Stage. I wouldn’t say new di­rec­tor An­neliese Toft’s re­vue is fully se­cure in its own skin, but it’s funny and knows how to hit hard against soft tar­gets. Open run on the Sec­ond City e.t.c. Stage, 1608 N. Wells St. in Piper’s Al­ley; $21-$48 at 312-337-3992 and www.sec­ond­c­

“Hamil­ton” ★★★★

This heart­land “Hamil­ton” is per­formed by play­ers mostly younger and less ex­pe­ri­enced than the orig­i­nal New York cast and is less flashy. But it is more in touch with the fun­da­men­tal scrap­pi­ness of the early years of a rebel colony turned into a spec­tac­u­lar demo­cratic ex­per­i­ment. And in Chicago, a city where the­ater is founded on truth, it is some­how very much more hu­man and vul­ner­a­ble. That Chicago-style sen­si­bil­ity is led by Miguel Cer­vantes, the su­perb ac­tor in the ti­tle role. Open run at CIBC The­atre, 18 W. Mon­roe St.; $65-$400 at 800-775-2000 or www.broad­wayin

“The Stead­fast Tin Soldier” ★★★★

The hero of the gor­geous new show at Look­ing­glass The­atre is tor­mented by a big baby, swal­lowed by a storm drain, chased by a rat and in­cin­er­ated. Mary Zim­mer­man’s new adap­ta­tion of Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen’s “The Stead­fast Tin Soldier” is barely more than an hour long and does not use a lick of hu­man speech. But this is a ma­jor new work, with the mes­sage that we don't die, we merely change shape. It’s one hol­i­day show you don’t want to miss. Through Jan. 13 at Look­ing­glass The­atre in the Wa­ter Tower Wa­ter Works, 821 N. Michi­gan Ave.; $35-$85 at 312-337-0665 or www.look­ing­glassthe­ “The Woman in Black” ★★★

“The Woman in Black” now at the Royal Ge­orge The­atre, is an old-school gothic ghost story, adapted by Stephen Mal­la­tratt from the novel by Su­san Hill about a young lawyer sent to a re­mote English house to deal with a dead woman’s af­fairs. Plenty of peo­ple could tell you what hap­pens next. Di­rec­tor Robin Her­ford’s 1987 pro­duc­tion was such a hit that it moved to Lon­don’s West End, where it plays to this day. Chicago’s show is ac­tu­ally di­rected by Her­ford, star­ring Adam Wes­ley Brown and Bradley Ar­ma­cost. With low lev­els of light­ing, am­pli­fied sound ef­fects and no dig­i­tal trick­ery, this is most cer­tainly the scari­est show in town. Through Feb. 17 at the Royal Ge­orge The­atre, 1641 N. Hal­sted St.; $49$69 at 312-988-9000 or theroy­al­ge­orge the­ “Women of Soul” ★★★

What qual­i­fies some­one to be a woman of soul? At the Black En­sem­ble The­ater — which prides it­self on wel­com­ing ev­ery­one — you can hear a cast of eight women per­form­ing num­bers made fa­mous by Ma­halia Jack­son, Natalie Cole, Ja­nis Joplin, Mary J. Blige, Glo­ria Gaynor, Donna Sum­mer, Whit­ney Hous­ton and Adele, among oth­ers. The evening ends with a trib­ute to Aretha Franklin. Penned and di­rected by Daryl D. Brooks, “Women of Soul” is all about the vo­cal tal­ents such as Jer­ica Exum, Cyn­thia Carter and rel­a­tive new­comer Han­nah Ef­sits. If you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll think, what’s not to like in such a show? And you'd be right. Through Jan. 27 at Black En­sem­ble The­ater, 4450 N. Clark St.; $55-$65 at 773-769-4451 or www .black­ensem­blethe­




‘Gaslight District.’


‘Blue Man Group.’

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