Weekend picks: Puppeteer Blair Thomas tells stories
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'Hard Headed Heart'
See puppeteer Blair Thomas perform with hand puppets, rod marionettes and shadow puppetry in the "Hard Headed Heart" puppetry show at Oakton Community College's Footlik Theater, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines. The show includes three separate stories: "The Blackbird," "The Puppet Show of Don Cristobal" and "St. James Infirmary." Blair teaches puppetry at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Show is intended for ages 14 and older. Tickets are $10-$12; $8 for groups of 15 or more. Call (847) 635-1900. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
Lambs Farm Holiday Lights Gift & Craft Fair
Hundreds of vendors will be on hand featuring items such as jewelry, clothing, candy and more at the 33rd Annual Lambs Farm Holiday Lights Gift & Craft Fair at Arlington International Racecourse, 2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights. Admission is $8; parking is $6. Visit lambsfarm.org. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Art for sale
More than 600 artists are selling custom works at the 13th annual One of a Kind Show and Sale starting Thursday at the Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago. $12; multi-ticket packages also available. (800) 677-6278 or oneofakindshowchicago.com. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Talons and Claus
The Willowbrook Wildlife Center, 525 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn, once again hosts its annual Talons and Claus family holiday event. Guests can meet raptors living at the center and learn about other animal residents. Other highlights include crafts, refreshments and horse-drawn hayrides (weather permitting) though 40 acres of prairie and woodlands. Santa Claus will be on hand to visit and pose for photos. Admission is free. There is a $10 charge for anyone wanting to pose with Santa and purchase a photo CD or print. Note: Because of construction, visitors should park at the St. James the Apostle Catholic Church, across the street from the wildlife center. (630) 933-7200 or dupageforest.org. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
'The Little Mermaid'
The Fox Valley Repertory's Youth Ensemble brings Disney's "The Little Mermaid" to the stage at the Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. The story looks at the young mermaid, Ariel, and her dreams of leaving the ocean and becoming human. Tickets are $10-$15. (630) 584-6342 or visit foxvalleyrep.org. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Dancenter North's 25th anniversary production of "The Magic of the Nutcracker" returns for two performances this weekend at Libertyville High School, 708 W. Park Ave., Libertyville, $15-$33. (847) 367-7970 or themagicofthenutcracker.com. 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8
Hallelujah for "Messiah"
If Christmas consumerism gets you down, a dose of The Apollo Chorus performing Handel's "Messiah," an annual holiday tradition, will be an instant attitude adjustment. Taking place in one of Chicago's most elegant spaces, Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago,the performance of Handel's masterpiece may be the most joyful and memorable music from the Baroque period. No Johanns-come-lately, the Chorus was founded in 1872 in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire and has presented Handel's "Messiah" since 1879. Tickets range from $18-75. To purchase, call The Apollo Chorus at (312) 427-5620 or visit apollochorus.org. 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
Augment your holiday shopping with a new nightly Magical Light Show at Randhurst Village, Rand and Elmhurst roads, Mount Prospect. Free. (847) 259-0500 or randhurstvillage.com. 5 to 8 p.m. through Saturday, Dec. 21
Village Tavern's pro
Catch The Village Tavern's in-house singer/songwriter Roger Pauly in Long Grove as he performs with R.J. Express at The Village Tavern, 135 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove. Saturday night's drink specials vary -- typically $4.50 to $5. No cover with a dinner reservation; Saturdays are prime rib nights. (847) 634-3117 or villagetavernoflonggrove.com. 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
Won't grow up
Comedian Steve Rannazzisi ("Punk'd," "Paul Blart: Mall Cop") shows off his immature side when he brings his Manchild Tour to Zanies, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont. $30 plus a two-item minimum from the menu. (312) 337-4027 or zanies.com. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
Comedy by Chang
If you've enjoyed comedian Eliot Chang on shows like "Chelsea Lately" or Showtime's "Minority Report," then don't miss him live at the Zanies at Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. $23 plus a two-menu item purchase. (630) 584-6342 or zanies.com. 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7
Hear holiday music from Germany, Great Britain and the U.S. when the a cappella chamber choir Acappellago performs its concert "Star in the East" at two suburban locations: Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st. St., Oak Brook, then at Congregational Church of Batavia, 21 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia. $17; $15 students and seniors. (708) 484-3797, ext. 2, or acappellago.org. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Oak Brook and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, in Batavia
Mount Prospect band concert
The Mount Prospect Community Band presents its annual Christmas concert, "'Tis the Season to Be Jolly," at Trinity United Methodist Church, 605 W. Golf Road, Mount Prospect. Free admission. Donations are accepted. Following the concert, guests are invited to enjoy a potato bar light meal for $5. (847) 439-0950 or trinitymp.org. 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
African Children's Choir
The African Children's Choir presents a concert of traditional African songs and dances at the Waukegan Community Church, 1016 Grand Ave., Waukegan. The program features children's songs, spirituals, gospel selections and more. Free. Donations are welcome. (847) 360-1008 or visit africanchildrenschoir.com. 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
The struggle to balance individuality with the need to belong to a community underscores "Tribes," a comedy by Nina Raine in its Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre. Ensemble member Austin Pendleton helms the production, which ran off-Broadway last year and stars John McGinty as Billy. Deaf since birth, Billy discovers a community beyond his family when he meets girlfriend Sylvia, played by ensemble member Alana Arenas. Francis Guinan and Molly Regan co-star. 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. $20-$82. (312) 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Previews continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; show opens Dec. 14.
Writer Marc Jaffe drew upon his wife's experiences with early-onset Parkinson's disease for "Side Effects May Include ..." -- the play he penned with Eric Coble. The play centers around a standup comedian, played by Andrew J. Pond, who details the unusual and often funny side effects resulting from his wife's medications in this solo show about love and devotion tested by illness. The performances this weekend at Clockwise Theatre, at 221 N. Genesee St., Waukegan, conclude MadKap Productions' national tour. $20; 10 percent of ticket sales benefit Shaking with Laughter, an organization that funds Parkinson's research. (800) 838-3006 or madkapproductions.com. 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7
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