In the 80s Chicago was filled with nightclubs like the Roxy, the Raccoon Club, CrossCurrents, and Boombala, most of them little more than glorified neighborhood bars with small stages where a handful of broke performers could pool their resources and put on eclectic, eccentric variety shows. Part showcases, part testing grounds for new material, these cabarets provided exposure and stage experience for a generation of young comics, singers, and writers, among them Mark Nutter, James Finn Garner, and Nora Dunn. Milly's Orchid Show, started in 1987 by Brigid Murphy and hosted ever since by her irrepressible alter ego Milly May Smithy, is the last of these wonderful oddball cabarets--and Murphy succeeds where others have stumbled precisely because she's able to gather such a wide variety of performers. This weekend's edition, The Milly-ennium Show, features humorist Tom Wolfe, singer Kelly Hogan, a senior-citizen African-American dance troupe called the Royal Steppers, old TV commercials compiled by Heather McAdams, and Dunn, who in 1984 literally stepped from the Raccoon Club to Saturday Night Live. Dunn (who recently received good press for her work in Three Kings) will be performing a monologue from her new solo work in progress and will also make an appearance as the brittle Pat Stevens, a character she developed for Chicago's cabaret scene and later performed on SNL. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, Chicago, 773-929-5959. Saturday, November 13, 8 PM (doors open 7 PM). $25. --Jack Helbig
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Gus Vlahos.