Imagine sitting in a theater as a part of the initial audience watching a never-before-produced work of art. Don’t just imagine it — be a part of “Whiskey Neat,” an original work by Paul Milord set in Chicago in 1949. The action takes place in the back room/accounting office of an illegal high-end gambling club run by an Irish mob. There’s Harry, the unassuming accountant, who has the ear of his boss, Beverly (who secretly pines for him). There are two gunmen, Roy and Ed, one a funny bored drinker and ersatz bank guard, the other an enforcer/bouncer. There’s Izzi, a blunt, malignant floor manager, and Trudy, the cocktail waitress who despises her job. Into this mix steps Beverly’s nephew, Mike, who stirs up a hornet’s nest of emotion, confrontation and violence as he forces his aunt to confront her past. “Whiskey Neat” is a study in loneliness, loss, love and redemption. Presented by the Drama Group in Chicago Heights from Jan. 12 through 21. 708/755-3444 or www.dramagroup.org
Spotlight shines on 'The Opera House'
Fathom Events presents “The Opera House,” a special two-day film event by award-winning documentarian Susan Froemke, Jan. 13 and 17 only. “The Opera House” surveys the Metropolitan Opera's rich history and a time of great change for New York City. Featuring rarely seen archival footage, stills, recent interviews, and a soundtrack of extraordinary Met performances, the film chronicles the creation of the Met's storied home of the last 50 years against the backdrop of the artists, architects, and politicians who shaped the city’s cultural life of the 1950s and ’60s. Showing at Schererville 16, Portage 16 and Cinemark in Valparaiso. www.fathomevents.com
'Hurlyburly' takes center stage in Chicago
Chicago Street Theatre has built a reputation on presenting works that challenge artists and audiences alike, and this dark comedy is no exception. Premiering at Goodman Theatre in 1984, Rabe’s riveting study of decadent Hollywood cocaine culture took Broadway by storm. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the twisted pursuit of the American Dream in all its glory! Join the fun at the Opening Night Party on Jan. 19. Running through Feb. 3. 219/464-1636 or www.chicagostreet.org
17th annual Bi-State Winter Wonderland Festival
This year’s festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 13. Morning events are held at the Environmental Education Center at Wolf Lake in Hammond, while afternoon events are held at William Powers State Fish & Wildlife Area in Chicago. The festival is open to the public with events for the entire family, who can learn from a variety of educational exhibits and participate in outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, skating, pickup hockey and a pizza party with bonfire. 219/933-7149 or www.wolflakeinitiative.org