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Fall Theater Highlights from Hedy Weiss: Goodman, Black Ensemble, More

Chicago Sun-Times theater and dance critic Hedy Weiss shares her recommendations from Porchlight Music Theatre, Lookingglass, Goodman, Black Ensemble Theater and BoHo Theatre—including a circus-themed approach to a Charles Dickens show.

Billy Elliot the Musical
Highly recommended
When: Through Nov. 26
Where: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St.

Weiss writes: In Lincoln Seymour, the lean, sad-eyed, beautifully expressive 14-year-old who stars in Porchlight Music Theatre’s fervent, heartrending, tears-and-laughter-inducing new production of the show, director Brenda Didier has found a rare and altogether remarkable talent. Read the full review.

Hard Times
Highly recommended
When: Through Jan. 14, 2018
Where: Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave.

Weiss writes: First adapted and directed by Heidi Stillman in 2001, this wonderfully re-imagined reprise of the show, presented in association with the Actors Gymnasium, not only feels more timely than ever. But it is sharper and clearer in its storytelling, and boasts a slew of absolutely brilliant performances. Read the full review.

Michael Perez (Sam) and Laura Crotte (Sara) in “Yasmina’s Necklace” at Goodman Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)Michael Perez (Sam) and Laura Crotte (Sara) in “Yasmina’s Necklace” at Goodman Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Yasmina’s Necklace
Highly recommended
When: Through Nov. 19
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.

Weiss writes: It begins in something close to American-style sitcom, although it is retrofitted to reflect multi-ethnic matchmaking by the immigrant parents of very self-aware and complicated adult children. But as it turns out, “Yasmina’s Necklace,” the lovely play by Rohina Malik now on stage at the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, is really a poignant meditation on the psychic scars left by shattered love, horrific wars, cultural displacement and the refugee life. Read the full review.

The Black Renaissance (A Musical Resistance Against Racism)
Highly recommended
When: Through Nov. 26
Where: Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St.

Weiss writes: The initial plan was to create a show about the Harlem Renaissance, that great flowering of African-American culture during the 1920s. But as Jackie Taylor, the force behind Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater (BET) explained to the audience after taking bows Sunday for her latest work, she sensed that the state of the nation at this moment demanded something else. So she set her mind on writing, directing and composing a more wide-ranging history: “The Black Renaissance — A Musical Resistance Against Racism.” Read the full review.

Marie Christine
Highly recommended
When: Through Dec. 10
Where: BoHo Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Weiss writes: In the end it all goes back to Greek tragedy. Yet there’s nothing like putting a Creole spin on a foundational story to give it extra magic. And when you combine that New Orleans/voodoo vibe with cutthroat Chicago politics, and deliver it by means of a sensationally lush and emotionally charged score, the mix of passion, betrayal and corruption is absolutely irresistible. So it is with “Marie Christine,” Michael John LaChiusa’s operatic musical with its all-American echoes of “Medea,” now receiving an incendiary production by BoHo Theatre. Read the full review.

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