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Katherine Thomas and Heath Saunders in “Darling Grenadine.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

It might not be a Broadway-style blockbuster, but this intimate musical very skillfully mixes romantic comedy tropes with an uncompromising look at self-destructive behavior, self-doubt, alcoholism and complex friendships.

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Will Burton and Kimberly Immanuel in “Holiday Inn” at the Marriott Theatre. (Courtesy of Liz Lauren)

The recent Broadway musical based on the hit 1942 film is an old-fashioned charmer on every level, with just enough of a sardonic bite to make it feel fresh, and just enough nostalgia to pierce your heart.

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From left: “Sweet Charity,” “Legally Blonde” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo credit, from left: Justin Barbin, Liz Lauren, Brett Beiner)

They are set in different eras, and come with notably different sounds and story lines, but the three musicals now being produced on local stages share one major theme. Here’s a closer look.

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Jason Grimm, left, and Noel Carey star in “Murder for Two” at the Marriott Theatre. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

The real question at the heart of this 95-minute, music-infused marathon of a farce – which features two actors playing 13 characters and frequently sharing time at a piano – is whether the performers themselves will make it out alive.

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From left: Chuckie Benson, Michael Mahler, Zachary Stevenson and Kieran McCabe in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

Zachary Stevenson – a bravura performer who is the spittin’ image of the character he plays, and who possesses the voice, moves, guitar licks and irresistible energy of the “original” – is proof that Buddy Holly lives. 

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Samantha Hill, center, as Nellie in “South Pacific” at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

There seems to be an unofficial renaissance of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals by way of three classics from the 1940s. Is this mere coincidence, or a a much-needed balm?

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(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

About 1,300 high school students completed Project Lead The Way’s college- and career-readiness credentialing program last year. More than 60 of those came from Stevenson High School – the highest total for any individual high school in the country.

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