Martin Helmchen in a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Kazuki Yamada. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

In a recent performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, German pianist Martin Helmchen displayed fabulous speed-of-light fingering at one moment and lyrical grace the next, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a CSO first subscription concert performance of Kreisler’s “Liebesleid.” (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The sound that filled Orchestra Hall during a recent CSO performance was absolutely glorious as Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, the Danish-born conductor and violinist, did double duty, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by the Joffrey Ballet ensemble. (Cheryl Mann)

It is a very good bet that you have never seen (and might never see) anything quite like Alexander Ekman’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss. She calls the show a wild and crazy dream-come-to-life that is brilliantly performed.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas, Constance Stamatiou and Yazzmeen Laidler in “Revelations,” 2021. (Paul Kolnik)

For WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s recent Chicago run brought back vivid memories. She first saw the company in New York City in 1972.

Hershey Felder in “Monsieur Chopin, A Play With Music.” The show runs at Writers Theatre in Glencoe through May 12. (Courtesy of Hershey Felder)

If you happen to be looking for a synonym to the word “polymath” you are sure to find its very best definition by heading straight to Writers Theatre. That is where the exceptionally multi-talented Hershey Felder is lighting up the stage with his remarkable performance of “Monsieur Chopin, A Play With Music.”

CSO principal flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson in the CSO-commissioned, world premiere performance of Liebermann’s “Flute Concerto No. 2” with conductor Susanna Mälkki and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg)

The CSO invariably generates pure musical magic, and it is undeniably one of the greatest cultural treasures of this city, and far beyond, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Michelle Aravena, right, plays Mrs. Wilkinson, the ballet teacher of Billy, played by Neo Del Corral, center, in “Billy Elliot: The Musical” at Paramount Theatre in Aurora. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The run of this grand-scale Paramount production ends on March 24 and, if at all possible, I urge you to try and catch what is one of the most superb shows I’ve seen this season.

The cast of “Message in a Bottle.” (Lynn Theisen)

“Message in a Bottle,” which runs through Sunday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, is simply a phenomenal production that should not be missed, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Victoria Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez in Joffrey Ballet’s “Studies in Blue.”(Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The Joffrey Ballet demonstrated both the technical brilliance and emotional boldness of its dancers as the company opened its 2024 season on the Lyric Opera House stage with “Studies in Blue,” a fascinating program of three modern ballets. 

Conductor Gemma New makes her CSO debut and leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring works by Kernis, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. (Nuccio DiNuzzo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was back on stage at Orchestra Hall, barely a week after the orchestra’s intense three-week tour to 11 cities in Europe. As always, the musicians were in stellar form.

The company of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Illinoise,” playing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Jan. 28–Feb. 18, 2024. (Liz Lauren)

It is not an easy production to describe, but it is fascinating to watch. “Illinoise,” now onstage at Chicago Shakespeare’s Yard Theater, is an altogether unique and extraordinarily brilliant interpretation of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album.

Yael Eden Chanukov, Emma Rosenthal and Abby Goldberg in “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Brett Beiner)

Jeff Award-winning director Elizabeth Margolius has interpreted and very subtly modernized the ever-remarkable musical “Fiddler on the Roof” for a new production at the Drury Lane Theatre.

The cast of “In the Heights” at the Marriott Theatre. (Liz Lauren)

With its theme of immigrant life in the largely Latino Washington Heights neighborhood in the 1980s, this show’s uncanny relevance to the immigration controversy now underway in this country could not be more ideal, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

The company of “Champion” on the Lyric Opera stage. (Michael Brosilow)

It is an absolute knockout — both literally and figuratively. And that is the most concise way to describe “Champion,” the physically, emotionally and musically stunning work now on the Lyric Opera stage, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Teresa Castillo as Clorinda, Joshua Hopkins as Dandini, and Sophia Maekawa as Tisbe in “Cinderella” at the Lyric Opera House. (Michael Brosilow)

There is something about the Cinderella story that never fails to delight. And it might just be that those with a good heart and a true understanding of love will invariably triumph over those who are greedy and hungry for social superiority, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

The cast of “Anything Goes” from Porchlight Music Theatre, now playing through Feb. 25 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. (Liz Lauren)

Without a moment’s hesitation, the powers that be at Porchlight Music Theatre should invite a slew of heavyweight New York producers to Chicago to see its bravura production of “Anything Goes,” the classic 1934 Cole Porter musical. They just don’t make many musicals like this one anymore, WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss writes.