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Daniel Binelli performs Piazzolla’s Bandoneon Concerto (Aconcagua) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Two remarkable concerts took place recently in Chicago and were designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Astor Piazzolla – the composer who transformed the traditional tango into an irresistible classical music hybrid.

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The cast of Marriott Theatre’s production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” (Provided)

The infrequently revived 1948 musical gem boasts a brilliant score by Cole Porter of nearly 20 knockout songs, almost all of which are classics. It’s a wonderfully clever play-within-a-play book by Sam and Bella Spewack that owes a deep debt of gratitude to that guy by the name of William Shakespeare.

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Hubbard Street Dancers Kevin J. Shannon, Alyssa Allen, Alysia Johnson, and Andrew Murdock performing “Jardi Tancat” by Nacho Duato. (Photo by Michelle Reid)

Hubbard Street’s phoenix-like rebirth was fully on display this weekend in an aptly titled program, “RE/TURN,” that featured three fascinating, superbly performed pieces.

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Sidney DuPont as Washington Henry, A.J. Shively as Owen Duignan and Ensemble in “Paradise Square” (© Kevin Berne)

What really blows this show out of the park is its knockout dancing, and the brilliant choreography by Bill T. Jones that in many ways is more potent than any spoken dialogue.

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Alexis J. Roston performs in “Sister Act.” (Credit: Brett Beiner Photography)

Reneisha Jenkins’ direction, along with the wonderfully playful, hip-swiveling choreography of Christopher Chase Carter and the impeccable music direction of keyboardist Diana Lawrence, has infused the show with genuine emotional heat as well as laugh-generating irreverence and comic sparkle.

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Ana Maria Martinez performs in “Florencia en el Amazonas.” (Photo by Cory Weaver)

“Florencia en el Amazonas” (“Florencia in the Amazon”), the first Spanish language opera to be performed on the Lyric Opera mainstage, is pure magic on every count. 

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Shantel Cribbs (left) and Melanie Loren in “Pump Boys & Dinettes” from Porchlight Music Theatre, now playing through Dec. 12. (Photo by Chollette)

Created by a group of six performers and musicians, the 1981 musical is now being brought back to vivid life in a terrific production devised by director Daryl Brooks, music director Robert Reddrick and choreographer Rueben D. Echoles.

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E. Faye Butler (Fannie Lou Hamer) in “Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer)” by Cheryl L. West, directed by Henry Godinez at Goodman Theatre, Oct. 15- Nov. 21. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The Chicago actress is giving a rip-roaring performance in playwright Cheryl L. West’s “Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer,” a 75-minute, one-woman show to which the actress brings all the grit, endurance, fiery spirit and vocal power that marked the indomitable Hamer herself.

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The Company of “The Magic Flute” (Credit Cory Weaver)

Hedy Weiss reviews the Lyric Opera production of “The Magic Flute,” a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert, and “Homecoming,” the latest entry in the CSO’s MusicNOW series.

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(Credit: Brett Beiner)

There are many fine performances and clarion ensemble voices in this production. But it is Curtis Bannister, as ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker Jr., who steals the show.

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Guest conductor Manfred Honeck and Denis Matsuev acknowledge the audience following a performance of Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday evening’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra program opened with “Coincident Dances,” a fascinating 2017 work by Jessie Montgomery, the orchestra’s current Mead Composer-in-Residence. She never fails to enthrall with her rhythmically complex, richly orchestrated, highly original pieces.

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(Photo by Ken Carl)

An estimated 2,000 people cheered the company’s superb artists as they took to the stage Saturday to perform a series of works, including a preview of “Goshen, The Story of Exodus.”

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(Photo by Gorman Cook)

In their first major live performance since the pandemic began, members of Giordano Dance Chicago were in grand style and exceptional form. 

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A moment of silence is observed by James Conlon and the CSO musicians in recognition of the passing of Maestro Bernard Haitink, who died on October 21, 2021. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert began as guest conductor James Conlon turned to the audience and announced the news that Bernard Haitink, the world-renowned and much beloved conductor with strong ties to the CSO, had died earlier in the day at his home in London at the age of 92.

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"Horizonte," choreographed and performed by Monica Saucedo. (Credit Dean Paul)

It was an evening of multiple celebrations Saturday as Chicago’s Ensemble Español Spanish dance company arrived on the stage of the Auditorium Theatre in full regalia to mark the return of live performance in the landmark hall following its pandemic shutdown.

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The Forest Lords of Arden (left to right: Austin Eckert, Jeff Kurysz, Adam Wesley Brown, Michael Daniel Dashefsky, Kurt Schweitz) jam to the hit song of The Beatles in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “As You Like It,” adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, in the Courtyard Theater, Oct. 6–Nov. 21. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The show is not some crazy remake of the musical “Hair,” but rather a raucous, playful and exceedingly clever reimagined take on Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”