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Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg in “The Pygmalion Effect.” (Photo by Michael Khoury)

Watching the company as it performed Boris Eifman’s latest work, the feeling that his dancers are not well served by his relentlessly madhouse style of movement – manic, extreme, repetitive – could not be denied.

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Hilary Hahn is soloist in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with conductor Marin Alsop and the CSO. (© Todd Rosenberg)

Hilary Hahn’s bravura handling of a fire-breathing passage in Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto in D Minor” brings forth a “Wow!” from what was certainly an adult man in the audience at Symphony Center.

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David Schlumpf and Keely Vasquez in “Next to Normal” at Writers Theatre. (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

This 2008 musical is unsettling, irritating, frustrating, relentless and more. But director David Cromer and his actors have tapped into the dark charm and moments of humor in the show with great skill.

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Margaret Trudeau and Adam Strauss (Credit: Kirsten Miccoli, left, Michael Courier)

In what is clearly a case of pure happenstance, two autobiographical solo shows about mental illness recently arrived on Chicago stages. A look at “Certain Woman of an Age” and “The Mushroom Cure.”

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Evgeny Kissin (Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

A number of extraordinary pianists have played on the Symphony Center stage during the past season or two. Sunday’s concert brought four encores, extended standing ovations and volcanic applause.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

A concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring the transcendent Mitsuko Uchida. A visit by Maestro Riccardo Muti and several master musicians to a juvenile detention center. And a virtuosic chamber concert.

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Dylis Croman in “Chicago, The Musical,” left, and George Abud and Sydney Shepherd in “August Rush: The Musical.” (Credit: Jeremy Daniel, left, Liz Lauren)

“Chicago, The Musical” holds the record as the longest-running American musical in Broadway history – and it’s a keeper. “August Rush: The Musical” is a New York-bred “tryout” production, and it just doesn’t work.

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Mikaela Bennett “West Side Story” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

This electrifying revival demonstrates how, without straining to “modernize” or rework the 1957 Broadway musical – but by maintaining total respect for its vintage truth and beauty – its enduring power can be fully released.

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Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” (Photo © Todd Rosenberg)

At the Symphony Center, a palpable sense of relief and joy as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra marked its return to the stage after a bruising seven-week strike.

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Violinist Itzhak Perlman, left, and pianist Evgeny Kissin. (Credit: Lisa Marie Mazzucco, left, Bette Marshall)

How do you bring the music back to the stage of Symphony Center in the wake of an agonizing seven-week strike by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? With two of the world’s most formidable virtuosos.

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Janet Ulrich Brooks and Yasen Peyankov in Steppenwolf’s Chicago premiere production of “The Children” by Lucy Kirkwood. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Now receiving its Chicago premiere by Steppenwolf Theatre, British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s quirky tragicomedy tackles aging, sexual competition, parenting and the catastrophic result of certain scientific and engineering “advances.”

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Andrew Bidlack (Greenhorn) and Vince Wallace (Queequeg) in the play “Moby-Dick.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Transforming Herman Melville’s 1851 classic is no easy feat. This opera not only captures the pivotal characters in the novel, but also illuminates its major themes with impressive emotional directness.

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Cast of “Cambodian Rock Band.”  (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Lauren Yee thrillingly fuses her writing with music that links two cultures and two eras in the richly theatrical “Cambodian Rock Band.” 

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The cast of “A Chorus Line” at Porchlight Music Theatre. (Credit: Michael Courier)

Three very different productions that recently opened on Chicago stages serve as a powerful reminder of the dramatically varied ways in which the language of dance can be spoken.

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“Djembe!” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Prepare to head home from “Djembe!” – the irresistibly engaging interactive music show now at the Apollo Theater – with callouses on the palms of your hands and a giant grin on your face.

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Now receiving its Chicago debut, this full-length fairy tale production created for American Ballet Theatre is a frothy, visually lavish confection sure to generate either a light-headed sugar rush or a serious sugar coma.