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Sasha Hutchings, Sean Grandillo and the company of the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “OKLAHOMA!” (Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

The production is a sad introduction for new audiences and a spirit-crushing experience for those who’ve seen “Oklahoma!” many times throughout the years.

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(Courtesy of Hershey Felder Presents)

The “musical film” is a fascinating look at the creation of “The Marriage of Figaro,” the first of the composer’s three major operas in Italian.

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 Jake Siswick, the show’s 13-year-old star - and an actor-dancer of impressive skill and a remarkably natural stage presence - was able to grab the audience’s heart from start to finish. (Credit: Brett Beiner)

From almost the very first note it was apparent that something was very wrong with the sound system and miking, and much of the dialogue and singing, all along the way, was either inaudible or garbled. In fact, the only clear sound came from the orchestra, seated in the pit and led by Michael McBride.

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Jasmine Lacy Young (front, left to right), Patrick O’Keefe, Wesly Anthony Clerge, Roy Samra (back, left to right) Chamaya Moody, Mia Nevarez, Alli Atkenson and Matt Patrick perform n “8-Track.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

While its score may be classic retro, the songs are performed with great authenticity by artists who came of age decades after the baby boomers and Generation Xers who grew up with them.

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Justin Berkowitz (left to right), Matt Boehler, Martin Bakari, Leah Dexter and Amy Owens perform in “Becoming Santa Claus.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Have you ever wondered what Santa Claus’ childhood was like? Or why he’s so driven to take off from the North Pole for an arduous worldwide trip each Christmas Eve? The answers to those questions can be found in the 90-minute opera “Becoming Santa Claus.” 

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CSO Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn performs Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada. (Credit: Anne Ryan)

Two different concerts by the ever-remarkable Chicago Symphony Orchestra arrived on the Orchestra Hall stage. Each came with a fascinating CSO-commissioned new work, a superb visiting conductor, and breathtaking performances by the phenomenal virtuoso violinists.

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Cordelia Dewdney as Kit in “Mr. Dickens’ Hat.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Every performer in this demanding show is multitalented and able to deftly shift from one character and mood to another in record time. 

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The Joffrey Ballet ensemble in “The Nutcracker.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Pure winter magic. The Joffrey Ballet’s altogether unique production of “The Nutcracker,” has never looked more glorious or been danced more ideally.

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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.