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Joffrey Ballet artists Stefan Goncalvez and Brooke Linford. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

A coming change of venue for the Joffrey Ballet is a major shift, and its initial opening season will be of great importance, especially since it also will mark the 25th anniversary of the Joffrey as a formidable Chicago cultural institution. 

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Joffrey Ballet artists in “Commedia.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Throughout its history, the Joffrey Ballet’s dancers have been renowned for their ability to create characters as well as to put their superb technical skills to work. They also are capable of carrying over their acting ability to contemporary “plotless” works.

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Lora Lee Gayer and Brad Standley in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Emma.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The flaws and fancies, and triumphs and comeuppances of Jane Austen’s characters continue to ring true two centuries after the publication of her books. The latest proof can be found in this utterly charming production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 

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“Singin’ in the Rain” (Marie-Noëlle Robert / Théâtre du Châtelet)

The formidable full schedule will feature 10 major productions, eight of which will be “new to Chicago.” The season also will mark the grand finale of Sir Andrew Davis’ tenure as music director of the Lyric Opera.

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Robert Sims and Tyrone Chambers, II in Chicago Opera Theater’s “Freedom Ride.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

In its airtight, fervent, emotionally riveting 90 minutes, “Freedom Ride” vividly captures a pivotal moment in American history and the civil rights movement of the early 1960s in the most sophisticated yet accessible way. 

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Left: Cassidy Slaughter-Mason and Sean Parris in “How a Boy Falls.” Right: Kate Fry and Allen Gilmore in “The Mousetrap.” (Photos by Michael Brosilow)

Agatha Christie’s play, “The Mousetrap,” is now receiving a wonderfully entertaining revival at Court Theatre, while Northlight Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Steven Dietz’s “How a Boy Falls,” a compelling whodunit with very dark overtones.

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Pianist Paul Lewis performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a program that also featured Lewis as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Fresh off a grueling but much heralded European tour, the CSO has returned to the Symphony Center stage with Sir Andrew Davis.

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From left: Chuckie Benson, Terri K. Woodall, Joey Stone, Madison Piner and Tristan Bruns in “Rockin’ in Rhythm” from “Sophisticated Ladies” by Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo by Michael Courier)

This knockout revival could easily be airlifted onto a New York stage without a single alteration. Come and see it if you can.

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Linda Gillum in “Top Girls.” (Photo by Michael Courier)

The all-female cast of Caryl Churchill’s play made a statement from the very start, and now, the eight bravura actresses in the current cast turn in a collection of blistering performances that suggest the intentional irony of using the word “girls” (rather than “women”) in the title.

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Kyle Ramar Freeman (left) as Asaka and Courtnee Carter as Ti Moune in the North American Tour of “Once On This Island.” (Photo by Joan Marcus / 2019)

The show is full of exuberant dancing and performances by strong actor-singers, but the crucial intimacy of its storytelling too often gets lost in the carnival atmosphere that has been generated to give this 90-minute gem a Broadway gloss.

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Melissa Lorraine in András Visky’s “Juliet” directed by Kevin V. Smith at Theatre Y. (Credit: Devron Enarson)

At once haunting, sad and beautiful, Andras Visky’s “Juliet” – now in production by Theatre Y – is a work of both real life and pure poetry.

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Hershey Felder in “A Paris Love Story” featuring the music of Claude Debussy. (Courtesy of Christopher Ash)

The multitalented actor, pianist (and yes, composer in his own right) brings the eighth installment in his renowned “Great Composers Series” to Chicago in June and simultaneously makes his Goodman Theatre debut.

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From left: Kevin Webb, Mikaela Sullivan and Leo Spiegel in Black Button Eyes Productions’ Chicago premiere of “Whisper House.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

The stylishly macabre, morally challenging show by Duncan Sheik (of “Spring Awakening” fame) and Kyle Jarrow is now receiving its Chicago premiere by Black Button Eyes Productions.

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From left: Danielle Wade, Megan Masako Haley, Mariah Rose Faith and Jonalyn Saxer in the National Touring Company of “Mean Girls.” (Credit: © 2019 Joan Marcus)

If you were to consider the dominant feelings expressed by the adolescent girls in these two shows, the obvious conclusion would be that for all the talk, the feminist movement of the past five decades has failed to reach a whole generation or two of girls.

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Edo de Waart and Leila Josefowicz (Credit, from left: Edo de Waart, Chris Lee)

Talk about ending the year with a bang. Just a few weeks before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is to embark on a whirlwind tour of Europe, the orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor Edo de Waart, is performing an altogether thrilling program.

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Kiersten Frumkin (left to right), Jared David Michael Grant, Stephen Blu Allen, Michael Kingston, Loretta Rezos and Cynthia F. Carter in “Working.” Background, in band are Perry Cowdery (left to right), Jeremy Ramey and Rafe Bradford. (Photo by Austin Oie Photography)

Based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 best-selling book of oral history, this musical is now in a wonderfully realized, sweat-and-dreams production at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, where six actors portray the many and varied attitudes about work.