|
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents Isango Ensemble’s “A Man of Good Hope,” based on the book by Jonny Steinberg and adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, in the Courtyard Theater, Oct. 4–13, 2019. (Photo by Keith Pattinson)

Based on the book by Jonny Steinberg, “A Good Man of Hope,” is a heart-wrenching, fiercely honest, staggeringly beautiful production by South Africa’s extraordinary Isango Ensemble now on stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

|
From left: Scott Parkinson, Stef Tovar, David Parkes, Jed Feder and Bri Sudia in TimeLine Theatre Company’s “Oslo.” (Photo by Brett Beiner Photography)

J.T. Rogers’ superbly crafted, whip-smart, at times fancifully (and farcically) imagined 2017 Tony Award-winning play captures the efforts of a Norwegian husband-and-wife team to forge a peace process between the Israeli government and the PLO.

|
Rebecca Spence in “Every Brilliant Thing.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

Ingeniously conceived and cleverly directed, this immersive show features a not-to-be-missed solo turn by Rebecca Spence, a captivating actress of extraordinary skill, charm and improvisational brilliance.

|
Heather Chrisler and Terry Bell in “Howards End.” (Photo by Michael Courier)

There is a great variety of theater on stage in Chicago this fall. Critic Hedy Weiss recommends her current favorites.

|
Eliza Stoughton and Mark Ulrich in “Howards End,” left, and Emma Brayndick and Miles Borchard “Sons and Lovers.” (Photos by Michael Courier, left, and Lisa Lennington)

Two groundbreaking novels – E.M. Forster’s “Howards End” and D. H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” – are currently receiving world premiere productions on Chicago stages. And despite their creation more than a century ago, they remain exceptionally timely.

|
Janet Ulrich Brooks in the Chicago premiere of “Tiny Beautiful Things” at Victory Gardens Theater. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

In 2010, Cheryl Strayed rather reluctantly agreed to write an unpaid online advice column under the name of “Dear Sugar.” Those columns come to life in this beauty of a show, artfully adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).

|
Glenn Obrero in Steppenwolf’s production of “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Playwright Lauren Yee possesses a special gift for animating and personalizing history, and for penning exceptionally dynamic dialogue. And although not a single basketball is dropped into a hoop during “The Great Leap,” the sport comes to life.

|
From left: Deanna Reed-Foster, Rebecca Jordan and Demetra Dee in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “Be Here Now.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer, whose play “Be Here Now” is receiving its Chicago premiere in a bravura production by Shattered Globe Theatre, has an exceptional gift for being at once sharp-witted and compassionate.

|
Enrique Mazzola, music director designate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot)

The Italian conductor has been named as “music director designate” at Lyric Opera Chicago, where Sir Andrew Davis will retire as music director at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

|
(Credit: BASE Hologram)

At once eerie, astonishing and altogether fascinating, “Maria Callas in Concert” recently brought the legendary diva back to life for what was a singular and wholly uncanny performance.

|
A scene from “The Band’s Visit.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Expect no flashy spectacle, lavish dance numbers or any of the other standard ingredients of Broadway musicals. But be assured that “The Band’s Visit” – now making a brief stop at the Cadillac Palace Theatre as part of its national tour – comes with its very own unique magic. 

|
From left: Porscha Spells, KC Bevis and Kelsey Reiter in the Chicago Dance Crash world premiere production of “Lil Pine Nut: The Learning Curve of Pinocchio.” (Photo by Ashley Deran)

As highly animated as the show might be, “Lil Pine Nut: The Learning Curve of Pinocchio” is no Disney-style version of a universally popular story. 

|
From left: Abby Mueller, Samantha Pauly, Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Brittney Mack and Anna Uzele in “Six” at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Porchlight Music Theatre tops this year’s list with 17 nominations while the Paramount Theatre earns 16 and Court Theatre garners 15. Here are the 2019 Jeff nominees in the major categories.

|
Ravinia’s production of “Candide (or Optimism).” (Credit: Patrick Gipson / Ravinia Festival)

This was an exceedingly elaborate production for what was a one-night-only event, and it brought together performers fully at ease with the show’s demonically difficult score and wildly witty lyrics.

|
Sting performs at the Ravinia Festival Pavilion as part of his “My Songs Tour.” (Ravinia Festival / Patrick Gipson)

An impeccable set of iconic songs by the 17-time Grammy Award winner before a crowd of 16,000 at the Ravinia Festival suggested why he has remained such an enduring musical artist for more than four decades.

|
Michael Mahler, left, Brianna Borger, center and Bethany Thomas in “Into the Woods.” (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

One of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular works is now on stage at Writers Theatre in a sophisticated, powerfully sung, environmentally enveloping production directed by longtime Sondheim aficionado Gary Griffin.

randomness