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“The Queen of Spades” (Felix Sanchez / Houston Grand Opera)

Productions of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades” and the Chicago debut of “Dead Man Walking” are among the highlights of Lyric Opera’s 2019-2020 season.

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From left: Joseph Wiens, Cortney McKenna, H.B. Ward and Linda Reiter in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit’s Chicago premiere of “The Realistic Joneses.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

In a joint production by Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit, director Jeremy Wechsler and his cast have tapped into the deftly conjured, fragmented, offbeat rhythms of Will Eno’s characters with impressive skill.

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Cast of “Ajijaak on Turtle Island”; An IBEX Puppetry production directed by Ty Defoe and Heather Henson (© 2018 Richard Termine)

A sampling of a trio of shows conveyed a strong sense that puppets have the power to take on the most vivid existences, even as their human puppeteers project powerful profiles of their own.

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Cast of "Noises Off" (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

The show, which is literally breathtaking and a breathtakingly funny production by Windy City Playhouse, is a bravura exercise in extreme mental and physical comedy.

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Brendan Coyle in "St. Nicholas" (Photo by Helen Maybanks)

It takes an actor of formidable technique to bring this two-act, two-hour monologue to vivid, active, almost cinematic life. From the moment Brendan Coyle emerges from the shadows, the spell is cast.

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Adrian Sampetrean, Michael Fabiano, Maria Agresta, Ricardo Jose Rivera and Zachary Nelson in “La Boheme.” (© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018)

Lyric Opera’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s popular romantic tragedy features singers who not only fit their roles ideally but also know how to act. 

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Sam Godinez from “A Green Light” in the 32nd Annual Young Playwrights Festival at Pegasus Theatre Chicago (Photo by Michael Courier)

Students bold enough to try their hand at this challenging art form have the advantage of being able to tap into the raw emotion of youth in a uniquely fearless way.

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11)	Alexis Armstrong, left, and Kelly Britt in Music Theater Works’ “Into the Woods.” (Photo credit: Brett Beiner)

With its lushly beautiful, ideally performed production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, Music Theater Works has an instant hit on its hands. But you had better move fast if you want to catch it.

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Karen Rodriguez, front, and the cast of “La Ruta” in Steppenwolf’s world premiere production by Isaac Gomez. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Full of raw emotion, Isaac Gomez’s play, now receiving its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre, explores the brutal killing of hundreds of women and girls in Ciudad Juárez between 1993 and 2013.

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"Fiddler on the Roof" ©2018 Joan Marcus

The eternal themes that drive “Fiddler on the Roof” made it an instant classic, but the new touring production featuring contemporary additions makes the show feel uneven.

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Led in revels by the First Fairy (Adrienne Storrs) and Puck (Sam Kebede), the fairy ensemble gather to “Rock the Ground” in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Despite a number of fine performances and a gorgeous “flower power” set, the whole thing ends up feeling more clunky and exhausting than beguiling. Subtle it is not, and often the poetry and emotion get lost.

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Deeply Rooted Dance Theater company in “Heaven.” (Photo by Michelle Reid)

Six powerful works by the exceptional dance company – including two true masterpieces – explored everything from social issues and personal endurance to a spiritual search.

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“The Full Monty” at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Front: Nick Druzbanski, left, and Matt Frye. Background, from left: Jonathan Schwart, Neil Stratman, Joe Giovannetti and Marc Prince. (Photo by Austin D. Oie)

The theater company’s new home in Evanston marks a grand, and grandly deserved step upward. Its opening production looks at what happens when men lose their well-paying factory jobs and self-respect.

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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in “III. Third” by Rena Butler. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

If you are in search of fresh choreographic talent, why not turn to the dancers who are right under foot in your own studio? Sometimes, this makes perfect sense. But as revealed in “dance(e)volve New Works Festival,” there can be drawbacks to this effort.

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Siobhan Stagg in “Cendrillon” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Alternately farcical and romantic, this very French rendering of the Cinderella story has arrived on the Lyric Opera stage for the very first time in an altogether enchanting production.

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The Joffrey Ballet (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Now in its third season, the Joffrey Ballet’s radiant and altogether ingenious production of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s Chicago-themed reinvention of “The Nutcracker” is more luminous than ever.