Stories by Hedy Weiss

Martin Helmchen in a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Kazuki Yamada. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The CSO and Pianist Martin Helmchen in a Knockout Beethoven Performance: Review

In a recent performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, German pianist Martin Helmchen displayed fabulous speed-of-light fingering at one moment and lyrical grace the next, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a CSO first subscription concert performance of Kreisler’s “Liebesleid.” (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Soars With Mozart, Stravinsky and a Superb Conductor and Violinist: Review

The sound that filled Orchestra Hall during a recent CSO performance was absolutely glorious as Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, the Danish-born conductor and violinist, did double duty, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by the Joffrey Ballet ensemble. (Cheryl Mann)

The Joffrey Ballet Reaps an Extraordinary Work of Dance Theater With ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Review

It is a very good bet that you have never seen (and might never see) anything quite like Alexander Ekman’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss. She calls the show a wild and crazy dream-come-to-life that is brilliantly performed.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas, Constance Stamatiou and Yazzmeen Laidler in “Revelations,” 2021. (Paul Kolnik)

The Enduring Spirit of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Review

For WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s recent Chicago run brought back vivid memories. She first saw the company in New York City in 1972.

Hershey Felder in “Monsieur Chopin, A Play With Music.” The show runs at Writers Theatre in Glencoe through May 12. (Courtesy of Hershey Felder)

Hershey Felder, the Musical and Dramatic Polymath, Brings ‘Monsieur Chopin’ to Vivid Life: Review

If you happen to be looking for a synonym to the word “polymath” you are sure to find its very best definition by heading straight to Writers Theatre. That is where the exceptionally multi-talented Hershey Felder is lighting up the stage with his remarkable performance of “Monsieur Chopin, A Play With Music.”

CSO principal flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson in the CSO-commissioned, world premiere performance of Liebermann’s “Flute Concerto No. 2” with conductor Susanna Mälkki and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Soars With a New Work and a Mahler Symphony: Review

The CSO invariably generates pure musical magic, and it is undeniably one of the greatest cultural treasures of this city, and far beyond, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Michelle Aravena, right, plays Mrs. Wilkinson, the ballet teacher of Billy, played by Neo Del Corral, center, in “Billy Elliot: The Musical” at Paramount Theatre in Aurora. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Paramount Theatre Plays Host to Sensational Production of ‘Billy Elliot, The Musical’: Review

The run of this grand-scale Paramount production ends on March 24 and, if at all possible, I urge you to try and catch what is one of the most superb shows I’ve seen this season.

The cast of “Message in a Bottle.” (Lynn Theisen)

The Chilling Power and Uncanny Timeliness of ‘Message in a Bottle’: Review

“Message in a Bottle,” which runs through Sunday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, is simply a phenomenal production that should not be missed, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Victoria Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez in Joffrey Ballet’s “Studies in Blue.”(Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Joffrey Ballet Soars in Bravura Study of the Human Condition: Review

The Joffrey Ballet demonstrated both the technical brilliance and emotional boldness of its dancers as the company opened its 2024 season on the Lyric Opera House stage with “Studies in Blue,” a fascinating program of three modern ballets. 

Conductor Gemma New makes her CSO debut and leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring works by Kernis, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. (Nuccio DiNuzzo)

A Splendid Homecoming on Every Count for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Review

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was back on stage at Orchestra Hall, barely a week after the orchestra’s intense three-week tour to 11 cities in Europe. As always, the musicians were in stellar form.

The company of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Illinoise,” playing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Jan. 28–Feb. 18, 2024. (Liz Lauren)

‘Illinoise,’ a Unique and Brilliantly Realized Interpretation of Music by Sufjan Stevens: Review

It is not an easy production to describe, but it is fascinating to watch. “Illinoise,” now onstage at Chicago Shakespeare’s Yard Theater, is an altogether unique and extraordinarily brilliant interpretation of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album.

Yael Eden Chanukov, Emma Rosenthal and Abby Goldberg in “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Brett Beiner)

At Drury Lane: A Profound Interpretation of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’: Review

Jeff Award-winning director Elizabeth Margolius has interpreted and very subtly modernized the ever-remarkable musical “Fiddler on the Roof” for a new production at the Drury Lane Theatre.

The cast of “In the Heights” at the Marriott Theatre. (Liz Lauren)

Marriott Theatre’s ‘In the Heights’: A Towering Production on Every Count: Review

With its theme of immigrant life in the largely Latino Washington Heights neighborhood in the 1980s, this show’s uncanny relevance to the immigration controversy now underway in this country could not be more ideal, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

The company of “Champion” on the Lyric Opera stage. (Michael Brosilow)

‘Champion’: A Brilliant Operatic Exploration of a Famous Boxer’s Tragic Life: Review

It is an absolute knockout — both literally and figuratively. And that is the most concise way to describe “Champion,” the physically, emotionally and musically stunning work now on the Lyric Opera stage, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Teresa Castillo as Clorinda, Joshua Hopkins as Dandini, and Sophia Maekawa as Tisbe in “Cinderella” at the Lyric Opera House. (Michael Brosilow)

The Enduring Allure of ‘Cinderella’ on the Lyric Opera Stage: Review

There is something about the Cinderella story that never fails to delight. And it might just be that those with a good heart and a true understanding of love will invariably triumph over those who are greedy and hungry for social superiority, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

The cast of “Anything Goes” from Porchlight Music Theatre, now playing through Feb. 25 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. (Liz Lauren)

It’s the Top: Porchlight’s Production of ‘Anything Goes,’ a Cole Porter Classic: Review

Without a moment’s hesitation, the powers that be at Porchlight Music Theatre should invite a slew of heavyweight New York producers to Chicago to see its bravura production of “Anything Goes,” the classic 1934 Cole Porter musical. They just don’t make many musicals like this one anymore, WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss writes.

Aleksey Bogdanov in “The Nose.” (Michael Brosilow)

Chicago Opera Theater Generates Great Fun With Shostakovich’s ‘The Nose’: Review

Call “The Nose” the quintessential opera of the absurd. The show is receiving an elaborate Chicago Opera Theater production in a wildly zany, two-performance-only run.

Jasmine Amy Rogers (Betty Boop), Ainsley Anthony Melham (Dwayne) and ensemble in “BOOP! The Musical.” (Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

That Girl Named ‘BOOP’ is Headed to Broadway: Review

“BOOP! The Musical” is clearly on its way to Broadway with an absolutely starry performance by Jasmine Amy Rogers, an actress who can sing and dance up a storm in a role that is sure to fly her into the spotlight, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss.

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Schoenberg’s orchestration of Brahms’ “Piano Quartet No. 1.” (Nuccio DiNuzzo Photography)

The Great Healing Power of Music on Display at Orchestra Hall: Review

WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss reviews recent performances from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera and Staatskapelle Berlin.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in “Coltrane’s Favorite Things” by Lar Lubovitch. (Michelle Reid)

Three Chicago Companies Have Danced Up a Storm: Review

During the past couple of weeks, three of Chicago’s most formidable contemporary dance troupes — the Hubbard Street Dance Company, Giordano Dance Chicago and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater — have turned in terrific performances.

Conrad Tao makes his CSO subscription debut in a performance of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F Major” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan. (Todd Rosenberg)

The CSO in Bravura Renderings of Works by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein: Review

WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss recommends an evening spent with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, guest conductor James Gaffigan and the extraordinary pianist Conrad Tao.

James Monroe Iglehart as Louis Armstrong in “A Wonderful World” now playing in Chicago. (Jeremy Daniel)

‘A Wonderful World,’ A New Musical About Louis Armstrong, Focuses on the Women in His Life: Review

Louis Armstrong, with his instantly identifiable raspy tenor voice, was a formative force in the world of jazz for nearly half a century. Now, the musical “A Wonderful World” has arrived in Chicago in a show that is bound to end up on Broadway.

Baritone Christian Gerhaher performs songs from Mahler’s “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” led by Jaap van Zweden with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a Mix of Beethoven, Mahler and Nina Shekhar

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in its usual top form this past week in a concert that was zestily led by Jaap van Zweden, the Amsterdam-born conductor who is in his farewell season as music director of the New York Philharmonic.

Jonathan Dole and José Pablo Castro Cuevas in “Frankenstein.” (Cheryl Mann)

Joffrey Ballet’s Breathtaking Production of ‘Frankenstein’ is Unlike Anything You Have Seen

Over the years there have been countless interpretations of “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s extraordinary 1818 Gothic novel. But the Joffrey Ballet’s production of the story that recently opened at the Lyric Opera House might very well be its most stunning interpretation yet.

Visceral Dance performs “Take” at The Space on Rockwell. (Credit: KT Miller Photography)

Visceral Dance in a Riveting Revival of ‘Take’

At once abstract, often acrobatic, and driven by alternately intensely challenging solo turns, strongly varied and emotionally heated interpersonal relationships, and ensemble riffs that are technically demanding and expertly finessed — “Take” is performed to stunning effect. 

Audra McDonald performs with the Lyric Opera Orchestra on Oct. 6, 2023. (Credit: Kyle Flubacker)

The Vocal and Emotional Brilliance of Audra McDonald at the Lyric Opera House

Audra McDonald's glorious soprano voice sounded as beautiful and emotionally expressive as ever, and her delightful commentaries between each of almost 20 mostly classic Broadway songs were at once witty and revealing.