Stories by Hedy Weiss

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.

Anish Jethmalani, from left, Joey Slotnick and Mitchell Fain star in “The Lehman Trilogy” by TimeLine Theatre at the Broadway Playhouse. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

‘The Lehman Trilogy’ Is a Knockout Evocation of an American Dream Gone Amok

In its Chicago premiere, “The Lehman Trilogy” is a fascinating chronicle of a monumental aspect of American history that is being ideally performed by three fabulously gifted Chicago actors. 

Music director emeritus for life Riccardo Muti led the CSO in a performance of Strauss’ “Aus Italien” on Sept. 28, 2023. (Todd Rosenberg)

Maestro Muti Waves a Richly Varied Goodbye (But Not a Farewell) by Way of Glass, Mendelssohn and Strauss

Although Maestro Riccardo Muti will soon head to New York and embark on a seven-country, 14-concert tour of Europe with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, his concert at Orchestra Hall on Thursday evening was an ideal example of the thrilling bond between him and the CSO’s brilliant musicians.

Music director emeritus for life Riccardo Muti led the CSO's opening concert of the 2023/24 season on Sept. 21, 2023. (Todd Rosenberg)

At Orchestra Hall: The Latest Examples of Maestro Muti’s Magic and the CSO’s Brilliance

Something truly magical (and magnificent) happens when Maestro Riccardo Muti arrives on the podium to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The latest proof was on display in two different concerts this past Thursday and Saturday evening.

The cast of “Birthday Candles” at the Northlight Theatre. (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

Noah Haidle’s ‘Birthday Candles’ Is a Beauty of a Play at Northlight Theatre

Haidle’s work defies easy labeling, but perhaps the best description of his plays might be that they are magical realist portraits that capture the dynamics of the American family in unique ways.

The cast of the touring company of “Hamilton” will perform at the Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Exuberant as Ever, a Grand-Scale Production of ‘Hamilton’ is Back in Chicago

The musical’s latest visit to Chicago, which will run through December at the Nederlander Theatre, is as grand-scale and exuberant as ever.

From left, Scott Aiello plays Eddie, Mike Cherry is Marco, Eileen Niccolai plays Beatrice, Harrison Weger is Rodolpho, who has his eye on Catherine, Isabelle Muthiah is Catherine in Shattered Globe Theatre’s “A View From the Bridge.” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Arthur Miller Classic ‘A View From the Bridge’ Gets a Powerful Revival by Shattered Globe Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre’s vividly acted and deeply disturbing revival of the Arthur Miller classic “A View From the Bridge” could not have been revived at a more ideally timely moment.

KC Bevis (from left), Logan Howell (front), Diamond Burdine, Jack Halbert and Monternez Rezell perform with Chicago Dance Crash. (Credit: Ashley Deran)

Chicago Dance Crash Stages an Intriguing Exploration of Human Interaction

The pieces were brilliantly danced by five men and two women. Founded in 2002, Dance Crash continues to develop intriguing works that are a unique and seamless fusion of hip hop and contemporary dance.

Britt Edwards performs in “A Taste of Soul.” (Darin M. Gladfelter)

Black Ensemble Theater Cooks Up a Broadway-Worthy Show With ‘A Taste of Soul’

Featuring nearly 40 hit songs, “A Taste of Soul” takes an exceptionally clever approach to celebrating the irrepressible exuberance and heartache of soul music, WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss writes.

Ryan Opera Center Ensemble performing at “Sunday in the Park With Lyric.” (Kyle Flubacker)

Pared Down to the Singers and Orchestra, ‘Sunday in the Park With Lyric’ Soared

Lyric Opera’s free outdoor concert in Millennium Park served as an ideal introduction to the six operas to be performed during the 2023-24 season. The absence of scenery and costumes only put the focus entirely on the singers, but also made the characters come fully to life.

Alisa Weilerstein, left in gold gown, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are conducted by Joshua Weilerstein on Aug. 17, 2023, at the Ravinia Festival. (Emily Waler / Ravinia Festival)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a Stunning Ravinia Performance of Shostakovich’s ‘Symphony No. 5’ and More

For the second half of its Ravinia Festival concert this past Thursday the Chicago Symphony Orchestra delivered a bravura performance of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s extraordinary “Symphony No. 5” and it couldn’t have been more timely in subtle way.

Roman Banks as “MJ” and the cast of the “MJ: The Musical.” (Matthew Murphy / MurphyMade)

The Complex Genius of Michael Jackson Brought to Life in ‘MJ: The Musical’

Michael Jackson was an iconic singer, dancer, songwriter, producer, philanthropist and intensely complex (and controversial) figure who transformed pop culture in the second half of the 20th century.

Donovan Hoffer and the cast of “Rock of Ages.” (Liz Lauren)

‘Rock of Ages’ Captures the Music and Decadence of the US in the 1980s

“Rock of Ages” is a funky, feverish, hard-driving musical that is now storming across the stage of the Mercury Theater. A large, fearless and very talented cast, along with an exceptional band, capture the tumultuous beat of a decidedly “rocky” decade.

(left to right) Ensemble member Jeff Perry and Mark Ulrich in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s revival of “No Man’s Land” by Harold Pinter, directed by Les Waters, playing now through Aug. 20, 2023. (Michael Brosilow)

The Unfulfilled Lives of Four Men Intersect in ‘No Man’s Land’ at Steppenwolf Theatre

Four lost souls are the variously screwed-up men living in “No Man’s Land,” Harold Pinter’s strange, angry, status-conscious and somewhat absurdist talkathon of a play. It first opened in London in 1975 and is now on stage at Steppenwolf Theatre in a production directed by Les Waters.

“Marie and Rosetta” at Northlight Theatre. (Michael Brosilow)

Gospel Meets R&B as Two Stellar Performers Capture the Lives of ‘Marie and Rosetta’

“Marie and Rosetta” tells the tale of singers Marie Knight and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The play is a story of personal liberation as achieved through a hybrid of musical styles and the friendship of opposites.

Heather Headley performs at the Ravinia Pavilion on July 16, 2023. (Patrick Gipson / Ravinia Festival)

Heather Headley Works Magic With a Wide-Ranging Songbook Winningly Backed by the CSO and Others

Whether she is performing songs from a Broadway musical, a familiar hymn or a gospel classic, Heather Headley possesses a voice and personality that can easily mesmerize an audience. And so she did with a grand-scale performance at Ravinia Pavilion.

Music director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program including music by Florence Price and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony at the free Concert for Chicago in Millennium Park. (Todd Rosenberg)

CSO’s ‘Concert for Chicago’ Signals a Change of Title for Maestro Riccardo Muti, But It’s by No Means a Farewell

With an audience approaching about 8,500 people, Maestro Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the “Concert for Chicago” in Millennium Park. He ended his 13-year tenure as CSO music director but will continue to conduct some performances.

Riccardo Muti and guest chorus director Donald Palumbo onstage following performance of Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis.” (Todd Rosenberg)

CSO’s Performance of Beethoven’s ‘Missa Solemnis’ Marks Maestro Riccardo Muti’s Symbolic Goodbye

Maestro Riccardo Muti chose Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis” as the work he wished to conduct to mark “the official end” of his glorious 13-year tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has been named music director emeritus for life and will continue to lead occasional CSO performances.

CSO principal tuba Gene Pokorny and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Lalo Schifrin’s “Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra.” (Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Salutes the Tuba, With Musician Gene Pokorny Performing Work by Lalo Schifrin

The tuba may be one of the largest instruments in a symphony orchestra and an important source of the brass sound, but it is rarely celebrated in a work that puts it front and center by way of a masterful composer and musician.

The South Chicago Dance Theatre performs “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley.” (Andy Argyrakis)

Complex Relationships and Jazz-Driven Score Key to South Chicago Dance Theatre Premiere

Chicago’s dance scene is in high gear these days with formidable performances by ballet, modern, jazz, tap, Spanish and classical Indian companies on stages in and around the city. A case in point was this past Saturday’s one-night-only world premiere performance of “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley” by South Chicago Dance Theatre.

Guest conductor Jakub Hrůša leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. (Todd Rosenberg)

A Mahler Masterwork Played Masterfully by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

If one needs any proof that calamity, whether personal and/or political, also has the power to inspire great works of art, Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 9 in D Major” can easily serve as a prime example. 

The company of “West Side Story” at the Lyric Opera. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Two Musicals, Both Focusing on Immigrant Life in America, Showcase Different Stylistic Approaches

Two very different musicals now on stage in Chicago — a revival of “West Side Story” at Lyric Opera, and a new work, “Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon,” at Lookingglass Theatre — are in many ways driven by the issue of immigration. 

Violinist Vadim Gluzman joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor David Afkhamin for a performance of Shostakovich’s “Violin Concerto No. 1.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

A Bravura CSO Concert Featuring Violinist Vadim Gluzman in a Shostakovich Concerto, Plus Works by Debussy and Ravel

GluzmanGuest conductor David Afkham led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Vadim Gluzman, the extraordinary guest violinist, in a riveting performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s fiendishly difficult, emotionally intense “Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.” Perfomances of works by Ravel and Debussy rounded out the program. 

Principal timpani David Herbert makes his CSO solo debut performing Kraft’s “Timpani Concerto No. 1.” (Todd Rosenberg)

At the CSO: Knockout Timpani Concerto and Glorious Rendering of Respighi Masterworks

A recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra program juxtaposed works by three masterful yet radically different composers of classical music: Wolfgang Mozart, William Kraft and Ottorino Respighi.