Stories by hedy weiss

Hubbard Street’s Dancers Soar in ‘Decadance,’ a Stunning Patchwork of Ohad Naharin’s Work

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Decadance Chicago by Ohad Nahain. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The company’s 15 sensational dancers performed “Decadance/Chicago,” a superbly mixed-and-matched compilation of segments from nine of Naharin’s works. They were created between the years 1993 to 2011, during his long tenure as Artistic Director of Israel’s fabled Batsheva Dance Company.

Lookingglass Theatre Company Stages Bravura, Out-of-This-World Revival of Its Classic ‘Lookingglass Alice’

Lindsey Noel Whiting as Alice in the Lookingglass production of “Lookingglass Alice.” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The absolutely brilliant (and at moments terrifying) production of “Lookingglass Alice,” the namesake show of Lookingglass Theatre, first arrived on a Chicago stage in 1988. It has now been thrillingly revised and remounted on the company’s uniquely rigged stage. 

Love Eludes the Most Loving in Lynn Nottage’s ‘Intimate Apparel’

At the “Intimate Apparel’s” center is Esther (Mildred Marie Langford), a gifted seamstress, who fashions elaborate corsets for a wide range of women. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Throughout this play, Lynn Nottage explores the notion of intimacy in a multitude of ways, suggesting how different social classes, different ethnicities, and different sexes can connect, confide in, and also betray each other. Overall, “Intimate Apparel” is as meticulously crafted as its main character’s creations.

Yefim Bronfman Sets the Keyboard on Fire in Orchestra Hall Performance

Yefim Bronfman is pictured in a provided publicity photo. (Credit: Frank Stewart)

Pianist Yefim Bronfman performed galvanic renderings of Beethoven and an immensely challenging modernist work at his Sunday afternoon Orchestra Hall performance. 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in All Its Glory in Two Concerts

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’sSymphonyNo. 6 in F Major on April 28, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The world may be in a terrible state of upheaval at the moment, but two different concerts performed during the past week — played brilliantly by the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — were a potent reminder that music is an astonishingly powerful emotional balm.

Porchlight Stages Searing Production of ‘Spring Awakening,’ With Chilling Connection to This Moment

(L to R) Maya Lou Hlava and Jack DeCesare in “Spring Awakening” from Porchlight Music Theatre now playing at The Ruth Page Center through June 2. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Arriving at the very moment the Supreme Court appear to be poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision of a half-century ago, this haunting musical is infused with an intensity and a cry for help in the very midst of a retroactive movement.

Joffrey Ballet Pairs Balanchine Masterwork with a World Premiere Based on a Literary Classic

Gayeon Jung and Victoria Jaiani of the Joffrey Ballet perform in George Balancbine’s “Serenade.” (Credit: Cheryl Mann)

For its spring season at the Lyric Opera House, the Joffrey Ballet has devised a program composed of two dramatically and stylistically different works.

World Premiere Opera ‘Quamino’s Map’ Gives Voice to Rarely Chronicled Aspect of Black History

Chicago Opera Theater’s cast of “Quamino’s Map.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

An exploration of a little-known and fascinating aspect of Black history, “Quamino’s Map” features an exquisite score by Errollyn Wallen, an expertly crafted, character-defining libretto by Deborah Brevoort, an ideal cast under the deft direction of Kimille Howard, and a superb orchestra led by conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson.

A Breathtaking Performance of a Mahler Masterpiece by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Guest conductor Jaap van Zweden leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor” on April 21, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Breathtaking is nowhere near a powerful enough adjective to describe Gustav Mahler’s masterwork, “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor,” or its bravura rendering by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that was led by guest conductor Jaap van Zweden. 

Marriott’s ‘The Sound of Music’ Marks the Magnificent Rebirth of a Classic

The cast of Mariott Theater’s “The Sound of Music” (Courtesy: Liz Lauren)

Some people understandably roll their eyes at the very thought of seeing "The Sound of Music" again. But Marriott’s production’s naturalistic yet fully theatrical quality, along with its subtle sense of dramatic rhythm, creates a level of profound emotion that too often is lost in revivals of this show.

A Stunning Night as the CSO Soars Under Baton of Brilliant Conductor and Violin Soloist

Conductor Klaus Makela performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on April 14, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

If you needed to be reminded of the genius of two groundbreaking early 20th century composers or hoped for an introduction to a fascinating contemporary composer, Thursday’s concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra unquestionably lived up to expectations.

Renee Elise Goldsberry Channels ‘Hamilton’s’ Angelica Schuyler and a Great Deal More

Renee Elise Goldsberry performs Saturday, April 9, 2022 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. (Credit: Joshua York)

Fans of the groundbreaking musical “Hamilton” will forever know Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law. Her one-night only performance at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Saturday captured the full power of her clarion voice and dramatic flair, as well as her formidable versatility.

Master Pianist Yuja Wang May Have Broken the Record for Encores (and More)

Yuja Wang performs a program with works by Bach, Beethoven, and Schoenberg, April 10, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

Yuja Wang’s astonishing concert at Orchestra Hall Sunday could easily serve as the ultimate proof that she is ever the virtuosic and unpredictable mistress of the keyboard. 

Korngold Festival Celebrates ‘Die Kathrin,’ an Opera About Enduring Love

Folks Operetta cast in “Die Kathrin” (Credit: Anthony Nguyen)

“Die Kathrin” is now receiving its American premiere as part of the ten-day multi-faceted Korngold Festival that concludes on April 10. It is being presented as part of a collaboration between the University of Chicago and Chicago’s Folks Operetta company designed to explore the life and work of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Maestro Muti Leads Eclectic Program Showcasing the Brilliance of Three Composers and the CSO

Composer Missy Mazzoli acknowledges the audience following a performance of the world premiere of CSO Commission “Orpheus Undone.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti and the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featured three very different and extremely challenging works Thursday night that, as always, showcased the brilliance of both the composers and their interpreters.

Visceral Dance Showcases Superb Dancers in Handsome New Home

“Awake,” is performed by the full Visceral Dance Theater  company, and includes a program note bearing these words: “Sometimes you have to go through it to get out of it.” (Credit: KT Miller Photography)

The new Visceral Dance Center is an ultra-modern, elegant, rectangular structure in tones of gray and black with six state-of-the-art studios. A stunningly performed program by Visceral Dance Theater is now inaugurating the building’s Ann Barzel Theater. This mightily impressive contemporary dance company deserves just such a home.

Piglets and Tigers and Bears, Oh My: A Playful Puppet Rendering of Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” at Mercury Theater

“Disney’s Winnie the Pooh” features a cast of actors/puppeteers, including Jake Bazel as Pooh. (Courtesy of Rockefeller Productions)

The Mercury Theater hosts a production of “Disney’s Winnie the Pooh” that is brought to vivid life by a cast of six delightful actor/puppeteers who both operate and voice the familiar forest friends. 

An Emotionally Damaged Boy’s Enduring Search for Love Ignites ‘Fire Shut Up In My Bones’

Will Liverman in “Fire Shut Up In My Bones.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Based on the 2014 memoir by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, the opera’s title is drawn directly from the biblical story of Jeremiah, the severely persecuted “weeping prophet” known for his tender heart. But it is a deeply personal and contemporary story.

In ‘Good Night, Oscar,’ Music and Madness Conjoin While Sean Hayes Soars

Sean Hayes in Doug Wright’s “Good Night, Oscar” at the Goodman Theatre. (Credit Liz Lauren)

Oscar Levant was a virtuosic pianist, conflicted champion of George Gershwin, conductor, film actor, author, proudly uncensored comic and self-confessed victim of mental illness. Actor Sean Hayes is so riveting, and so real, in his portrayal that you might begin to wonder if Levant has been fully reincarnated.

A Stunningly Original Existential Exercise Receives a Brilliant Production by American Blues Theater

Jim Ortlieb performs in John Kolvenbach’s “Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight,” now running at American Blues Theater through April 9, 2022. (Credit Michael Brosilow)

There is more than a touch of genius on display in the American Blues Theater’s production of “Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight.” The conceptual magic of the work is enhanced by a tour de force performance. 

Joffrey Ballet’s ‘Winning Works’ Program is a True Winner

Joffrey Ballet’s “Winning Works” program featured four world premiere pieces created for members of the Joffrey Studio Company and Joffrey Academy. (Credit Todd Rosenberg)

A primary example of the Joffrey’s commitment to “the new” was this weekend’s return of the “Winning Works” program, now in its 12th season, with four performances that served as a showcase of four world premiere pieces created by four different choreographers. 

Fatal Power Struggles, Both Personal and Political, in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

Russell Thomas as Mario Cavaradossi and Michelle Bradley as Floria Tosca (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

A brutal despot is the force behind much of the tragedy that unfolds in “Tosca.” The opera — with a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa — is at once a love story, and the tale of artists who are destroyed by the twisted power broker who drives them to death. 

Brazilian Diva Marisa Monte Heats Up The Vic

Marisa Monte performs live. (Credit: Leo Aversa)

Marisa Monte’s concert at the Vic Theatre seemed to be a great liberation for the performer who has been unable to tour the world over the last two year of the pandemic. And it was just one stop in a 10-city U.S. tour highlighting her new album, “Portas.”

Debuting at Steppenwolf, ‘King James’ Traces a Long Friendship Rooted in Basketball

Ensemble member and Artistic Director Glenn Davis, left, and Chris Perfetti in Steppenwolf Theatre’s world premiere production of “King James” by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph. (Credit Michael Brosilow)

“King James” by Rajiv Joseph receives a terrific world premiere by Steppenwolf Theatre. The play follows a friendship over a decade that began over a shared love for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Transfixing Intensity of Pianist Daniil Trifonov on Full Display at Orchestra Hall

Pianist Daniil Trifonov. (Credit Dario Acosta)

Pianist Daniil Trifonov held a concert at Orchestra Hall featuring three fiendishly difficult pieces by Szymanoski, Debussy and Brahms. 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Performs Exhilarating Riffs on its ‘Re/Connect’ Theme

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performing “As the Wind Blows” by Amy Hall Garner. (Credit: Michelle Reid)

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has retained a number of its most superb and experienced dancers. At the same time, it has incorporated a good deal of new talent that clearly can carry off the many challenging and stylistically varied works that are part of its ever-expanding repertoire.