Stories by Hedy Weiss

Joffrey Ballet’s World Premiere ‘Anna Karenina’ Fit for the Silver Screen

Alberto Velazquez and Victoria Jaiani in the Joffrey Ballet’s “Anna Karenina.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

This haunting, visually fascinating interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s massive 1877 novel serves as the latest evidence of the unique ability of the Joffrey to turn dance into riveting, multi-dimensional theater.

In ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2,’ a Provocative He Said/She Said Twist on an Ibsen Classic

Sandra Marquez and Yasen Peyankov in Steppenwolf’s Chicago premiere production of “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

This sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s groundbreaking play – now receiving its Chicago debut at Steppenwolf Theatre – arrives at a moment when a whole new tsunami-like wave of feminist rebellion has gathered force.

A Brilliantly Subversive Take on ‘The Producers’ at the Paramount

Blake Hammond, left, and Jake Morrissy in “The Producers” at Paramount Theatre. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

For all its retrograde tropes, Jim Corti’s envelope-pushing (yet entirely faithful) take on Mel Brooks’ 2001 musical feels more contemporary, necessary and dangerously funny than ever before.

At Lyric, an Electrifying ‘Elektra’ With a Rip-Roaring Female Cast

Nina Stemme in Lyric Opera’s production of “Elektra.” (Credit: Cory Weaver)

Lyric Opera’s production of “Elektra,” last seen here in 2012, has found its ideal cast this time around with singers whose spectacular, powerhouse voices are matched by superb acting skills.

‘The Father’ Captures Fractured Reality of Dementia to Blistering Effect

David Darlow in “The Father” (Photo by Michael Courier)

The harrowing realism of “The Father” finesses a remarkable feat of imagination that makes the audience experience the same disorientation, confusion and anger that accompany the protagonist’s own loss of clarity and memory. 

How Nina Simone Tapped Into the Pain of African-American Women

Ariel Richardson, left, and Sydney Charles in Christina Ham’s play “Nina Simone: Four Women” at Northlight Theatre. (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

Christina Ham’s play, “Nina Simone: Four Women,” is the anatomy of a song. And by extension, it is the anatomy of the angry, emotionally wounded singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist who wrote it.

‘Gentleman’s Guide’ Musical Chronicles Wild, Wacky Road to Inheritance

Matt Crowle and Rachel Klippel in Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” (Photo by Michael Courier)

Not even the polar vortex could deter the performers and audience as Porchlight Music Theatre opened its altogether bravura production this week. This brilliantly conceived and equally brilliantly performed show was meant to defy the odds on every count.

CSO’s 2019-20 Season Celebrates Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in Mozart’s “Symphony No. 36” on March 15, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

A wide array of concerts designed “to explore (Ludwig van Beethoven’s) individuality, power and genius” highlight the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-2020 season.

‘Photograph 51’ Exposes Pattern of Delayed Recognition for Rosalind Franklin

Chaon Cross plays Dr. Rosalind Franklin in Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51” at Court Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Anna Ziegler’s play, now in a biting, emotionally vivid production at Court Theatre, shines a light on the visionary chemist who was crucial to the momentous scientific paper explaining the molecular structure of DNA.

Two Exceptionally Magical Imports Light Up Chicago Shakespeare Stages

“L’Apres-Midi d’un Foehn, Version I,” left, and “Us/Them” are currently on stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The work of two theater companies – one from Belgium and the other from France – are paying all-too-brief visits to Chicago Shakespeare Theater stages at the moment. 

Bold Mix of Classics, Rarities and New Work Planned for Lyric Opera

“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.

In ‘The Realistic Joneses,’ 2 Couples Try Desperately to Connect

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.

Puppet Theater Festival Explodes the Boundaries of Classic Art Form

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.

Windy City Playhouse Stages Breathtaking Production of ‘Noises Off’

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.

Burnt-out Theater Critic Succumbs to Seductive Offer in ‘St. Nicholas’

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.

‘La Boheme’ Sings of Love, Lust and Starving Artists

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. 

High School Playwrights Probe Painful Personal and Social Issues

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.

Music Theater Works Casts an Enchanting Spell With ‘Into the Woods’

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.

In ‘La Ruta,’ the Plague of Unavenged Murders of Poor Mexican Women

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.

An Uneven ‘Fiddler’ Revival Arrives at an Ideal Moment

"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.

Chicago Shakespeare’s Flashy ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Tries Too Hard to Be Hip

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.

A Grand Leap Forward for Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

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.

Theo Ubique Inaugurates New Home With ‘The Full Monty’

“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.

Overly Similar Pieces Undercut Impact of Hubbard Street’s New Works Festival

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.

Lyric’s ‘Cendrillon’ an Enchanting French Rendering of ‘Cinderella’

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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