Stories by Hedy Weiss

Tapping Into the Operatic in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

Anthony Bowden and Genevieve Angelson in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (Credit: Brett Beiner Photograpahy)

In the feverish intensity of its emotions alone, this Tennessee Williams revival directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge is grand opera from start to finish. 

In ‘The Csardas Princess,’ Cabaret Singer Embroiled In Love, Marriage and Social Chaos, Operetta-Style

Brian Mengler, Josh Hills, Jonathan Zeng, Nick Cuellar, Athena Kopulos, Emma Sorenson and Alfredo Jimenez in “The Csardas Princess.”

What is most impressive about this romantic comedy, the first work to be produced in Folks Operetta’s “Reclaimed Voices” series, is the exceptional beauty of the voices in the show’s large cast, and the performers’ comic swagger.

In ‘Waitress,’ Master Pie Maker Finally Discovers Recipe for Love, Liberation

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in “Waitress.” (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Director Diane Paulus taps into the pain and high comedy of the story, but Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre is far too big a venue for this essentially intimate show.

High-Wired ‘Peter Pan’ Flies on Well-Defined Gender Battle

Peter Pan (Johnny Shea) in “Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure,” directed and choreographed by Amber Mak. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The elaborately produced 75-minute show has all the energy and magic necessary to keep young audiences engaged. At the same time, the adult aspects of the story emerge with particular force and clarity.

At Goodman and Steppenwolf, 2 Plays That Mirror Each Other While Stretching Believability

Scenes from “Support Group for Men,” left, and “The Roommate.” (Photo credit: Liz Lauren, left, and Michael Brosilow)

While both “Support Group for Men” and “The Roommate” rely on predictable clichés, each serves as a prime example of how absolutely first-rate actors invariably bring total devotion to mediocre scripts.

Mercury Theater’s ‘Avenue Q’ Revival Taps Into Irresistibly Funny Truthiness of Life’s Disappointments

Christian Siebert, Jonah D. Winston and Dan Smeriglio in “Avenue Q” at Mercury Theater. (Credit: Brett A. Beiner)

The surprising thing about “Avenue Q” is just how wise, witty, open-minded and openly devoid of by-the-book political correctness it manages to be. 

Clunky ‘Cher Show’ Better Suited for Vegas Than Broadway

Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Micaela Diamond in “The Cher Show” at Broadway in Chicago's Oriental Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The most winning aspect of this flashy new musical at the Oriental Theatre is how three different actresses with powerful voices so deftly capture Cher at various stages of her life.

CSO and Chorus Capture Beauty in Music of Death, Transcendence

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Rossini’s “Stabat mater” featuring soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, tenor Dmitry Korchak and bass-baritone Eric Owens. (© Todd Rosenberg)

Just as many Italian Renaissance paintings of the crucifixion possess a breathtaking beauty that defies the brutality of the event, this music continually captures a vivid sense of transcendence.

Bill Clinton in Chicago: This (Former) President Was Not Missing

Former President Bill Clinton (Courtesy of Innovation Arts & Entertainment)

In promoting his first work of fiction, “The President is Missing,” former President Bill Clinton on Thursday in Chicago demonstrated that he remains a super-smart, silky-tongued talker with both a healthy ego and an easily self-deprecating sense of humor.

CSO and Yo-Yo Ma Explore the Foreboding Sounds of 20th Century Russian Masters

Yo-Yo Ma is soloist with Music Director Riccardo Muti and the CSO in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The often stormy and repressive nature of life in the Soviet Union clearly infused the music of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Chicago is Dancing Up a Storm

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in “Decadance/Chicago” by Ohad Naharin. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Recent performances by a number of major Chicago dance companies suggest that in a city renowned for its theater scene, an impressive component of drama also can be found in the work of its dancers.

Corporate Night Benefit Raises $1M for Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Gregory Porter performs selections from his latest Blue Note album, “Nat King Cole and Me,” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on June 11, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Although I don’t ordinarily write about fundraisers, the 29th annual Corporate Night concert at Symphony Center on Monday was so beguiling that it deserves attention.

‘Guards at the Taj’ Conjures Extremes of Beauty and Horror in This World

Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed in Steppenwolf’s Chicago premiere of “Guards at the Taj” by Rajiv Joseph. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

It is no secret that we live in a world of grotesque extremes. In “Guards at the Taj,” playwright Rajiv Joseph explores this phenomenon by spinning a story that contrasts the radically opposing instincts of a megalomaniacal ruler.

Chicago-Bred Talent Triumphs at Tony Awards

Katrina Lenk in “The Band’s Visit.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Among the winners for “The Band’s Visit” – justly rewarded Sunday night with 10 Tony Awards – were two artists with Chicago connections: David Cromer and Katrina Lenk. Laurie Metcalf, of Steppenwolf (and “Roseanne”) fame, picked up her second Tony.

Veteran Actor Len Cariou in Winningly Irreverent Pairing of Shakespeare and Broadway

Len Cariou, right, and Mark Janas in “Broadway & The Bard.”

In the one-man show “Broadway & The Bard,” Len Cariou – an actor of exceptional breadth and experience – brings both a youthful enthusiasm and worldly wise sensibility to what is clearly a labor of love. 

In Suzan-Lori Parks’ Epic Civil War Ballad, the Unbearable Weight and Complexity of Freedom

Kamal Angelo Bolden and Aimé Donna Kelly in the Chicago premiere of “Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” by Suzan-Lori Parks. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Suzan-Lori Parks’ fascinating three-hour trilogy, now on stage at the Goodman Theatre, probes the meaning of freedom, and all the complexity and ambivalence that word can carry with it.

‘Mies Julie’ a Shattering Reworking of a Strindberg Classic

Jalen Gilbert and Heather Chrisler in “Mies Julie” at Victory Gardens Theater. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

Yael Farber’s blistering contemporary South African version of “Miss Julie,” the 1888 August Strindberg classic, is far and away the most brilliant play to arrive on a Chicago stage this season. 

With Charm and Confidence, Chicago Students Take Lyric Stage for ‘Empower’

“Empower” performance May 31, 2018 at the Lyric Opera House. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

It’s one thing to star in your local high school musical. It’s a very different thing to take possession of the internationally renowned stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago. That’s just what these students did.

Two Very Different Musicals to Carry You to The Brink of Summer

Left: David Sajewich, Kyrie Courter in “Company.” (Photo by Brett A. Beiner). Right: Renelle Nicole, Jessica Brooke Seals and Kylah Williams in “A New Attitude.” (Photo credit: Alan Davis)

Looking for the best way to spend a sultry pre-summer evening aside from taste-testing the latest flavor of gelato? Easy. Catch a musical.

Scalia and His Clerk Joust Their Way Through Constitutional Arguments in ‘The Originalist’

Edward Gero and Jade Wheeler in “The Originalist” at Court Theatre. (Photo by Gary W Sweetman)

It’s a good bet that no one seeing “The Originalist” will undergo a major shift in their opinions, but they certainly will be reminded of how the Supreme Court’s polarization reflects the temper of the current moment in politics.

Plays by Beckett, Shepard Explore the Human Condition, European and American Style

Marty Rea as Vladimir and Aaron Monaghan as Estragon in Druid theatre company’s “Waiting for Godot” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. (Photo by Matthew Thompson)

Within the span of a single week I saw productions of two plays – Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” and Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” – that I wouldn’t necessarily have linked together had I not seen them in such quick succession.

Uchida and CSO Put Their Bravura Stamp on Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3

Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2015 (Credit: Nicolas Brodard)

Here is the formula for an astonishing evening of music: Take Bela Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and put it in the astonishing hands of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

‘Having Our Say’ An Irresistibly Engaging Encounter With The Delany Sisters

Ella Joyce and Marie Thomas in Chuck Smith’s major revival of Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” at Goodman Theatre, May 5-June 10. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

If ever there were a way to remind audiences of what it would really take to “make America great again,” the Goodman Theatre’s revival of “Having Our Say” could easily qualify as the show to get the job done.

A Musical Marvel as CSO, Salonen Soar in Mahler’s Haunting Symphony No. 9

Conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 on May 17, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Although everything they touch turns to gold these days, nothing quite reveals the brilliance of the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra quite like the challenge of a Mahler masterwork. 

‘Columbinus’ More Harrowing With Cast of Actual High School Students

From left: Liliana Mastroianni, Cleo Shine and Thavory Hang in The Yard’s production of “Columbinus.” (Credit: Evan Hanover)

An intensely disciplined, fearless, altogether remarkable ensemble of sophisticated young artists brings this singular – and singularly riveting – docu-drama to life.