Stories by Hedy Weiss

Putting a Bit of a Twist on This Year’s Non-Equity Jeff Nominations

Chris Chmelik, left, and Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel in the Steep Theatre production of Cordelia Lynn's play, "Lela & Co." (Photo: Gregg Gilman)

Acknowledging the existence of “gender fluidity,” the 45th annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations for performance are now nonbinary.

Dreams, Drama Drive CSO’s Concert of Works by Debussy and Tchaikovsky

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program of works by Debussy and Tchaikovsky in the final weekend of his April residency at Symphony Center. (© Todd Rosenberg)

The work of both composers shares the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s current program led by Maestro Riccardo Muti. And the result is a most winning mix of opposing musical temperaments.

In ‘The Doppelgänger,’ Insiders and Outsiders Greedily Savage an African Nation

Rainn Wilson and Celeste M. Cooper in “The Doppelgänger (an international farce)” by Matthew-Lee Erlbach. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

A sort of equal-opportunity snake pit of corruption, violence and ridiculous sex-capades, Matthew-Lee Erlbach’s play is now receiving its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Hersey Felder’s Portrait of Tchaikovsky Fueled by Composer’s Music of Suppression, Longing

Hershey Felder in “Our Great Tchaikovsky” at Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre.

For those still unfamiliar with the magic Hershey Felder can create, an introduction to the man, whose enthralling show about Tchaikovsky is now in a limited engagement at Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre, is essential.

John Malkovich joins CSO and Muti in Copland’s ‘Lincoln Portrait’

The beautifully thought-out program serves as a subtle but revealing portrait of the deep but varied influences that have taken root in this country.

Broadway Revival of ‘Carousel’ Injects New Elements Into Rodgers and Hammerstein Classic

“Carousel” on Broadway. (Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

In many ways this show was ahead of its time when it was created. And now, whatever the flaws might be in this 21st century “rotation,” it is worth the price of a ticket for a ride on the “Carousel.”

CSO and Chorus Create Wondrous Veil of Sound, Color with Ravel and Debussy

Guest conductor Matthias Pintscher leads the CSO in Ravel’s orchestration of Debussy’s “Saraband and Danse.” (Photo © Todd Rosenberg)

The concert now being performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus – with the German conductor-composer Matthias Pintscher in flawless command – is sure to serve as a vivid reminder that Maurice Ravel’s genius was far more complex than “Bolero.”

‘Gentleman Caller’ Lays Bare the Not-So-Secret Lives of Tennessee Williams, William Inge

Curtis Edward Jackson, left, and Rudy Galvan in Raven Theatre’s world premiere of “The Gentleman Caller.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

A richly evocative new play by Philip Dawkins is now receiving a vividly acted world premiere at Raven Theatre.

‘Smart People’ a Searing, Steroid-Fueled Riff on Race, Sex and Super-Achievers

From left: Julian Parker, Kayla Carter, Deanna Myers and Erik Hellman in “Smart People” at Writers Theatre.

In her brilliant play “Smart People,” Lydia R. Diamond creates an impossibly thorny and twisted verbal, emotional and intellectual maze of race, sex and “super-achieverdom.”

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ Puts High-Gloss Spin on a Prostitute’s Life

Samantha Barks and Steve Kazee in the world premiere engagement of “Pretty Woman: The Musical” at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Can a story that feeds on the decades-old roots of the #MeToo movement serve as a deftly massaged corrective?

‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ Sets the Table for Truths About Love and Race

Bryce Gangel, Michael Aaron Pogue in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” through April 15, 2018 at Court Theatre. (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

I confess I was wary about how this story would hold up a full half-century after the film dealt with some very uncomfortable truths. But the more things have changed, the more things have remained (almost) the same.

2 Chicago Dance Companies Feature Bravura Performers in Divergent Styles

Dancers Maeghan McHale and Devin Buchanan in Brock Clawson’s “Give and Take” (2009). (Photo by Reveuse Photography)

The work of two of Chicago’s most enduring but dramatically different contemporary dance companies – Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Giordano Dance Chicago – was on elaborate display this past weekend. 

CSO Debuts Fascinating New Piece, Celebrates A Heavenly Massing of Voices

From left: Soprano Amanda Forsythe and tenors Paul Appleby and Nicholas Phan are soloists in Schubert’s “Mass in E-flat Major” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The human voice is a remarkable instrument. And when the 115 heavenly souls of the Chicago Symphony Chorus gather on stage with the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, something extraordinary happens.

‘An Enemy of the People’ a Tragic, Comical Political Farce of Our Times

Philip Earl Johnson (Thomas Stockmann) and Scott Jaeck (Peter Stockmann) in “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen, adapted and directed by Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

Corrupt and greedy politicians, a poorly educated citizenry skeptical of science and “facts,” and short-term thinking about the impact of pollution on health were all issues in 1882 when the play debuted and still resonate today.

CSO, Muti and Soloists In Eloquent Conversation with Mozart

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

A memorable moment from the film version of Peter Shaffer’s play, “Amadeus,” came rushing back to mind as I listened to this weekend’s glorious, spirit-altering concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which opened with Haydn’s “Symphony No. 89” and was followed by two works by his younger contemporary, Mozart.

All The World’s a Stage for Chicago Shakespeare’s 2018-19 Season

The National Theatre of Great Britain’s award-winning production of J.B. Priestley’s thriller “An Inspector Calls.” (Photo by Mark Douet)

With its three major venues on Navy Pier, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a nonstop operation. Evidence of that can be seen in the just-announced season: 14 productions, a slew of guest directors and a mix of shows created both here and abroad.

Blistering Grand Opera ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Theo Ubique’s Tiny Storefront

Jacquelyne Jones as Mrs. Lovett (Credit: Cody Jolly Photography)

This is a scorching production that is all the more potent for its extreme, immersive intimacy. Read the full review.

From a Pop Music Odyssey to an Opera House Bernstein Tribute

“Long Way Home,” left, and “Celebrating 100 Years of Bernstein” (Credit for Lyric: Todd Rosenberg)

Reviews of two special productions that came to Chicago stages this past weekend: the world premiere of “Long Way Home” from hip-hop masters the Q Brothers Collective; and Lyric Opera’s celebration of Leonard Bernstein.

Ailey Company Mixes It Up With Faith, Poetry, Pain and Athleticism

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Twyla Tharp’s “The Golden Section” (Photo by Paul Kolnik)

A review of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Auditorium Theatre, and in dance news: a $1 million gift for the Joffrey Ballet.

In Gounod’s ‘Faust,’ a Slew of Mixed Messages

Christian Van Horn and Benjamin Bernheim in “Faust” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Credit: Cory Weaver)

Despite a lush score, excellent voices and several memorable characterizations, the story often loses its focus in a new production of “Faust” at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Spinning Out of a Weekend of Dance

Telmo Moreira’s “Memento Mori” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Three very different programs appeared on Chicago stages last weekend – and there is much more to come this month. 

Powerful Women at Odds With Each Other and the Nature of Power

Queen Elizabeth I (Kellie Overbey) contemplates her next move in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Schiller’s Mary Stuart.” (Credit: Michael Brosilow)

A vivid production of “Schiller’s Mary Stuart” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is fresh and modern, but never artificially tricked up.

Steppenwolf Announces Premieres, Landmark Revival for 2018-19 Season

Danai Gurira (Credit: Little Fang Photos)

A world premiere play by Bruce Norris, a rare return to acting by Tarell Alvin McCraney and the Chicago premieres of a recent Broadway hit by Lucas Hnath and a 2015 play by Danai Gurira – and more – are coming to Steppenwolf Theatre.

Black Ensemble Pays Rollicking Homage to Rock ‘N’ Roll Pioneer Chuck Berry

Lyle Miller as Older Chuck Berry in Black Ensemble Theater’s “Hail, Hail Chuck: A Tribute to Chuck Berry.” (Credit: Alan Davis)

Long before Chuck Berry died in March 2017 at the ripe old age of 90, he was revered as the granddaddy of rock ‘n’ roll. Black Ensemble Theater tells the story in “Hail, Hail Chuck: A Tribute to Chuck Berry.”

American Ballet Theatre in a Mostly Modern Mode at Harris Theatre

Christine Shevchenko and Calvin Royal III in “Songs of Bukovina.” (Credit: Marty Sohl)

American Ballet Theatre has traveled light for this engagement, homing in on modern works that mostly thrive on a variety of lighting effects, with several pas de deux lifted from larger ballets and performed on a bare stage that puts the movement in stark relief.