Stories by Hedy Weiss

Joffrey Dancers’ Dramatic Powers Soar in Hypnotic ‘Jane Eyre’

Greig Matthews and Amanda Assucena in Joffrey Ballet’s production of “Jane Eyre.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

British choreographer Cathy Marston’s enthralling production of “Jane Eyre,” is now being performed with stellar artistry and deep emotional insight by the Joffrey Ballet even though not a single word is spoken throughout the performance.

Stardom and Mortality Battle It Out in ‘Sunset Boulevard’

Hollis Resnik as Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” from Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo by Michael Courier)

A musical-opera hybrid, “Sunset Boulevard” captures the dual face of Hollywood as a dream factory and a dream destroyer. And it spins the haunting tale of Norma Desmond, an aging, once fabled star.

Art Is Love in Endearing ‘Man of No Importance’

Tommy Bullington and Sarah Beth Tanner in “A Man of No Importance.” (Photo by Heather Mall)

“A Man of No Importance,” now receiving an altogether beautiful, heartrending production by Pride Films and Plays, features exceptionally fluid, comedy-meets-tragedy direction by Donterrio Johnson and an ideal cast.

A Smashing Debut by Pianist Sunwook Kim at Thrilling CSO Concert

Pianist Sunwook Kim plays Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in his CSO debut at Symphony Center on Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo by Anne Ryan)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was at its rip-roaring best Friday as award-winning pianist Sunwook Kim made a simply smashing debut with the orchestra. 

It’s Time to Declare a ‘Year of Chicago Dance’

“Synapse” by Nick Pupillo (Photo by MREID Photography)

The City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theaters declared 2019 “The Year of Chicago Theatre.” But anyone who has been following dance in Chicago in recent years will attest to the fact that it is now time to declare a “Year of Chicago Dance.”

‘A Man of Good Hope’ Captures Immigrant’s Plight with Stunning Artistry

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents Isango Ensemble’s “A Man of Good Hope,” based on the book by Jonny Steinberg and adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, in the Courtyard Theater, Oct. 4–13, 2019. (Photo by Keith Pattinson)

Based on the book by Jonny Steinberg, “A Good Man of Hope,” is a heart-wrenching, fiercely honest, staggeringly beautiful production by South Africa’s extraordinary Isango Ensemble now on stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

‘Oslo’ An Enthralling Exploration of How Personal Diplomacy (Almost) Worked

From left: Scott Parkinson, Stef Tovar, David Parkes, Jed Feder and Bri Sudia in TimeLine Theatre Company’s “Oslo.” (Photo by Brett Beiner Photography)

J.T. Rogers’ superbly crafted, whip-smart, at times fancifully (and farcically) imagined 2017 Tony Award-winning play captures the efforts of a Norwegian husband-and-wife team to forge a peace process between the Israeli government and the PLO.

In ‘Every Brilliant Thing,’ A List Becomes a Reminder of Why Life is Worth Living

Rebecca Spence in “Every Brilliant Thing.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

Ingeniously conceived and cleverly directed, this immersive show features a not-to-be-missed solo turn by Rebecca Spence, a captivating actress of extraordinary skill, charm and improvisational brilliance.

CSO’s Opening Salvo in Beethoven 250th Birthday Celebration Proves Composer Forever Young

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in an all-Beethoven program on Sept. 26, 2019 in Orchestra Hall. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

When thinking about Beethoven, the emphasis should not be on the fact that he was born two and a half centuries ago. Rather, it should be on the fact that his music remains uncannily timeless – vividly alive and fully connected to the moment.

Two Early 20th Century British Classics Adapted for the Stage

Eliza Stoughton and Mark Ulrich in “Howards End,” left, and Emma Brayndick and Miles Borchard “Sons and Lovers.” (Photos by Michael Courier, left, and Lisa Lennington)

Two groundbreaking novels – E.M. Forster’s “Howards End” and D. H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” – are currently receiving world premiere productions on Chicago stages. And despite their creation more than a century ago, they remain exceptionally timely.

CSO Opens Season with Glorious Grieg, Stunning Shostakovich and More

Leif Ove Andsnes performs Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti on Sept. 19, 2019, in Orchestra Hall. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Magnificent. That is the most fitting description of Thursday evening’s program at Symphony Center that marked the start of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s 10th season as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

An Advice Columnist Taps into the Pain, Poetry and ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ of Life

Janet Ulrich Brooks in the Chicago premiere of “Tiny Beautiful Things” at Victory Gardens Theater. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

In 2010, Cheryl Strayed rather reluctantly agreed to write an unpaid online advice column under the name of “Dear Sugar.” Those columns come to life in this beauty of a show, artfully adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”).

Basketball Diplomacy Takes a Great Theatrical Leap Forward at Steppenwolf

Glenn Obrero in Steppenwolf’s production of “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Playwright Lauren Yee possesses a special gift for animating and personalizing history, and for penning exceptionally dynamic dialogue. And although not a single basketball is dropped into a hoop during “The Great Leap,” the sport comes to life.

‘Be Here Now’ a Tragicomic Gem About Seizing the Day

From left: Deanna Reed-Foster, Rebecca Jordan and Demetra Dee in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “Be Here Now.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer, whose play “Be Here Now” is receiving its Chicago premiere in a bravura production by Shattered Globe Theatre, has an exceptional gift for being at once sharp-witted and compassionate.

Lyric Opera Names Its Next Music Director: Enrique Mazzola

Enrique Mazzola, music director designate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot)

The Italian conductor has been named as “music director designate” at Lyric Opera Chicago, where Sir Andrew Davis will retire as music director at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

3D Ghost of Maria Callas Gives a Remarkable Performance at Lyric Opera

(Credit: BASE Hologram)

At once eerie, astonishing and altogether fascinating, “Maria Callas in Concert” recently brought the legendary diva back to life for what was a singular and wholly uncanny performance.

‘The Band’s Visit’ Captures the Special Magic of an Unexpected Encounter

A scene from “The Band’s Visit.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Expect no flashy spectacle, lavish dance numbers or any of the other standard ingredients of Broadway musicals. But be assured that “The Band’s Visit” – now making a brief stop at the Cadillac Palace Theatre as part of its national tour – comes with its very own unique magic. 

Chicago Dance Crash’s Wonderfully Fresh ‘Lil Pine Nut’ Deserves a Remount

From left: Porscha Spells, KC Bevis and Kelsey Reiter in the Chicago Dance Crash world premiere production of “Lil Pine Nut: The Learning Curve of Pinocchio.” (Photo by Ashley Deran)

As highly animated as the show might be, “Lil Pine Nut: The Learning Curve of Pinocchio” is no Disney-style version of a universally popular story. 

Jeff Award Nominations a Reminder of the Season Spotlighted as ‘Year of Chicago Theater’

From left: Abby Mueller, Samantha Pauly, Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Brittney Mack and Anna Uzele in “Six” at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Porchlight Music Theatre tops this year’s list with 17 nominations while the Paramount Theatre earns 16 and Court Theatre garners 15. Here are the 2019 Jeff nominees in the major categories.

Ravinia’s Production of ‘Candide’ Brings Bernstein Celebration to a Glittering Close

Ravinia’s production of “Candide (or Optimism).” (Credit: Patrick Gipson / Ravinia Festival)

This was an exceedingly elaborate production for what was a one-night-only event, and it brought together performers fully at ease with the show’s demonically difficult score and wildly witty lyrics.

Sting: The Englishman Who Can Still Rock a Crowd With Meditations on Love

Sting performs at the Ravinia Festival Pavilion as part of his “My Songs Tour.” (Ravinia Festival / Patrick Gipson)

An impeccable set of iconic songs by the 17-time Grammy Award winner before a crowd of 16,000 at the Ravinia Festival suggested why he has remained such an enduring musical artist for more than four decades.

‘Into the Woods’ a Musical Reminder to Be Careful What You Wish For

Michael Mahler, left, Brianna Borger, center and Bethany Thomas in “Into the Woods.” (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

One of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular works is now on stage at Writers Theatre in a sophisticated, powerfully sung, environmentally enveloping production directed by longtime Sondheim aficionado Gary Griffin.

A Joyful Meeting of East and West as Shanghai Symphony Makes Ravinia Debut

(Credit: Ravinia Festival / Justin Piotrowski)

In addition to the beauty of the music, there was the enduring thought that the very best way to ease the current East-West tensions would be to send the politicians on both sides packing and let the musicians take over the job.

‘Dance for Life’ Celebrates Multifaceted Brilliance of Chicago’s Dance Scene

Chicago Dance Crash

This year’s gala concert was in many ways the sharpest production to date, with bravura performances by Giordano Dance Chicago, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Chicago Dance Crash and a slew of others.

Mark Larson’s ‘Ensemble’ Captures Chicago Theater History in Creators’ Own Words

Mark Larson (Photo © Sarah Elizabeth Larson)

Mark Larson’s encyclopedic new book chronicles the development of a unique artistic movement in Chicago through the voices of more than 300 actors, directors, designers, writers, choreographers and producers. 

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