A fervent believer in the unique power of live theater, I have become quite a convert to broadcasts of live performances after seeing two superb National Theatre Live productions this past weekend.
Stories by Hedy Weiss
It would be all but impossible to survey the many great, good and sometimes disappointing productions of the past 12 months. But three recent shows suggest the great variety of work produced in Chicago – and the immense amount of talent here.
This highly original reimagining of the classic holiday tale is a monumental production both in its storytelling and its design, yet it manages to beautifully interweave its grand scale elements with human scale emotions.
In “The Three Queens,” the trilogy of semi-staged excerpts about the lives of Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth I now in a brief run at Lyric Opera, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky captures their essence to sublime vocal and dramatic effect.
Listening to the richly faithful performances by Taylor Bloom and Ben Cooley was in many ways like stepping into a time machine. As I left the theater awash in memories, I wondered whether Simon and Garfunkel have seen the show in which they are so winningly captured.
As Robert Frost famously wrote: “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some in ice.” And in a very real sense it was those two opposing endgame scenarios that Chicago Opera Theater conjured this past weekend as it opened its 2019-2020 season.
Northlight Theatre’s production of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” has a playfully feminist spirit that Jane Austen surely would have appreciated, but it also remains true to its Regency era mentality.
“The Niceties” is a brief and telling chronicle of the temper of our times, and actors Mary Beth Fisher and Ayanna Bria Bakari sustain the necessary tension and subterfuge required to keep things at the boiling point.
The production, directed by Robert Falls (artistic director of the Goodman Theatre) is the finest work he has done on any stage since “The Iceman Cometh,” and it has been cast with glorious singers who also are exceptional actors.
What happens when a conductor steeped in the Italian tradition takes hold of three works by quite different 19th century German Romantic composers? The answer could be heard as Maestro Riccardo Muti led the CSO in works by Wagner, Brahms and Schumann.
Together with the brilliant musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Riccardo Muti and violinist Leonidas Kavakos launched into an absolutely spellbinding performance of Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto in D Major.”
There is no denying the ferocity of John Leguizamo’s tragicomic jeremiad, his bravura gifts as a terrific physical performer, or his ability to improvise in “Latin History for Morons.”
Directed with just the right balance of the sacred and the profane by Joe Mantegna, Ronnie Marmo’s show, “I’m Not a Comedian ... I’m Lenny Bruce,” is a seamless weave of excerpts from Bruce’s acts along with original material that deftly takes us inside the man’s psyche.
The show’s three exceptionally graceful, expressive actors – each of them powerful solo players – form a seamless bond that is beautiful to behold. They are at once passionate artists and fierce cultural warriors.
The exceptional breadth, depth and variety of Chicago theater was on full display Monday night as the winners of the 2019 Jeff Equity Awards were announced. Here are the highlights.
Writers Theatre’s production of “A Doll’s House,” cannily but faithfully adapted by Sandra Delgado and Michael Halberstam, and featuring a bravura performance by Cher Alvarez, brought the play back to life in the most unexpected ways.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.