Stories by Hedy Weiss

CSO’s ‘Verdi Requiem’ is Music of the Moment in Wake of Latest Slaughter

Soprano Vittoria Yeo, mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, tenor Piotr Beczala and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy are soloists in Verdi’s Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus led by Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti. (© Todd Rosenberg)

Verdi’s monumental and altogether ravishing “Requiem” is a signature work of Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In light of recent shootings, Thursday’s performance brought even greater potency and fire to this work.

Visceral Dance Soars in a Dramatic New Industrial Space

(Credit: KT MILLER Photography)

A study in the darkness and luminosity inherent in human interaction, “Take” is nothing short of spellbinding. And it marks a new high point in artistic director Nick Pupillo’s always original, sensual, highly charged choreography.

In ‘Scientific Method,’ Politics in the Lab Are as Rigorous as the Research

Ashley Neal and Glenn Obrero in the world premiere of “Scientific Method.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

If you think this country’s political culture is the quintessential hornet’s nest, you probably haven’t been exposed to life in the world of scientific research. Jenny Connell Davis puts it under a powerful magnifying microscope in this world premiere work.

A Chicago Homecoming for Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim speaks at a Chicago Symphony Orchestra press event on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

At an intimate press conference celebrating his return visit to the city, conductor Daniel Barenboim expressed his delight at what will be a two-part homecoming at Symphony Center.

In ‘Lady in Denmark,’ One Woman’s Life in Copenhagen and Chicago, Set to Echoes of Billie Holiday

Linda Gehringer as Helene in the world premiere production of “Lady in Denmark” at Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

As it happens, there are two “ladies” in Dael Orlandersmith’s play, “Lady in Denmark,” now in its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre. But only one is fully seen or heard on stage.

In ‘Fight Night,’ Clever Voting Game Suggests What Our Elections Are Really About

From left: Aurelie Lannoy, Angelo Tijssens and Charlotte De Bruyne in Ontroerend Goed’s “Fight Night.” (Photo by Yvon Poncelet)

Audience members engage in a process similar to a television “elimination” contest to choose one of five contenders for an unspecified office. It is great fun, but also offers food for thought – and a healthy dose of cynicism.

‘Hello, Dolly!’ Still Leads the Parade of Musicals in the Key of Joyful Escapism

Betty Buckley, center, and the “Hello, Dolly!” National Tour Company – 2018. (Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes)

The enduring 1964 hit with an impossibly catchy score fervently champions the quest for love, adventure, mischief and the all-important joy (and necessity) of seizing the day.

In ‘Private Peaceful,’ Most Brutal Enemy Turns Out to Be One’s Own Country

Shane O’Regan stars in the one-man show “Private Peaceful.” (Credit: Ahron R. Foster)

A beautifully realized, profoundly moving one-man show now on stage at the Greenhouse Theater Center features a performance of great heart by Shane O’Regan.

American Blues Theater’s ‘Buddy Holly Musical’ Tops 2018 Equity Jeff Awards

From left: Chuckie Benson, Michael Mahler, Zachary Stevenson and Kieran McCabe in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

They say “the music died” on the day in 1959 when rock ‘n’ roll legend Buddy Holly perished in a plane crash. But that geeky Texas boy with the trademark thick glasses is still making a big noise.

At the CSO, a Pianist Shakes the Musical Universe With a Prokofiev Concerto

Daniil Trifonov is soloist in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with guest conductor Marin Alsop and the CSO. (© Todd Rosenberg)

You have just one more chance to catch a concert at Symphony Center that brings you into direct contact with absolute genius. Beg, borrow (or maybe even steal) a ticket to hear 27-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov in an electrifying performance.

Joffrey Ballet Dancers Demonstrate Their Prowess in ‘Swan Lake’

Joffrey Ballet dancers Victoria Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez in “Swan Lake.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

It has been four years since the Joffrey Ballet first performed Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagining of “Swan Lake.” Its current revival serves as a vivid indication of the extraordinary artistry that now defines the Joffrey, from principal dancers to corps.

In Porchlight’s ‘Gypsy,’ a Mama Rose of Hurricane Force

E. Faye Butler as Rose in “Gypsy” from Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo by Michael Courier)

With her force-of-nature personality, powerhouse voice and galvanic emotional range, E. Faye Butler was clearly was born to play Mama Rose.

African-American Women Assert Their Independence in ‘Flyin’ West’

From left: Tiffany Oglesby, Sydney Charles and Joslyn Jones in American Blues Theater’s production of “Flyin’ West.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

With echoes of “Oklahoma” in its evocation of the hardscrabble lives of exceptionally strong women, Pearl Cleage’s story revolves around the different choices made by four women, including the elderly but unbending matriarchal figure who experienced the abominations of slavery, yet survived to tell the story.

Luminous Play by Lynn Nottage Explores Faith, Politics, Family and Discrimination

Brianna Buckley, left, and Chanell Bell in “Crumbs from the Table of Joy,” by Lynn Nottage. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

“Crumbs from the Table of Joy” – one of the playwright’s earliest works, now on stage at Raven Theatre – is continually engaging. And in the current climate, it also turns out to be uncannily timely.

2 CSO Concerts Showcase a Pianist’s Fluid Interpretation of Beethoven, Mozart

This past weekend saw the last Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts to be conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti until November, and they should not go without notice for several reasons.

Making Deals With the Devil in the Bloody Brilliant ‘Witch’

From left: Jon Hudson Odom, David Alan Anderson and Steve Haggard in “Witch” at Writers Theatre. (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

Now receiving an altogether riveting world premiere production at Writers Theatre, “Witch” is a pitch-black fairy tale for our times, and one that is not to be missed. 

Incendiary ‘Downstate’ Fearlessly Probes Unique Aspect of Crime, Punishment

 Matilda Ziegler (Em) and ensemble member Tim Hopper (Andy) in Steppenwolf’s world premiere production of “Downstate.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

The pitch black, profoundly provocative world premiere by Bruce Norris brings to the fore all the arguments and nuances around sexual predators, and will either make you question your opinions on the subject or confirm them. 

Themes of Freedom, Faith and Money Fuse With Brilliant Score in ‘Caroline, or Change’

From left: Rashada Dawan and Bre Jacobs with, in background, Emma Sipora Tyler, De’Jah Jervai and Roberta Burke in Firebrand Theatre and TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of “Caroline, Or Change.” (Photo by Marisa KM)

With its incendiary production, Firebrand Theatre easily secures its place among the handful of Chicago’s hottest “smaller” musical theater companies. Though there is nothing at all “small” about this formidable assemblage of talent.

New Musical ‘Tootsie’ Eyes Gender Roles, But Its Heart Belongs to Show Business

Santino Fontana, center, in “Tootsie.” Also pictured, from left: Drew King, Leslie Donna Flesner, Sissy Bell and John Arthur Greene. (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)

For all its timely social commentary, “Tootsie” (a gently updated musical version of the hit 1982 film) feels a bit like show business balm – a feel good work for the #MeToo era.

Hubbard Street’s Percussion-Driven Experiment Probes Heaven and Hell on Earth

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in “For All Its Fury.” (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

In its three-part fall season program, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago harkened back to the creation of the universe and the ascent of man before conjuring an apocalyptic vision of where it all went wrong.

David Cale Turns a Family Nightmare into a Dreamy Tour de Force of Survival

Playwright and performer David Cale in his world premiere solo musical memoir “We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time,” directed by Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

If ever you had any doubt about the healing and transformative powers of art, “We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time,” David Cale’s hypnotically beautiful one-man show, will set you straight.

CSO Opens Season with Music of Liberty and Memories of Repression

Russian Bass Alexey Tikhomirov makes his CSO debut in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (“Babi Yar”) with the Orchestra and Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus led by Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Music is not apolitical. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s season opening concerts take note of this, with impassioned comments made by Maestro Riccardo Muti.

In ‘BigMouth,’ a Torrent of Oratory at Once Brilliant, Provocative and Dangerous

Valentijn Dhaenens in “BigMouth,” on stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater through Sept. 22, 2018. (Photo by Maya Wilsens)

However you describe “BigMouth,” the virtuosic, one-of-a-kind, one-man show created and performed by Valentijn Dhaenens – its impact is undeniable.

3 Popular Musicals Sing of Quest for Self-Esteem

From left: “Sweet Charity,” “Legally Blonde” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo credit, from left: Justin Barbin, Liz Lauren, Brett Beiner)

They are set in different eras, and come with notably different sounds and story lines, but the three musicals now being produced on local stages share one major theme. Here’s a closer look.

Shattered Globe’s Piercing Dramatization of a Dostoyevsky Classic Soars

Ilse Zacharias (left) and Drew Schad in Shattered Globe Theatre’s new adaptation of “Crime and Punishment.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

The haunting dramatization of “Crime and Punishment” now on stage attacks the work with the same fire and attention to moral argument as the master writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, himself.