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A police recruit speaks with WTTW News about an empathy workshop hosted by Storycatchers Theatre.

How a role-playing workshop hosted by Storycatchers Theatre is taking a new approach to improving the relationship between first responders and the communities they patrol.

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(Courtesy of Kai EL’Zabar)

The Chicago theater company has announced Kai EL’Zabar as its third CEO/ executive director. The 48-year-old media maven says while working in theater is new for her, she has been grounded in the arts all of her life. 

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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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Frank Ferrante (Photo by Alan Alabastro)

Inside a lavish, 330-seat theater space in the Loop is the madcap escapade “Love, Chaos & Dinner” – a high energy combination of cabaret, comedy and circus, plus a four-course dinner (or brunch) – all backed by a dynamite band.

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Hit Broadway musical “Come From Away” runs through Aug. 18 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)

The big surprise in this hit Broadway musical is how the seemingly most unlikely material for a musical – the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – ends up feeling as if it were custom-made for the form and turns great darkness into a healing light.

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From left: Thera Wright, Vincent Jordan, Stewart Romeo and Dwight Neal in “You Can’t Fake the Funk (A Journey Through Funk Music),” at Black Ensemble Theater. (Photo credit: Alan Davis)

Unquestionably one of the company’s most irresistible, highly polished, dance-fueled productions of recent seasons, “You Can’t Fake the Funk” will take you higher, set you on fire, and infuse you with a Superfly energy.

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Sam and Sylvia Rose (WTTW News)

A Chicago couple is part of an international team bringing a flashy new take on “dinner and a show” to local audiences. Meet the stars of Teatro ZinZanni.

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From left: Rachel Guth, TJ Anderson and Amanda Raquel Martinez in “Ghost Quartet.” (Photo by Cole Simon)

Dave Malloy’s time-warping web of a song cycle deals with competing sisters, strange parents, a photographer’s guilt, a subway murder, an astronomer, spirits (of the alcoholic variety), and the quest for love, revenge, stardom and truth over many centuries.

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From left: Dara Cameron, Jacqulyne Jones and Catherine Smitko in “The Spitfire Grill.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

The 2001 musical with a soaring, intensely poetic score delivers both a rare emotional punch and a winning sense of forgiveness, redemption and love. It is uncannily timely.

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The North American Tour of “Cats.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

“Cats” and “Les Miserables” have both returned to Chicago this summer, and “West Side Story” is in the throes of a renaissance. Here are some brief impressions about all three musicals as experienced in their recent incarnations.

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Monica West (Marian Paroo) in “The Music Man” with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and a book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, directed by Mary Zimmerman. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

There’s a parade of new shows on stage in Chicago. Theater critic Hedy Weiss recommends her current favorites.

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Jon Michael Hill, left, and Namir Smallwood in Steppenwolf’s production of “True West” by Sam Shepard. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Steppenwolf’s fabled 1982 production of Sam Shepard’s darkly comic tale is a foundational part of Chicago theater history. And now, two of the company’s “next generation” of actors are bringing their own high-octane intensity to the play.

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Brian Keys, left, and Julian Hester in “The Recommendation” at Windy City Playhouse. (Photo credit Michael Brosilow)

With its volcanic staging of Jonathan Caren’s intensely physical play, Windy City Playhouse has carved out a unique niche for itself in Chicago with a style dubbed “immersive theater.” 

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James Konicek (Olin Britt), Ayana Strutz (Townsperson), Matt Casey (Townsperson), Tommy Rivera-Vega (Tommy Djilas), Kelly Felthous (Zaneeta Shinn), Christopher Kale Jones (Jacey Squires), Geoff Packard (Harold Hill), Alejandro Fonseca (Townsperson), Laura Savage (Farmer's Wife / Townsperson), Adrienne Velasco-Storrs(Townsperson), Sophie Ackerman (Amaryllis Squires) and Ron E. Rains (Mayor Shinn) in “The Music Man” with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and a book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, d

The overall pacing of this bear of a show can sometimes feel a bit off. At the same time, there is such a sense of jubilation about this production that its imperfections are easy to overlook.

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A scene from “The Music Man” at Goodman Theatre, with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and a book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, directed by Mary Zimmerman. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

“The Music Man” marches into the Goodman Theatre. Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman gives us details on the big parade.

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Katherine Thomas and Heath Saunders in “Darling Grenadine.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

It might not be a Broadway-style blockbuster, but this intimate musical very skillfully mixes romantic comedy tropes with an uncompromising look at self-destructive behavior, self-doubt, alcoholism and complex friendships.