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Heather Chrisler and Terry Bell in “Howards End.” (Photo by Michael Courier)

There is a great variety of theater on stage in Chicago this fall. Critic Hedy Weiss recommends her current favorites.

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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.

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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”).

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.