|
Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The doors of Chicago’s Symphony Center may be closed to its audiences until the pandemic has been conquered. But its stage is still very much alive.

|
Pictured (from left): Steppenwolf ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill in Steppenwolf’s virtual production of “What Is Left, Burns” by James Ijames, directed by Whitney White. (Photography and design by Lowell Thomas)

James Ijames’ 20-minute play marks the opening salvo in Steppenwolf Now — a series of six virtual productions designed to serve as placeholders until there is a return to live theater — a return that seems ever more elusive.

|
“Spamalot.” (Credit: Brett Beiner)

This year’s announcement of the 2020 Jeff Awards, which honor excellence in Chicago’s Equity contract theaters, took the form of a virtual event. Here is a list of the top award winners.

|
Hilary Asare in a play about Lady Bird Johnson, in the world premiere of “45 Plays for America’s First Ladies.” (Courtesy of The Neo-Futurists)

The Neo-Futurists go virtual with “45 Plays for America’s First Ladies,” a 100-minute world premiere collage created by the company of writer-directors that was established in Chicago in 1988.

|
CSO Flute and Piccolo Jennifer Gunn. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s newly devised CSO Sessions programming provides ample proof that “adversity is the mother of invention.” And its initial series of five on-demand, beautifully filmed video recordings is a sheer delight.

|
Neala Barron (left) and Lucy Godinez perform “My Own Best Friend” from “Chicago” in “Broadway By the Decade” from Porchlight Music Theatre. (Courtesy of Porchlight Music Theatre)

The 45-minute “Broadway By the Decade,” performed by a gifted six-person cast, features representative songs from musicals spanning 10 decades.

|
The CSO’s Lincoln Quartet composed of violinists Qing and Lei Hou, Lawrence Neuman on the viola and cellist Kenneth Olsen perform in a virtual recital in August. (Clay Baker / Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

For now, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be focused on intimate, virtual experiences for its fall 2020 season, which includes the launch of a new digital series of performances. 

|
Cara Marie Gary in “The Nutcracker.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

This fall was to mark the Joffrey’s first season in its new home on the Lyric Opera stage after many years of residence at the Auditorium Theatre.

|
Dance for Life (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Dancers, perhaps more than any other group of performing artists, have been hit hardest, both artistically and financially, by the fallout from the coronavirus. So this year’s Dance for Life 2020 event will feature a new virtual format.

|
(Courtesy of Writers Theatre)

How do you design a pandemic-era theater season? The Glencoe-based theater has devised a multifaceted plan that combines a degree of certainty with the option of built-in flexibility, with the ultimate goal of keeping live theater alive.

|
A promotional image for “Il Postino (The Postman).” (Credit: Joe Mazza)

Amid all the dire warnings that live performances might not start up again until 2021, the news that the richly creative company plans to begin its three-production season in November comes as an enormous spirit-raiser.

|
(Courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

With all the uncertainty facing theaters and their audiences, the Goodman Theatre is postponing the four productions remaining in its current spring and summer 2020 season, and will announce additional shows for the coming season at a later date.

|
Music director Carlos Kalmar leads the Grant Park Orchestra in 2019. (Courtesy of the Grant Park Music Festival)

The news is increasing familiar, yet heartbreaking. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, yet another much-beloved live music series is being silenced this summer. 

,
|
(Courtesy of Ravinia Festival)

The decision to cancel the season was made with the “health and safety of the festival’s artists, staff and neighbors,” in mind, Ravinia’s President and CEO Welz Kauffman said in a statement.

|
David Goodloe, center, with Lewon Johns, back left, and Michael Turrentine in Griffin Theatre Company’s Midwest premiere of “Mlima’s Tale.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

With 10 nominations, Griffin Theatre led the pack on a list that serves as a vivid reminder of the exuberance of pre-pandemic times on Chicago stages. But it suggests what has been lost, too.

|
Dan Burton in “42nd Street.” (Credit: Théâtre du Châtelet / Marie-Noëlle Robert)

Lyric’s canceled productions of “42nd Street” and “Blue” are now slated to run in 2022 and 2021, respectively. Meanwhile, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is partnering with WFMT on a series beginning next week.

randomness