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Hershey Felder in “A Paris Love Story” featuring the music of Claude Debussy. (Courtesy of Christopher Ash)

The multitalented actor, pianist (and yes, composer in his own right) brings the eighth installment in his renowned “Great Composers Series” to Chicago in June and simultaneously makes his Goodman Theatre debut.

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From left: Kevin Webb, Mikaela Sullivan and Leo Spiegel in Black Button Eyes Productions’ Chicago premiere of “Whisper House.” (Photo by Evan Hanover)

The stylishly macabre, morally challenging show by Duncan Sheik (of “Spring Awakening” fame) and Kyle Jarrow is now receiving its Chicago premiere by Black Button Eyes Productions.

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From left: Danielle Wade, Megan Masako Haley, Mariah Rose Faith and Jonalyn Saxer in the National Touring Company of “Mean Girls.” (Credit: © 2019 Joan Marcus)

If you were to consider the dominant feelings expressed by the adolescent girls in these two shows, the obvious conclusion would be that for all the talk, the feminist movement of the past five decades has failed to reach a whole generation or two of girls.

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Edo de Waart and Leila Josefowicz (Credit, from left: Edo de Waart, Chris Lee)

Talk about ending the year with a bang. Just a few weeks before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is to embark on a whirlwind tour of Europe, the orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor Edo de Waart, is performing an altogether thrilling program.

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Kiersten Frumkin (left to right), Jared David Michael Grant, Stephen Blu Allen, Michael Kingston, Loretta Rezos and Cynthia F. Carter in “Working.” Background, in band are Perry Cowdery (left to right), Jeremy Ramey and Rafe Bradford. (Photo by Austin Oie Photography)

Based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 best-selling book of oral history, this musical is now in a wonderfully realized, sweat-and-dreams production at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, where six actors portray the many and varied attitudes about work.

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Deeply Rooted Dance Theater company members perform “Parallel Lives.” (Photo by Michelle Reid)

Two questions invariably come to mind when I see Deeply Rooted Dance Theater: Why is this company not more famous? And why isn’t it championed as Chicago’s counterpart of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater?

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Solea Pfeiffer and Renée Fleming in the “The Light in the Piazza” at Lyric Opera House. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Created for Broadway, “The Light in the Piazza” is a profoundly intimate work and belongs in a space that can fully embrace that intimacy. The Lyric Opera House, where it is now being presented, is not such a place. 

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Lindsay Duncan in “Hansard.” (Catherine Ashmore / Courtesy NT Live)

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. 

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Nondumiso Tembe in “Lindiwe,” left, Kelvin Roston Jr. in “Oedipus Rex,” center, and Christina Hall in “Always … Patsy Cline.” (Photos by Michael Brosilow)

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.

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Yoshihisa Arai and Amanda Assucena of the Joffrey Ballet perform Christopher Wheeldon’s Chicago-themed reinvention of “The Nutcracker.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

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. 

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Sondra Radvanovsky in “The Three Queens.” (© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019)

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.

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Ben Cooley (left) and Taylor Bloom perform in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story.” (Photo by Lane Peters)

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.

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Michelle Johnson and Andrew Bidlack in Chicago Opera Theater’s productions of “Aleko” and “Everest.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

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.

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Netta Walker (left) and Luigi Sottile in “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

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. 

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Ayanna Bria Bakari and Mary Beth Fisher in “The Niceties.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

“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. 

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Amanda Majeski and Lucas Meachem in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Don Giovanni.” (Photo by Kyle Flubacker)

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.