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Pianist Daniil Trifonov (Credit: Dario Acosta)

Many of the concerts at Symphony Center are one-time-only events for which Orchestra Hall’s 2,500 seats are nearly sold out. But attention must be paid to the hours of remarkable music-making brought to the stage. Here are a few recent cases in point.

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Robert Dubac in “The Book of Moron.” (Courtesy of Broadway in Chicago)

In 90 uninterrupted minutes of altogether irresistible satire, Robert Dubac – an actor, writer, comedian and grand master of sleight-of-hand (and mind) – ingeniously nails the current regrettable state of the nation and the world at large.

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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)

Lynn Nottage’s 2018 play about the savage slaughter and potential decimation of Africa’s “big tusk” elephant population, and the illicit trade in ivory that drives it, is a stunning piece of work – equal parts poetry, ritual and an anatomy of corruption.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring Beethoven’s Second and Fifth Symphonies on Feb. 20, 2020. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

What Maestro Riccardo Muti and the orchestra have made continually clear throughout this year of celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth is how thrillingly modern the composer’s work can feel. 

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Joffrey Ballet artists Stefan Goncalvez and Brooke Linford. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

A coming change of venue for the Joffrey Ballet is a major shift, and its initial opening season will be of great importance, especially since it also will mark the 25th anniversary of the Joffrey as a formidable Chicago cultural institution. 

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Joffrey Ballet artists in “Commedia.” (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Throughout its history, the Joffrey Ballet’s dancers have been renowned for their ability to create characters as well as to put their superb technical skills to work. They also are capable of carrying over their acting ability to contemporary “plotless” works.

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Lora Lee Gayer and Brad Standley in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Emma.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

The flaws and fancies, and triumphs and comeuppances of Jane Austen’s characters continue to ring true two centuries after the publication of her books. The latest proof can be found in this utterly charming production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 

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“Singin’ in the Rain” (Marie-Noëlle Robert / Théâtre du Châtelet)

The formidable full schedule will feature 10 major productions, eight of which will be “new to Chicago.” The season also will mark the grand finale of Sir Andrew Davis’ tenure as music director of the Lyric Opera.

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Robert Sims and Tyrone Chambers, II in Chicago Opera Theater’s “Freedom Ride.” (Photo credit: Michael Brosilow)

In its airtight, fervent, emotionally riveting 90 minutes, “Freedom Ride” vividly captures a pivotal moment in American history and the civil rights movement of the early 1960s in the most sophisticated yet accessible way. 

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Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, center, performs the role of Santuzza in “Cavalleria rusticana,” conducted by music director Riccardo Muti, right, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Symphony Center on Feb. 6, 2020. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The true magnificence of Mascagni’s 1890 opera – now focused entirely on the beauty of the music and the truthfulness of the singers, and stripped of the distractions of scenery, melodramatic acting and all the rest – was a great revelation.

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Left: Cassidy Slaughter-Mason and Sean Parris in “How a Boy Falls.” Right: Kate Fry and Allen Gilmore in “The Mousetrap.” (Photos by Michael Brosilow)

Agatha Christie’s play, “The Mousetrap,” is now receiving a wonderfully entertaining revival at Court Theatre, while Northlight Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Steven Dietz’s “How a Boy Falls,” a compelling whodunit with very dark overtones.

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Pianist Paul Lewis performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a program that also featured Lewis as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Fresh off a grueling but much heralded European tour, the CSO has returned to the Symphony Center stage with Sir Andrew Davis.

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From left: Chuckie Benson, Terri K. Woodall, Joey Stone, Madison Piner and Tristan Bruns in “Rockin’ in Rhythm” from “Sophisticated Ladies” by Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo by Michael Courier)

This knockout revival could easily be airlifted onto a New York stage without a single alteration. Come and see it if you can.

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Karissa Murrell Myers, left, and Aurora Real de Asua in “Top Girls” at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company. (Photo by Michael Courier)

The winter theater season is upon us, with a blizzard of good shows to see. Chicago theater critic Hedy Weiss gives her take on “Roe,” “Top Girls,” “The Mousetrap,” “Juliet” and “Verboten.”

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Linda Gillum in “Top Girls.” (Photo by Michael Courier)

The all-female cast of Caryl Churchill’s play made a statement from the very start, and now, the eight bravura actresses in the current cast turn in a collection of blistering performances that suggest the intentional irony of using the word “girls” (rather than “women”) in the title.

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Kyle Ramar Freeman (left) as Asaka and Courtnee Carter as Ti Moune in the North American Tour of “Once On This Island.” (Photo by Joan Marcus / 2019)

The show is full of exuberant dancing and performances by strong actor-singers, but the crucial intimacy of its storytelling too often gets lost in the carnival atmosphere that has been generated to give this 90-minute gem a Broadway gloss.