Omar Nieves, Gary Cooper, Drew Redington (Credit: Liz Lauren)

The Marriott Theatre’s “West Side Story” opened Wednesday night in a production especially notable for its rip-roaring Latin and jazz-infused dance sequences choreographed by Alex Sanchez.

The cast of Marriott Theatre’s production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” (Provided)

The infrequently revived 1948 musical gem boasts a brilliant score by Cole Porter of nearly 20 knockout songs, almost all of which are classics. It’s a wonderfully clever play-within-a-play book by Sam and Bella Spewack that owes a deep debt of gratitude to that guy by the name of William Shakespeare.

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.

The cast of “A Chorus Line” at Porchlight Music Theatre. (Credit: Michael Courier)

Three very different productions that recently opened on Chicago stages serve as a powerful reminder of the dramatically varied ways in which the language of dance can be spoken.

The cast of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” at Lookingglass Theatre. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

From monsters and novelists to a depressed construction foreman in Belarus, the Chicago theater scene is as varied as ever. Hedy Weiss joins us with reviews and recommendations.

Will Burton and Kimberly Immanuel in “Holiday Inn” at the Marriott Theatre. (Courtesy of Liz Lauren)

The recent Broadway musical based on the hit 1942 film is an old-fashioned charmer on every level, with just enough of a sardonic bite to make it feel fresh, and just enough nostalgia to pierce your heart.

From left: “Sweet Charity,” “Legally Blonde” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo credit, from left: Justin Barbin, Liz Lauren, Brett Beiner)

They are set in different eras, and come with notably different sounds and story lines, but the three musicals now being produced on local stages share one major theme. Here’s a closer look.

Jason Grimm, left, and Noel Carey star in “Murder for Two” at the Marriott Theatre. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

The real question at the heart of this 95-minute, music-infused marathon of a farce – which features two actors playing 13 characters and frequently sharing time at a piano – is whether the performers themselves will make it out alive.

Samantha Hill, center, as Nellie in “South Pacific” at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre. (Photo by Brett Beiner)

There seems to be an unofficial renaissance of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals by way of three classics from the 1940s. Is this mere coincidence, or a a much-needed balm?

Hedy Weiss

Hedy Weiss devours the latest version of Sweeney Todd to hit Chicago.  She reviews that and three more shows.