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Dylis Croman in “Chicago, The Musical,” left, and George Abud and Sydney Shepherd in “August Rush: The Musical.” (Credit: Jeremy Daniel, left, Liz Lauren)

“Chicago, The Musical” holds the record as the longest-running American musical in Broadway history – and it’s a keeper. “August Rush: The Musical” is a New York-bred “tryout” production, and it just doesn’t work.

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Blake Hammond, left, and Jake Morrissy in “The Producers” at Paramount Theatre. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

For all its retrograde tropes, Jim Corti’s envelope-pushing (yet entirely faithful) take on Mel Brooks’ 2001 musical feels more contemporary, necessary and dangerously funny than ever before.

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From left: Paul-Jordan Jansen, Carl Draper, Elizabeth Stenholt, Kyle Adams and Nessa (as Toto) in Paramount Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz.” (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

At Paramount Theatre, director-choreographer Amber Mak and her sensational team of actors and designers magically pay homage to the emotional richness of the 1939 film while incorporating some of the newest tricks of technology.

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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.

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Barry DeBois and Tiffany Topol in “Once” at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

The stunning performers now gathered on the stage of the Paramount Theatre bring this unconventional piece of musical theater to life with a beguiling mix of emotional depth and comic zest.

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Kelly Felthous plays Sally Bowles in Paramount Theatre’s “Cabaret.” (Credit: Liz Lauren)

In Paramount’s revival of the 1966 musical, director-choreographer Katie Spelman not only finds a perfect balance between the personal and political, but fully captures the flamboyant decadence of 1930s Weimar Germany without exploiting the pure shock value of its sexual antics. 

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Rudy Galvan (left to right), James Doherty and Johnny Arena perform in “United Flight 232.”(Michael Brosilow)

Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss appraises the first performance staged in the recently opened Writers Theatre and the humorous one-man show, “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?” Get her take on these plays and others on currently on stage in Chicago. 

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Chicago Sun-Times Theater Critic Hedy Weiss joins us to review shows currently on Chicago area stages, including Other People’s Money by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, The Mountaintop at Court Theatre, and In the Heights at The Paramount Theatre. For our online audience, Weiss will also review A Raisin in the Sun at TimeLine Theatre. Learn more about the plays, and watch Hedy's web extra video review.