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Christina Anderson's “the ripple, the wave that carried me home,” now at the Goodman Owen Theatre in a premiere co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, shouldn't work — but it does.

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Benjamin Britten’s opera “Albert Herring” premiered in June of 1947. The composer’s comic piece, with libretto by Eric Crozier, was the perfect balm for the early, gloomy years following WWII. In the piece, Britten both celebrates and exposes British affectations and idiosyncrasies, the clas…

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Blue Heron (surely one of the prettiest names in classical music) is a Boston-based early music ensemble established in 1999 and this year’s Don Michael Randel ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. On Friday night, Jan. 27, they gave a concert at Rockefeller Chapel celebrating …

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Renowned actors ranging from Joel Grey to Eddie Redmayne have put their stamp on the role of the Emcee in “Cabaret,” and I'm ready to add Porchlight Music Theatre's Josh Walker to that list. Standing 4 feet 6 inches tall with a grin that's halfway to a sneer, Walker has a Broadway-quality vo…

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University of Chicago Presents has begun the new year in style. The first concert of 2023 featured young cello sensation Zlatomir Fung along with seasoned pianist Benjamin Hochman. Together they escorted their audience on a journey through examples of Slavic music, most of which were little-…

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At “Ground Floor,” a biennial exhibition spotlighting emerging artists from around Chicago at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., creators are given a boost during a pivotal moment in their careers.

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Composer Tan Dun, born in Hunan, China in 1957, went from cultivating rice to joining an opera troupe. From there his ascent crossed both national and musical boundaries. He studied music in Beijing and later at Columbia University in New York City. His music is most striking for its combina…

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Randall Harlow has been described as a performer-scholar. As a performer, he’s a specialist in contemporary music and has given many world premiere performances and regularly records for various labels. As a scholar, he was recently awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship and was the f…

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In 1997 violinist Rachel Barton Pine recorded a path-breaking CD titled “Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries.” It was released by Chicago-based Cedille Records and for many listeners it was their first exposure to music by composers such as the Chevalier de Saint-George…

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The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival promises to be one of January's biggest theatrical events (see next week's preview), but it is far from the only show in town this month. Theaters large and small are eagerly returning to live performances ranging from one-night stands to wee…

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“Cavalleria Rusticana” is a one-act opera first performed in 1890 that immediately captivated audiences with its simple yet relatable story and tragic conclusion, all stemming from jealousy. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s own recording label, CSO Resound, has released a recording of Pietro…

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The world premiere of  Vichet Chum's “Bald Sisters” at Steppenwolf Ensemble Theater packs in enough trauma for at least three plays. Directed by Jesca Prudencio at a nice clip, the 100-or-so minutes ping-pong between dryly funny comedy and gut-wrenching tragedy, finding the humor and heartac…

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December always comes with lots of holiday concerts to choose from. The most delightful Christmas concert I’ve attended in some time took place last Friday night, Dec. 16 in St. Michael Church in the Old Town neighborhood. The program, Music of the Baroque (MOB), offered a full evening of ce…

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Building on its success adapting Jane Austen novels, Northlight Theatre has carved out a unique holiday niche with a trio of original sequels to “Pride and Prejudice.” Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon and co-commissioned with theaters in Minnesota and California, the trilogy of …

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The organ, as an instrument, is a chameleon. It can mimic the sound of an individual instrument, like the flute or trumpet, or it can conjure up swirls of many different sounds and become a full orchestra. It can weep or sigh quietly or create a storm of powerful volume and resonance.

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You know why you listen to music. Perhaps for the pleasure of audio art; it keeps you moving when you exercise; or you need it to keep you awake while driving. There are profound and mundane reasons we turn to music. But why do composers write music? I think that’s an interesting question an…

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TimeLine Theatre's talent for staging plays from the past that speak to the present continues with “Trouble in Mind,” Alice Childress' insightful 1955 backstage drama about racism and sexism on Broadway.

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When South African playwright Athol Fugard created “The Island” with actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona in 1973, the process was truly collaborative “devised theater” made without a script and based on real-life events. 

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Now that Thanksgiving is over and even the turkey leftovers are finished, it is time to look forward to the holiday music season. Chicago has long had a feast of musical offerings in December and this year is no different.

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When  “Rent” premiered Off-Broadway in 1996, the raw rock opera about a group of starving artists and other misfits struggling to get by in Lower Manhattan's East Village was ground-breaking, its caché enhanced by the sudden death — at age 35 — of its creator Jonathan Larson on the eve of th…

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In 1924, Polish composer Karol Szymanowski completed what many consider to be his magnum opus. Ninety-eight years later, “King Roger,” a compact opera sprawling with big ideas, made its local debut last week with two performances  produced by the Chicago Opera Theater. 

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Within a few days of each other, Lyric Opera of Chicago has introduced two new opera productions — a historical tragedy and a comic romp — which have one important thing in common: both are marvelously cast with the principal singers offering sensational performances. Verdi’s “Don Carlos” an…

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The Gift Theatre's world premiere of Jennifer Rumberger's “The Locusts” at Theater Wit starts off like the kind of police procedural that's commonplace on television and ends up as an unsatisfactory head-scratcher with a message about facing our fears. 

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Sometimes it is an unusual grouping of musical works that captures your attention and you think, “I should give that a listen.” And so it was with an overture by Wagner, a concerto by Bartok and a symphony by Vaughn Williams that I traveled downtown to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CS…

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We typically think of a swing state, also called a “battleground state,” as key to the outcome of elections because Republican and Democratic candidates have similar chances of prevailing, but playwright Rebecca Gilman has more on her mind than politics in the world premiere of “Swing State”…

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The Newberry Consort opened its 2022–23 Hyde Park season Saturday night, Oct. 29 with a glorious concert at Congregation Rodfei Zedek, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd., celebrating the life of Madama Europa, a singer at the Gonzaga Court. Known also as Madama Europa di Rossi, she was the sister of co…

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Mike Lew's “Tiger Style!” at Writers Theatre in Glencoe doesn't know whether to be a frenetic farce or a sharp satire. Directed by Brian Balcom and refined by the playwright since its premiere in 2015, the play often is very funny, but some of the acting goes way over the top, turning what c…

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Minnesota-born pianist Evren Ozel recently performed as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, offering a lunchtime recital at the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. His early October concert was about as wide-ranging as a 45-minute performance can be, with music by Johann…

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I have often said that William Grant Still (1895-1978) is the greatest American composer you’ve never heard of. So, it was with excitement that I went downtown to the Harris Theater Thursday night, Oct. 13 to hear the Chicago Philharmonic perform Still’s first symphony, known as the “Afro-Am…

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I'm a sucker for plays that use food as a metaphor for life, so the Chicago premiere of Lynn Nottage's “Clyde's” at Goodman Theatre had me at the first scene: At a road-side truck stop outside Reading, PA, Montrellous tries to tempt his boss – the owner of the eponymous eatery– Clyde, with a…

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University of Chicago Presents opened its 79th season with a one-two punch. A pair of concerts this past weekend, one Saturday night at the Logan Center and one Sunday afternoon at Mandel Hall, got the season off to an auspicious start.

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The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, back in full last weekend on the Midway Plaisance and across the neighborhood, has long had the distinction of being one of the few jazz festivals in the city with a plywood dance floor. Alas, there was no dance floor this year, but it didn't stop the attendees f…

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Riccardo Muti, an active musician since 1963 and one who has stood on the podium for orchestral and operatic performances throughout Europe and the U.S., is now embarking on his farewell season as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Last Thursday, September 22, the 81-year-old …

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Highland Park native Lindsay Joelle's “The Garbologists” follows a tried-and-true formula for buddy comedies. Two people who are polar opposites are thrown together by circumstance and find a way to work out their differences. They even discover they have more in common than they thought.

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My favorite piece at the Renaissance Society’s new show, “Fear of Property” is a 2 minute 30 second video by Pedro Neves Marques entitled “The Pudic Relation between Machine and Plant.” It records an encounter between a robot hand and a Mimosa pudica (aka sensitive plant, shame plant, sleepy…

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Saturday night was unusual at Lyric Opera of Chicago. After opening its 68th season with Verdi’s “Ernani” eight days earlier, Lyric swerved sharply away from opera, introducing as its second production of the season the popular musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

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If you think a black comedy that premiered on Broadway in 1941 isn't likely to appeal to audiences eight decades years later, think again. Court Theatre's production of Joseph Kesselring's “Arsenic and Old Lace” is as fresh and funny as if it were written yesterday and, on opening night earl…

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Many Victor Hugo stories have lived vibrant new lives in other forms. “Les Misérables”, for example, is a tremendously popular musical. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” has been made into a film several times. Hugo’s play “Hernani” also lives in another form; it is the basis for the early Verdi…

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Few forms of entertainment are more delicious than a well-crafted murder mystery, and “Miss Holmes Returns,” Lifeline Theatre's sequel to its 2016 “Miss Holmes,” fits the bill quite well.