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Bella Voce choristers, and an organ virtuoso, illuminate path back through choral history

Apr 30, 2016 – 6:05 am

Review: Chicago’s intimate chamber choir Bella Voce closed its 2015-16 season April 24 with an intriguing performance of Anglican choral works encompassing six centuries. One needed only to note the enthusiasm of the capacity audience gathered in Evanston’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to understand why Bella Voce has established itself as one of the pleasures of Chicago’s burgeoning choral music scene.

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In concert, Muti and a well-rounded Falstaff bathe Verdi’s bittersweet opera in telling light

Apr 22, 2016 – 4:03 pm
Ambrogio Maestri sang the title role of Falstaff under Riccardo Muti's direction. (Todd Rosenberg)Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Riccardo Muti. Verdi’s “Falstaff.” At Orchestra Hall through April 26.
By Lawrence B. Johnson

Amid all its other virtues, and those are manifold, there is a refreshing, illuminating transparency and uncluttered purity in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert presentation of Verdi’s opera “Falstaff.” Its co-stars are baritone Ambroglio Maestri in the title role, at the head of a splendid cast, and CSO music director Riccardo Muti on the podium.  Read the full story »

In ‘Bullets Over Broadway,’ that rat-a-tat-tat could be tommy gun or sound of tap shoes

Apr 19, 2016 – 1:39 pm
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Interview: Cheech is just a garden variety thug, a gangster, a hit man – who proves to be the creative genius behind a hapless playwright in the musical “Bullets Over Broadway.” And Jeffrey Brooks, who plays this heavy with the fine dramatic touch, says Cheech is also “the most real character of them all, the one with the most heart.”

‘Arcadia’ at Writers: Stoppard’s fine-spun play proves ideal opener for Glencoe’s new house

Apr 12, 2016 – 6:48 pm
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Review: If a play, off the shelf as it were, could be tailor-made for the unveiling of a distinctive new theater, Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” an intellectual romp with a touch of tragedy, is the perfect inaugural raiment for Writers’ splendid new home in Glencoe. ★★★★★

Chicago’s Joffrey, Cleveland Orchestra pair in scary matchup of Bartók’s psycho thrillers

Apr 11, 2016 – 3:03 pm
The Cleveland Orchestra
conducted by Franz Welser-Möst 
The Joffrey Ballet
Ashley Wheater, artistic director
choreography and stage direction by Yuri Possokhov
set, lighting, and projection design by Alexander V. Nichols
costume design by Mark Zappone
Mikhail Petrenko, bass
Katarina Dalayman, soprano
Members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
BARTÓK - The Miraculous Mandarin 
BARTÓK - Bluebeard’s Castle
Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Review: A metal and glass cage hovered behind the conductor’s podium for the Cleveland Orchestra’s newest collaboration with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, a pair of works by Bartók staged with the intensity of Poe and Hitchcock. Nine Joffrey dancers and two fine singers shared space with the musicians at Cleveland’s Severance Hall, where music director Franz Welser-Möst and choreographer Yuri Possokhov presented their combined vision.

In music and movement, Mark Morris troupe touches tangled hearts of ‘Dido and Aeneas’   

Apr 7, 2016 – 3:31 pm
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Review: Mark Morris ranks among this country’s greatest living choreographers. And one of the works that helped him achieve that standing is “Dido and Aeneas,” an unusual adaptation of English composer Henry Purcell’s celebrated 17th-century opera, which the Mark Morris Dance Group presented April 5 at the Harris Theater in a spellbinding visual tableaux of nuanced emotional power and hushed intensity.

CSO Chorus joins city salute to Shakespeare with tragedy, comedy from Berlioz and Verdi

Apr 6, 2016 – 10:26 pm
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Preview: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus help to observe the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April with performances of two major works under the baton of CSO music director Riccard Muti – Berlioz’s dramatic symphony “Roméo et Juliette” and a concert version of Verdi’s last opera, “Falstaff.” The demands the two works place on the chorus, says director Duain Wolfe, could hardly be more different.

‘The Matchmaker’ at Goodman: A (very) funny thing happens when sly widow decides to wed

Apr 4, 2016 – 5:11 pm
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Review: It’s Dolly’s world, the charming milieu and crazy circumstances of Thornton Wilder’s perdurable farce “The Matchmaker.” All the other characters on stage just live in it. So say hello to a delightful Dolly whose world is well worth a visit in the Goodman Theatre production starring — with a capital S — Kristine Nielsen. ★★★★

Tenor Javier Camarena gives a debut of note, make that a generous bouquet of high C’s

Apr 2, 2016 – 3:43 pm
Javier Camarena (Jonathan Muró)

Review: He premiered in 2004 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in his native Mexico, popping off Tonio’s nine high C’s in Donizetti’s “La fille du régiment.” Ten years later, onstage at the Met in Rossini’s “Cenerentola,” he rocked as the third singer since 1942 to be granted an encore. Thus Javier Camarena’s appearance at the Harris Theater was hotly anticipated.

Mälkki’s return to Chicago Symphony podium shows why Finnish conductor’s star is on rise

Apr 1, 2016 – 10:49 am
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Review: Expectations were running high for the Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki on her return March 30 to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which she first guest conducted in 2011. And put simply, she delivered. She led a fresh, enthralling interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” infused with apt doses of wonderment and exoticism.

‘Othello’ at Chicago Shakespeare: Evil cedes center stage to a figure tragic and splendid

Mar 24, 2016 – 10:04 pm
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Review: What is so striking about the current, altogether marvelous production of “Othello” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is that the beleaguered Moor is no mere catalyst in the very events of which he is the object, but rather presents himself as a man – a great military general — worthy of his reputation. In the person of James Vincent Meredith’s Othello, and in the care of British director Jonathan Munby, Shakespeare’s play for once does not seem to be first and foremost about Iago. ★★★★★

‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ at Court: Dissembling, denial and a family on the edge

Mar 23, 2016 – 3:16 pm
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Review: The Court Theatre’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s brutal masterpiece “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is the blazing star of Chicago’s stage season. Here, with a magnificent cast directed by David Auburn, is a close-up photograph of the human condition at its most vulnerable, unretouched and utterly devastating. ★★★★★

Role Playing: Mierka Girten, actor with MS, knows wound behind her character’s scars

Mar 11, 2016 – 6:38 pm
Actress Mierka Girten

Interview: In the most intimate and empathic way, Mierka Girten connects with Trinket Dugan, the character she plays with disarming honesty in Tennessee Williams’ “The Mutilated” at A Red Orchid Theatre. Actor and character share deep, physical, albeit invisible, wounds.The big difference is that while Trinket conceals her mastectomy – her mutilation — in sorrow and shame, Girten talks openly about the multiple sclerosis she has struggled with since her days as a drama student at DePaul University.

‘2666’ at Goodman: Epic saga of lust, murder and other scholarly pursuits in old Mexico

Mar 10, 2016 – 4:24 pm
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Review: After five and a half hours spent watching the dramatic evolution of “2666,” the adaptation by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley of Roberto Bolaño’s sprawling novel at the Goodman Theatre, I could think only of that sublimely ironic lyric made famous by Peggy Lee: Is that all there is?This ambitious enterprise affords a goodly share of rewards along its meandering narrative as a sort of whodunit for intellectuals. But in the end, in its totality, “2666” as theater is a shaggy-dog story of St. Bernard proportions. ★★★

Conductor Delta David Gier to step in for John Nelson March 11 at Chicago Bach Project

Mar 10, 2016 – 11:29 am
Delta David Gier to sub as conductor for Chicago Bach Project

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.

MAESTRO JOHN NELSON IS SUFFERING FROM PNEUMONIA, AND THIS PHYSICIANS HAVE ADVISED AGAINST AIR TRAVEL
GLEN ELLYN, …

Salonen, embracing history and the present, leads CSO anniversary concert to celebrate

Mar 2, 2016 – 12:15 pm
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Review: Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s recent concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra came as a multifaceted, indeed exhilarating reminder of the CSO’s grand legacy and at the same time pointed up the orchestra’s undiminished prowess as well as its still-rising arc of achievement.

Under Navy Pier’s tent, Chicago Shakespeare Theater expands for flexible family-friendly spectacles

Mar 2, 2016 – 11:23 am
Chicago Shakespeare expands under Navy Pier's tent

News Release: Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Navy Pier announce partnership that will expand Chicago Shakespeare’s campus and establish a year-round cultural hub on Navy Pier

Baritone Hvorostovsky, in poignant recital, rewards ardent fans with profound singing

Feb 29, 2016 – 3:53 pm
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Review: The excitement surrounding Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s solo recital presented by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, on Feb. 26, was palpable even blocks away from the opera house, in an enormous din of anticipatory chatter in the parking garage elevator – much of it in Russian as that sizable Chicago community turned out in droves. The celebrated Siberian baritone did not disappoint.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ at Lyric Opera: Raising tragedy quotient in fusion of music, theater

Feb 26, 2016 – 9:48 am
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Review: For the authentic meaning of music-drama, as an ideal melding of theater with the emotional accentuation of words buoyed by music, look no further than the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s riveting and vocally splendid production of Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet.” ★★★★

‘The Flick’ at Steppenwolf: A double feature of illusions — or reel life vs. the digital option

Feb 24, 2016 – 10:06 am
The Flick_01 feature

Review: Annie Baker’s “The Flick,” at Steppenwolf Theatre, offers a clear-eyed meditation on friendship as it flowers and fades in the workplace, where strangers of different backgrounds grope toward a rhythm of working together and easing through their days, perhaps getting a little wiser in the process. ★★★★

Manfred Honeck steps in with CSO, tweaks program, delivers exhilarating ‘Pathétique’

Feb 23, 2016 – 8:12 pm
Manfred Honeck 550

Review: On Feb. 27, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will observe the 120th anniversary of its founding with a celebratory concert under its present music director, Manfred Honeck. As patrons of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have just witnessed, Honeck surely will give Pittsburgh reason for celebrations to come.

The Hypocrites wins $200k MacArthur Award for creativity and effectiveness

Feb 18, 2016 – 4:57 pm
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News Release: CHICAGO (February 18, 2016) – The Hypocrites today was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. The Hypocrites will use the $200,000 that accompanies the Award to build a working capital reserve for the company and as seed capital for a variety of diversity initiatives.

Chicago Sinfonietta receives $625k grant for creativity, effectiveness

Feb 18, 2016 – 10:54 am
Chicago Sinfonietta

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.

CHICAGO SINFONIETTA RECEIVES MACARTHUR AWARD FOR CREATIVE AND, EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONS
Chicago, Illinois, February 18, 2016 – Chicago …

Lookingglass Theatre receives $1 million MacArthur grant for creativity, effectiveness

Feb 18, 2016 – 10:16 am
theater logo

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
LOOKINGGLASS: RECIPIENT OF THE 2016 MACARTHUR AWARD FOR CREATIVE AND EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONS
We’re honored to have been …

Timeline Theatre receives $625k MacArthur Award for creavity, effectiveness

Feb 18, 2016 – 9:28 am
Timeline Logo

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
TIMELINE THEATRE COMPANY RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS MACARTHUR AWARD FOR EXTRAORDINARY CREATIVITY AND EFFECTIVENESS
Chicago, IL — TimeLine Theatre Company …

Silk Road Rising probes life in Muslim society from the Far East to Middle East to America

Feb 18, 2016 – 8:38 am
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Preview: Preview: The spirit of Chicago’s Silk Road Rising theater lies in its name, says artistic director Jamil Khoury. It’s about the global span of connectedness along the ancient corridor linking Middle Eastern desert peoples to the Far East, and the modern extension to life in America, Silk Road Rising opens its winter season Feb. 20 with the premiere of Ronnie Malley’s “Ziryab: The Songbird of Andalusia,” about a famed 9th-century musician.

‘Mothers and Sons’ at Northlight: Gay peace achieved, bitter mom presses her private war

Feb 17, 2016 – 8:59 am
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Review: There is a quality, an esprit, about Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” that transcends mere affirmation of what one might characterize as gay normalcy. The play, now in a tightly knit and persuasive production directed by Steve Scott at Northlight Theatre, has a spiritually cleansing essence – and a resolute narrative that is nothing short of celebratory. ★★★

What good is sitting alone in your room? Willkommen to a beautiful, bleak ‘Cabaret’

Feb 16, 2016 – 9:00 am
Cabaret
Providence Performing Arts Center

CABARET
Book by Music by
Joe Masteroff John Kander
Based on the play by JOHN VAN DRUTEN and stories by CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD
starring
Randy Harrison Andrea Goss
Shannon Cochran Alison Ewing Mark Nelson Ned Noyes Kelsey Beckert Sarah Bishop Margaret Dudasik Hillary Ekwall Lori Eure
Andrew Hubacher
Set Design by Robert Brill
Orchestrations Michael Gibson
Hair & Wig Design Paul Huntley
Technical Supervisor Larry Morley
Associate Managing Director
Steve Dow
Executive Producer Sydney Beers
Lee Aaron Rosen
Aisling Halpin Leeds Hill Joey Khoury Tommy McDowell Evan D. Siegel Dani Spieler Steven Wenslawski
Musical Supervisor/Vocal Arrangements
Patrick Vaccariello
Associate Choreographer & Choreography Recreated by Cynthia Onrubia
Directed by
BT McNicholl
Originally Co-Directed & Choreographed by
Rob Marshall
Originally Directed by
Sam Mendes
Costume Design by William Ivey Long
Dance & Incidental Music David Krane
Casting
Jim Carnahan, C.S.A. Jillian Cimini, C.S.A.
Tour Booking Agency The Booking Group Meredith Blair
Director of Marketing
& Audience Development
Robert Sweibel
General Manager Richards/Climan, Inc.
Lighting Design by Peggy Eisenhauer Mike Baldassari
Music Director Robert Cookman
Production Stage Manager John M. Atherlay
Press & Marketing Direction Type A Marketing
Director of Development Lynne Gugenheim Gregory
Sound Design by
Keith Caggiano
Based on the Original Broadway design by Brian Ronan
*Generously underwritten by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams Roundabout Theatre Company is a member of the Broadway League and League of Resident Theatres. RoundaboutTheatre.org
National Tour Launch: January 26 - 31, 2016
Lyrics by
Fred Ebb
Founding Director Gene Feist
Adams Associate Artistic Director*
Scott Ellis

Emcee.............................................................................................................................. RANDY HARRISON The Kit Kat Girls:
Rosie ......................................................................................................................... HILLARY EKWALL Lulu...................................................................................................................................DANI SPIELER Frenchie........................................................................................................................AISLING HALPIN Texas. ................................................................................................................. MARGARET DUDASIK Fritzie ..............................................................................................................................ALISON EWING Helga...............................................................................................................................SARAH BISHOP
The Kit Kat Boys:
Bobby .................................................................................................................................... LEEDS HILL Victor...................................................................................................................ANDREW HUBACHER Hans .............................................................................................................................. EVAN D. SIEGEL Herman.................................................................................................................. TOMMY McDOWELL
Sally Bowles ...........................................................................................................................ANDREA GOSS Clifford Bradshaw .......................................................................................................... LEE AARON ROSEN Ernst Ludwig................................................................................................................................NED NOYES Customs Official .......................................................................................................... TOMMY McDOWELL Fräulein Schneider ..................................................................................................... SHANNON COCHRAN Fräulein Kost..........................................................................................................................ALISON EWING Rudy ..................................................................................................................................... EVAN D. SIEGEL Herr Schultz ...........................................................................................................................MARK NELSON Max .............................................................................................................................. TOMMY McDOWELL Gorilla ................................................................................................................................. AISLING HALPIN Boy Soprano (recording).......................................................................................................... ALEX BOWEN Customs Official (recording) ........................................................................................................ FRED ROSE

Review: If there are two words not commonly associated with touring Broadway shows, they are daring and courageous. Both apply in stunning fashion to “Cabaret,” a not-to-be-missed experience presented by Broadway in Chicago at PrivateBank Theatre. ★★★★★

Love with knife in heart or tongue in cheek, Valentine’s Day brings out kiss and scratch

Feb 13, 2016 – 6:40 pm
La voix humaine Racette

Critic’s Pick: In a tribute to the downside of love, Chicago theaters send superb “anti-Valentines.” If you favor sarcastic greeting cards on the subject of romance, and aloof lyrics about love affairs “too hot not to cool down,” here are some shows that serve up the subject of love on Cupid’s big day with an appropriate grain of salt.

On large scale and small, Rozhdestvensky’s festive visit with CSO leaves fond memories

Feb 13, 2016 – 1:13 pm
2/11/16 8:12:06 PM -- Chicago Symphony Orchestra 125th Year.


Maestro Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducts Sibelius' Rakastava


© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2016

Review: As the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has no other festival planned for the current season, let us declare the past two weekends – two completely different but equally marvelous musical encounters — as Rozhdestvensky Fest. After leading his scheduled week of Shostakoivch concerts, the 84-year-old Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky took over for an ailing Riccardo Muti in a second, more intimate program.

‘Rosenkavalier’ at the Lyric: Fleeting youth meets ardent love on high plane of singing

Feb 10, 2016 – 6:31 pm
Amanda Majeski in Der Rosenkavalier at the Chicago Lyric Opera (Cory Weaver)

Review: There was a palpable sense of past, present and future in the Civic Opera House on Feb. 8, when the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented Richard Strauss’ exquisite 1911 opera “Der Rosenkavalier,” his domestic comedy of love and loss in the Mozartean vein. The tale swirls around the gentle crisis of a beautiful but lonely Viennese countess who feels her youth slipping away, sung by Illinois soprano Amanda Majeski, a promising singer at the threshold of a significant career. ★★★★

‘The Drawer Boy’ at Redtwist: Tragedy buried in distant past, and a present unremembered

Feb 9, 2016 – 7:47 pm
SONY DSC

Review: Inevitable in every theater season is the sleeper play, the one you overlook: the curiously titled unknown quantity you don’t quite connect with as a lure from the hearth on a cold Thursday night. Such an unforeseeable beauty and memorable winner, a genuine sleeper, is Michael Healey’s “The Drawer Boy” at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★