Top Story »

Oct 23, 2017 – 9:09 am

Review: Janet Ulrich Brooks reigns supreme as Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s play “The Audience” at TimeLine Theatre. The poised, circumspect, droll and ever so slightly vulnerable performance by one of Chicago’s most versatile actresses provides the constant heart in an otherwise uneven enterprise. The springboard for Morgan’s sly work is the historical Tuesday meetings between the Queen and the prime minister of the moment – a succession of politicos from Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden down through the decades to Tony Blair and David Cameron. ★★★

Read the full story »
Latest Arts News
Classical + Opera
Theater + Stage
Streaming + Disc
Chicago Wine Journal

Role Playing: Dan Waller wields a personal brush as uneasy genius of ‘Pitmen Painters’

Nov 26, 2011 – 5:20 pm
DanWaller2

Interview: Actor Dan Waller describes himself as a simple guy who values friendship and the respect of his peers. That makes him a close kin to the North England coal miner, revealed as gifted artist, he portrays in Lee Hall’s play “The Pitmen Painters” at TimeLine Theatre.

In the pre-dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Memphis’ bundles daring hearts in a jumping love story

Nov 25, 2011 – 9:47 am
Bryan Fenkart as Huey in Memphis National Tour Featured Image credit Paul Kolnik

Burning hot at the Cadillac. 5 stars!

Lyric Opera’s zany ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ is model Strauss with dash of Marx Brothers

Nov 24, 2011 – 1:17 pm
Ariadne2-Lyric-Opera-Chicago-Feature-Image-2a-c-Dan-Rest

Lovable but seriously bizarre. 4 stars!

In a claustrophobic space, Writers’ frames psychological chill of Pinter’s ‘Caretaker’

Nov 21, 2011 – 6:09 pm
Caretaker feature Jethmalani  Norris

Deliciously bizarre test of wits. 4 stars!

Bereft clowns of ‘Burning Bluebeard’ recycle pain and guilt of 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire

Nov 21, 2011 – 5:55 pm
Bluebeard feature image

Neo-Futurists riff on a tragedy. 4 stars!

Holland Taylor’s one-woman show ‘Ann’ gets down with the grit and humor of a Texas star

Nov 18, 2011 – 5:48 pm
AnnFeatured2

At Bank of America Theatre. 4 stars!

Glass’ meditative ‘Satyagraha,’ on Gandhi, takes Met’s Live HD series to new ground

Nov 17, 2011 – 7:41 pm
Satyagraha blue featured image

Preview: The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD broadcasts throughout the U.S. feature a landmark of American minimalism not to miss — ”Satyagraha” by Philip Glass, Nov. 19 and Dec. 7. Here’s a peek.

Ho-ho-ho! Best bet for giving is the 60-CD Leonard Bernstein treasury

Nov 16, 2011 – 1:59 pm
Discs for giving

In a quandary about what to give the person you dare not buy for? If that knotty assignment is a music or theater lover, we at Chicago On the Aisle have a garland of happy solutions: concert music, operas, plays and musicals on CDs, DVDs and downloadable recordings. We’ll be stringing our bright recommendations over the weeks ahead, so check back often.

Role Playing: City boy Michael Stegall ropes wild cowboy in Raven Theatre’s ‘Bus Stop’

Nov 15, 2011 – 1:12 pm
Actor Michael Stegall portrait

Interview: Michael Stegall, who looks and sounds every inch a ropin’ cowboy in the Raven Theatre production of William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” grew up in the West. No surprise there. But wait a minute. Not that West. The 6-foot-3, 23-year-old actor hails from Palm Springs, CA, where the buffalo do not roam.

Contempo doubles down on new music, plays matchmaker for separate audiences

Nov 13, 2011 – 9:21 am
Hiromi feature

Preview: U.S. and Chicago premieres abound in the season opener of the new-music series Contempo, at the Harris Theater Tuesday. The concert is a double bill featuring a second set with Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara and her trio.

French conductor Stéphane Denève scores a triumph in Chicago Symphony debut

Nov 11, 2011 – 1:40 pm
Stephane_Deneve featured image

Review: The French conductor Stéphane Denève made a thrilling debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night. Denève, who turns 40 this month, is going to be an international force, and his concert with the CSO amply demonstrated why. *****

Lyric Opera’s powerful ‘Boris Godunov’ recaptures tragedy’s original stark beauty

Nov 10, 2011 – 8:24 pm
Boris featured image

Tortured soul of a Russian czar. 4 stars!

Da capo al fine, sharply accented ‘Bernstein’ sketches life of a great American conductor

Nov 10, 2011 – 7:12 pm
LennyImage2

Maestro at the Royal George. 3 stars

CD Review: Invention, finesse of Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ Quartets revealed in Emerson’s hands

Nov 8, 2011 – 4:05 pm
Emerson String Quartet records Mozart's "Prussian" Quartets for Sony Classical

The last three string quartets Mozart composed, in 1789 just two years before his death, utterly belie the desperate financial straits into which he had fallen. These sunny, and technically brilliant, performances by the Emerson String Quartet reveal Mozart at the zenith of his creative powers.

Motley travelers looking to get their tickets punched at Raven’s snowbound ‘Bus Stop’

Nov 7, 2011 – 4:09 pm
Michael Stegall and Jen Short in Raven's Bus Stop credit Dean LaPrairie

Engagingly off-kilter charms. 3 stars
.

Role Playing: Brent Barrett’s glad he joined ‘Follies’ as that womanizing, empty cad Ben

Nov 4, 2011 – 5:28 pm
Brent Barrett in Follies at Chicago Shakespeare featured image

Interview: At the center of Stephen Sondheim’s acerbic musical “Follies”stands Benjamin Stone, worldly, rich, the envy of his old acquaintances gathered at this reunion of theater folks. Ben is all of that, and one more thing — miserable. Veteran actor Brent Barrett offers a candid analysis of the self-centered cad and womanizer.

In Handel’s ‘Water Music,’ Labadie and Chicago Symphony provide a splash of Baroque authenticity

Nov 4, 2011 – 12:43 pm
Portrait of Handel by Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman (1819–88)

What a pleasure it was Thursday night to hear Handel’s vivacious “Water Music” in the hands of a conductor who knows it so intimately that he doesn’t require a score – and who understands what charms it possesses that induced a delighted monarch to command repeated performances at its first hearing.

Calling all composers! Win up to 5 minutes on a Hilary Hahn recital! And be recorded!

Nov 2, 2011 – 3:06 pm
HilaryHahnYouTube

No, this is not an appeal on the back of a cereal box, although it’s definitely got that gee-whiz feeling.Leave it to Hilary Hahn, the nimble-witted concert violinist and Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, to announce her Encore Contest in a whisper on YouTube by candlelight.

Review: Pacifica Quartet pairs Shostakovich and Beethoven, showing them as peers

Oct 31, 2011 – 5:37 pm
PacificaPerformingD

Review: The Pacifica Quartet offered a stunning reminder in its concert Sunday at the University of Chicago that the quartets of Shostakovich stand shoulder to shoulder with Beethoven’s as exemplars of the form, great and deeply personal expressions. *****

In a meeting of grey eminences, Haitink scores a fine first in Haydn’s oratorio ‘The Creation’

Oct 28, 2011 – 6:27 pm
Bernard Haitink conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra Bostridge Ek Mueller-Brachman

Review: Is there an optimal year in one’s life to conduct a masterpiece of Haydn for the first time? In the case of Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation,” the magical number would appear to be 82. ****

Amid Beethoven and Shostakovich quartet cycles, Pacifica to glimpse both at University of Chicago

Oct 27, 2011 – 10:17 am
PacificaPortraitC

The Pacifica Quartet has been playing complete cycles of Beethoven’s 16 string quartets and Shostakovich’s 15 in international venues over the last couple of years. Violist Masumi Per Rostad talks about the enduring importance of both composers.

CD review: Guitarist David Russell’s Albeniz displays mastery of instrument, style

Oct 26, 2011 – 4:11 pm
DavidRussellCD

The American guitarist David Russell got my attention a few years back with a CD of Renaissance music that included some very fine readings of works by John Dowland. That same technical finesse and artful musicianship grace this wide-ranging collection of pieces by Isaac Albeniz.

Profiles’ ‘Behanding in Spokane’ bundles laughter and terror in the same dark bag

Oct 25, 2011 – 10:16 pm
ProfilesBehanding2

Sardonic, but clear-sighted. 3 stars

Role Playing: Sadieh Rifai zips among seven characters in one-woman ‘Amish Project’

Oct 24, 2011 – 1:25 pm
Sadieh Rifai Amish Project feature

Interview: Actor Sadieh Rifai thought Jessica’s Dickey’s play “The Amish Project,” at American Theater Company, would be a pretty straight-forward one-woman show. The plays is based on the 2006 shooting of 10 school girls in Pennsylvania. Rifai would be switching among seven characters, but she didn’t see that as a big deal. She was in for a big surprise.

Bernard Haitink charms Chicago Symphony with twin beauties from Schubert and Mahler

Oct 21, 2011 – 5:42 pm
Bernard Haitink Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Review: Conductor Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra summoned performances of exceptional clarity in Schubert’s chamber-size Fifth Symphony and Mahler’s grand-scaled Fourth Symphony. *****

The Doyle & Debbie Show: Singin’ hits that’ll warm you up like hog rasslin’ in the July sun

Oct 20, 2011 – 4:12 pm
Doyle and Debbie Show featured image

At the Royal George Theatre. 4 stars!

Chicago Symphony MusicNOW opens season with ping-pong balls and rhythms a-tumble

Oct 19, 2011 – 5:34 pm
Music Now

Review: MusicNOW, the contemporary series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, began its 2011-12 season alive with the music of ping-pong balls, marimba, country fiddle and eerie vocals. Composers converged from Dublin, Connecticut, Minnesota and London to hear their works performed.

What’s under that skirt? Chicago Lyric Opera’s coloratura Anna Christy kicks Olympia into top gear

Oct 18, 2011 – 4:26 pm
Olympia wheels featured

Lyric Opera close-up: We had to know. How is it that soprano Anna Christy is able to zip around like a hovercraft while pinging those sparkling high notes as Olympia, the mechanical doll, in “The Tales of Hoffmann”?

Role Playing: Kirsten Fitzgerald inhabits sorrow, surfs the laughs in ‘Clybourne Park’

Oct 16, 2011 – 12:23 pm
Kirsten Fitzgerald Act 1 housewife Clybourne Park Steppenwolf 2011 featured

Interview: Actor Kirsten Fitzgerald portrays two very different characters amid the hurlyburly of “Clybourne Park, the double-edged drama by Bruce Norris now playing at Steppenwolf Theatre through Nov. 13. She’s a grieving mother in 1959 and a self-interested lawyer 50 years later.
It’s a theatrical tour de force that Fitzgerald likens to acting in two different plays the same night.

Finnish conductor answers every question in CSO debut

Oct 14, 2011 – 9:33 pm
Musgrave Bloom and Malkki

Susanna Mälkki, the 42-year-old music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 13 with a program of Charles Ives and Richard Strauss that, in every way, placed her among the most important conductors of her generation.