Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: BRUCKNER’S SEVENTH; MOZART’S PIANO 23 (Michael Tilson Thomas, Khatia Buniatishvili and the Los Angeles Philharmonic)

SEVENTH HEAVEN While he existed in the Romantic Era, “Romantic” isn’t necessarily the word that springs to mind when I hear an Anton Bruckner Symphony (except perhaps his Fourth, actually titled Romantic). His giant mesmerizing symphonies, nine in total, are closer to religious experiences (a devout Catholic who never married, Bruckner dedicated his unfinished Ninth […]

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Post image for Dance Review: SOFT GOODS (Karen Sherman)

SOFT GOODS’ SMOOTH SELL Karen Sherman’s Soft Goods presents the audience with a new perspective on dance by focusing on what happens behind the curtain. The show is set up like a play that explores the stagehands’ job, the dancers’ rehearsals and the less-than-pleasant interactions between the two groups as they come together to create a […]

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Post image for CD Review: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (2017 Broadway Cast Recording)

COME FOR GYLLENHAAL; STAY FOR SONDHEIM Although a hit, the 2017 revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George had a strictly limited run, christening the newly refurbished Hudson Theatre, a 1903 playhouse that hadn’t operated as a Broadway venue in nearly 50 years. Originally conceived as […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER (Mercury Theater Chicago)

I SAW TREE SHIPS! Anchors aweigh! Twenty-two years after its advent, this show has become as essential to Chicago’s Christmas as the LEDs on the Magnificent Mile, the parade on State Street, the “Zoolites” of Lincoln Park, the skating rink by the Park Café, or the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre. (I’d include A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, […]

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Post image for Chicago Opera Review: TURANDOT (Lyric Opera)

TURANDOT MISSES THE PLOT It’s difficult to know what to make of Puccini’s Turandot, much less to pronounce the title properly. (Is the final ‘t’ silent? Who knows?) The composer’s last, unfinished opera is so unlike anything he had done previously. Turandot seems to have the epic historical sweep and musical grandeur of Tosca, yet […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: RED VELVET (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

BURNT BY THE TRAIL HE BLAZED What in theater is ever off limits? And, above all, who? Besides the probability of the part, are there bounds to the roles an actor can play? Believing that merit mattered more than credentials or cachet, Napoleon promised careers open only to talent. Color-blind casting is the logical extension […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: TCHAIKOVSKY’S FIRST PIANO CONCERTO (Sergio Tiempo, Xian Zhang and the Los Angeles Philharmonic)

TIEMPO’S TANTALIZINGLY TEMPESTUOUS TEMPO Sergio Tiempo is the real deal. When a pianist can take a work as familiar as Tchaikovsky’s 1874 First Piano Concerto and turn it into an exciting Olympic event, I’m more than sold. Appearing at a packed Disney Hall this morning (in a program that runs through Sunday), the very cool […]

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Post image for CD Review: I FALL IN LOVE TOO EASILY (Katherine McPhee on BMG)

TAKING IT MCPHEEASY It took a few spins of Katharine McPhee’s standard-drenched new CD to realize that not all interpretations of the Great American Songbook have to strike you over the head with originality and flair. Sitting in the producer’s chair is the great Don Was, who ensured that this languorous, lush, piano-lounge set puts […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Dance Preview: THE NUTCRACKER SUITE (American Contemporary Ballet)

BUSTING A NUTCRACKER Before you grumble and run screaming, “Not another Nutcracker Suite!” — trust me when I tell you that American Contemporary Ballet has something up its red-fur, white-trimmed sleeve with an all-new imagining that presents new choreography while putting you directly inside the Land of the Sweets. When I was told patrons will […]

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Post image for Theater Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL (National Tour)

MAKING YOUR MUSIC MATTER If notes make joy, these 150 minutes are the elixir of happiness. Spanning only 13 years of its creator’s career (1958-1971), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical balances life against art. Magnificently. Its wonderful songs both stand on their own and preserve the pain and pleasure that went into their making. Douglas McGrath’s […]

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