DÉJÀ VU MEETS GROUNDHOG DAY “Birth was the death of him”: Terse to the point of cruelty, Samuel Beckett devours the human experience in six words, repeatedly juxtaposing graves with cradles. Waiting for Godot, his minimalist masterpiece, takes nearly three hours for the same result. But Beckett succeeds in his life-long task — to “find the […]

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A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THE #METOO ERA When this production first premiered at Lyric Opera in 2014, opening the company’s sixtieth anniversary season, I noted how much Chicago loves Don Giovanni. Its popularity seems to have formed the foundation of the company, which made the Mozart opera its first production back in 1954 and has […]

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CHICAGO OPERA THEATER UPS THE ANTE AND PUSHES THE LIMITS The bad news: Everest and Aleko, Chicago Opera Theater’s engrossing double bill at Millennium Park’s Harris Theatre, closes this weekend. The good news: This dynamic duo more than earns a review of record. Enterprisingly mounted by a boundary-breaching company and featuring a massive chorus and orchestra and eight soaring […]

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AN EDWARDIAN WAKE-UP CALL You can’t keep a good play down. Produced under the pseudonym of K.G. Sowerby, the Edwardian drama Rutherford and Son was a huge hit in 1912 — until the playwright was later revealed as a woman, Githa Sowerby. Perhaps due to male resentment of the play’s depiction of a brutish dad, it disappeared […]

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THANKS BUT NO THANKS I can’t imagine a riper subject for satire than the chokehold that far-left liberal political correctness has on America. Playwright Larissa Fasthorse offers her 2015 comedy at The Geffen that is chock-full of the ridiculing we need, but satire without a story gets old fast. Instead of farce, which is grounded […]

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DEAD MAN SINGING Lyric Opera doesn’t put on many contemporary operas, at least not like the Windy City’s edgier companies Chicago Fringe Opera and Thompson Street Opera. And that’s not a criticism. But when Lyric Opera does go contemporary, it goes boldly, with big, splashy productions — and Dead Man Walking has got an excellent […]

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GARRIFIC It’s been almost a half-century since Garrick Ohlsson won the International Frédéric Chopin Competition in Warsaw, so I attended his recital at The Wallis in Beverly Hills last Friday with a bit of trepidation. And seeing his large frame in person, I wondered at first that he should be hauling the piano not playing […]

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HELLO TO GOODBYE The Musical Theatre Guild should be proud of this fine, coherent, splendidly cast reading of The Goodbye Girl, with principals Wendy Rosoff and Will Collyer charismatically suited to their characters, in great voice, and as a couple, exuding all the essential romantic chemistry. After a mere twenty-five hours rehearsal, and with only […]

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OY VEY A barrage of human suffering — anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Muslim hostility, misogyny, LGBT closets, slavery, Japanese-American internment camps, miscarriages, PTSD, death, and a literal onstage kitchen sink — are given the holiday treatment in Jennifer Maisel’s Hanukkah-inspired Eight Nights. Highlighting eight not-so-festive nights over eight decades in the life of Holocaust survivor Rebecca Blum, […]

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A PEARL FOR THE OYSTER The announcement by Peter Vermeersch, the prodigiously talented composer and leader of Flat Earth Society, that two of its musicians were not allowed into the country despite a pre-planned tour, cast a pall over the evening. Why, one wondered, were they forced to stay behind. It could not, however, spoil […]

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