Sunday December 17 3:42 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Interviews, Non-Theater Reviews, Stories, Whatever

"Turandot" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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***RECOMMENDED*** Giacomo Puccini's final opera, "Turandot," contains all of the elements you would expect from a grand opera. The exotic locale and legendary antiquity of Beijing. An astonishing and atmospheric score. Grandiose sets and colorful period costumes of the finest silks. Vivid and evocatively colorful orchestrations, with one of the all-time most recognizable and fervently loved arias in the entire history of opera itself. Yet all of these things do not add up to a completely satisfying whole in the current, new-to-Chicago production at the Lyric Opera House. The one key thing that it is lacking -- and it's a major component -- is passion. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 provides the Background for "The Nutcracker"

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***** Highly Recommended ***** The Joffrey Ballet’s “new” version of “The Nutcracker”, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon is magnificent. By setting “The Nutcracker” against Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Wheeldon gave the city a unique gift. I am in awe! Loved everything about “The Nutcracker”. 4 BIG Spotlights!

Beatniks Babes and Boys - Lots of Holiday Laughs

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Over the weekend, I had a rare evening off, so I decided to catch Beatniks Babes and Boys, a very funny comedy/variety show and fundraiser for Beatniks on Conkey, home to Beatniks Productions and Hammond Community Theatre.

Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour is a Lot of Fun

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**** Recommended **** I have a checklist somewhere of things I’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to doing. Taking the Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour turned out to be an easy and fun way to see the city lights during the holidays - and cross a couple of things off my list – Christkindlmarket and ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. The Tour might seem a tiny bit pricey (adults $29, children $25), but bypassing the lines at for ZooLights makes it well worth the money.

"The Pearl Fishers" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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My friend Jeffrey Leibham reviews "The Pearl Fishers" ... ****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** One of the more popular and commonly presented operas, recently, at the major opera houses throughout the world has been "The Pearl Fishers" by Georges Bizet. In a new-to-Chicago production currently at the Lyric Opera you can easily see how that phenomenon came to be. Not only bolstered by a memorable version of "the Pearl Fishers duet" which many people consider to be the best tenor/baritone duet in the entire canon of operatic works but also enhanced by the bold and mesmerizing set and costume designs by the world-renowned British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, this version of "The Pearl Fishers" is thoroughly entrancing and wondrously enchanting on every level. 4 BIG SPOTLIGHTS

Cirque Du Soleil's "Crystal" - An Awesome Ice Spectacular

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**** Highly Recommended **** Cirque du Soleil’s “Crystal” was here and gone way too quickly, but I’m sure it will be back. Cirque’s first venture onto ice, made for a totally unique experience, a blend of Cirque’s themed stories and incredible feats of human skills with the speed and skills of ice skaters. I found myself gasping in awe more than once. 4 BIG Spotlights

Lucky Plush "Rooming House" is Fascinating and Kind of Chaotic

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**** Recommended **** Last year I was blown away by “Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip”, a blend of contemporary dance, theater, video and comic book graphics. This year, Lucky Plush, the company that created “SuperStrip”, has an entirely new blend of theater and contemporary dance, “Rooming House”, part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series. The Lucky Plush company tries to answer a question; what makes a person do something that has potentially life-changing consequences? The result – a fascinating, somewhat chaotic game of Clue! 3 ½ Spotlights

The 49th Annual Jeff Awards- Aurora does it again! by Alan Bresloff

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Another Gala at Drury Lane Oakbrook to celebrate the world of Chicago Theater. What a world it is! While we are able to watch many award shows on television, being at a “live” one is far superior and the doors to the Jeff Award “party” are open to all.

Photo: Alan & Jane Bresloff at the Jeffs