Wednesday February 20 12:07 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Interviews, Non-Theater Reviews, Stories, Whatever

The Joffrey Ballet's "Modern Masters" - Magnificent!


**** Highly Recommended **** I’m having a hard time finding the right words to describe the Joffrey Ballet’s “Modern Masters”. Combining masterpieces by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins with works by up-and-coming choreographers Miles Thatcher and Nicolas Blanc made for an evening of brilliant, artistic, intense, athletic, physical, cutting edge, minimalist, contemporary ballet. “Modern Masters” is quite literally a celebration of the human body. 4 BIG Spotlights

"Elizabeth Cree" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***RECOMMENDED*** It certainly is an exciting time for the creation of original operas in the United States. While many people would think that this particular art form is on the decline, the exact opposite is actually taking place. Not only have numerous opera companies, mostly located in the Midwest and on the East Coast, commissioned artists from disparate backgrounds to contribute their prodigious talents to assist in the production of fascinating new works but even smaller, emerging companies have gotten in on all of the action as well. The result is that original operas are thriving in America and local audiences are fortunate to be able to experience many of them. A highly anticipated new piece will receive its Chicago premiere next month. Currently we have the world premiere of "Elizabeth Cree" to enjoy at the very intimate Studebaker Theater. Presented by Chicago Opera Theater, this is a co-production with Opera Philadelphia, where it made its debut in September 2017. 3 SPOTLIGHTS

Lyric's "I Puritani" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham

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****HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**** It's hard to believe but "I Puritani" has not graced the Lyric Opera House stage in over two decades. This is not due to the fact that it is an unpopular work but rather one that requires the utmost from its four principal performers, commonly referred to as the "Puritani Quartet." Based on the conflicting schedules of today's major opera stars and the very short window in which these stars are in their vocal prime can make casting a bel canto masterpiece like "I Puritani" even more challenging than your traditional operas from the latter half of the 19th century. Vincenzo Bellini's final composition, which premiered in Paris in early 1835, was a smashing success. Sadly, Bellini passed away just nine months later, at the tender age of 33. He was a master of the bel canto style, who is remembered for his long, long melodic lines which prove extremely taxing for even the best trained voice. Thankfully, the Lyric Opera has assembled a glorious cast which brings this vivid opera to an eager and very appreciative audience. 3 and 1/2 SPOTLIGHTS

“She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing it for Themselves” scores a 10 on My Hilarity Scale!


**** Highly Recommended **** The Second City continues to do what they do best, make people laugh, and laugh, and laugh some more, with a new all-female revue, “She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing it for Themselves”, which supports a longtime theory of mine – comediennes are just as funny as their male counterparts. From the first snicker to the last guffaw, this revue scores a 10 on my hilarity scale. “She the People” runs through April Fool’s Day! Get tickets soon, you’ll love it! 4 BIG Spotlights

Hubbard Street Dance - Winter Series, “An Evening of Crystal Pite”


Last time I saw Hubbard Street Dance, I was sitting on the Harris Theatre stage looking out at the entire HSD company sitting in the seats waving at all of us on stage. What a unique experience! So I had some expectations for the HSD Winter Series, “An Evening of Crystal Pite”. HSD was back on stage; the performance was amazing – whether or not the dancers actually have joints was a subject for post-show discussion with my friend Sarah – but it just didn’t touch our hearts. 3 ½ Spotlights

"Turandot" - Review by Jeffrey Leibham


***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"


***** 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


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.