Following is a look both forward and back to some of the most interesting Chicago music and theater:
LYRIC OPERA: Lyric scored a smash with their show Celebrating 100 Years of Leonard Bernstein. So well-directed by Peggy Hickey, the show spotlighted the terrific Lyric orchestra led by Broadway conductor David Chase, whose witty commentary was most welcome. International singing stars Susan Graham and Nathan Gunn, along with Kate Baldwin (currently starring on Broadway), Diana Newman, Josh Lovell, and Emmett O’Hanlon vividly brought to life Bernstein’s irresistible music.
The little-known but most-witty short opera “Trouble in Tahiti,” inspired by the squabbling of Bernstein’s parents, was marvelously done, as were songs from On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, and of course West Side Story.
CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Inspiring indeed was the 90-year-old Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt leading the CSO in Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. Standing tall and leading not with a baton but just with his expressive arm and hand gestures, the distinguished maestro led performances in which everything seemed to fit just right. In a rare tribute, the orchestra refused to stand at the end to share in the applause but remained seated and applauded him.
Upcoming CSO treats include Riccardo Muti Leading Tchaikovsky’s Suite from Swan Lake and Debussy’s Nocturnes April 19, 20 and 21; and film composer John Williams leading his own music April 26, 27, 28 and 29. Call 312-294-3000.
BROADWAY IN CHICAGO has audiences tapping their feet with glee for On Your Feet! The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Musical through April 8 at the Cadillac Palace Theater, 151 W. Randolph, while Pretty Woman: The Musical plays through April 15 at the Oriental Theater, 24 W. Randolph.
CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER is winning strong praise for Mary Stuart, Friedrich Schiller’s classic play about Mary, Queen of Scots and her cousin, England’s Queen Elizabeth I. In this version by Peter Oswald, the acting, including K.K. Moggie, Kellie Overby, David Studwell, Tim Decker, and Robert Jason Jackson, the direction of Jenn Thomson, and the costuming of Linda Cho are among the highlights. Through April 15. Call 312-595-5600.
GOODMAN THEATER is presenting the highly anticipated new Robert Falls production of Henrik Ibsen’s classic An Enemy of the People through April 15. Call 312-443-3800.
THE ATHENEUM THEATER, where Lincoln, Southport, and Wellington meet, is the home for the Eclectic Full Contact Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It through April 22. At 2936 N. Southport. Visit eclectic-theatre.com.
RAVEN THEATER is presenting The Gentleman Caller by Philip Dawkins, about the 1944 meeting of playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge, directed by Cody Estle, at 6157 N. Clark, adjoining parking lot. Call 773-338-2177.
And speaking of Tennessee Williams, congratulations to: THE THEATER CONSERVATORY of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, for their excellent student production of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke. A fine young cast directed by Steve Scott made for a memorable evening.
And all that before the May flowers!
Joe Cuniffe is a Chicago-based arts writer