Sondra Radvanovsky reigns supreme in Lyric’s new-to-Chicago production of Vincenzo Bellini’s NORMA!

Reviewed by: Bob Douglas

Highly Recommended

World- acclaimed and delicious coloratura diva Sondra Radvanovsky brought the Lyric Opera’s house down Saturday evening when she opened a new production of the run of Norma. She has enjoyed tremendous successes at all of the world’s major opera houses as well as Lyric Opera and is described as “a force of nature; she handles the demands of the role with an exhilarating combination of bravura and tenderness,” After thrilling to her performance as Anne in Anna Bolena I became a true fan. Madame Radvanovsky is a singing actress similar to the great Maria Callas who made her American debut and opened Carol Fox’s new Lyric Opera of Chicago in November, 1954 under Nicola Rescigno in this same role; she easily makes everyone else on stage look like singers from the last century. Even when not singing, she creates wonderful “business” and one doesn’t take their eyes off of her. She calls this “perfect role vocally and temperamentally.”

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Pride Films and Plays Poignant PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT Proves Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Reviewed by: Bob Douglas

Highly Recommended

Pride Films and Plays present Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in their new venue to a cheering opening night audience. Resplendent in flamboyant ball gowns, lots of feathers and glitter, looking down over the vast red Australian desert: for three showgirls it was the dream of a lifetime, a four week cabaret engagement in Alice Springs. The problem is simply getting there intact, along with their refurbished bus “Priscilla.” Read more

THE KNIGHT ERRANT ADDRESSES ALL WRONGS IN LYRIC’S “DON QUICHOTTE’

REVIEWED BY: ROBERT SPHATT

RECOMMENDED

Massenet’s Don Quichotte has never quite established itself in the opera repertoire, not because of any deficit in the music, but because it’s not immediately evident exactly what it is dramatically; is it a comedy or tragedy or some more subtle blend of the two? The last option seems to reflect the usual approach to it, which makes it a hard sell for audiences. I have always enjoyed seeing the musical theater version – especially the performances by Chicagoan James Harms – and then it all creeps up on me in that final scene and I am reminded of the don‘s Haunting death…and it IS a tragedy! Take the score for example; a fine work of French composition but nothing to do with Spain. The music is exquisite and very delicate and never really takes off until Act IV of 5 acts when the mezzo lets loose and sings and acts up a storm!

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Marriott’s SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is a Storm of Talent!

Highly Recommended

Reviewed by: Robert Sphatt

“I’m dancing and singing in the rain.” The Marriott Theatre presents a charming trip through the Hollywood golden era of the 1920s, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is filled with every memorable moment from the film and a downpour of unforgettable songs. All the romance, glitz and glamour of the roaring 20s are poured into this – one of the most beloved and celebrated musicals of all time. Featuring a glorious score by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is the light-hearted spoof of frantic Hollywood as the advent of sound revolutionizes the movie industry. Joined by four-time Jeff Award winning Choreographer Tammy Mader (42nd Street and My One and Only at The Marriott Theatre) and Musical Director Ryan T. Nelson, Director William Brown bring the iconic musical’s high power, toe-tapping energy to life on stage in this splashy adaptation of the beloved Oscar-winning MGM film. This production is better than the film in that it gives life to a very flimsy story through the incredible performances of a highly talented company and is a loving homage to the early days of Hollywood. Read more

Broadway Quality MAME Opens New Windows At Light Opera Works

Highly Recommended

Reviewed by: Bob Sphatt

Fasten your seat-belts, we are about to take off! Evanston’s Light Opera Works (soon to be named Music Theatre Works) offered up their second production of the 2016 season – Mame last night and a new star was born! Nancy Hays as everyone’s favorite Auntie Mame celebrates the Roaring 20s, overcomes tragedy and sails through life without missing a fad or a dance step. Read more

THE SOUND OF MUSIC NATIONAL TOUR IS SIMPLY OUSTANDING

 

The Sound of Music, the evergreen musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse opened in Chicago last evening at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. It is the story we all know by now based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children. Many songs from the musical have become standards, such as “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things“, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain“, “Do-Re-Mi“, and the title song “The Sound of Music.” Read more

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