An Intoxicating Die Fledermaus at Light Opera Works in Evanston

Reviewed by: Jim Schneider

Highly Recommended

Johann Strauss’ (the waltz king) Viennese confectionary farce Die Fledermaus premièred on 5 April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. The original literary source for Die Fledermaus was Das Gefängnis (The Prison), a farce by German playwright Julius Roderich Benedix that premiered in Berlin in 1851. On 10 September 1872 a three-act French vaudeville play by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, Le Réveillon, loosely based on the Benedix farce, opened at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Read more

Lyric Opera’s New Production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” – A Whimsical Delight

Highly Recommended

Reviewed By: Jim Schneider

Do you remember as a child putting on a show on your back patio and getting all of your friends to participate in it? Well, Neil Armfield’s wonderful new production of The Magic Flute takes you back to those innocent days when imagination and play could create anything we wanted. Set in the backyard of a suburban home in the 1950s the neighborhood gathers to watch and participate in a production of The Magic Flute, utilizing whatever costumes and props they can find around the house and yard. Amrfield has taken Mozart’s lead from the original production produced on a shoestring which premiered at Freihaus Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna on September 30, 1791. Written for the People’s Theatre in Vienna who were strapped for cash The Magic Flute was Mozart’s gift to the lead actor of the resident company of the theatre, Schikaneder (who was also the first Papageno) and the working classes of 18th century Vienna while composed in their own language (all operas at court were performed in Italian and German was out of the question. Read more

Wheeldon’s New “Nutcracker” – Radical, Retooled and Untraditional

Reviewed By:Jim Schneider

The much anticipated, $4 million dollar world premiere of Joffrey Ballet’s revolutionary Nutcracker opened last night to much fanfare from the press and lukewarm applause from the audience. Creator Christopher Wheeldon feels that Joffrey Ballet “…needed a Nutcracker “that specifically belongs to the Joffrey Ballet – a version that accurately represents it’s dedication to unique repertoire and innovative works” (so what was Robert Joffrey’s 20 year + Nutcracker? Chopped Liver?).

Founder Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino’s Nutcracker was rich in the classic tradition and one Chicago has come to claim as its own holiday tradition. They stayed true to Tchaikovsky’s brilliant score and Marius Petipa’s choreography which was a key to its success. The Nutcracker was originally commissioned by the Russian Imperial Ballet, choreographed by Marius Petipa, and premiered in December of 1892 before the Czar and Czarina. Read more

Sandys and Brennan Command The Stage in Remy Bummpo’s “Pygmalion”

Reviewed By: James Murray

Recommended

The play, which was the basis for Lerner & Lowe’s My Fair Lady, Pygmalion is inspired from the Greek myth where the sculptor Galetea falls in love with his sculpture Pygmalion, who then springs to life. George Bernard Shaw, an Irish, literary revolutionary, decided to use this Greek myth as a vehicle to take on the English class system when he created the characters of Eliza Doolittle, (written for the famous British actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell with whom he carried on a decades long love affair) and Professor Henry Higgins (Shaw himself). Higgins believes that one can change their station in life through adopting proper speech and manners. His experiment is largely successful in that Eliza gains her independence through his teaching and leaves him after the experiment is over. Although at times I missed the music from My Fair Lady I also enjoyed some of the important dialogue between Eliza and Higgins that had to be cut because of the long running time of the musical. Shaw’s play feels remarkably current and extremely entertaining. Read more

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY – Woody Allen Gets Hit In the Crossfire

RECOMMENDED

REVIEWED BY: JAMES MURRAY

In 1994 the Woody Allen movie classic premiered with an “A” roster of talent; Chazz Palminteri, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Stanton, John Cusak, Jennifer Tilly and the brilliant Dianne Wiest in a star turn, netting her an Academy Award. Bullets Over Broadway is, in my opinion, one if Allen’s cleverest and funniest films about the lengths an artist will go to protect the integrity of their work. Read more

Complexities of the Real Eva Peron Lacking in Marriott’s EVITA

RECOMMENDED

REVIEWED BY: JAMES MURRAY

Before the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice smash Broadway musical Evita many had either forgotten or knew nothing about the wife of Argentinian dictator Juan Peron who terrorized his country from 1946 to 1955. Lyricist Tim Rice was listening to a radio program where they aired some of Eva Peron’s fiery speeches and, being having always been fascinated by her, pitched the idea to Lloyd Webber to compose a musical about her life. Read more

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