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Eight Forty-Eight

Don't-Miss List September 13-19: A pointillist painting comes alive

'Sunday in the Park with George' comes alive at the Art Institute of Chicago Sunday. (Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

Dueling Critics x 3, all FREE!

The latest edition of our podcast is out: This week we review the premier of Charles Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 at Next Theatre in Evanston. Then, check out our review of Sweet and Sad at Profiles Theatre from our appearance on The Morning Shift Wednesday. Next week's podcast will review 33 Variations at TimeLine Theatre.

And don't forget: You can follow us on Twitter now @WBEZDuelingCrit.    


Sunday in the Museum with George, Sunday September 16th at 11 a.m., the Grand Staircase at the Michigan Avenue entrance of The Art Institute of Chicago, FREE with museum admission.

So you think you’ve seen Georges Seurat’s famous painting "A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte –1884"? You know, the pointillist one that inspired Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George? Well, see it again this Sunday when the Art Institute and Chicago Shakespeare collaborate to present a living version of the picture. The cast of the musical, which opens in ten days on Navy Pier, will strut and fret (and sing!) their hour upon the stair and then vanish, leaving behind a portrait of La Grande Jatte completely devoid of people. (The mysteriously empty painting will be auctioned off to benefit Team Shakespeare, the company’s program for teens.) If your Sunday mornings are sacred to pajamas and the New York Times, wait for the musical at Chicago Shakespeare, directed by Gary Griffin, one of the nation’s premier Sondheim interpreters. If it's half as good as Griffin's ChiShakes productions of Follies or Pacific Overtures, it will be sensational. –KK

The Amen Corner, eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue, starts previews Thursday and plays Thursday-Sunday through October 21.

James Baldwin’s play about the generational tensions in an African-American church opens what eta aptly styles a season of “Resurrected Works and Reclaimed Musicals.” This 1950s drama is a foundational work of black theater, and the passage of 60 years has robbed it of none of its power, particularly when Baldwin’s words are combined with gospel music. Eta always assembles a strong cast; now Artistic Director Runako Jahi directs a piece worthy of the group’s talents. –KK

Hamlet, Writers' Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe; 847-242-6000; $60-$70; through Nov. 11.

Richard Burbage, the original Prince Hamlet in 1601, was far older than the university student Hamlet is supposed to be, thus establishing a pattern followed for over 400 years. It's common for Hamlet to be played by men (and a few women) in their 30s, 40s and well beyond. The slim and perpetually boyish Scott Parkinson, although far past his frat boy days, is playing the title role in Hamlet at Writers' Theatre, and it's a welcome return for a fine actor who's been away from Chicago for five years. Even better, director Michael Halberstam has surrounded Parkinson with a distinguished veteran cast, laced with Jefferson Award winners, among them Ross Lehman (Polonius), Shannon Cochran (Gertrude), Larry Yando (the Ghost) and Timothy Edward Kane (Laertes). Substantially edited, this production will run just under three hours (with two intermissions) and will offer a decidedly intimate experience in Writers' Theatre's 104-seat playhouse. FYI: The Dueling Critics will discuss this production of Hamlet in our Oct. 5 podcast. –JA

The Magic Flute, Chicago Opera Theater, Harris Theater, 00 E. Randolph; 1-312-704-8414; $25-$125; through Sept. 23.

Mozart had an instinctive understanding of theater, which is not true of all opera composers, and he was smart enough (at least in his few mature years) to choose skillful men of theater as his co-authors, among them the great Lorenzo Da Ponte and also Emanuel Schikaneder. They wrote the libretto for The Magic Flute, a great success that premiered less than three months before Mozart died in 1791. It's held the stage ever since and has been subject to myriad interpretations by great conductors and directors (such as Ingmar Bergman), drawn not only to its musical glories but also its fairytale story of magic, love and spiritual purity. This staging at Chicago Opera Theater, sung in English, is the first new production of The Magic Flute seen in Chicago in close to 20 years. It also is the first production under the tenure of COT's new general director, Andreas Mitisek. Although his immediate predecessor selected it and put the production team in place, it's Mitisek who has brought the vision to fruition. –JA

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