Category Archives: Art

THE ARTISTIC HOME’S THE SEAGULL: GREAT CHEKHOV, GREAT THEATER

          I will stake anything you like that these hidden dramas and tragedies in every character of the play, given a skillful, extremely conscientious production, without banalities, can enthrall the auditorium. With those words the young Russian stage director Vladimir Nemirovich Danchenko, convinced the fledgling playwright Anton Chekhov to entrust his first play, after a […]

THE LION IN WINTER: Promethean Excellence at the Athenaeum

Winning fifteen awards out of eighteen nominations in 1968, did more than revive the fortunes of James Goldman’s 1966 play, The Lion in Winter. The play had closed after 92 performances, even though it boasted of a cast which included Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris, Christopher Walken, and James Rado, whose book for the historic musical […]

LYRIC OPERA’S THE KING AND I: AN OPULENT BEAUTY AND THE NICE GUY

At the heart of all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s great musicals – Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and The King and I – is the tale of Beauty and the Beast. Each Beauty – Laurey, Julie, Nellie, Maria, Anna – transforms the macho wild Beast in their life – helps their man […]

LYRIC OPERA’S ROMEO AND JULIET: Swashbuckling Beauty

Charles Gounod’s opera, Romeo and Juliet,  has a long and important relationship with Chicago. When the Auditorium Theatre premiered its very first opera on December 10, 1889, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet was the choice. The production starred Adelina Patti, the woman whom Verdi called “the finest singer who ever lived”. Ms. Patti received $3000.00 and […]

DON GIOVANNI: A Lyric Opera Triumph

Chicago’s great writer Saul Bellow loved the Lyric Opera. In 1979 he wrote a preface to a celebration of the opera company in which he quoted long-time Chicago drama critic, and opera enthusiast, Claudia Cassidy: “Without the Lyric,” she tells us, “Chicago would be underprivileged. A city, she continues, “is more than tall buildings, crowded […]

BIRDMAN: Macbeth’s Movie

Birdman’s artists – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Antonio Sanchez, Emmanuel Lubezki, Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione – will be nominated for all of the major film awards, and they probably deserve to win. But Birdman is deliberately unlike other films: Birdman seeks to have no meaning. That’s right. The artists deliberately conspire to […]

In Lakewood

Theurgy, Art, and the Kingdom of God

In The Fiery Serpent, I suggest that a “Christian” play or film is a story of redemption, a story in which the Kingdom of God breaks into a fictional character’s life, as it can in an actual person’s life. While reading The Unfading Light   [i], I discovered that the Russian Orthodox theologian, Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944) […]

The State of the Arts: Historian Paul Johnson Weighs In

The historian Paul Johnson has written on just about every subject, with wisdom, perspective, and passion. His latest book, Art.A New History is no exception. While his conclusion focuses on the fine/fashion arts, one may substitute any art – theater, film, music, dance – and find some truth concerning the current situation: The most worrying aspect […]

BILLY GRAHAM ON 9/11

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this Day of Prayer and Remembrance. We needed it at this time. We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may […]