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This Week’s Must-Read Stories in Chicago Culture

Sondheim on Sondheim is a hit, Empire is boosting local business, and CPS’s accidental book-ban wasn’t so accidental after all.

Terrence Howard and Grace Gealey in Empire, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.   PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHUCK HODES/FOX

First Movement

The Lyric Opera last week announced its 2015–16 season, the first fully helmed by new general director Anthony Freud. Chicago’s Graham Meyer asks the opera boss how he’ll run the show and draw new audiences.

Tragic Tales

Has art about youth gun violence in Chicago become ubiquitous enough to fuel its own genre? The Tribune probes the ethics and reach of how arts groups channel tragedy.

Empire Economy

How is Fox’s filmed-in-Chicago drama Empire affecting the city’s businesses? Britt Julious talks with the local shop-owners who make the primetime soap opera pop.

Saturday Night Legends

Saturday Night Live airs its three-hour 40th anniversary special this Sunday, featuring cameos by Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and about a dozen more Chicago emigres. Chicago picks the homegrown sketches most poised for a reprise.

Never-Ending Playlist

It’s been 50 years since the bloody Selma march, but musicians like Common are carrying a torch lit by Pops Staples and Curtis Mayfield half a century ago. Greg Kot goes long on the ever-evolving soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement.

Bumbled Book-Ban

When CPS came under fire for pulling the graphic novel Persepolis from K-12 libraries in 2013, the mayor’s office brushed it off as a low-level bureaucratic goof. Two years later, the Reader has emails proving the directive went all the way up to Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

Finer Tuning

Where do priceless works of art get sent for a touch-up? Chicago profiles Conservation Center, the West Town institution preserving fine art from around the world.

Review Revue: Sondheim on Sondheim

Porchlight’s revue/documentary/all-around toast to Stephen Sondheim opened at Stage 773 this week, and is reportedly succeeding in Chicago the way it couldn’t in New York:

Chicago Tribune: “I do not struggle to say this. Sondheim on Sondheim is, I think, the best show in the history of Porchlight.”

Chicago Sun-Times: “The Porchlight production, directed by Nick Bowling, features a knockout turn by the galvanically talented Austin Cook, the onstage pianist/singer/actor/musical director.”

TimeOut Chicago: “…Nick Bowling’s lush production is near-perfect, urbane and witty but also warm…”

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