Theater in Chicago

jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 02:41pm
Going to be in Chicago in mid Nov. I'm not familiar with the theater scene there. What theaters should I check out? Any must see shows? Best websites to look at?

Updated On: 9/18/13 at 02:41 PM
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 02:54pm
Check out theatreinchicago.com. There are links on the left that allows you to see what's currently playing and what's coming up. I believe the TimeLine production of Normal Heart with David Cromer will be playing. It's also when we get close to a lot of Holiday shows; A Christmas Carol at Goodman, Santaland Diaries at Theatre Wit, It's A Wonderful Life at American Theater Company.

I'd encourage you to look at some of the smaller companies, like House Theatre, Hypocrites, and Theo Ubique. These are three of literally hundreds of theaters.

Hope this helps!
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 02:54pm
Check out theatreinchicago.com. There are links on the left that allows you to see what's currently playing and what's coming up. I believe the TimeLine production of Normal Heart with David Cromer will be playing. It's also when we get close to a lot of Holiday shows; A Christmas Carol at Goodman, Santaland Diaries at Theatre Wit, It's A Wonderful Life at American Theater Company.

I'd encourage you to look at some of the smaller companies, like House Theatre, Hypocrites, and Theo Ubique. These are three of literally hundreds of theaters.

Hope this helps!
ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 03:02pm
Lots of stuff is always going on. I like the Theatre in Chicago website as it lists the shows - links reviews - and other helpful items (discounts).
The touring shows mostly come through Broadway in Chicago.

Also, there is a Chicago message board here and Paul Thompson does a real good job with a weekly "here's what's happening" post which I think he calls The Showtune Mosh Pit.



Theatre In Chicago
Updated On: 9/18/13 at 03:02 PM
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 03:12pm
To piggyback on what a previous poster said, try to see one show at either Steppenwolf or the Goodman, and one show at one of the "A-list" storefronts like Theo Ubique or Redtwist to give you a taste of both of the Chicago theatre worlds.
luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 03:37pm
If you live in a place that also gets major touring productions, there's no reason to waste your time here seeing (most) Broadway in Chicago shows. (Some are native productions, like To Master the Art.) There's too much else here. (And I'm from New York, that's no dig to Broadway - but why do what you could do elsewhere when there's such an abundance?)

In addition to those already mentioned, I'm a big fan of Lookingglass. Depending on when in November you'll be here, Court Theatre is remounting 2011's production of An Iliad, which was totally stunning and should be near the top of your list.

Chicagoplays is also a (similar) good resource. That's the League of Chicago Theatres website.





A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 9/18/13 at 03:37 PM
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 03:44pm
I have to agree about An Iliad. It was the first show I saw at Court Theatre (which is on University of Chicago's campus in Hyde Park) and it was indeed stunning. And it's when I fell in love with Timothy Edward Kane.
luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 03:47pm
And might I suggest that if you do make the trek down to Hyde Park, you plan on seeing a matinee because unless you rent a car, getting out of there at night can range from "difficult" to "a complete pain in the ass" to "maybe I'll just sleep here at this bowling alley." Geographically it isn't that far from downtown, but public transit is not its friend.

Tim Kane is a force of nature and I could not be more excited to get to see the show again.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 9/18/13 at 03:47 PM
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 04:28pm
Agreed with what everyone else has said – the Theatre in Chicago website will be a great resource for you. I would also suggest Lookingglass, but depending on when you are coming, they will likely be in between shows.

The House Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” starts on November 8th and, while I have never gotten to see it (it’s been coming back nearly every winter as of late and I am determined to fit this into the busy holiday schedule this year), I have heard nothing but good things about it and I have always loved the shows they put on:
http://thehousetheatre.com/seasons/12-now-playing/shows/the-nutcracker--6

Enjoy whatever you see – I am sure you will be able to find some great options.
JohnnyOTrib
Swing
joined:9/18/13
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 04:54pm
Check out Tribune critic Chris Jones' picks for the fall.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ae-0908-fall-theater-preview-picks-20130905,0,7256445.column

"The Normal Heart" is sure to be one of the more exciting events of the fall. TimeLine's terrific production of "A Raisin In The Sun" plays through mid-November. I also caught "Appropriate" -- coming up at Victory Gardens -- during its world premiere at the Humana Festival. That's a really exhilarating play.
Have a lovely visit!
jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 10:45pm
LOVE all of this- thank you!
AwesomeDanny
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/09
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/18/13 at 11:50pm
If it's still playing while you're there, do everything you can to see The Wheel at Steppenwolf. I saw it this weekend and was blown away--one of the best plays I've seen in a while. I'm planning a return trip soon!

If it's at all possible for you to get there, I wouldn't overlook some of the great companies out in the suburbs--Marriott and Drury Lane typically do great musicals, and Writers' Theatre and The Music Theatre Company do some very impressive intimate work. And the latter two are easily accessible through public transportation.
Paul W. Thompson
Broadway Legend
joined:11/29/07
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/19/13 at 12:31am
Thanks for the plug for my column, ggersten! I do try to present a weekly update of what people here in Chicago are talking about on our local musical theater scene. (My latest came out just hours ago.)

We are the only city that is the home of FIVE Tony Award-winning Regional Theaters: the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater.

Of course, Chicago is known for our storefront theaters, our improv/sketch comedy scene and our ensemble theaters, as well as our major institutional non-profit theaters. That's why I started a column about musical theater (locally produced and the tours)--because we were already known for everything else!

And yes, we are a great center of pre- and post-Broadway tours. Many folks do travel here from elsewhere exactly for that reason!

There are a lot of good theater websites about Chicago (you're on one now, lol), and of course all our theaters have their own sites.

Mid-November is an interesting time, because the Equity wing of our Joseph Jefferson Awards will have just given out their awards, we will be in the midst of voting for our BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards, and theaters will be transitioning from their fall shows to their holiday offerings. We do have about 400 professional productions a year--it can get overwhelming!

We look forward to you and everybody coming to check out our unparalleled theater scene. As Regional Editor of BroadwayWorld Chicago, let me know if I can be of further help. Enjoy!
luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/19/13 at 10:24am
I just drove to the Drury Lane for the first time over the weekend, to see their Next to Normal (which was excellent). Advice, though: bring a GPS! Google sent me like, all over the globe, and we barely made it in time.

The Normal Heart is far and away the thing I'm most excited about in Chicago this season. I know everybody is flipping their lids over David Cromer being on stage (and it is exciting), but Nick Bowling, who is directing, is also a genius. And it is my favorite play.

Also, has nobody mentioned Chicago Shakes yet? Personally, their 2014 offerings are more exciting to me than their fall ones, but that's just because of all the Sondheim. They are worth visiting anyway. Their space is beautiful.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 9/19/13 at 10:24 AM
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/19/13 at 03:15pm
Chicago theatre is SO hit-or-miss, I can only wish you luck. It is true that Chicago has a ton of theatre. Whether or not it's good theatre is...highly subjective...and I always have a difficult time trusting the reviews. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has probably been the most reliable theatre I've attended. Even the weakest production I saw there was far superior to half the shows I've seen at Steppenwolf or Goodman. I have seen some fantastic productions at Steppenwolf and Goodman, but also some truly dreadful works (some I walked out at intermission). The storefront theatre companies are a real mixed bag, but I have been pretty happy with the new Bailiwick productions.

But if you're arriving after Nov 10, unless shows extend, it sounds like Steppenwolf, Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare will not be options. And Goodman will be doing their Christmas Carol, which is just their annual cash cow to fund the next season.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/19/13 at 03:31pm
You didn't ask about other things to do, but here's a thread that was a great help to me awhile back:
Things to do in Chicago
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/19/13 at 06:33pm
Matt wouldn't you say ALL theater is hit-o-miss? What proportion of theater in general do you find "good"?
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 05:09pm
Well, I guess so. I don't know if it was bad luck or what, but for years it seemed only about 25% of the theatre I attended was (what I felt) worth the money. What made it so damn difficult were the reviews. So many productions I attended that received rave reviews and Jeff awards/citations I found to be just awful (a few I considered just bad community theatre). Even more recently, the production of Violet at the Merucary Theatre was quite stunning yet received fair-to-middling reviews and zero attention. I avoided many storefront theatres for years simply because I was so tired of being disappointed and I thought maybe the problem was just me (and maybe it still is), but I have seen much better works in the past couple of years and I'm going to try and make an effort to visit some more storefront theatres, but there is definitely a huge learning curve to navigating Chicago theatre.

I still keep away from all parody musicals and improv troupes, though. There's only so much of that I can stand and I've attended enough parties with improv students to keep me from ever seeking it out again.

Different strokes and whatnot. Something something Native Americans.

"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Updated On: 9/20/13 at 05:09 PM
RaisedOnMusicals
Broadway Star
joined:7/20/10
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 05:19pm
Old Jews Telling Jokes, having just closed in NY, is opening in Chicago on October 2 at the Royal George theater (directly across the street from Stepenwolf, probably my favorite theater in Chicago due the consistently high quality of its productions.) I saw OJTJ twice in NY and found it hyterically funny both times. And it's NOT only for Jews, (old OR young), the humor is off the charts funny. I have severqal relatives in their late 20's and early 30's who saw it in NY and loved it. It ran about 85 minutes in NY, probably the same in Chicago, except that I think Steppenwolf might be dark between Nov. 11 and Dec. 5 (I just looked but might well be wrong.)

Ideally you might see a matinee at Stepenwolf, have dinner and see OJTJ as a great end of the day.
<--------Curtain call, opening night of A Little Night Music, Dec. 13, 2009
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 05:43pm
Now, I will say I have enjoyed everything I've seen at Royal George. If you do decide on dinner and theatre in that area, I really liked the Caminito Argentinian Grill across the street from Steppenwolf.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Paul W. Thompson
Broadway Legend
joined:11/29/07
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 06:13pm
Well, "Violet" was not entirely ignored. Harmony France won a BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for her lead performance!
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 07:31pm
Theatre is hit-or-miss everywhere you go. I've seen both great and terrible theatre in New York, where I grew up, and Chicago, where I lived for eight years (I just moved to Arizona and am teaching high school and middle school drama).

Anyway, in Chicago, at least the bad theatre experiences cost you less than they did in New York. And although many may disagree, Chris Jones of The Tribune will usually give a pretty accurate review to help you decide what to see.
luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 07:47pm
Well, yeah, accurate if you agree with Chris Jones.

Any city with a major Chicago scene is going to be hit or miss, to a degree. My impression in my few years in Chicago has been that the off and off-off-Broadway scenes in New York don't get the same kinds of attention as the storefront theater does in Chicago, and I think that chalks up to big differences in the way the communities are built and function. But the point is, of course any city with a major theatrical presence is going to have productions that run the gamut in terms of quality. I'd find it odd to expect otherwise. It's like anywhere else: you have to be educated about what you're choosing, and there are lots of ways to do that.

(And I happen to thing the heavy-hitter critics are off their marks far more than they are on, but critics, objectivity, yada yada.)



A work of art is an invitation to love.
Updated On: 9/20/13 at 07:47 PM
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 9/20/13 at 11:16pm
I think Chris Jones is the best critic working anywhere right now.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
jon5202
Stand-by
joined:12/14/10
Theater in Chicago
Posted: 11/3/13 at 10:10pm
Not sure if you are still coming to Chicago mid November but I would recommend the following:

1. The Normal Heart at Timeline Theatre (Stage 773 location)

2. A Raisin in the Sun at Timeline Theatre

3. Killer Angels at Lifeline Theatre

4. Best Musical at Up Comedy Club

5. Hellcab at Profiles Theatre

6. The Mikado at Hypocrites Theatre (Steppenwolf Garage)

7. Compulsion at Next Theatre Company

8. Trevor at Red Orchid Theatre

Check www.theatreinchicago.com for info and reviews

Good luck!

Updated On: 11/3/13 at 10:10 PM

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