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Chase Auditorium: Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me
2nd visit 1/27/11
One of the more entertaining things we've done this year is go to a taping of the NPR (National Public Radio) show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me" which tapes on Thursday nights at the Chase Auditorium, you can hear the show you watched the following Saturday on NPR. Peter Sagal hosts the weekly hour long quiz show with a rotating panel of guests, some of whom you might find familar faces such as comedian Paula Poundstone, Saturday Night Live alum Julia Sweeney, Mo Rocca from the "Daily Show" and Tom Bodett who is perhaps best known for saying "We'll leave the light on for you". There's also a call in guest, we had George Romero, the zombie movie director the 1st time and baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. the 2nd time. I find the show funny when I listen to it on the radio, I laughed almost non stop at the tapings.
I got the tickets for half price from Goldstar, normally tickets are $24.75, we got them for $12.37 + a $4.50 service fee. They don't tape every Thursday night, sometimes they are out of town, but they primarily tape in Chicago. Seating is general admission, the doors open at 7pm, taping is at 7:30pm, we got there about 7:00pm and the line was already really long so get there early if you want a great seat. Our seats weren't bad, on the side about 8 rows back.
We didn't have a lot of time for dinner but there are a few nice places to eat if you have time for a real meal. We headed to the Rosebud Theater District (70 W. Madison), they have a free buffet with munchies like buffalo chicken wings, spare ribs and thin crust pizza as long as you purchase two drinks. It's right across the street from Chase Bank so it was convenient too. Other choices nearby are Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe, and Rosebud Prime, 1 S. Dearborn, also right across the street. A few blocks away there's Miller's Pub, 143 S. Wabash, for burgers and ribs.
Parking is tough in this area, street parking is metered and limited by time so we parked in the Grant Park South garage ($18 flat fee for the evening) instead of parking at the garage on Monroe which was slightly closer but $29.
Dress Code: As long as you are wearing clothes, I think they will let you in
Court Theater: Theater-Court Theater
We've been to the Court Theater three times now, the latest two visits to see The Mystery of Irma Vep and a reworking of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
The theater is very small so there are no bad seats, we've purchased 1/2 price tickets through Hot Tix for all three visits.
There is free garage parking just north of the theater but both times we found free street parking just south of the theater.
If you're looking for dinner in the area, a great casual Lebanese place is Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen at 1206 E. 53rd Street, or for Caribbean influenced food you can try Calypso at 5211 South Harper Avenue or slightly further away, for a very nice meal at the culinary school in the South Shore Cultural Center, try Parrot Cage.
Dress Code: The Court is a small neighborhood theater near the University of Chicago, patrons dress very casually including jeans and tennis shoes.
Lakeshore Theater: Theater in Chicago-Lakeshore Theater
The Lakeshore Theater is a comedy venue in the Lakeview neighborhood. I got my tickets from Goldstar.com at 1/2 price which gave us general admission seats, the website says the 1st 5 rows are the VIP section for people who pay an additional $5 but it seemed like a lot more than the 1st 5 rows were reserved and we ended up about 15-20 rows back, it's not a large theater so there really aren't any bad seats. We got there about 1/2 hour early and the theater was already mostly full, they have a full bar but there is no drink requirement like some other comedy clubs in Chicago. I did see a couple of waitresses walking around but they must have been for the more expensive seats.
I did see on Yelp that there were a lot of free tickets given out for various shows, just how one gets them is not something I know.
Parking in this neighborhood is a little tough, it's either resident sticker zoned or 2 hour meter but only until 9 pm which worked for us. The one garage we pulled into was $21 (I think they were charging us an additional $5 because we have a pickup truck).
We didn't have time to have dinner but if we had I would have tried to get into the small and currently very hot restaurant Chilam Balam at 3023 N. Broadway or HB Restaurant at 3404 N. Halsted. We did peek into Falafill but decided to head up to Andersonville to Turkish Bakery instead. If you are looking for a lighter meal there's a Chipotle a couple of doors down and if you're looking for dessert after the show, there's a gelato place called Paciugo at 3241 N. Broadway.
Dress Code: No dress code except requiring that you have some clothes on unless you are one of the performers in "Puppetry of the Pen*s" in which case nudity is mandatory
Steppenwolf Theater: Renowed Theatre Company
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is an internationally renown regional ensemble theater. Founded in 1974 by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise (in a basement in Highland Park), the company has been producing a full season of plays annually since 1976. The 34 ensemble members have ventured beyond their Chicago homestage into film, television and onto other stages while maintaining their deep-rooted connections to Steppenwolf. No other American theater ensemble has survived as long and thrived as much as the Steppenwolf company of artists.
Starting with its 1982 revival of Sam Shepard's "True West," the company has transferred several shows to New York, including the Tony Award-winning adaptation of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men." Steppenwolf has earned a reputation for quality, risk-taking and integrity. In addition to presenting American theater (and the occasional film-star vanity show or British import), Steppenwolf also develops new work and exposes its audiences to new artists.
Famous Steppenwolf alumni include: Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf,
Dress Code: Currently on stage at Steppenwolf (as of July 2005), are:
John Malhoney (the dad in Fraser) will be appearing next season in The Unmentionables in the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre.
John Malkovich (as in Being John Malkovich) just finished up a run in Lost Land.
Martha Plimpton will appear in the ensemble cast of Love Song in the 2005-2006 season.
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Auditorium: Theater in Chicago-Auditorium
The Auditorium Theater, designed by architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, is known for its architectural integrity and perfect acoustics. I've been to this theater a couple of times to see "The Nutcracker" performed by the Joffrey Ballet at Christmas time, most recently in December 2012. We got our tickets on Goldstar at 1/2 price, because I booked the tickets in two transactions we sat on the main floor in row M for half and then switched and sat in the balcony in row E. While we were still able to see in the balcony, the main floor seats were so much better for a show with beautiful costuming and row M was perfect, not too far, not too close. The balcony is pretty far back, but it's on a slope so you have perfect sightlines unlike the main floor where you can be behind someone tall and have it make a difference.
Dress Code: We saw people dressed in everything from jeans to long gowns, especially for shows like the Nutcracker you will see young girls in pretty dresses. Our show was on a Wednesday, I'm guessing the weekend crowds and opening night crowds are better dressed.
Steppenwolf Theatre and...
Steppenwolf Theatre and Goodman Theatre
Try to see one of the plays offered by either of this company (or both). There are HOT TIX ticket outlets in water tower and state street that offers half price discount (but in the end it is not really half-price because you have to add a service charge). A cheaper alternative if you are a student is to to buy rush tickets. Rush tickets are available (usually) two hours before curtain time at the box office, and these are really cheap. If you are not in desperate need to watch a play and you have a student I.D. then go for it. Goodman's student rush tickets go as low as $12 and Steppenwolf's tickets are half price.
Dress Code: Casual
Oriental Theater: Theater in Chicago-Oriental Theater
To see what is currently playing, check the Broadway in Chicago website listed below.
The Oriental Theater was built in 1926 as a movie palace, like the nearby Palace theater it has been renovated into a theater for Broadway type productions and reopened October, 1998.
The theater seats 2,200, we currently have a subscription package that gave us awesome seats (row F at the Oriental in the center). For single shows we usually get main floor orchestra tickets by purchasing well in advance at full price. But in late 2011 we got half price tickets through Hottix for main floor orchestra left row U for "Rock of Ages". Hottix normally doesn't have tickets for the Oriental but I'm guessing the economy is making it hard to fill the seats at the top ticket prices. Going directly to the box office avoids Ticketmaster charges and you can get input on which seats are best. For "Mamma Mia", we opted for the 2nd row balcony seats which seem to be better than main floor once you get past row O as that's where the balcony starts and you have a less obstructed view as you are looking down, not over someone's head.
Close dining options before the show:
a) Petterino's-steak, fish, pasta, chicken- a block away on Randolph
b) Fulton's on the River-seafood-3-4 blocks away on the Chicago River at 315 N. LaSalle
c) Atwood Cafe-a little further away, American contemporary
d) Greektown restaurants are just a short cab ride away
e) many River North restaurants are just a 10-15 minute walk
f) Garrett's popcorn has a location right next door, they have a little sign saying that the theater will not allow their popcorn inside but we smuggled in a small bag the last time we went because we knew they'd be closed when the show was over. Just don't eat it while the show is on!
Parking-look for the signs that say theater special on the blocks around the theater or the Broadway in Chicago website has a link to spothero.com which I've never used but the rates look very reasonable for Chicago. We park at the Sterling self park on Kinzie at LaSalle, $12 with the evening flat rate and only a 10 minute walk. Plus no waiting for all the other people who have parked to get out.
Dress Code: Theatre patrons in Chicago dress in anything ranging from blue jeans to suits and dresses. I imagine it gets a little dressier on the weekends.
Chicago Theatre: Enjoy an evening at the theatre.
I would describe this as a Grand Old theatre. A magnificent lobby, grand staircase and plush interior take you back to the theatre's heyday. These days there are a variety of different performances at the theatre. Coming soon will be a run of the Cirque De Soleil company.
If you are looking for something to do in the evening, consider taking in a performance at this beautiful theater.
There are also tours given of the theater during the day. Call ahead to check the times available.
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Chicago Theater: See a show.
an amazing building called "the Wonder Theatre of the World" when it opened on October 26, 1921.
Dress Code: No dress code but NO backpacks or other large bags allowed into the auditorium. All such items must be checked. Smaller purses are allowed into the auditorium. Coats and bags can be checked for $1 per item.
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Lifeline Theater: Theater in Chicago-Lifeline
This is the 2nd time we've been to this small theater located in Rogers Park, one of the most northernmost neighborhoods in Chicago. The theater is very small so there aren't any bad seats, we had seats in row H which was the last row in the theater. The production we saw last night, Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, was very good, the parts were all cast well, I wasn't familiar with the plot so each twist and turn was a surprise (although now that I've read a synopsis of the book I find that the play isn't precisely faithful to the book).
While I don't want to overstate the danger, but Rogers Park has higher crime statistics than most of the surrounding neighborhoods and just a couple of weeks ago we had someone fleeing a couple of guys trying to beat him up attempt to get in our car while driving just up the street. There were a fair amount of people loitering around as we walked from our parking spot to the theater that quickened my pace a little. If you are coming by el, there's a red line station right on Morse about 1/2 block from the theater and there were plenty of people around, just be street smart about it.
Street parking is metered along Morse and we couldn't find any on the side streets. They do have a parking lot and shuttle about 6 blocks away, click here for more details.
After looking at their wall of previous productions, I'm sorry that it's not a more conveniently located theater for us as I think I would have enjoyed quite a few of them, mostly adaptations of classic novels like Wuthering Heights and The Moonstone.
Dress Code: very casual theater, you must wear clothes of course but nothing special necessary
Theatre Building: Theater in Chicago-Theatre Building
We caught the opening night of the anti-holiday one elf play Santaland Diaries at the Theatre Building this weekend, David Sedaris' tale of working as an elf at Macy's in New York. Time Out Chicago just ran an article about Sedaris hating the play that made him famous, he claimed it didn't work as a stage production. But obviously a lot of people disagree with him, the article also stated that it was the "second-most-performed holiday show in the nation." I thought it was a very funny production and Mitchell Fain made a wonderful elf.
The show was full for opening night, we got our tickets 1/2 price at Hot Tix online, you can avoid the Ticketmaster charges by going to one of their outlets at 72 E. Randolph near Macy's on State or 163 E. Pearson near Water Tower Place. The theater is small and at least for this production, seating was general admission with no reserved seats. The late arrivals had to sit on the side of the stage so if you don't want to have everyone staring at you for the whole performance, come early. This show runs through January 3, 2009.
Their website lists a bunch of places to eat, none of which grabbed me, so we found a Mexican place to eat at which was just satisfactory. Next time I'll do my homework and find something better.
We found metered street parking within a few blocks on Belmont, if you drive and park, make sure to check the signs for resident only parking
Dress Code: Lots of people in jeans and tennis shoes, very casual theater
Theater: Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group show. It was excellent! I enjoyed it a lot! I'm not really a "show" person but this one I had such a great time at. I would definitely reccommend it if you have the funds to pay for a somewhat pricy ticket.
Dress Code: If you sit in the poncho seats, dont wear anything very nice. I'm sure you can figure out what the ponchos are.
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