Theater & Music, Chicago
When we were planning this trip we made a decision to go see Charles Dicken's "Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre. It was a great choice and the strange thing was I had just done a bit of research on paid internships for my nephew who is an actor (albeit it an out-of-work actor.)
The theatre was founded back in 1925 as a tribute to the playwright Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, has recieved a special Tony award for "Outstanding Regional Theatre." They have staged many top stage productions as " Death of a Salesman" "Zoot suit" "and "Seven Guitars". The presentation of Dicken's "Christmas Carol" which is procuced seasonally is a fantastic testament to this theatre's history.
There is not a bad seat in the house for the "rake" of the seats is a sharp one, so be prepared to climb some stairs, there are, of course elevators for those with impaired mobility. During the production a "extraordinary" moment occured. Being an actress, I fully comprehended what this moment did for the actor. Scrooge had just been redeemed, he begins to laugh, very rusty at first. This laughter tickeled a small child in the sudience who then laughed out loud at Scrooge. Time stood still for a brief moment. I saw a flicker of recognition in the actor's face but he did not break the "4th" wall, instead he used it to fully develop his own laughter which took on immense proportions and swept the audience into the moment as well. Wow! That is good theatre!
I highly recommend if you are in the Chicago area to stop and see what is playing at the Goodman Theatre. A good time will be had by all.
Ticket prices vary, we paid $35 per ticket and had a marvelous view of the stage.
To see portions of interior, be sure to check photos 2 and 3.
The Cadillac Palace Theatre is located at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle Streets, and it was first opened in 1926. Legendary theatre architects [the Rapp Brothers] were the designers. Known for its splendid interior that was inspired by the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau, this splendor has returned as a result of the 1999 restoration and renovation.
Originally, it was opened as the "flagship of vaudeville's legendary Orpheum Circuit". Many famous people played here such as Bob Hope and Jack Benny. When vaudeville went out of favor, the theatre was converted to a movie palace that presented combinations of live theatre and movies. In the 1950s, the theatre managers started booking occasional Broadway shows.
Sadly, in the 1970s, the Bismarck Hotel transformed the auditorium into a banquet hall. To do this, they removed the seats on the orchestra level to bring the floor flush with the stage. By 1984, it was named The Bismarck Theatre and became a rock n' roll venue.
Thank goodness, it was restored and renovated about 1999 and renamed The Cadillac Palace. It now serves as a wonderful home for most of the pre-Broadway hits such as "Mamma Mia!" and "The Producers".
Yesterday [February 2, 2006], Allan and I saw Little Women, the Musical. It's such a pleasure to see and HEAR a musical at the Cadillac Palace. Most seats are excellent, and the acoustics are excellent.
When visiting Chicago I always recommend a trip to the famous Second City. This is a definite Do Not Miss!!! Second City boasts a slew of famous alumni such as John Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Mike Myers and Bonnie Hunt - just to name a few. Their mainstage show runs every night of the week (twice on Fridays and Saturdays) and changes each year, except Mondays. On Mondays the mainstage features their touring company performing Second City's "Greatest Hits". In the Spring they are usually testing out new material for their next show. Regardless, any time is a great time to see them perform. They are always political and usually hysterically funny. And the theatre is small enough for every seat to be great. If you want to sit up front get their early as seating is first come. The mainstage also sells out often, especially on weekends so I recommend buying your tickets in advance. Tickets are $17 and you can buy them online or through the box office. Although if you are in town during the week you can occasionally buy half price tickets at the Hot Tix booth in Water Tower the day of the show. But there are no guarantees that tickets will be available through Hot Tix. They serve food (although a little pricey) and have a full bar with servers that come to your table throughout the show. Every night of the week (except Friday) Second City offers a free improv session on the mainstage after the last show of the night. If you're already seeing the show hang out for the free improv. If you saw an earlier show or are just in the neighborhood you are welcome to come on up to the theatre to catch the late night act. It's so much fun! I have seen many of their shows and even the same show multiple times and it still gets me laughing. You can also check out what's playing on their second stage if the mainstage is sold out. They also offer a training program if you're interested in learning more about improv and sketch comedy.
Chicago has a lot of great theatres to offer. "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," is a great musical comedy performing at the Royal George Theatre on Halsted. It's funny, and the acting and singing is superbe. After the show, I was lucky to have the chance to meet one of the actors for a photo and an autograph, too!
From the moment it began, I was laughing! "Menopause, the Musical" is hysterical! The songs they sing are all popular, familiar tunes, but when you listen to the lyrics, you see how they've changed them to make you laugh. It's so funny! You must see it!! You won't be disappointed! Womens' night out is a wonderful time! Guys, don't be afraid -- you'll love it too! Everyone will enjoy this play! It's impossible not to laugh! It's a riot!
The downtown Chicago Theatre District has an impressive number of theatres, and on any given night it is possible to choose between a great selection of musicals. When I was in Chicago, "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys" were playing, and for those it was better to book your tickets in advance. However, for most of the other musicals, rush tickets were available (see my shopping tip). I ended up going to see "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" since it was playing at the Drury Lane Water Tower Place Theatre, just two blocks down from my hotel on the Magnificient Mile. The Drury Lane WTP Theatre opened in 2005 and sits about 550 people. I was lucky enough to get a seat near the stage, at the center of the theatre, and had a fantastic time - I still catch myself singing "That'll be the day", "Oh boy" and "Peggy Sue" from time to time!
But even if the theatre I went to was located a bit outside of the Chicago Theatre District, I still went for a walk in the Randolph Street area, mostly to see two of Chicago's most legendary theatres: the Chicago Theatre, built in 1921 and located at 175 North State Street, is the city's oldest surviving theatre and a bit of a landmark; the Oriental Theatre, located at 24 West Randolph Street, is built on the site of the Iroquois Theatre, where one of the deadliest fires in US history broke out in 1903: almost 600 people were killed when the crowd massively rushed to the exit doors, which then opened inwards. Building and fire codes throughout the world were subsequently modified to make sure such a tragedy would not happen again. Today, the Oriental Theatre is known as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the musical "Wicked" has been playing there since June 2005.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra played their first concert on October 16, 1891and has been one of the most important orchestras in the world ever since. The CSO has performed numerous American premieres of pieces by Strauss, Elgar, Holst, Tchaikovsky, and has been home to many of the world's finest conductors, such as Boulez, Solti, Bernstein, and Barenboim.
At the concert I went to, famous conductor/cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played the Haydn c minor cello concerto...from a purely technical standpoint, his playing has definitely seen better days, but his musicality and expression were spectacular, not to mention that all of the cadenzas were improvised.
OK I will stop here, because, to quote one of my favorite movies, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."
The Chicago Symphony can only truly be experienced by a concert at Symphony Center or at least on a good stereo system.
The Second City Theater has been the launching pad for actors/comedians such as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Meyers, Eugene Levy, Tina Fey, Horatio Sans and Rachel Dratch. Second City began as a small cabaret called the Compass Players, and now operates comedy clubs in Chicago, Toronto, Las Vegas, Detroit and Los Angeles as well as several touring groups.
The actors write and perform comedy revues and do a little improv too. I saw the revue entitled "Doors Open on the Right" (the title quotes the recorded announcements that play on the L at each stop informing passengers which side to exit the train)....anyway, the show was terrific. It's sort of SNL style-with shory scenes that don't necessarily have anything to do with each other, but sometimes do.
I was a little surprised at how often Steve Bartman (poor loser who touched-and dropped-that foul ball last year) came up, but it was funnier every time he popped up. My favorite scene was with a married couple and a marriage counselor, who was totally on the woman's side...the husband ends up having to decode the wife's stories about chess sets and yellow gumballs to find all she really wants is to have another baby.
Chicago is historically known as a breeding place for actors and the theater. There is the theater district downtown, but my favorite is the Steppenwolf Theater. Ensemble members include John Malcovich, Gary Sinese, Laurie Metcalf, John Mahoney, Terry Kinney, Martha Lavey.....many many more.
If you like Saturday Night Live, go see where half of the stars on the show learned how to do improv comedy at Second City.
But, if you are more of a film fan, like me, then visit one of our historic movie theaters. The Biograph, Music Box and Esquire are my favorite places to see international, independent, and old classics. Plus, the theaters themselves are beautiful landmarks of Chicago.
The picture is of the Biograph Theater on Lincoln avenue. Ganster John Dillinger was finally gunned down outside after alluding the police for decades. His mistress the "lady in red" turned him in. Some believe his ghost hangs out around here. I think you might see a more frightening sight here around 2 a.m. when all college students come wandering out of the bars after one too many drinks.
Lots of visitors to Chicago as well as locals enjoy this improv show.
The Neo-Futurists theater group attempt to perform 30 short plays in 60 minutes. Guests pay an admission that varies from $6 to $11, based on their lucky roll of some dice upon entry. Guests are then asked their name and are issued a nametag that may or may not have anything to do with their name.
The audience is then handed a list of the 30 play titles, which correspond to 30 numbers hanging on a rope above the stage. When each short play is completed the company yells, 'Curtain!' and the audience yells out the next one they'd like to see performed.
Its a fast-paced fun time where the audience is involved from the start, and the theater is small and engaging. The short plays range from hilarious to somber and are often political and timely. If the theater sells out, they order pizza for everyone.
A friend took me to this really neat research library that has a PIANO! Yes, I'm very musically inclined but not with a piano :-( I sing though. This building is even connected to a fresh market with a lot of natural and vegan selections. MORE INFO TO COME.
This architectural gem with a decor of the Far East, was built back in the 1920's as a movie palace. Not only did it show motion pictures but it was a veritable museum of treasures from the Orient. Throughout its history it has housed movies and live theatre. In the 1970's the Oriental and other Randolph Street theatres had fallen on bleak times. The theatre was added to the Federal National Registry of Historic Places in 1978, but the building continued to crumble. The theatre was closed to the public in 1981. Then in the 1990's came the revitalization of Chicago's Loop, and the area was renovated and restored and now the Oriental Theatre is back in the limelight hosting such Broadway productions of "Wicked." In 1997 the Oriental's full name became The Ford Center of the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre."
The next time you are in Chicago try and check out the lobby of the theatre. Ornate fixtures, marble floors and sparkling chandeliers give an air of grandeur to this beautiful house of theatre.
If you enjoy watching comedies, then don't miss the Second City. The acts and jokes are extremely hilarious. The style is improvisational, so the actors are pretty professional in getting you to laugh. Topics range from everyday personal matters to current world events. The Second City can be found in other cities as well, like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York, but Chicago was the birthplace of the Second City. It can be traced all the way back to the University of Chicago where a group of undergraduates started a show back in the 1950s. If you have a night to spare in Chicago, then come to Old Town, where the Second City is located.
We went to see the award winning musical 'Wicked' at the Ford Center for Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre. The show was great and the venue was nice. The theatre seemed really old but well maintained and was really beautiful on the inside.
Symphony Center is the home for more than 200 live concerts a year -- orchestras, recitals, jazz, superstar guest artists, visiting orchestras, and more.
I went there for Argentinian tango the other day.. The tango was quite mediocre but I`m sure you can choose something to your liking from this extensive list of events.