I loved a lot of things about living New York. OK, I loved basically everything about living in New York. What I loved most (besides the bagels…good grief, I miss bagels…) was being steeped in the most impressive theater scene in the country. It happened more than once that I spent the last of my paycheck on a ticket to a show, usually on a whim via one of the many ticket sources I mastered in order to afford shows on a budget. The idea that I could leave work and that evening take in a Broadway production…unreal.
With two years of that kind of access to top-of-the-line theater as the norm, relocating really threw a kink in my stage scene. The good news is Chicago is actually teeming with comedy, drama, musicals and more – shows previewing before they hit the Great White Way, shows making their way through town on tour, shows as established in the city as deep dish pizza. With a little bit of research, I’ve drummed up a handful of shows, theater groups and resources to feed my live show habit.
Broadway in Chicago – Right off the bat, Broadway In Chicago will keep me busy with shows I didn’t catch in NYC (and a few I would totally see again). Three shows high on my list that never quite made the cut – Pippin, Beautiful and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – are all making their way through Chicago in the coming season, and I’m already keeping an eye on ticket prices.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater / Goodman Theatre / Steppenwolf – A few local theater companies are as deeply ingrained in the Chicago theater scene as corruption is in politics, and these three top among them. Each offers strong seasons of unique, professional productions, so they’re high on my list as I’m keeping an eye on what shows are available.
All Our Tragic – I discovered this gem while scoping out what kind of results “best Chicago theater” would get me, and it paid off. An epic unlike anything I’ve ever heard of, it’s a production by local troupe The Hypocrites that compiles all 32 existing Greek tragedies into 12 straight hours of live theater. A resounding success when it premiered last year, it’s back for a ten-week run this summer, so I snagged a ticket and caught it this weekend. More to come in a full post, but suffice it to say this was exactly the kind of spark I was looking for on the local stage.
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind – I feel like this show has been around as long as I have (since 1988, to be exact), which makes it’s one of those should-see-it-to-have-seen-it shows, like comedy at Second City. And truth be told, it sounds like a super fun concept, a fun way to spend a Chicago-style night out on the town.
HotTix / Goldstar – part of my research on what’s playing in town has also been to discover ways to save on tickets. Life in Chicago may be more affordable, but I’m still on a budget; saving on one ticket means I can afford another. In NYC, I fell for an app called TodayTix – tap it open in the morning, see a show that night. Perfection. Their reach doesn’t extend to the Midwest, but the likes of HotTix and Goldstar are a decent substitution.
Scott’s List – One of my coworkers is an actor in his own right, and a casual ask for a few recommendations one afternoon turned into the most glorious write-up of personal input on all of the city’s theatrical offerings, from major Loop theater groups to off-Loop and off-the-beaten-path troupes. I’ve got it starred in my inbox for quick reference, a list inside this list of what to see on stage.