Theater and Film: Theater
Chicago boasts over 120 theater troupes who put on productions ranging from Broadway musicals to experimental.
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
50 East Congress Pkwy
Whether you’ve seen the play or not, chances are you know the tunes from Mamma Mia! The internationally recognized musical was composed around songs by Australian pop band ABBA. The play is a colorful, animated display of acting, singing, jumping, and jiving that gets the entire audience dancing in their seats. Mamma Mia! will be in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre for a limited time: September 17 through September 28.
The theater first opened its doors in 1889. The magnificently crafted auditorium was designed by world-renowned architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Alder. Actually, it was the first structure to house a theater, offices, retail space and a hotel under one roof. The Auditorium was also one of the original places equipped with electric lighting and air conditioning. In addition to being very technologically advanced for its time, the space was also very acoustically superior. The arched multi-layer shell around the stage allows sound to travel throughout the hall and the rounded seating tiers make for excellent sightlines, no matter where you sit.
Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph St.
The new musical, Wicked, has been a huge success in Chicago since it opened here in 2005. The ornate Oriental Theatre (now called Ford Center for the Performing Arts) is the perfect venue to depict the magical and heart-touching story of what happened before Dorothy came to Oz.
The Oriental theater was originally a movie house, built in 1926. It had a great cinema run, showing motion pictures until the 1970s. After so many years of use, the beautiful hall had fallen into disrepair and was finally closed down in the early 1980s. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that plans for restoration – and transformation into a stage venue – were initiated by the mayor of Chicago. In 1998, renovations of the auditorium were finished and the theater reopened to continue its legacy as a treasured world-class entertainment site.
Blue Man Group
Briar Street Theatre
3133 N. Halsted
A classic Chicago show, the Blue Man Group has been amusing audiences with their off-the-wall antics for years at the Briar Street Theatre. You never know what’s next at this inventive, art-meets-live action presentation – but you do know you’ll be blown away by the creative and peculiar demonstrations put on by the three blue-painted performers. Blending music, lights, props and “the elements” (meaning water, fire, wind and whatever else they can get their hands on), the straight-faced entertainers produce the most engaging and fascinating stage act in town.
Briar Street Theatre began its existence as a mere carriage house and stable for Marshall Fields, back in 1901. Fast forward 70 years and the structure was transformed into a sound stage for a movie production company. Between 1977 and 1985 the building functioned as a post-production office, but that’s when its days of serving the Chicago film industry came to an end. The site was converted into a live performance theater and is now the beloved home of those loveable blue men.
Nestled amid popular Wells Street restaurants in Old Town, Second City is Chicago’s best known comedy venue and the starting point for many famous comedians’ careers. The likes of John Candy, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Shelly Long and Steve Carell join the ranks of alumni from Chicago’s Second City stage.
Part of the attraction to Second City shows is the intimate setting. The Mainstage seats roughly 300 and the Second City e.t.c. only holds 180 at a time. An even smaller third theater, located next door in Piper’s Alley, is run by the Second City Training Center. Donny’s Skybox Studio Theatre is where budding comic students write, direct and perform their own material in a do-or-die test of their jokes and wit. For the best laugh in Chicago, there’s no better place to go than this long-time landmark of gut-busting humor and class clown success stories.
175 North State Street
No other playhouse in the city is as iconic as the Chicago Theatre. Its classic, flashing-lights marquee with the letters C-H-I-C-A-G-O running vertically up the outside of the building is a flashback to the Golden Age of movie palaces. Of course, it is no longer a cinema, but the Chicago Theatre still maintains its majestic appeal and continues to awe visitors with its extravagant interior décor. In 1986, the lavish auditorium made its debut as a concert hall with a festive performance by Old Blue Eyes himself.
Nowadays the theater is hot venue for some of the world’s most popular musicians, singers and comedians. Legendary bands like the Allman Brothers and Gipsy Kings have had shows here and illustrious divas like Diana Ross and Dolly Parton have also wowed the crowds with their remarkable voices. Funny men to hit the stage at the Chicago Theatre include late-night talk show host David Letterman and multi-talented stand-up guru Robin Williams.
|500 Clown||720 S. Dearborn Street||312-697-0722|
|About Face Theatre||1222 W. Wilson Avenue||773-784-8565|
|Apollo Theatre||2540 North Lincoln Avenue||312-935-6100|
|American Theater Company||1909 W. Byron||773.929.1031|
|Auditorium Theatre||50 East Congress Parkway||312-922-4046|
|Bailiwick Repertory Theater||1229 W Belmont Avenue||773-883-1090|
|Beverly Theatre Guild||2407 W. 111th||312-409-2705|
|Briar Street Theater||3133 North Halsted Street||312-348-4000|
|Cadillac Palace Theatre||151 West Randolph Street||312-977-1700|
|Chicago Shakespeare Theater||800 East Grand Avenue||312-595-5600|
|Chicago Theatre||175 North State Street||312-443-1130|
|ComedySportz||2851 N. Halsted||773-549-8080|
|Famous Door Theatre||P.O. Box 57029||773- 404-8283|
|Goodman Theatre||170 North Dearborn Street||312-443-3800|
|Griffin Theater||5404 N. Clark Street||773-769-2228|
|Lookingglass Theatre Company||821 N Michigan Avenue||312.337.0665|
|Neo-Futurists||5153 N. Ashland Avenue
|Oriental Theatre||24 West Randolph Street||312-902-1400|
|Plasticene||2122 N Winchester Avenue||312.409.0400|
|Redmoon Theater||2936 N. Southport Avenue
|Roadworks||1144 Fulton Market||312-492-7150|
|Second City||1616 North Wells Street||312-642-8189|
|Shubert Theatre||22 West Monroe Street||312-977-1700|
|Steppenwolf Theatre||1650 North Halsted Street||312-335-1650|
|Theatre Building||1225 Belmont Avenue||773-327-5252|
|Victory Gardens Theater||2257 North Lincoln Avenue||773-871-3000|