Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Arts in Chicago: Theater and Music

Chicago and the arts...where do I begin? An article on the arts in Chicago could easily become a book. Let’s take a peek at some of theater and music possibilities for conference week.
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There is an area downtown Chicago appropriately known as the Theatre District. Several theatres are within blocks of one another. Some are very lavishly decorated, with all of the gilt and finery one might imagine and expect in a high-end performing arts palace.

Cadillac Palace
151 W. Randolph
This theatre at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle one opened in 1926. Originally a popular vaudeville spot, it was later used as a movie house. It spent a period of time as a banquet facility, and then a rock concert hall. A restoration was completed and the Cadillac opened its doors to pre-Broadway shows in 1999. Tours are available on Saturdays. Monty Python’s Spamalot will be playing there until June 4th.

The Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn
The Goodman was first started in 1925 at a location near the Art Institute. The building was notoriously poor, and when Chicago created its Theatre District, the Goodman moved locations. During conference week, the Goodman will offer Crumbs from the Table of Joy.

The Ford Centre for Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph Street
The interior of this building will take your breath away. This theatre opened in 1926. Décor was inspired by the Far East and was beautifully restored after years of disrepair, reopening in 1998. Back in the early days the theatre hosted movies and stage shows. A number of pre-Broadway shows are hosted here. Tours are available on Saturdays. Wicked will be playing at the Oriental through July. Purchase tickets by April 30th.

The LaSalle Bank Theatre, formerly the Shubert
This venue opened in 1906. Back then it was the tallest building in Chicago. It was a hot spot for vaudeville shows, and later entertaining acts such as Harry Houdini. The building was remodeled in 1945. It has recently hosted popular musicals including Monty Python’s Spamalot. Valerie Harper in Golda’s Balcony will be playing there May 30th- June 11th.

The Chicago Theatre
175 N. State Street
This beauty first opened in 1921. They offer plays, concerts, and other events. There is currently nothing scheduled during conference week, but if you get a chance to take a tour it is a beauty.

A bit further away are a few others worthy of mention.

Drury Lane
Water Tower Place
175 E. Chestnut
This fairly new theatre will be hosting The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee during conference week.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater
600 E. Grand Avenue (Navy Pier)
This theatre is located at Navy Pier. During conference week they will host Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. This show will move on to the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon next. Be prepared for a full evening- the show runs 5.5 hours. If that is not long enough for you, check out Hecuba, which is also playing.

The Apollo Theatre
2540 N. Lincoln
Not in the Loop, this theatre is in the popular Lincoln Park area. The Jungle Book will run through June 4th.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
This beauty first opened in 1889. It appears they will be between productions during conference week.

The Arie Crown Theatre
McCormick Place
The Arie Crown was built in 1960. It is 2.5 miles south of downtown Chicago. In June there will be private graduation ceremonies held here, so there are currently no public events during conference week.

Orchestra Hall
220 S. Michigan Avenue
Home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available. During conference week there will be performances on June 4 and June 8-11. Performances will include chamber music, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a jazz performance, and a piano recital.

Ravinia is located in Ravinia/Highland Park in Lake County, Illinois. Popular for outdoor concerts and dance events, they also feature an open-air covered pavilion and a couple of indoor venues. Most Ravinia regulars bring a blanket and a picnic basket and enjoy their evening under the stars. Some of the picnic spreads get elaborate, from wine and cheese to full meals.
There is a train that goes right to the park. http://www.ravinia.org/GettingToRav/ByTrain.aspx

For conference week Ravinia will be offering a variety of musical experiences. On Monday, June 5th, jazz vocalist Jan Monheit will perform. Thursday, June 8th and Friday, June 9th, Ravinia will host South African Spectacular: uShaka by Opera Africa. The BoDeans will perform on Saturday, June 10th. Elvis Costello and the Imposters round off the week on Sunday, June 11th. Tickets can be purchased online or in person. Popular events often sell out, so an early online purchase is a wise decision.

Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N. Wacker Drive
The Lyric Opera of Chicago performs at the Civic Opera House, which opened in 1929.
There are no performances scheduled for June.

For more information in theatre in Chicago see:
http://www.chicagotraveler.com/maps/chicago-downtown-theaters-map.htm for a theatre locations map
http://www.theatreinchicago.com for general theatre information.

Break a leg!


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