Chicago Theater Report for Playtime with Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall

Below is a lightly edited transcript of my Playtime Chicago Theater Report, which aired on WCGO radio in Chicago on November 24th, 2019. An audio recording of the show, including my report, is available at WCGO’s website archive. The Theater Report starts in the second hour, at about the 4:24 mark.

Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chicago’s Storefront Theaters

I couldn’t be more proud of my city than I am right now. A recent study commissioned by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation looked at the activities of 41 Chicago storefront theaters: It turns out that these theaters staged over 60 world premiers during our last theater season, resulting in 267,000+ seats sold. Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones estimates that the economic impact of these theaters exceeds $80 million dollars a year. 

This is a remarkable achievement for our theaters and testimony to the impact of the arts on our communities and economies. The arts are not a luxury, folks, they are the very essence of what it means to be human and are deserving of our most vigorous support.

Speaking of small theater companies, I have some exciting news from St. Sebastian Players as well as The Raven Theatre:

Side by Side by SSP and Studio BE: A Retrospective Musical Fundraiser

Our friends at the Saint Sebastian Players (SSP) along with  Studio BE, a children’s musical theatre company will be presenting “Side by Side by SSP and Studio BE: A Retrospective Musical Fundraiser.” On Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served 30 minutes before curtain and performances Performances take place at St. Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey, in Chicago. Free parking is available in two lots. Tickets are $45. For tickets and information, call 773-404-7922 or visit saintsebastianplayers.org.

(left to right) Martasia Jones and Matthew James Elam, in Raven Theatre’s production of HOODOO LOVE. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Hoodoo Love at the Raven Theatre Extended

I’m thrilled to report that the Raven Theatre’s Hoodoo Love, which I’ve recommended on this show, has been extended to December 22nd. Get your tickets now at raventheatre.com or by calling (773) 338-2177.

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Auditorium Theatre Open House

Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre plans to celebrate its 130th anniversary by opening its doors to the public. You’ll be able to explore this amazing theater which was designed by architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. President Benjamin Harrison attended the original opening in 1889. 

This will be a family-friendly event, with children’s activities, a scavenger hunt, a photo booth, and tours. Speaking of tours, the standard 10:30 am and noon tours will take place as usual, and they are free with pre-registration.

The open house itself begins at 4 p.m. and runs until  7. There will also be guided tours during the open house and there will be a champagne toast and cake at 6 pm. Kids receive free popcorn and adults can get a free drink at the bar if they pre-register for the event at tickets.auditoriumtheatre.org.

Young People’s Theater Center of Lincoln Park

Speaking of families and young people, I’ve got a couple of pieces of great news: The Greenhouse Theater Center has launched the Young People’s Theatre of Lincoln Park (YPT), a new company offering professional theatrical productions for young audiences along with performance opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds. In addition, the company will also commission new works and provide educational opportunities. 

The Young People’s Theater will announce its inaugural season of 2020-2021 during the Spring of 2020.  Visit: greenhousetheater.org for more information.


Gaelle Marcel

Urban Gateways Teen Arts Pass

Social service agency Urban Gateways has launched the Teen Arts Pass, a program that allows young people from 13-19 to grab $5 tickets to some of of the best venues and companies in the city, including the Black Ensamble, Victory Gardens, Steep Theatre, The Lyric, The Auditorium, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Sign up for the program is free. To get complete details on how the program works, visit teenartspass.urbangateways.org/.



Harmony France and Christina Hall in Firebrand Theatre’s production of
ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE
. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Always. . .Patsy Cline by Firebrand Theatre

I got to attend Firebrand Theatre’s Always…Patsy Cline at The Den Theatre this week. Always. . .Patsy Cline is based on the true story of country singer Patsy Cline’s relationship with superfan Louise Seger, a relationship that only ended with Cline’s untimely death at the age of 30. Stars Harmony France and Christina Hall who switch roles throughout the run, take turns playing Patsy and Louise. 

This musical play is a delight: There is a LOT of music in this production, which is top-notch. That doesn’t mean that the story is thin, however: This is a delightful tale of two young women leading very different lives who nevertheless form a strong bond. I definitely recommend the show.

The show is in The Den’s Bookspan Theater, 1331 N. Milwaukee Avenue, which is on the first floor of the building, making it accessible to most theatergoers. If you are interested in attending a performance and have a disability, contact the theater ahead of time to request accommodations.

Parking is tricky in that part of Wicker Park, but the theater is a short walk from the Division Blue Line Station and along the Milwaukee Avenue 56 bus route. Regular run: Thursday, November 21 – Sunday, December 15, 2019

You can purchase your tickets online through the box offices or websites for both The Den and Firebrand Theatre. Half-price tickets are currently available through HotTix.org.

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