So you've heard about the Chicago theatre scene, but do you really know the truths about it? Learn about the incredibly rich selection of theatre companies in Chicago outside the downtown district. Do not get put off by theatre prices... how does half price sound to you? And don't forget, theatre comes in all shapes and sizes so try sketch comedy, or productions geared just for kids, or an upbeat musical if all the drama doesn't suit you.
Here are five myths about the Chicago theatre scene — debunked.
Myth #1: All good Chicago
theatre is downtown.
Mistake: Limiting your search to theatres
within walking distance of your hotel.
Though downtown Chicago is
certainly a theatre mecca, some of the best theatre in the city is off the
beaten path. Try diversifying your theatergoing experience with theatres in
different neighborhoods with their own unique identity: Lakeview, Edgewater,
Rogers Park, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park all have vibrant theatre scenes of
Don't forget that two of Chicago's five Tony Award winning regional
theatres, Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf, are outside of the downtown area. If
you're visiting the suburbs or are up for an adventure, don't pass up theatres
like Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Writers Theatre in Glencoe and Paramount
Theatre in Aurora. Good theatre is all around.
Myth #2: Chicago theatre is too
Mistake: Not doing your research
before buying your ticket or not using Hot Tix.
Moderately-priced tickets are one
of the biggest advantages to seeing a show in Chicago. In fact, a lot of
theatre companies in Chicago pride themselves in offering low-priced tickets. Some
companies like Oracle Theatre and Quest Theatre Ensemble charge no admission to see their shows. The Neo
Futurists' famous Too Much Light Makes
the Baby Go Blind determines admission based on the role of a die.
way around full-priced tickets are flex passes and memberships. The Black Card from Steppenwolf starts at $30 per credit and a Membership package with Theater Wit
starts at $22 a month for unlimited shows. Even Broadway In Chicago's
memberships are affordable at as low as $100 for a season of 5 shows... not bad
Perhaps the biggest hidden gem, though, for discounted tickets is Hot Tix, a half-priced ticketing service operated by the League of Chicago Theatres that has weekly
offerings of half-priced tickets of theatre companies large and small. With
tickets from $5 to $40 Hot Tix is a great resource to secure theatre tickets
Myth #3: The bigger the
theatre, the better the show.
Mistake: Judging by size over
There's nothing quite like the
experience of seeing a big show on an extravagant stage, but if you want to
have the full Chicago theatre experience, the storefront theatres are where
it's at. Chicago is famous for powerful stories being told in intimate spaces.
Lucky for Chicago theatre goers, the storefront options are endless.
place to start for exploring the storefront scene is Theater Wit and Stage 773,
two neighboring storefront venues that rent their stages out to companies who
do not have their own spaces. Because of their rental nature, there is always
something different going on, from world premieres to musicals.
their own storefront spaces bring an entirely different experience. Neo-Futurists, Rivendell, and A Red Orchid are just a few of the many well-respected
storefront theatres. Other audience favorites are The House, The Hypocrites and
Myth #4: All local Chicago
theatre is dark and intense.
Mistake: Generalizing over 200
The reputation of gritty, dramatic
straight-plays might be true for a handful of Chicago's popular companies, but
this generalization neglects the rest of the 200+ theatre companies in the
city. Because Chicago theatre is so mission-driven, each company has a unique interpretation
of a variety of types of shows: dramas, comedies, dance, cabaret, you name it.
Chicago doesn't have a vast selection of musical theatre? Check out Marriott, Paramount,
Drury Lane, Porchlight and BoHo. Looking for a family friendly show? Adventure
Stage, Emerald City, Chicago Children's Theatre and Barrel of Monkeys present shows
just for kids while Lifeline and Northbrook have a family series in addition to
their regular programming. Don't forget Chicago's world renowned comedy scene...
The Second City, anyone? Outside of theatre, Chicago is also home to the celebrated
Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Myth #5: There are better ways
to spend a night out in Chicago.
Mistake: Not seeing a show in
Sure, there is a lot to do in
Chicago but it is so important not to pass up the performing arts while in the
city. Chicago is home to more world premieres and more Regional Theatre Tony
Award winners than any other city in the country. Chicago theatre is as diverse
as it is accessible and as thoughtful as it is entertaining. Theatre in Chicago
makes you laugh, cry, smile and understand the world a little bit more
completely. You are dong yourself an injustice by not seeing more of it.
Visit the Choose
Chicago Events Calendar or ChicagoPlays.com
to see what exciting productions are on stage while you're here, and for the inside scoop on what's happening across the city, get
recommendations from our resident culture vultures at the Chicago Like a Local blog.