Yes, we're called "The Second City." But in my mind, Chicago is second to none. And this also applies for our thriving theatre scene.

With more than 200 theatre companies in the city, at any given day there is always something to see -- particularly if you've a daring theatrical appetite. While there are always the tried-and-true companies in this city that consistently turn out quality work with impressive production values, such as Steppenwolf, Goodman and Lookingglass, not to mention our healthy lineup of Broadway in Chicago shows, the storefront scene is the driving pulse of Chicago theatre. In these odd, tight and charming spaces, there are some rather epic ideas being told in bold, resourceful ways. (Check back for a post on storefront shows I'd recommend, as well as storefront shows to look out for this summer).

And the talent in this city is just staggering. In addition to our host of highly respected actors, such as Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Hollis Resnik, Mary Beth Fisher, Francis Guinan, E. Faye Butler, Ross Lehman and so many more, young theatre professionals come to Chicago because they know they'll find work. And that's great for us, because we're always on the cusp of seeing the next big deal.

In addition to individual actors, the ensemble is the force behind creative inspiration in Chicago theatre. They write together, build together, create together, act together. The result is an idea realized from like minds. To me, that’s just an awesome thing.

To drive the point home even further that Chicago's theatre scene is second to none, several Chicago productions are moving to Broadway next season, including two Steppenwolf shows (the dark suburban comedy Detroit and a landmark production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) and a production at the Goodman (Chinglish, a hilarious comedy about the perils of modern global business which is playing at the Goodman through the end of the month).

If you think about it, Broadway is just getting our sloppy seconds. Not to imply these productions are sloppy by any means -- quite the opposite, in fact -- but, well, you know what I mean. Plus, you can see these productions in Chicago for a fraction of their Broadway ticket prices.

So, if you're looking to take a risk and challenge yourself creatively, check out what's playing in our city -- and perhaps take a risk on a smaller, storefront company. You'll be amazed by what you'll find.