For no particular reason, other than to waste some time before I head off to Black Watch, here are some top-of-mind things that I think make theatre in this city is a thing of awesomeness:
1) Big ideas and tight spaces: The storefront scene is the driving pulse of Chicago theatre. In these odd, tight, usually uncomfortable spaces, there are some rather epic ideas being told in bold, resourceful ways. You want to see a highly experimental play about president Lincoln’s struggle with depression told by middle school children? You got it. You in the mood for a storefront production of an ’80s megamusical? Sure thing.
2) Awesome ensembles: From the long-established Steppenwolf to relative newbie The New Colony, 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.
3) Kickass physical acting: Nothing’s more lame than seeing a weakly staged fight scene in a play. However, Chicago has some excellent fight coordinators who keep it real (not to mention daring actors who throw themselves into whatever’s requested of them). And if you’ve seen a show at Profiles Theatre, for example, you’ll know just what I’m talking about.
4) Fresh faces: Chicago is a landing ground for young actors and emerging talent to get their feet wet. And a lot of theater companies seem open to taking a risk and trying these kids out. I’m consistently amazed at the number of new faces in shows – and how amazing they all are. The untapped talent in this city is staggering.
5) Respected talent: When you encounter a performance from one of our iconic Chicago stage actors — such as Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Hollis Resnik, Mary Beth Fisher, Paula Scrofano, Francis Guinan, E. Faye Butler, Ross Lehman and so many more — you know just what you’re getting: a master class in stage acting from professionals who work extremely hard and challenge themselves with each new show.
That’s it for now. What do you love about Chicago theatre? Comment away!