Sometimes I take living in the city for granted. To avoid the rat race, I typically take the Pedway to get from the train to my downtown office and back again, which means that I may go for weeks at a time without ever really seeing downtown Chicago — even though I work in the heart of loop.
Well, last night I was reminded of what a stunning city we live in when I checked out a unique performance series called “Cabaret with a View,” which places the audience on the enclosed stage of the Pritzker Pavilion. What I love is you get to experience an intimate cabaret while observing the grand Chicago Millennium Park surroundings through the Pavilion’s glass stage wall.
Because I waited till the last minute to get tickets, we sat up in the choir loft, but it was still a great view. The only downfall is we didn’t get any complimentary cocktails offered to those on the floor. (But a pre-show bite at Tavern at the Park (get the Black Truffle Chicken!) ensured we were sufficiently cocktailed before the show.)
Chicago actress McKinley Carter served as performer for the evening. She doesn’t know this, but Carter and I go way back. When I was a freshman in undergrad, our Social Science class took a field trip to Chicago where we saw Lisa Loomer’s The Waiting Room at Stage Left Theatre. (I guess the Goodman show we were scheduled to see fell through, and our professor scrambled to find an appropriate alternative, so we ended up in this dusty black box theatre. And it was thrilling.) Carter was featured in that small ensemble show, and her performance stuck with me. Since then I’ve been following her career, including her recent success in Porchlight’s Putting it Together.
This was a my first time seeing her in a cabaret setting, and she’s clearly comfortable with the arrangement. She chose Spring as her theme, including the tangential topics of renewal and new love, and colored in the rest with comfortable patter, eclectic and unexpected song selections and a killer Julie Andrews impersonation (seriously, one of the best I’ve ever heard).
That said, we left at intermission, not because we didn’t enjoy ourselves, but because it was Monday night, the show got off to a late start, and we were beat. And I feel I got more than my money’s worth ($15 tickets — best deal in town, IMHO).
So, I suggest you take advantage of this uniquely Chicago cabaret series when the next season of performances are announced.