When people talk about the theater capital of the US, typically, they’re talking about New York City. But those who give all the credit to the Great White Way have never hit up Chicago’s incredible theater scene.
From the iconic illuminated facade of the Chicago Theater to the lavish architecture of the Nederlander or Cadillac Palace, Chi-town is home to some of the best productions in the country. But sometimes, the best production experiences happen off the beaten path. These are the best places to go to experience Chicago theater.
Victory Garden Theater Company
Based out of Lincoln Park’s Biograph Theater (the death place of notorious gangster John Dillinger, for history buffs out there), Victory Garden Theater is one of the go-to places for new content.
This company boasts more play premieres than any other company in the city, constantly hosting programs to feature new playwrights. They’re also known for championing diverse stories and immersing students in the arts. Theater for a cause? Sign us up.
Lookingglass Theatre Company
For shows that straddle the line between theater and circus performance, the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theater Company is an underrated gem among places to experience Chicago theater.
This company, located in the basement of the historic Water Tower building on Michigan Avenue, provides high-flying, mind-bending shows that capture the imagination. Their shows range from retellings of classic tales like Alice and Wonderland to short film productions about the Windy City.
If you want to combine the old classics with a walk down Navy Pier, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. But even though the theater embraces the bard’s works, it does more than just Shakespeare.
Chicago Shakespeare houses three different stages, including a traditional thrust stage, ala the Globe Theatre. It also houses touring productions from around the world and an impressive arts-in-literacy program that was praised by Michelle Obama.
Note on Theatre-Going Protocol
Before the pandemic, getting ready for the theatre just meant finding your best jewelry and formal occasion hats. These days, you also need another couple of accessories in your arsenal—an up-to-date vaccination card, ID, and a mask.