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Chicago Theatre Week Returns Bigger and Better

By Amy Ross

The third edition of the Chicago Theatre Week will take the city’s art scene by storm next week in its biggest celebration of the local theatre scene yet. With over 100 participating shows, the event begins on Feb. 12 and continues for 10 days, almost doubling the duration of previous years and spanning two full weekends for the first time.

Throughout the event, Chicagoans will have access to a diverse roster of productions for $30 or less, including those of prestigious companies like the Chicago Children’s Theatre, the Court Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Theater Wit. Tickets went on sale at the beginning of January and will remain available throughout the event, although they are going fast. Over 4,500 tickets have already been sold this year according to Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres.

She expects 2015 sales to exceed last years 8,000 tickets by at least 2,000. “Theatre Week is doing really well and everybody has embraced it: the theatre community, the press, our media partners and hotels, etc. The theatre-goers love it and it gives people a chance to celebrate what we have in Chicago theatre,” Clapp said.

Some of this year’s highlights include the Mercury Theatre’s production of The Adam’s Family; Broadway in Chicago’s premier of First Wive’s Club, and the Goodman Theatre’ Rapture, Blister, Burn. Steppenwolf’s Marie Antoinette has already sold out. “We created this event to celebrate Chicago theatre. Februrary is generally a time when there is not a whole lot going on, and we wanted to create something special and exciting for the city.

There are 100 theaters participating and 400 productions,” Clapp said. Chicago produces more world premieres each year than any other city in the United States. In the 2012-13 season alone, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 130 world premiere productions and adaptations. Clapp also encouraged people to use the event as an opportunity to explore their neighborhood theatres.

“Any night of the week you can go out and find a number of shows in Chicago and this is unlike any other city, except for New York, and they are different because they have the Broadway brand. What we have here is theatre doing all kinds of work from improv to sketch comedy, to musicals to dramas, to experimental; it really runs the gamut,” Clapp said.

The Chicago Theatre Week was initially proposed by Broadway in Chicago’s Vice-President, Eyleen LaCario, and adopted by the League of Chicago Theatres in partnership with Choose Chicago. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of over 230 theatres interested in promoting the Chicago theatres scene nationally and internationally.

“Chicago is a theatre town, it is in our DNA. The theatre scene is very well supported and we have an extremely collegial environment. We all know what is going on in each others theatres and we believe we have to work together to become stronger.”