A theatregoer's guide to Chicago

Friday, 7 December 2014 7:28 PM

Watching a play, opera or ballet performance is a great way to spend an evening and it's something you'll certainly have the opportunity to do when on a luxury holiday in Chicago. With the Windy City home to more than 200 theatres, there's scope to see everything from world premieres to one-person shows put on by amateur dramatic companies.

Of course, having such a wide choice of venues to visit can make it difficult to decide where exactly to go for an evening's entertainment during your break. Once you've booked your UK to Chicago flight, it's worth looking at a few theatres' listings to see what shows will be on while you're in the city.

If it turns out there is a particular theatre you want to visit or a show you'd really like to see while you're there, it's a good idea to book your tickets early. Given the fact that Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the United States (only New York and Los Angeles are larger), it should be little surprise that demand for seats for many performances is fierce and they often sell out weeks in advance.

One place where you are almost guaranteed to enjoy watching a great play is the Court Theatre. Established by the University of Chicago in 1955, the theatre is located in the Hyde Park district of the city and has put on hundreds of productions. Recent years have seen everything from a one-person adaptation of Homer's epic poem Iliad to Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors put on, so you can be certain there will be an equal amount of variety in the institution's season of shows when you visit the city.

The Biograph Theater is another must-visit place for any keen theatregoer taking a holiday in Chicago. Located on 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, this 299-seat venue is the home of the Victory Gardens Theatre company and is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary plays and musicals, with many shows having their American or world premieres here. Among the latter is Chicago Is Burning, which has its first-ever airing on July 12th 2015 and will run for a month.

If you're hoping to grab a bite to eat before watching a show, check out one of the many restaurants that run special offers for theatregoers attending performances at the Biograph. These include, among others, the Cafe Bernard bistro on North Halstead Street, which serves authentic French cuisine, including bouillabaisse and Toulouse-style cassoulet.

Even in the unlikely event that there isn't a show on that interests you, it's still worth visiting the theatre, as it's the location of the assassination of infamous bank robber John Dillinger. When leaving the venue after watching a film in July 1934, Dillinger was killed in a hail of FBI gunfire and, as such, the theatre is now on the United States's National Register of Historic Places.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Chicago Theatre is another great place to take in a show and even though it can seat 3,600 people, you should act quickly to book your tickets if there's a performance you really want to see.

As well as putting on various plays and musicals throughout the years, the venue hosts concerts by big-name musicians, with Alicia Keys, Prince and Arcade Fire among the artists to have played here in recent years.

Whoever you go to see, make sure you spend some time taking in the theatre's magnificent design. Built in the French baroque style, the venue contains a multitude of ornate crystal chandeliers and bronze light fixtures, while a miniature replica of Paris's Arc de Triomphe can be seen on the building's exterior.

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