photo: courtesy of Ravinia
Ravinia is just one of several outdoor theatre options in the area this summer.
With warm weather right around the corner, it's hard to justify buying tickets to a stuffy, indoor theater show. After all, here in Chicago the warm weather doesn't last that long. Luckily, these five theater venues are all either outside or open air; either way, you can indulge your summer fun while still seeing new theater. Who says you can't have the best of both worlds?
Theater on the Lake
I recently caught Dog & Pony Theatre's "As Told By the Vivian Girls" at this Chicago Park District outdoor theatre. The company utilized all of the open, airy spaces inside this venue. But if you're watching a play here, you can also hear the lake hitting the shores, the sound of joggers running by and sunbathers chilling out on the beach. Most traditional shows take place on the ground-level space—it has two huge, high-ceilinged rooms. It's not the most fun in cold weather, but perfect for a summer show.
Maybe your parents are season ticket subscribers to Ravinia. Or maybe you've randomly taken the Metra up to this classy outdoor venue for a select summer concert. But regardless of whether or not you're into the suburban feel, there's no excuse not to catch summer shows here. With their bandshell-style stage and seats, along with grassy areas for picnicking (bring your own food or buy the overpriced eats there) and watching, you're sure to enjoy the summer weather while embracing the live entertainment experience. For a full schedule, visit their Web site.
Outdoor Shakespeare at Oak Park Festival Theatre
Take a trip to this charming suburb for an evening of outdoor Shakespeare. “Much Ado about Nothing,” which runs June 13-July 19, is the next endeavor (every summer the company does a different show.) All summer shows are performed in the Austin Gardens. Parents can bring their kids out to the theater, too, especially during Family Days on June 22 and June 29 for special pricing, pre-show activities and an early 5 p.m. performance for the kiddies. For complete information, visit the site.
Berger Park Cultural Center
Hell in a Handbag made great use of this North Side space during their production of "The Birds." Not only did they get wild with actual fake birds flying up against the windows facing the lake, but actors ran in and out of the building, and scenes actually took place outside. Audience members acted as viewers of the film-within-the-play, and had to walk from the Cultural Center proper to the coach house out back. The coach house space offers a great alternative to the traditional indoor theater experience, and we can't wait to see how The Journeymen make use of this unique space with the upcoming "tick, tick...BOOM".
New Leaf Theater at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center
This Chicago theater company parks it at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. With goals to serve the community and bring theater to Chicagoans, there's no better place than this vibrant, open space that's registered as a Chicago landmark and was designed in 1926 by Edwin H. Clark. A string of one of the Chicago Park District centers, the LPCC has community activities year-round. Although New Leaf’s most recent show, “Girl in the Goldfish Bowl,” closed in early April, the company is currently stirring up new shows. Stay updated on the group's Web site.