Friends of Chicago's Neighborhood Theatres

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See a Show

What’s the easiest and most fun way to support the local Chicago theatre community? Go see a play! Our city has earned a world-wide reputation for gripping, intimate theatre with fantastic acting and stunning design. Talented actors, directors, and designers from across the country come to Chicago to launch their careers and to set down roots in this vibrant community. There are over three hundred theatre companies regularly producing in the Chicago area. On any given weekend, you can choose from nearly a hundred shows all over the city. New to the Chicago theatre scene? Overwhelmed by the amazing array of options? Here is some information to help you jump in:

Start Your Search

Have a favorite genre? Want to see what’s on stage in your neighborhood? Looking for an evening out on a particular date? These web sites will help you search for a show by genre, neighborhood, and/or performance date.

Ask Your Friends

One if the interesting things about Chicago is that our audiences see A LOT of theater. A recent survey of theater patrons found that 2/3 of them attend 7 or more shows per year. So if you’re looking for an evening out at the theater, and you want advice, ask around. Someone in your circle is one of the 1.5 million people who attended a Chicago area theater last year. That person will be eager to share their opinions and experiences.

Read Reviews

Chicago not only has great theatre, Chicago also has great theatre critics. With nearly a thousand shows produced per year, the prolific output of the Chicago theatre community provokes discussion and inspires commentary. Each critic brings a particular expertise, perspective, taste, and voice to that conversation. Sometimes the voices agree. Sometimes they don’t. Read their reviews, listen to their voices, and find the ones that speak to you.

Theatre Attendance 101

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BE ADVENTUROUS
The Chicago theatre scene is a great place for exploring. Our celebrated artists work everywhere from the smallest theatres to the biggest stages. Our hundreds of production companies produce everything from comedies to dramas to musicals. So go big or go intimate. Go dark or go funny. Go south side, north side, west side, loop, or suburbs. Go explore the many stages of Chicago.
GET ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Is there a post-show discussion after the performance? What is the ticket refund/exchange policy? What is the late seating policy? Is it general admission or reserved seating? Is the show appropriate for kids? Where should I eat in the neighborhood? Where can I park? Can I take public transportation to the theatre? Are there discount ticket offers? What accommodations does the theatre have for wheelchairs? To ensure a smooth experience, and to learn about special opportunities, check the theatre’s web site for information, then call if you have additional questions.
TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE
Silence your cell phone. Double check to make sure you’ve silenced your cell phone. Are you really really sure that you have completely silenced your cell phone? In the theatre, there are no screens between you and the actors. This is a friendly reminder that cell phone beeping, vibrating, or texting is distracting to the actors and rude to your fellow audience members.
FOLLOW YOUR FAVORITES
When you see a great show or discover an interesting theatre company, follow the company on social media. Sign up for the company’s mailing list. You’ll get special ticket offers, announcements of upcoming productions, and opportunities to engage with the work of the company.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS
When an amazing experience in the theatre leaves you buzzing with excitement, share that buzz with your friends. In this theatre-loving town, sparks of enthusiasm catch like wildfire.

FAQ

The Joseph Jefferson Committee is an independent non-profit organization which sponsors the Joseph Jefferson Awards, an annual ceremony honoring excellence in Chicago area theatre. These awards are known as “The Jeffs” The committee gives both equity and non-equity Jeff awards in many categories, including acting, directing, design, ensemble, and production.

The committee sends representatives to the opening night of every eligible show in the Chicago area. The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when, after the opening night of its run, at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed excellent by the opening night judges of the Joseph Jefferson Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
The Chicago neighborhood theater scene offers great productions at affordable prices. But if you are feeling extra frugal, look into these penny-pinching options:
  • HotTixRun by the League of Chicago Theatres (an association of hundreds of Chicago area companies), HotTix sells half-price tickets to a wide variety of theatre productions for the current week as well as future performances.. There are only a LIMITED NUMBER of these half-price tickets available for any particular show. Tickets can be purchased on-line or at any of their three outlet locations.
  • Rush TicketsSome theater companies offer a limited number of discounted tickets on the day of the production. Usually, these tickets are not available on-line, you must purchase them at the box office. Check the theater website or call the theater box office to ask about rush ticket availability.
  • Senior/Student DiscountsCheck the theater website or call the theater box office to find out if the company offers discounts for seniors or students.
  • Go to a PreviewMost theaters do 1-2 weekends of preview performances. Preview tickets are less expensive than run tickets because preview performances are technically part of the rehearsal process. They are an opportunity for the theater to test out the production on an audience and to refine the design elements (costume, lighting, set, etc.). Depending on where a theater is in the preview process, the show might be more or less “done” and ready for opening night (when the critics will attend). Generally, the closer you are to opening night, the more “finished” the production will be.

    Previews can be fascinating to attend because, as an audience member, your reactions are informing the final development of the production. Directors will make tweaks to a show based on how the audience responds during previews. If it is a new play, the playwright might even rewrite whole scenes.
  • Follow Your FavoritesMany theaters make discounted tickets available through their social media feeds and mailing lists. To learn about special ticket offers, sign up for your favorite theaters’ mailing lists and social media feeds.
  • Subscribe/JoinMost theaters offer subscription or membership packages. These offer incredible value— allowing you see more theater for less money.
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  • The League of Chicago TheatresThe largest association of theaters in the Chicago area, the League of Chicago Theatres represents hundreds of producing organizations. The league is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development, professional development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals. In addition to providing a comprehensive listing of shows currently playing in the Chicago area, and offering limited discount tickets through its HotTix service, the League also serves industry professionals by organizing educational and networking events, hosting job boards, and posting audition notices.
  • African American Arts Alliance of ChicagoThe mission of the African American Arts Alliance is to serve as a resource that helps to strengthen and develop African American artists and arts organizations while providing marketing, networking and promotional opportunities. It is also their purpose to serve as an advocate on behalf of their membership, providing a voice at the table that testifies to the strong economic and educational contributions made by their membership to the cultural development of Chicago.
  • ALTAThe Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists of Chicago (ALTA, for short) exists as a nexus for the thriving landscape of Latino/a theatre artists in the Chicagoland area. This service organization is dedicated to furthering the Chicago Latino Theatre movement by promoting, educating, representing, and unifying Latino/a identified artists and their allies.
  • BTAABTAA stands for Black Theater Alliance Awards. BTAA is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit entity, founded to honor African Americans who achieve excellence in theater, dance and all areas of the performing and technical arts in the Chicagoland area.

    BTAA's award statuette features a gold plated oval star mounted on a black marble base. According to BTAA founder and president Vincent Williams, "the star symbolizes excellence and the power of hope that our awardees give to our community, which is also represented by the black marble base." The categories of achievement range from performing to the technical aspects of theater. Also, BTAA administers an Award of Merit to a special honoree that has made a significant contribution to the world of the performing arts.
  • The SaintsIf you see a show in the Chicago area, your usher will probably wear a badge that says “The Saints.” The Saints are a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the performing arts. One of their most visible methods of support is to provide volunteer ushers to Chicago-area theatre companies. But in addition to providing this valuable service, The Saints also offer other volunteer assistance and make financial grants to non-profit arts organizations.
  • Neighborhood Associations/Chambers of CommerceNeighborhood theaters contribute to the civic life of their community through neighborhood theater associations and participation in local chambers of commerce. These theaters welcome input from the neighborhood community and partnerships with local businesses. Use this list below or check with your local chamber of commerce to learn about the theaters producing in your neighborhood.

    Belmont Theater District

    Rogers Park FlexPass

    Wicker Park/Bucktown
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