The Great Fire Chicago of 1871 inspire a play at Lookingglass Theatre

“The Great Fire” is the newest production at The Lookinglass Theatre in the Waterworks Building on Michigan Avenue. If you don’t know, these buildings are just a few of the buildings that were not destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire started buying on October 8th, 1871 destroying 4 square miles of Chicago, burning the neighborhoods now known as the Loop, River North, Streeterville, & the Near North. The fire burned the site where the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago – Downtown now stands.

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of that tragedy, Lookinglass member John Musian has reworked his 1999 play. Expecting pure tragedy, I was quite surprised at the many humorous numbers interspersed in the story. That is not to say that this is a lighthearted comedy, at it’s heart the show still tells the story of the fire that claimed hundreds of lives of the young city of Chicago. You will learn the fate of two families: the family of a rich & highly influential judge & poor immigrant family. Needless the say, the fire does not discriminate.  You will learn that the phrase “fiery red-head” will take on a whole new meaning as you see a young redhead as the personification of the fire. She torments her victims with dance, fighting & choking them with smoke. This abstract way to show the fire gives some interest in the story even showing a very interesting “death waltz.”

I would highly recommend this show to history buffs (I learned a few new facts about the fire). The show is even more enjoyable if you are familiar with either the fire of Chicago history. I would say kids as young as 10 would also understand and enjoy the show. Running about an hour & 30 minutes with no intermission, you will be surprised how quickly the show is paced. Through November 20th, you can buy tickets at the Lookingglass Theatre.

Just a 15 minute walk from the hotel, the Water Works & Water Tower are a Chicago landmark are work a look. The Chicago’s Visitor Information Center is even located in the Pump House along with the theatre & the still in use pump, pumping in the city’s drinking water.  The tower is the 2nd oldest waterpower in the US. From a time when public buildings were built not just for their use, but as an icon for civic pride.

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Broadway Playhouse: Great theatre for a Girls’ Night on the Town!

“Love, Loss & What I Wore” is currently playing at the Broadway Playhouse through December 4th, 2011. A group of monologues by women telling how that clothes that they wore affected the memories of their lives. The show starts off quite poignant, describing clothes that have some important meaning in the their lives. I was quite surprised how much I was enjoying the show with these poignant moments. The second half had quite a bit more humor, including at bit called “my first bra.” The humor definitely moved the intermission less show along, but I longed for the stories found earlier in the show. The bra stories were part of the show called “the clothesline” where all 5 women on stay spoke telling their story.

 

I would highly recommend this she for women whether they be fashion concious or not. I would say that the crowd was easily 12 to 1 women to men. I undoubtedly was sure that the men in attendance were the supportive husband that tagged along or the brave soul that surprised his wife with tickets. Perhaps there were some gentlemen, like myself, that were there seeing the show as part of his Broadway In Chicago subscription. I am glad I saw the show, although I would not have without my season tix! This show is also very easy for the non-theatre goer to see since it is a collection of vignettes. The show is about an hour & 40 minutes with no intermission, so keep this in mind when buying drinks beforehand (I had two beers 7 could not make it all the way though)!

 

Playing through December 4, 2011, tickets are $68 & can purchased at Broadway in Chicago  Photos from opening night

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