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Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Arts: Art Scene in Chicago

Major Theaters | Small Equity Companies | Specialized Theaters

From the grand theater houses of the Loop to the scads of storefront theaters tucked away on neighborhood side streets, the Chicago theater scene possesses a depth and variety unparalleled in almost any other American city.

Hundreds of active companies produce thousands of shows each year, drawing on a vast reservoir of veteran stage and screen actors as well as up-and-coming performers. Downtown, the Oriental and the Cadillac Palace Theater stage lavish Broadway productions while the Goodman Theatre showcases some of the nation’s premier acting and directing talent.

North of the Loop, the Lookingglass Theatre Company and Steppenwolf Theatre Company attract awards and critical praise for visual dynamism and theatrical innovation. But the heart of Chicago theater lies less in the major commercial houses than in the tiny storefront theaters and improv venues that dot the North side and Northwest side.

Chicago is known as the global capital of improvisation for good reason; not only did the city host the first major improv theaters but today it supports a community of over five thousand improvisers. (Andrew Bolduc)

  • Major Theaters : Included among Chicago’s biggest theaters are five Tony-winning companies, plus the exceptional “Broadway in Chicago” series.
  • Small Equity Companies: Many of the greatest plays – especially ones by developing American playwrights – began at a small Chicago theater.
  • Specialized Theaters: For those who enjoy intellectual work with diverse themes and ensembles, like About Face Theatre (GLBT), Teatro Vista (Latino) or Redmoon Theatre (unexpected theater in unexpected locations).