This is the most famous and revered theater in Chicago. Since its founding in a church basement in Highland Park in 1976, Steppenwolf Theatre Company (the name comes from the Hermann Hesse novel) has been committed to creating groundbreaking new productions through strong ensemble work and collaboration.
Steppenwolf shows, many of which went to Broadway and beyond, include True West with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, Balm in Gilead, Frank Galati’s adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, and most recently Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County.
While many companies do a token premiere now and then, Steppenwolf is always buzzing with new work. Not only does the company regularly feature new plays and adaptations of literary works (most recently The Diary of Anne Frank and Haruki Murakami’s after the quake) in the Downstairs Theatre, local and international acts are always performing in the Upstairs Theatre and in the intimate Garage as a part of the Visiting Company Initiative.
The Steppenwolf for Young Adults program makes certain that kids stay involved too, with family-geared productions based on the work of writers as varied as Toni Morrison and Mark Twain. Meanwhile, the Traffic series of one-night-only performances takes a more freewheeling approach, inviting audiences to spend An Intimate Evening with David Sedarisor to enjoy A Celebration of Chicago Sketch Comedy. Musicians like John Pizzarelli, Jon Brion, and Oleta Adams have also appeared, and Chicago Public Radio even re-broadcasts Traffic events.
But it’s the mainstage productions where you really get to see the magic of the 35-strong Steppenwolf ensemble, which includes John Mahoney, Laurie Metcalf, Kevin Anderson, and of course Sinise and Malkovich. In addition to the standard (and reasonably priced) five-play mainstage subscription, Steppenwolf offers special options like the Vinci Wine Tasting Series (an expert acquaints you with Vinci’s wine collection as you mingle before the show), Sign-Language-Interpreted and Audio-Described series, the Dinner & Theater Series (pre-show dinner at nearby restaurant included with each ticket), and the Student Half-Price Plan.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company Information
- Public Transportation: Excellent
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Performances Tuesday–Sunday (occasionally Monday)
- Ticket Prices: Single tickets are $20–$68, twenty $20 tickets sold at most performances starting at 11 a.m. on day of show (or 1 p.m. on Sunday), half-priced Rush tickets sold at box office one hour before performance, $15 student Rush tickets sold one hour prior to show, discounted rate for regular groups and deeper discounts for student groups
- Subscriptions: Five-Play subscriptions available for as low as $130. Benefits include free ticket exchanges (one per show).