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updated: 1/8/2013 6:30 AM

Discount tickets offered for Chicago Theatre Week

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As if the breadth and diversity of Chicago-area theater weren't enough to entice audiences, special discounts are now being offered for next month's Chicago Theatre Week.

The League of Chicago Theatres, in partnership with marketers Choose Chicago, announced the establishment of Chicago Theatre Week to run Feb. 12-17 at a number of Chicago-area companies.

Participants include most of the big city theaters as well as suburban First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook, Writers' Theatre in Glenview, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest and Northlight Theatre in Skokie.

The idea is to celebrate and promote local theater by making specially priced tickets available to select shows during the weeklong festival, organizers say.

Tickets priced at $15 and $30 (depending on the show) will be available for purchase at chicagotheatreweek.com beginning Wednesday. Jan. 9. Those prices do not include taxes or service fees.

"People know there's great theater (here)," said Eileen LaCario, League of Chicago Theatre chairwoman and vice-president of Broadway in Chicago. "What they don't know is the number of performances that go on every night."

"It will be surprising to many people how many shows are going on at the same time," she said.

Organizers chose mid-February because there's a lot of theater going on and because that's about the time cabin fever has set in and people are ready to get out, LaCario said.

"It's a great time of year to get out of your house and appreciate what we have here," she said, referring to the 75 shows currently featured during theater week, a number she anticipates will increase to 100 by Feb. 12.

Unfortunately, Broadway in Chicago's "The Book of Mormon" will not be among them, mainly because tickets are sold out through the end of March.

Although the ticket prices are less than some companies typically charge, area theaters have been supportive of the initiative, LaCario said.

"We're hoping, like any program, that this will gain traction and grow over the years," she said.

At this point, LaCario says the partners are concentrating their efforts on the Chicago metro area, but they hope to expand to the five-state area from which Broadway in Chicago and regional powerhouses like Goodman, Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare theaters draw. Those theaters are participating in Chicago Theatre Week along with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet and Second City and many smaller venues,

"Broadway will always have its luster," LaCario said, "but Chicago has a unique brand of theater and culture that is unlike anywhere else ... it needs to be shown in its own right."

Additionally, League members hope Chicago Theatre Week -- which features artist talkbacks as well as reduced tickets -- will entice people who don't typically attend theater.

"Of course people who are inclined to see theater are going to be the first to adopt this program," LaCario said, "but I think this will encourage other people to try something they haven't tried before."

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