The Second City will resume performances Thursday with an 8 p.m. show that will include in the audience Chicago firefighters who helped battle a blaze in the theater offices last month.
Second City members will pass the fireman's hat after the show to raise funds for the Chicago Fire Department's Gold Badge Society, founded in 1991 to assist the families of firefighters and paramedics killed in the line of duty. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of a T-shirt that reads: "Where there's smoke, there's satire" will also go to the fund, said CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander, who thanked first responders for their efforts.
A fire that started in the street-level Adobo Grill spread through vents, destroying about 40 percent of the theater company's offices above the restaurant. The main stage at 1616 N. Wells St. in Chicago wasn't damaged.
That the theater is up and running after only three weeks surprised some, but not Alexander, who credited Second City employees and members of Chicago's theater community for their support and City Hall for helping to "cut through some of the red tape" in order to reopen.
"An insurance consultant said he never saw anything like it," Alexander said. "He said, 'It would normally take three months to get where you are.'"
Second City staff members have been working out of the backroom at Corcoran's Bar and Grill across the street, Alexander said. It will be eight or nine months before they can reclaim their offices, he said.
Since the fire, Second City performances and rehearsals have been going on at Annoyance, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens theaters, and at the Laugh Factory and the Chicago History Museum, he said.
Performances at Second City's sister venue, UP Comedy Club, at Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., resume Sept. 22. Standup comedian Matt Braunger's show scheduled there for Thursday has been moved to The Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Braunger also performs Friday and Saturday at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago.
The Second City e.t.c. revue "Soul Brother, Where Art thou?" resumes Sept. 24 at 1608 N. Wells St.
The 104th main stage revue will likely premiere in November, Alexander said.
Alexander expects Second City's training center to reopen next week,
Ensemble and staff members pulled together to get the shows up and running, Alexander said.
"Everyone has been fantastic," he said. "Morale is phenomenal. It's heartwarming to see exactly how people responded. It's times like these you realize what a great staff we have."