Editorial: Support theater week as a way to give back to shuttered local stages

  • Drury Lane Theatre's award-winning "An American in Paris" was one of the options for Chicago Theatre Week 2020. This year's event is virtual -- but vitally important.

    Drury Lane Theatre's award-winning "An American in Paris" was one of the options for Chicago Theatre Week 2020. This year's event is virtual -- but vitally important. Courtesy of Brett Beiner Photography/Drury Lane Theatre

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 2/17/2021 8:53 AM

Last year at this time, Chicago Theatre Week gave theater lovers the chance to grab tickets to a wide range of incredible productions at a substantial discount.

Chicago Theatre Week 2020 featured 134 different productions in the city and suburbs, and 625 individual performances. It opened as the U.S. was facing its first cases of COVID-19, and numbers here could still be tracked in double digits.

 

Settling into their seats to enjoy Drury Lane Theatre's production of "An American in Paris" in Oakbrook Terrace or Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's comedy "Noises Off" in Arlington Heights, theater buffs aware of the looming threat might have wondered if -- or when -- their comfort in such crowded settings would wane.

Weeks later, those suburban theaters and others across the state were shuttered because of the pandemic. Eleven months later, they have yet to reopen.

It's been almost a year since we have gotten to enjoy live theater, and there's no telling when we will do so again.

Still, Chicago Theatre Week is back, and it's more important than ever to consider buying a ticket and taking in an online show.

The productions this year will be virtual, with a list of shows to be unveiled on Feb. 25 -- the first day of theater week -- at chicagotheatreweek.com. The offerings will run through March 7.

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This drastically re-imagined theater week, of course, can't compare with the experience seeing a live work on stage with friends or family members beside you. Participating in theater week 2021, however, is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the local theater scene and a reminder of what awaits us when it is finally safe to reopen our stages.

The shutdown brought by COVID-19 has gone on longer than most of us ever anticipated, and the impact on the theater community in Chicago and the suburbs has been brutal. A couple Chicago theaters have closed permanently; others may be in danger.

Theaters, as a news release announcing Chicago Theatre Week pointed out, were some of the first venues to close. And they will be the last to reopen.

To make sure that they do reopen, those of us who have enjoyed the dramas, comedies and musicals staged at local theaters need to support them now -- to give back for all they have given us over the years.

So when theater week opens next week, check out the offerings. Discover a new theater, or make a virtual visit to a favorite.

If you can afford to, buy a ticket. Make a donation. And do what you can to make sure we get to settle into those local theater seats once again.

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