Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Entertainment for the
Whole Family
F or most families, showbiz central in
Chicago is the North Loop theater
district. Until a couple of years ago,
the district had a down-on-its-luck,
brother-can-you-spare-a-dime atmos-
phere—not the kind of place you
wanted to be after dark with tots in
tow. Happily, the district has under-
gone something of a renaissance, par-
ticularly along State and Randolph
streets. Many of the city's major the-
ater venues have been restored to their
former glory. This is good news for
parents, as many of those glorious old
theaters host the traveling Broadway
productions that attract families.
Chicago is a regular stop on the big-
name entertainment circuit, whether
it's the national tour of Broadway
shows such as Rent and Cabaret or pop
music acts such as U2 or Bruce Spring-
steen (both of whom sell out multiple
nights at stadiums when they come to
town). High-profile shows such as
Disney's Aida and Mel Brooks's stage
version of The Producers had their first
runs here before moving on to New
Yo r k .
While Chicago's off-Loop theaters,
such as Steppenwolf Theatre, have built
their reputations on a gritty style of act-
ing (and a repertoire geared to adults),
Chicago has plenty of theater compa-
nies that are less avant-garde and more
attuned to the younger set. Even the
city's blues community sees the wisdom
of bringing the next generation into the
fold, with special nights that are smoke-
and alcohol-free. In the classical realm,
the Chicago Symphony supports a
youth symphony. Even Chicago's opera
companies make an effort to reach out
to kids—so don't limit yourself!
Check out Chicago Parent Magazine
( & 708/386-5555; www.chicago for calendars of upcom-
ing cultural events targeted to kids.
You can usually pick up free copies of
the magazine at public libraries, book-
stores, toy stores, and kids' clothing
stores. The City of Chicago has cul-
tural listings on its website at www. . For the-
ater, you can't beat www.chicagoplays.
com , the website for the League of
Chicago Theatres. The site links you
to more than 130 Chicago-area the-
aters, and provides an online database
of all current and upcoming produc-
tions, updated weekly. (They are also
categorized so you can look up “chil-
dren's theater.”) The league's Hot Tix
website ( ) has twice-
daily posts offering half-price tickets
at the seven Chicago-area Hot Tix
Chicago Dance and Music Alliance's
website, www.chicagoperformances.
org , provides listings on performances
in these categories: Cultural Center,
Ravinia, Grant Park, Dame Myra Hess
Memorial Concerts, Jazz, Children's,
and Dance. The website also provides a
calendar where you can search for
events by date.
For up-to-date entertainment list-
ings, check the local newspapers and
magazines, particularly the “Friday”
and “Weekend Plus” sections of the
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