Like the wrangling over whether Al Gore or George Bush won Florida, the tiresome hype for the Goodman Theatre’s big, fancy, expensive new space seems to be endless. Most folks with an interest in Chicago theater don’t care what the place looks like–they care about what goes on inside. But the Goodman has picked a great way to renew its artistic lease: throwing open its doors to numerous local artists and inviting the public in to sample their work for free. The agenda for this weekend’s marathon, sponsored by Marshall Field’s, includes entertainment in the Goodman’s two performance spaces, the Owen Bruner and Albert Ivar theaters, as well as its main lobby. Among those scheduled to appear are the Jellyeye drum-theater group, a fringe fave; the Noble Fool, Free Associates, and Schadenfreude improv-comedy ensembles; two children’s-theater troupes, Child’s Play Touring Theatre and the Emerald City Theatre Company; Teatro Vista; and local actor-singers offering selections from some of the Goodman’s musical-theater productions of past seasons, including Sunday in the Park With George, Floyd Collins, Pal Joey, and the brilliant Wings, which had its world premiere in the old Goodman studio. There’ll also be music, cocktails, breakfast, stage-combat and dance workshops, and a “Theatre Slam” featuring aspiring actors from local university theater departments, as well as a screening of the backstage melodrama All About Eve. Oh yes, there’s also a special edition of Milly’s Orchid Show, but it’s sold-out. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, 312-895-5406. November 17 and 18: Friday, 5 PM, through Saturday, 7 PM; see performance listings for complete schedule. Free, but advance timed tickets are available on Thursday and Friday, November 16 and 17, from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Goodman’s box office.

–Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Suzanne Plunkett.