What a difference a couple of days makes. On Tuesday, the League of Chicago Theatres issued a statement to “reassure our patrons that all of Chicago’s theatres remain open for business.” But two days later, after Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot urged the shutdown of all public and private events expected to attract 250 or more patrons, theaters and other venues around the Chicago area, large and small, announced that they were either canceling or postponing their planned performances and other public events, including fund-raising galas and panel discussions. (TheReader had planned to hold a panel at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre on Wednesday, March 25. That event has been canceled.)
On Thursday, Deb Clapp, executive director of the League, issued another statement:
“The safety and health of our audiences, artists and theatre staff remains our highest priority. As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, we will continue to share with our member organizations precautions they can take as outlined by federal health authorities and state and local officials to ensure that theatres are ready to welcome patrons back after this temporary shut-down.” The League also has published a resources guide for theaters.
We have been receiving a steady stream of notices from theaters and will be updating listings and existing reviews for shows that are canceled or postponed.
In addition to the individual shows listed, the following venues have also canceled all live performances and/or classes for the time being: The Annoyance, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago Magic Lounge, CIC Theater, ComedySportz, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, The Den, Harris Theater, iO Chicago, Laugh Out Loud Theater, Links Hall, the Neo-Futurists, Newport Theater, Otherworld Theatre, Playground Theater, The Second City, Stage 773.
In the meantime, if you have tickets for a show that has not yet canceled, it’s probably prudent to call ahead the day of the performance to make sure it’s still happening. Several theaters have noted that they are willing to exchange tickets for future productions. Since they are likely to suffer a very large hit from lost box office revenue during this shutdown, you might want to consider treating the cost of your ticket as a donation if you can afford to do so.
Also, we’re hearing from box office staff that they appreciate patience in this trying time. (Remember that they too are facing a possible loss of income or employment because of this situation.) Most theaters with subscribers will be reaching out to those patrons about refunds and exchanges, so you might wish to hold off on calling the box office until you hear from them.
We will continue to review those shows that do open in the days and weeks ahead. v