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Chicago area theaters respond to health crisis
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

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NOTE: The following information was accurate as of March 14. In a fluid and rapidly changing environment, new information is arriving daily, so check the websites of individual theater companies and venues.

All of Chicago's larger theaters have suspended performances in keeping with the response of city, county and state officials to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following companies and venues have closed current shows and/or rescheduled upcoming openings: Apollo Theater Center, Black Ensemble Theater, Broadway Playhouse ( at Water Tower Place ), Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Symphony Orchestra ( Symphony Center ), CIBC Theatre, Court Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre ( Oakbrook Terrace ), Goodman Theatre, Joffrey Ballet ( upcoming performances at the Auditorium Theatre ), Lookingglass Theatre ( at the Water Tower Pumping Station ), Lyric Opera of Chicago ( The Ring cycle being cancelled ), Nederlander Theatre ( formerly the Oriental ), Northlight Theatre ( Skokie ), Paramount Theatre ( Aurora ), The Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre, Theater at the Center ( Muncie, Indiana ), Victory Gardens Theater and Writers Theatre ( Glencoe ).

Chicago Shakespeare Theater still hopes to open its short visit by the Royal Shakespeare Company ( April 15-May 2 ) as planned. Teatro Zinzanni is continuing performances but reducing the audience size for each show. Lyric Opera of Chicago has cancelled its Ring Cycle but still hopes to stage its late spring musical, 42nd Street, as planned.

All theaters listed above are venues of 250-3,600 seats.

Most smaller theaters remain open, at least for the time being. Most seat fewer than 100 people and many even fewer than 50. However, a few smaller Off Loop theaters and venues have suspended performances. Most significant is The Den, which has completely closed, thereby shutting down current and near-term productions by its resident theaters: First Floor Theatre, Haven, Irish Theatre of Chicago, New Colony and WildClaw ( sic ). One-night and weekend performances of comics and musicians at The Den also are cancelled.

Other small off-Loop closures include A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre, House Theatre of Chicago ( at Chopin Theatre ), Kokandy Productions ( at Chopin Theatre ), Lifeline Theatre, Raven Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre ( at Theater Wit ), Silent Theatre ( at Tapestry Fellowship Church ), Silk Road Rising ( at the Chicago Temple Building ), TimeLine ( sic ) Theatre and Trap Door Theatre.

All subscribers and single-ticket holders are urged to call or email—and please be patient—the box-office services of the various theater companies and venues. From the Chicago Symphony Orcheatra and Broadway In Chicago down to the smaller venues, all are providing exchanges and refunds in some manner.

Dates for re-opening are fluid. The Second City is closed initially only through March 26 but is certain to re-evaluate as needed. The great majority of venues are closed for at least 30 days, through mid-April, at least, or the end of April.

There is one longer-range cancellation: Cirque du Soleil has cancelled the June 5-28 return engagement of Alegria.

The League of Chicago Theatres stressed that member companies that remain open are taking extra precautions: providing hand sanitizers, cleaning seats and public areas after each performance and ( in a few cases ) reducing the number of tickets available for any one performance.

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