Chicago theater: The show must go on...unless it snows

February 2, 2011

Burn the Floor at Bank of America Theatre

Geez, people are such wusses these days! When I was their age, I used to walk five miles through a howling blizzard and the dark of night to see Joseph Jefferson or Ukulele Ike or Ethel Merman (who reminded me a lot of Ukulele Ike, only more butch).  But now! I mean, shut up! I mean just don't talk to me. Wusses, wimps, weaklings. "The show must go on" is "honored more in the breech than in the observance" ("Hamlet," Act I). Why, you'd think theaters were public schools the way they throw up the shutters the moment a few flakes of snow fall and wintry winds shake the darling buds of May (more Shakespeare). As Shakespeare said ("King Lear," Act III) "Blow, ye winds and crack ye cheeks!"

I did a rapid survey of Chicago's larger theaters (most smaller Off-Loop venues don't have Tuesday or even Wednesday shows) and found that Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Writers' Theatre had canceled their Tuesday night shows, while the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Court Theatre canceled their Wednesday night shows. Northlight Theatre and the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire hedged their bets by canceling the Wednesday matinee but saying nothing about their Wednesday night shows. That's why they bought snow blowers, right? Altogether, some nine productions at seven theaters lost at least one performance and perhaps two.
To their credit, all the theaters had up-to-the-minute recordings (or the odd real person) on their box office phone lines, and all were offering generous ticket exchanges.

The first theater to send out notice of a cancellation was Steppenwolf with their just-opened world premiere "Sex with Strangers." Humph, I thought. That's a far cry from the famous Steppenwolf brand of rock 'n' roll, scratch 'n' sniff theater with Malkovich and Sinise and Kinney and Metcalf bouncing off the walls and bashing their heads together. Hey, dudes, who's middle-aged now, eh? You all have teenagers to shovel the snow?

Just about the only Tuesday night shows toughing it out—no surprise—were the official opening nights of two short-run commercial productions. At the Bank of America Theatre it was press night for the ballroom dancing spectacular, "Burn the Floor," and it proceeded as scheduled (it runs only through Feb. 13). Ditto, the press performance of "John Leguizamo Warms Up" at the Royal George Theatre (through Feb. 12).