With over 800 shows each year, Chicago theater companies often jostle in vain to open their shows on a night when no other show is opening. At least several times a year, theater critics face calendars crammed with a dozen or more new productions opening in a three or four day stretch. So it was good news for the off-Loop Profiles Theatre when they found Thursday, Jan. 27 wide-open for their first night of Neil LaBute's "reasons to be pretty" (sic), which they announced many weeks ago. Then, just days ago, the Goodman Theatre trumpeted the last-minute arrival of the politically-important Belarus Free Theatre, invited by Goodman to bring their hit, "Being Harold Pinter," to Chicago for a month (see related story). The opening performance? Thursday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m., exactly the same day and hour Profiles had selected.
What to do? All Chicago theaters know that the biggies—Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Broadway In Chicago, etc.—plan their calendars with little regard for each other, let alone Chicago's smaller off-Loop troupes. The situation was further complicated by the fact that powerhouse critics Chris Jones (Tribune) and Hedy Weiss (Sun-Times) could only see "reasons to be pretty" on the 27th or not see it at all...and they would see the Belarus Free Theatre that night instead.
In an all-too-rare reminder that we are a theater community, the heads involved got together and acted quickly. Jones and Weiss indicated they would be willing to see an earlier Profiles performance if it could be arranged. Profiles artists agreed to a 5 p.m. curtain on the 27th instead of 8 p.m. Goodman agreed to push back its curtain for "Being Harold Pinter" from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., making sure that Jones, Weiss and other members of the entertainment press would have sufficient time to travel from the Northside Profiles to the Downtown Goodman, and maybe grab a quick sandwich, too.
The result will be one of the most exciting nights of theater all year, and a win-win situation for all the artists, producers and publicists involved. One hopes the Goodman has extended an invite to all the Profiles folk to come on down that night and join them.