Revel in the drama of cultural Chicago with a whirlwind theatre-focused trip

Revel in the drama of cultural Chicago with a whirlwind theatre-focused trip

  • Alexis Parr whizzed over to the Windy City on Norwegian Airlines Premium Class
  • She saw shows including Colored Girls, Hamilton and Romeo And Juliet
  • The theatre-lover says the city also boasts more than 250 fringe theatres  

Chicago is famous for being the epitome of classic American living – the home of deep-pan pizzas, hot dogs and jazz and blues, and the city where the world’s first skyscraper was built.

But what many heading for the States don’t realise is that it is also a hot scene for arts-lovers, and 2019 is officially Chicago Year of the Theatre.

With that in mind – and as a keen theatre-goer – I decided to whiz over to the Windy City on Norwegian Airlines Premium Class (a cost-effective way to travel in comfort and style), and cram in as many shows as possible on a whirlwind trip.

Global hit: The musical Hamilton being performed in the Windy City

And it was fantastic… everything from the heart-bleeding drama of Colored Girls at Chicago University’s Court Theatre to the joyous Hamilton global smash-hit musical at CIBC and Romeo And Juliet at the Navy Pier’s Shakespeare Theatre.

The scene is different from many cities as there is no specific theatre district like the West End in London or Broadway in Manhattan, but there are several smaller theatre areas, each with its own neighbourhood vibe. The city also boasts more than 250 fringe theatres and the quality is constantly outstanding.

If traditional theatre is not your bag, to use the vernacular, there are wonderful late-night spots. The Magic Lounge situated in a converted 1940s laundry is an intimate Art Deco theatre and cocktail bar featuring magicians in an atmospheric setting.

The city is packed with hotels but a reliable choice is the central Sheraton next to the Chicago River, which snakes through the famous skyscrapers.

Alexis Parr says the city is packed with hotels but a reliable choice is the central Sheraton next to the Chicago River, which snakes through the famous skyscrapers

Alexis Parr says the city is packed with hotels but a reliable choice is the central Sheraton next to the Chicago River, which snakes through the famous skyscrapers

You can’t spend all day in a theatre so head to the American Institute, where the spellbinding art collection is one of the world’s finest.

Buy a CityPass in advance for most of these attractions – it’s a hefty £90.28 but gives 50 per cent off a selection of entrance fees.

To understand Chicago’s history and topography, you shouldn’t miss Skydeck, at the top of the old Sears Tower, once the highest in the world. The view stretches out towards Indiana.

At the Goodman Theatre they sell witty T-shirts bearing the slogan Spare Me The Drama. But if you visit Chicago, you won’t want to.


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