My New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to see more theatre, and given that I went to 326 shows in 2015, I think it’s safe to say that I succeeded. On average, I went to 27 shows a month (32 in both April and July, 31 in August). 47% of shows were plays; 32% were musicals; 10% were readings; 3% were operas; 3% were concerts; and the last 5% were other kinds of shows (puppet, magic, dance, etc.).
I saw 153 plays, and although nearly all of them were separate plays, I did see the Hypocrites’ 12-hour-long Greek play festival All Our Tragic twice. I saw 104 musicals, though only 70 different shows (I tend to return to musicals). I made my first trip back to Broadway since 2006 – over two weekends, I saw nine shows, including the 2015 Best Musical Tony Award winner Fun Home and the presumptive 2016 Best Musical Tony Award winner Hamilton. And since Broadway shows like Hamilton rather skew the results, I will limit my 2015 list of favorite shows to Chicago productions.
15 Favorite Chicago Shows in 2015, in alphabetical order
- [title of show] – Brown Paper Bag Co
- The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide – The Hypocrites and The Yard
- Abraham Lincoln Was a F*gg*t – About Face Theatre
- All Our Tragic – The Hypocrites
- American Idiot – The Hypocrites
- Carousel – Lyric Opera
- Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys – Raven Theatre
- The Jungle – Oracle Theatre
- Marie Antoinette – Steppenwolf Theatre
- Moby Dick – Lookingglass Theatre
- Ride the Cyclone – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
- Samsara – Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre
- Sense and Sensibility – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
- The Tempest – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
- Waiting for Godot – Court Theatre
Recognition also goes to the Theatre School at DePaul’s Elemeno Pea and We’re Going To Be Okay and Northwestern University’s As You Like It for being particularly memorable university theatre. The Inconvenience’s Citizens Anthology and Jackalope’s Living Newspaper Festival were excellent, full of short plays that, though brief, were utterly engrossing. Blind Summit’s The Table was one of the funniest things I saw all year, although since it was an international tour at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, it doesn’t seem quite fair to include it in a list of Chicago theatre. Although not a full production, the developmental production of Lauren Yee’s The King of the Yees as part of the Goodman Theatre’s New Stages was one of my favorite shows of the year – both poignant and so funny I nearly cried.
And while they didn’t make my favorites list of shows that I loved, the following plays still have me thinking about the issues they brought up: The Herd – Steppenwolf Theatre, Grand Concourse – Steppenwolf Theatre, My Mañana Comes – Teatro Vista, Never the Sinner – Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre, The Project(s) – American Theater Company, That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry – TimeLine Theatre.
All in all, it was a fantastic year for Chicago theatre.