Bernadette Peters isn't the first person you'd associate with Chicago theatre (though her ill-fated The Goodbye Girl had a tryout there); nor is she someone you'd link with the Goodman Theatre (she hasn't appeared on its stage in the last couple decades, if ever). Nonetheless, it will be Peters who will entertain the select group invited to the Nov. 11 black-tie Inaugural Ball honoring the Goodman's new, two-theatre, North Loop home.
The complex, the theatre's first new facility since 1925, is located on Dearborn Street between Randolph and Lake. The spot is the historic site of the Garrick and Woods theatres and the landmark Harris and Selwyn theatres. When work began, it was expected the two-theatre venue would cost $44 million, with the City of Chicago supplying $18.8 million to the project through its tax increment financing.
A two-week long festival celebrating the opening of the theatre began on Nov. 4. It will end with a round-the-clock party on Nov. 18.
The Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre is a tradition proscenium stage, slightly largely than the current mainstage, and equipped with a full fly tower and improved acoustics. The Owen Butler Goodman Theatre, meanwhile, has a timber-frame construction (with exposed fir beams) and can take any number of forms, including end stage, thrust, arena and runway. Both theatres are fully soundproofed, to shield performances from the noise of the rumbling elevated trains of the Loop area.
The November festivities began with "Builder's Day" on Nov. 4, when the 170 N. Dearborn Street complex officially welcomed its first visitors: the workers and consultants who led to its creation.
A complete run-down of the remaining festivities follows:
• Inaugural Gala, Nov. 11: A black-tie event complete with food and entertainment. Bernadette Peters will provide entertainment.
• Subscriber Days, Nov. 12-15: Subscribers may look at the theatre and preview their new comfortable seats.
• Theatre Community Party: Members of the League of Chicago Theatres are invited to the theatre.
• City of Chicago Day, Nov. 16: The Goodman expresses its thanks to Windy City officials.
• 26-Hour Celebration, Nov. 17-18: More than a day of activities, free and open to the public.
When the curtain goes up on August Wilson's King Hedley II in Chicago on Nov. 30, it will also go up on the Goodman Theatre's new Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre space. The long-standing Windy City theatre made the first step toward that great day Oct. 31, when the Wilson drama begins rehearsals.
Hedley began L.A. performances Sept. 2 with an opening Sept. 14. Marion McClinton directs. A New York City run may follow the Chicago performances, but the Jujamcyns, the interested producers, have announced no further plans at press time.
Continuing his decade-by-decade examination of African American life in the United States, Wilson sets King Hedley II in 1985 in the black ghetto of Pittsburgh and deals with the triumphs and trials of a community torn apart. King Hedley rages against his past and present and his pregnant wife, Tonya, fears to bring a child into their world. A two time Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wilson also wrote Fences, The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars.
Jerome Butler replaces Harry Lennix as King Hedley for the final week of performances. Charles Brown (Elmore), Lou Myers (Stool Pigeon), Juanita Jennings (Rosa), Monte Russell (Mister) and Mone Walton (Tonya) also star.
Set design is by David Gallo, costumes by Toni-Leslie James, lighting by Donald Holder and sound design by Rob Milburn.
--By Robert Simonson