CHICAGO -- The shows will go on, promises Juan Ramirez, artistic director of Latino Chicago, as Chicago's principal Hispanic theater company struggles to recover from a mid-December fire that ravaged The Firehouse, the company's 10-year home. Its name offered no protection: The former firehouse succumbed to a blaze that consumed much of the interior but left the structure essentially unharmed.
The theater, which has also been rented to Powrtap Productions and Prop Theatre, was a pioneer in revitalizing the Near North Side "Wicker Park" neighborhood. Because the neighborhood was no longer Hispanic, Ramirez had considered moving his troupe to other parts of the city, but the outpouring of aid and comfort (such as a $10,000 emergency grant from the Joyce Foundation) persuaded him to stay where he's been. Ramirez hopes that plays can resume sometime in 1998.
-- By Lawrence Bommer