Chicago's oldest and largest resident theatre, The Goodman Theatre, has announced its plan to build a new Goodman Theatre in Chicago's North Loop. The new theatre will be built on the site of the historic Garrick and Woods theatres and incorporate aspects of the still-standing Harris and Selwyn theatres.
The Goodman Theatre was established in 1925 as a gift to the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1977 the theatre separated from the Art Institute. The Chicago Theatre Group, Inc. was formed to provide management. In 1992 the Goodman was awarded a Tony Award as Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Goodman Theatre Executive Director Roche Schulfer said that the need for a new facility was recognized "as early as the mid 80's." With the new facility Schulfer said "we can basically do what we're doing now, but more efficiently. We can serve our audience better," he said, "(They) will have greater proximity to the stage." More contemporary theatre technology and more comfortable dressing rooms will make productions more efficient back-stage.
The new building will include a Mainstage seating approximately 800 and a Studio seating approximately 400. There will also be a restaurant/retail complex developed privately but in partnership with the Goodman. Ground breaking at the site is expected in 1998 with a 2000 targeted opening.
For the creative people who work at the Goodman, Schulfer said, the new building will provide "better working conditions (and) greater opportunity to see visions realized."Goodman's new facility, along with Livent productions at the Oriental Theatre and Disney's lease of the Chicago Theatre, has the potential to turn the North Loop area into a "mini Broadway," Schulfer said.
The estimated cost of the entire project, including the retail component, is $53 million. The Goodman will contribute at least $21 million and has already raised $17 million. The City of Chicago will provide $18.8 million through its tax increment financing resources. Private investments in the retail/restaurant complex and financing arranged through a consortium of Chicago banks will provide the balance. --By Laura MacDonald