My first trip to see the play, A Christmas Carol, was in April… not the holidays. It was hosted at Drury Lane Theater in Evergreen Park in 1965 and I sat through a 2 1/2 hour show with a broken arm. I tripped on a dimly lit step, heading to our seats during an afternoon matinee for my best friend’s birthday party. Unfortunately, the details of the performance are vague since I was focused on not moving my arm to avoid massive pain. That night, I was hospitalized at South Chicago Hospital which was the way of doing things back then and the arm was operated on the next day. A settlement had followed…Drury Lane had paid for my recovery. My Mom was embarrassed receiving 1,500 dollars but from what she was told, DeSantis did not like anything happen to his customers especially children.
The Drury Lane Theatres were a group of theatres in the Chicago area founded by Tony DeSantis. The playhouses were named after the historic Theatre Royal Drury Lane, built in London in the 17th century.
DeSantis opened the Martinique Restaurant in Evergreen Park which was a highly acclaimed restaurant and began producing plays in 1949 in a tent adjacent to the restaurant to attract customers. The enterprise was successful, prompting him to build his first theatre. He opened the theatre in 1958. And it was in the 1970’s that Drury Lane really took off.
The next Drury Lane theatre in the round that I attended was a play at McCormick place in the 1970’s and only stayed open a year. The next Drury Lane was at Water Tower Place that opened in 1976 but closed in 1984, however, re-opened more beautiful than before in 2004. Finally, Broadway Playhouse bought the theatre in 2010 and still remains today.
My next Drury Lane trip took place in the late 1970’s at Drury Lane North but it quickly became the Marriott in Lincolnshire which I enjoyed over the years while living in Gurnee. Since 1975, the Marriott has presented more than 135 productions to an estimated 7 million people, and have received a record of Joseph Jefferson Awards.
Finally, moving to Downers Grove in 1988s, I became introduced to the Drury Lane in Oakbrook that opened in 1984 and continue to provide world-class theatre productions. It was here that I did not trip but saw a friend who played Harold Hill in the infamous Music Man but Sunday Brunch was a favorite and has been in existence for over 30 years. I also went to college with the Managing Director for three years.