Chicagoland/Suburbs: More haunted theatres

The Biograph Theater, now known as the Victory Garden, was opened September 5, 1914. All 942 seats were on a single floor. This Lincoln Park neighborhood landmark is probably best known by Chicagoans as the place where John Dillinger was shot and killed on July 22, 1934 after attending a screening of “Manhattan Melodrama” starring Clark Gable. There are stories of people seeing a shadowy figure of a man running on the sidewalk, or heading for the alley. He runs, then falls and disappears, almost as if reenacting the shooting over and over again. Some feel that Dillinger was not shot but some believe it was a look alike. According to the Ghost Research Society, some people have even claimed to have photographed strange shadowy figures lurking in the alleyway, just steps from where Dillinger was killed.

Woodstock Opera HouseThe four story structure has been used for many years to host live performances of celebrities including launching the career of Orson Wells. The Woodstock Opera House, built in 1889, originally housed the library, city council, court, and fire department for the city of Woodstock, Illinois. The Opera House sat above on the second floor. According to Family Travel on a Budget, in the 1940s, Shelley Berman was working on scenery for a production. A loud noise in the seating area startled him. He scanned the room and noticed that several chairs in row DD were in the down position. He ran over to investigate, and when he arrived, all the seats were in their upright position. Berman shared his experience with other cast members, and a haunted legend was born. Many claim that the ghost is a young woman from the early 1900s that threw herself from the belfry of the opera house since she could not get a part and could not handle rejection.

Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford is an historic theater that opened on October 9th 1927; a grandiose movie palace and stage with a Barton Grand Theater pipe organ that hosted a number of celebrities and movies. With the support of the community, the theatre was re-stored in its original style in 2001. However, according to sources, paranormal groups have documented several ghosts at the theater, but the Van Matres, Louis St. Pierre, a manager, and Miss Kileen, a secretary, are the core spirits watching over the historic theater. Many have seen the ghost light, as they refer, during their visit. Besides attending events and shows at the theater, tours are available. Feel free to contact Coronado to plan your visit.

Rialto Square Theater opened in 1926 as an old vaudeville and movie palace in downtown Joliet. The grand space has been restored to its original beauty including an elegant rotunda and dome with amazing chandeliers throughout. The theatre is also home to a Barton Grand Theater pipe organ. Accidents have happened in the building including the balcony according to Haunted Houses who claim that staff and workmen have seen an apparition of a women floating around the theater. Apparentaly, she is more active after the the theater is closed to the public.  Visitors have also taken pictures and have seen strange figures in the photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

The best holiday plays in Chicagoland

My first trip to see the play, A Christmas Carol, was in April… not the holidays.  Mid 1960’s it was hosted at Drury Lane Theater in Evergreen Park and I sat through a 2 1/2 hour show with a broken arm. I tripped on a dimly lit step 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 operated on the next day since my arm was broken in three places.

Since, I have enjoyed numerous performances and movies of A Christmas Carol without interruption. Today, if tickets are still available the Christmas Carol, can be enjoyed in the Chicago land area. Though the Evergreen Park Theater, is no longer open, Drury Lane Theater still exists and is presenting A Christmas Carol between now and Dec 23 at the Oakbrook Terrace theater.

Established in 1925, the Goodman Theatre has been a part of Chicago’s loop for over 80 years and I can’t remember the countless shows I have seen there. However, I will never forget one of the best performances of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. You can also see A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre Chicago through December 31st.

In the late 1960’s, I also got to the see the Nutcracker Ballet though it was difficult for me to understand the story when I was about 7 or 8 because I kept waiting for words in between dances. Though confused, I still could not take my eyes away from the amazing costumes, dance and music.

It is a story written in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. The story begins on Christmas Eve.

I loved ballet and watching them stand on their toes, something I  could never get right.. I, too, took ballet early on as a young girl.

It is strange that I think about the Nutcracker this year since the Joffrey Ballet is performing this holiday masterpiece.  And I saw the Nutcracker again as an adult when the Joffrey was only New York and Los Angeles based. Now, the Joffrey, which trains to the highest standards, lives permanently in a new facility, Joffrey Tower, in Chicago.

It is also strange that I think of my childhood experience with the Nutcracker as I watch my first grade students learning the story in their music class. We have listened to the famous March, read the book, and watched a beautiful video with different interpretations, names, but always followed by the same exceptional music including  Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Fifty years later, still, I am mesmerized by the video of creative color and song. My little ones cannot pull their eyes away from the beauty of the Nutcracker either.