Introducing Rich Regan and Season PreviewAuditorium Theatre
by Lily Oberman
Giordano Dance Chicago in Autumn Eckmans Jolt, photo by Beth Anne Anderson
Happy birthday, Auditorium Theatre! The National Historic Landmark kicked off its 130th season by welcoming Rich Regan as chief executive officer. The Auditorium is a familiar home for Regan, who served as general manager of the Auditorium from 1999 to 2006.
“I am honored to return to the Auditorium Theatre, one of the most iconic buildings in Chicago and the place that ignited my passion for historic restoration, as the CEO,” Regan said.
Regan joins the Auditorium from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he developed all non-opera programming, planned and managed capital improvement projects, and oversaw the opera house’s two restaurants.
As the Auditorium’s general manager in the early 2000s, Regan oversaw a $14 million restoration and renovation project and negotiated long-term residencies with theatre partners. Now he will lead the next chapter in the theatre’s long and storied history.
“When the Auditorium Theatre was built, its founders hoped that it would serve as a place for all of Chicago and beyond to experience music, dance, theatre, speakers and beautiful architecture,” said Regan. “130 years later, we are honored to continue fulfilling this vision.”
Too Hot to Handel, photo by Kristie Kahns
The National Historic Landmark continues its 130th anniversary season with a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, a 130th birthday party, Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah and many other exciting performances and events. Roosevelt alumni receive $10 off tickets and exclusive pre-sale access with promo code ALUMNI.
“Whether you’ve seen a performance here in the past year, haven’t been through our doors since that one rock show, or have never visited the Auditorium, we invite you to come and celebrate with us on this momentous occasion,” he said.
Stephen Sondheim, photo by Yousuf Karsh
Some of Chicago’s biggest and brightest names in theatre and cabaret tip their hats to Stephen Sondheim, the legendary lyricist and composer, on November 16, 2019. Sondheim turns 90 in 2020, so start the celebration early with Chicago Celebrates Sondheim! Performers will sing selections from beloved musicals such as Follies, Company, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods.
On December 9, 2019, the theatre celebrates its 130th birthday with a free Open House event from four to seven p.m. The Open House is open to all and features tours, a photo booth and a display of program books, posters and artifacts from the theatre’s archives! Auditorium Theatre CEO Rich Regan leads a birthday toast at six p.m., complete with champagne and a birthday cake created for the theatre by Eli’s Cheesecake.
On January 18 and 19, Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah celebrates 15 years in Chicago! This uplifting event brings the city together to witness the transformational powers of the performing arts and to experience Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a “beloved community.” With three fiery soloists, a powerhouse piano player, a 100-person choir, and an electrifying orchestra and jazz combo, Too Hot will keep you warm this winter.
The Auditorium’s National Geographic Live series continues on January 26 with On the Trail of Big Cats, featuring National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, known for his stunning photos of tigers, lions and jaguars. Winter will tell the tales behind some of his wildest photos, like trekking the Himalayas in search of snow leopards and pursuing the American cougar throughout Hollywood Hills, in addition to discussing what is currently being done to protect these animals.
Tigress cubs, photo by Steve Winter
Photo by Lois Greenfield
Celebrate Leap Day in style on February 29 with Trinity Irish Dance Company, Chicago’s own Irish step-dancing company that has revolutionized the form. The company performed to rave reviews at the Auditorium in early 2019 and returns in 2020 with exciting new works and timeless classics. New pieces include the world premiere of American Traffic, choreographed by MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan and commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre.
The theatre’s busy month of March begins March 4–8 with the return of one of the Auditorium’s Visiting Resident Companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Designated as “cultural ambassadors to the world” by Congress, the company always brings exhilarating new productions, audience favorites and company classics to its Chicago home.
Orangutans, photo by Tim Laman
On March 10, husband-and-wife duo Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott take the stage for the National Geographic Live event Adventures Among Orangutans. Laman, a photojournalist, and Knott, a biological anthropologist, have devoted their lives to understanding and protecting these endangered animals. They’ll provide a closer look into their work with this intelligent and resourceful species with whom we share 90% of our DNA, giving us insight into not only the animals’ world, but also our own.
Hee Seo and Cory Stearns in Jardin aux Lilas, photo by Marty Sohl
American Ballet Theatre returns to the theatre March 19–22, with an exciting program that shows off everything that this world-class company can do. The program features the Chicago premiere of a new work by celebrated choreographer Twyla Tharp; the breathtaking “Kingdom of the Shades” scene from one of Marius Petipa’s signature ballets; and Antony Tudor’s one-act contemporary ballet Jardin aux Lilas.
Go under the sea on May 5 with the National Geographic Live event Ocean Soul, featuring National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, renowned for his incredible images of underwater life — it’s estimated that he’s spent more than 10,000 hours underwater capturing photos of whales, sharks, fish, seals and countless other sea creatures. The images that Skerry takes offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the soul of the sea and serve as an important reminder of why we must preserve our oceans.
The theatre’s 2019–20 season comes to a close in June with two dance events. On June 6, the theatre’s Made in Chicago dance series concludes with a performance from Giordano Dance Chicago, America’s original jazz dance company. Giordano always brings down the house with its aerobic, high-energy pieces.
The Bolshoi Ballet in Swan Lake, photo by Mikhail Logvinov
To finish out the season, the Bolshoi Ballet, one of the world’s greatest dance companies, returns to Chicago and the Auditorium Theatre after 16 years. The company brings its revered version of Swan Lake to the Auditorium, with Tchaikovsky’s iconic score performed live by the Chicago Philharmonic. Chicago is one of just two cities to host the Bolshoi on this 2020 tour, and the only city to present Swan Lake. These performances are not to be missed!
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