The Goodman is Chicago's largest and oldest non-profit theater and routinely (and deservedly) mentioned in any discussion of top Chicago theater. The company has built its regional reputation by recruiting award-winning locals like Mary Zimmerman, Robert Falls and Chuck Smith and won praise from theater buffs on the coasts by working with playwrights David Mamet and August Wilson and actors Brian Dennehy and Lynn Redgrave, among others. A blend of classic and contemporary programming complements this mix of talent.
Founded in 1925 at the Art Institute and dedicated to the late Chicago playwright Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, the institution was largely a drama school and champion of children's theater in its early years, hiring amateurs and professionals as the budget allowed.
By the late 1970s, the Goodman School was part of DePaul University and the Goodman Theatre was a nationally celebrated professional company. The institution won a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1992, but its Columbus Avenue space was severely outdated and, in 2000, it moved to state-of-the-art digs on Dearborn.
A key component of the Loop Theater District, the Goodman's current home stretches a full city block with a long, open and comfortable lobby that welcomes audiences to its two theaters: the mainstage Albert, seating 856, and the flexible courtyard Owen, seating up to 480. This larger, more accessible building has enabled the company to expand its subscriber base and, through its Arts in Education program, provide free subscriptions to 1,400 Chicago Public High School students annually. That program also collaborates with the Chicago Housing Authority, Mexican Fine Arts Museum and a range of schools and neighborhood organizations to create original youth work and foster lifelong drama appreciation.
The kids and their parents flock to Dearborn Street each winter for "A Christmas Carol," a reliable holiday favorite. The Goodman showcases international talent at the summer Latino Theater Festival and works-in-progress at the fall New Stages Series, a free preview of future hits.
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak
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