I have to preface this review by stating that I'm an actor who's been a HUGE fan of Steppenwolf & their work for years. Founded in the mid seventies by actors Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry, they've grown from their humble beginnings in a church basement to an award winning, internationally acclaimed ensemble that's given us such shows as "The Grapes of Wrath" and the Pulitzer Prize winning "August: Osage County."
We saw their production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" three years ago at Arena Stage in Washington, DC & were completely, totally blown away by how fabulous it was. I remember saying to my significant other (who's now my husband), "That show needs to go on to Broadway & if it does, it will win a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play."
My words came true, but that's another story...Anyway, it's a theater I've always wanted the opportunity to visit and I finally got the chance! We saw a new play written by their newest ensemble member, Bruce Norris, called "The Qualms." (Note: The production closes August 31st.) It's a funny, yet thought-provoking look at polyamory & the eight member cast, helmed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon (the director of the "Woolf" production I mentioned above) knocks it out of the park.
We were in the Downstairs Theater, which is one of the company's three performance spaces. It's designed so that no seat is more than 40 feet from the stage, so you'll have a great view pretty much anywhere you sit. The staff members are very friendly, so if you have questions about the seating--or anything else--just ask!
Ticket prices here are very reasonable. There are discounts available for seniors, as well as a limited number of $20 seats for each performance. They offer a wide range of accessibility services, including assistive hearing devices, ASL performances, open captioning, and audio-described performances & touch tours for those who are blind or have low vision. Theatre should be for everyone--and Steppenwolf takes that seriously.
We also attended a brief post-show discussion led by staff associated with the production where audience members shared their thoughts & discussed the show they just saw. If one's offered after the performance you attend, stick around for it. It's a lot of fun.
You'll probably find a lobby display where audience members are encouraged to share their thoughts or experiences relating to the production. Be sure to check out the two awards on display near the box office (the Tony they received for Regional Theatre excellence in the 80's, as well as their National Medal for the Arts)!
There's also a bar in the lobby where you can get everything from bottled water to coffee to an adult beverage, along with cookies & candies (including Ricola if you need to quell a cough.) And don't forget to visit the Steppenwolf Store for some memorabilia of your visit. They have a great selection of scripts, too. I went home with a big bag of 'em. Just wish I'd taken advantage of their complimentary blankets, as I thought it was a bit chilly.
And who knows....you just might see a famous face (or two) in the audience! We met former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, Tim Kazurinsky while we were waiting in line to pick up our tickets.
If you truly love theatre, then Steppenwolf should be on your "bucket list".
It was definitely on mine.
Now that my husband & I have been there, I can tell you in no uncertain terms, we will DEFINITELY be going back again.
VIVA LA STEPPENWOLF!
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