“It is like opening up a present you have no idea what is inside, ” says Hallie Gordon, artistic director of Theater on the Lake. “It is a surprise and sometimes you can absolutely love it.”
The Chicago Park District is currently producing its fifty-sixth season at the charismatic waterfront locale. It is the second year under the artistic leadership of Gordon, who previously served as general manager, and once again it has a little something for everyone.
“The great thing about the people that come here is if they don’t like one show they always like the other show,” Gordon shares. That is her methodology. Over the year she sees upwards of a hundred shows to arrive at the eight that will represent the best of Chicago’s off-Loop theater in week-long engagements at the space.
“We take the best of the season and recreate it on our stage,” Gordon continues, “and a lot of patrons come to us because they don’t have the opportunity, or ability, to go out during the rest of the year and see theater. They know that when they come here they will have a taste for everything that is going on.”
Comedy, drama, musical, sketch—it is all ripe to end up on the Theater on the Lake stage. “People think that the shows that are loud and big and have a lot of spectacle do well down here because they compete with the lakefront, but there are a lot of dramas that do really well,” Gordon has discovered. If the show is of quality and the difficult scheduling of remounting live theater performances can be worked out, Gordon is glad to offer any type of production a space in her season. The opportunity to bring in new work like the forthcoming Chicago Dramatists production of Bill Jepsen’s “Cadillac” is particularly exciting to her.
“It is an opportunity for the director and the writers and the actors to revisit that work,” she says. “You very rarely get a chance to redo things that you think you made a mistake on. It is never finished so now is that opportunity.” (William Scott)
This week, Neo-Futurists present “Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind.” The Theater on the Lake series runs through August 3 at 2400 North Lake Shore Drive. See the entire schedule at chicagoparkdistrict.com.