Chicago’s thriving theater scene produces plenty of homegrown shows, with hundreds of producing companies staging plays and musicals in the neighborhoods and suburbs. But the city is also a hub for Broadway tours, and sometimes for standalone companies of big Broadway hits like Wicked, The Book of Mormon or Hamilton. These touring shows, presented under the banner of Broadway in Chicago, draw huge numbers: more than 1.7 million attendees per year, nearly half of whom come from outside of Illinois to pack the best hotels in the Loop.
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Broadway in Chicago, created in 2000 from a merger of competing presenters, is the owner of three of the biggest houses in the downtown theater district (the Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre and CIBC Theatre); it also operates the smaller Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile, and sometimes presents shows at the Auditorium Theatre. With control of so many theaters, BIC is able to package shows into subscription seasons (usually two slates per year), and it’s leveraged its clout to secure a number of “pre-Broadway tryouts,” runs in which a new show works out its kinks before opening in New York—Chicago has snagged the first looks at big hits like The Producers, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Kinky Boots and SpongeBob SquarePants (as well as some duds, like The Pirate Queen and First Wives Club). Take a look below for all the current and upcoming Broadway in Chicago shows.