Chicago Trip: Day 3


Feb. 19 2017


The crowds gathered in throngs to witness the final leg of the 2017 Pace Academy Chicago theater tour. The experts said that it couldn’t be done; that Commandant Bryan (alongside his faithful aides-de-camp, Cap. Terry and Sgt. Player) was foolish, borderline reckless, for even trying. Seven performances, two tours, and one acting workshop in three days? And with such an unseasoned company of crusaders? Certainly, the odds were not in their favor. And yet, Sunday came, and here they were.

The day began simply enough, with a trip to the rook of Hancock Tower so as to better survey the landscape upon which they would soon be loosing their final expedition. North, East, South, and West, not a bearing was left unsurveyed. Some even took on the Hancock Tilt, voluntarily suspending themselves at a 30-degree angle high above the city so as to gain visual access to the vertical exterior of the Tower itself. Truly, these were brave troopers indeed.

Having studied the landscape, they descended to begin their ground-level incursion. First they infiltrated the historic Chicago Water Tower Complex where they were greeted as heroes with a production of the new play Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth. Enchanted by the blend of projection, puppetry, and magical realism, our fair pioneers afterwards ventured forth into the city where they further laid claim to such mystic regions as H&M Warehouse and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop.

Finally, the crew arrived at their final objective: occupying the famed Second City Playhouse. Sated with such noble foodstuff as chicken wings, macaroni & cheese, French fries, and hot pretzels, the 12 young crewmembers filed into the theater and sat witness to the hilarity of a team of comics who, in the past, have produced the likes of Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Amy Poehler, and others. The jokes were fast and coarse, but our squad was up to the challenge. As the lights came up on their final production, the taste of victory was a sweet as any beignet (which was also part of the dinner smorgasbord).

Back at the hotel, the group packed up and prepared themselves for an early morning evacuation back home to Atlanta. These few, these happy few, these band of thespians, had taken on Chicago and triumphed, earning memories as their spoils. One imagines the story of this trip will soon turn to lore and those who participated become legends.

Chicago: Day 2

In fair Chicago, where we lay our scene

Some students twelve upon a Saturday

Did venture out t’investigate the scene

To gaze, to mark. In short to see some plays.

Their day began with special tours backstage:

One house the very hall of Hamilton!

From there to see the greatest of his age–

Love’s Labor’s Lost which all thought quite well done.

And on again to view a new program

Called “Monster” a most contemplative piece

Which balanced well with our finale grand:

Some improv that did slay us in our seats.

It’s Sunday but no time to take it slow.

We’re six shows down, with only two to go!



Chicago: Day 1

The City: Chicago

The Kids: Drama Geeks

The Time: Now

Armed with only their top-notch brains and Hamilton references, the 12 members of the 2017 Chicago theater trip ventured out into a strange land known as Chi-Ka-Go. Ancient lore holds that this kingdom of the Northern realm lingers in a near-perpetual winter and that those who sojourn from the Southern territories find the cold unbearable, often freezing in place in the early hours as they search futilely for a bowl of grits. Our brave travelers though found no such frigidity as they embarked upon their first full day of activity under an ablution of bright sunshine. 

First on the agenda was the obligatory Untouchables tour where they were lead around the city by Matches Malone and Johnny “The Best Wheelman in Chicago” Rocco. For over an hour, Matches and Johnny Rocco recounted tales of Chicago’s corrupt and scandalous past, spinning yarns about gangsters with such noms-de-crime as “Diamond Joe” Esposito, “Machine Gun” Magurn, and, of course, Al “Big Al/Scarface/Snorky” Capone. Upon existing the tour, all in the group felt confident that if we ran out of money before the trip was over, we now possessed the peccant acumen to quickly procure a little something “on the side.”

Next was a trip to famed eatery Portillo’s where our hungry, newly-minted hoodlums wolfed down some Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches before heading across town, by Wrigley-field (currently under construction — boo), and finally arriving at Pride Arts Center for a brief acting workshop with theater director Rachel Harvith. Having so manipulated their Mask and accessed their Affective Memory, the thespians were now ready for the day’s main event: a 7:30 showing of Hamilton.

One would like to temper the reactions of our young audience members post-viewing, although words such as “life-changing,” “glorious” and “oh my God ahhhhhhhhh!” were used. All in attendance were also able to meet a few cast members at the stage door after the show, including the actors who played King George, George Washington, Elizabeth Schuyler, and Angelica Schuyler. All in all, there were a lot of tears, a lot of smiles, and a general feeling of euphoria that resonated throughout the whole group. 

Waking up on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine that we have only been here one day. Who knows what sort of exciting and revelatory moments wait in store for us in the coming 24-hours!


Chi-Town Bound

(To the tune of “Alexander Hamilton”)
Why would a team of thirteen teens and three stressed teachers

Meet in the middle of the back parking lot

Of the Academy while everybody else is still in class?

It had to be they had the weekend pass

To see the hip-hop founding father extravaganza

And so many others — this is gonna be bananas!

We’re seeing some Shakespeare, we’re seeing some Second City

For four days, we’re livin’ it up in Chi-city!