This week we’re obsessed with Broadway in Chicago

Allison Lasher

To say I’m not a good singer would be an understatement, but tone deaf is going too far. I prefer the term “vocally challenged.” Simply put, when my raspy voice is set to music, it sounds like a cat shrieking with a mouthful of saltine crackers. However, while I may never be in the spotlight as a smash-hit Broadway musical star, I will always be a proud spectator.

The one thing I miss about being home in New Jersey is its proximity to the bright lights of Broadway, but the next best thing is only an intercampus shuttle ride away.

Freshman year, my mom and I went into Chicago to see “Billy Elliot the Musical” and I must admit, I was skeptical. Like many East Coasters, I didn’t think the magic of Broadway could be redone anywhere else, much less in the Midwest.

Not only was the production comparable to its New York counterpart, but the talent, choreography and sets blew my mind. I left the show a convert, jazzed about Chicago theater.

I recently went downtown to see “American Idiot” with my friend who had scored two free tickets. Walking into the Oriental Theatre gave me the same rush of excitement I felt when I was five at my first Broadway show. The inside of the Oriental Theatre was beautiful and there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. With no intermission, “American Idiot” was a non-stop thrill ride of strobe lights and songs with which I could sing along. The Green Day tribute rocked the stage and had the whole audience on their feet by the end.

Broadway in Chicago is only 10 years old, but it already offers hit shows in five theaters. With more than 20 shows a year, there is something for everyone– whether you’re into musicals, comedies or straight plays. Before Spring Quarter ends, “South Pacific,” “Bring It On” and “Jersey Boys,” a personal favorite, will all have taken the stage in the city, only 12 miles away.

I know theater tends to be an expensive hobby, saved for special occasions and indulgences, and college students are notorious for needing to save the few bucks they have, but fear not. Where there’s a will, there’s a cheaper way. Student rush tickets are available on several occasions for only $25. On the day of the show, box offices sell these tickets for the performance. Usually, calling ahead will get you the answer of whether or not it’s worth making the trip into the city.

If you already missed “In The Heights,” “Mamma Mia!” and “American Idiot,” don’t worry, there are plenty more shows this season. But don’t wait because performances don’t last long and tickets sell fast. “American Idiot” ran in Chicago for only 12 days.

Next on my Broadway “to see” list is “Bring It On.” Uniting some of the brightest talents in Broadway, from writer Jeff Whitty to composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, it is sure to be musical comedy gold, or at least a fun night in the city.

Allison Lasher