Last night the Auditorium Theatre was teeming with opulence and excitement, in addition to Chicago celebrities John Mahoney, Patti LuPone, and Mayor Rahm too. The fancies all gathered to celebrate The Aud’s 125th birthday in the grandest of style, paying homage to the gala opening on Dec 9th, 1889. Orchestral and rock music, opera and broadway, plus representatives from Auditorium’s dance staples Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and The Joffrey Ballet graced the stage in a 90-minute tribute that truly had something for everyone. The evening was directed by emcee, and really lovely man John Mahoney. You may know him as Frasier’s dad, I know him as the guy who opted to eat dinner with all the Production Assistants when I worked for Ravinia Festival’s production department…
Starlet Patti LuPone headlined the evening, peppering the program with her greatest hits as well as a few obscurities, including a tribute to her great grand-aunt Adalina Patti, the dame of the gala in 1889.
As the Apollo Chorus descended the aisles singing Les Miserables‘ “Do you hear the people sing” and audience members sipped champagne (which you can bring in the theater now!) we were given a glimpse of what it must have felt like that chilly day 125 years ago to enter what was – at that time – the tallest building in Chicago. It was the opening gala to what would be a golden age in our city’s history, and indeed the Auditorium Theatre has been a special part of my family’s history too. Having visited about once a year as a young lady, I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place in the world.
Sometimes I still get that feeling.