Celebration and Celebrities at the Aud’s 125th Birthday Bash

tumblr_ngcb1jTOU11qmywbko1_500Last 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…

tumblr_ngcb4dvLcB1qmywbko1_500Starlet 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.

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.