The Best Chicago Neighborhoods for Theatre Nerds

The Best Chicago Neighborhoods for Theatre Nerds

The theatre! The theatre! What's happened to the theatre?"

Some particularly diehard theatre nerds might recognize that line from Irving Berlin's White Christmas. And they might also ask themselves that very question as they start to navigate Chicago's real estate market.

If you're among this group of passionate live theater lovers, you probably prioritize "walking distance to performance venues" right up with "running water" and "electricity" on the list of your future home's must-haves. 

Well, the good news is that you’re in the right city! Chicago has long been considered one of the best places for live theatre in the entire country.

For one thing, the Windy City is the birthplace of improvisational comedy, and many people also consider it the nation’s home for sketch and standup comedy, as well. Even better, fans of plays, musicals, and operas will find some of the greatest productions in the world being put up in theaters all across the city. There’s a reason that so many professional actors and writers consistently say that Chicago is one of the best theatre scenes out there.

Interested in treading the boards yourself – or at least looking for a home that puts you in a great position to catch a live performance, any night of the week? We’re here to help you find your light, and grab the home that’s right for you!

In that spirit, the Real Group Team did some investigating and came up with a list of the best neighborhoods for folks of theatrical predilections. Here are four neighborhoods that fit the (play)bill: 

1. Lincoln Park and Old Town

Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is home to some of the most cutting edge professional theatres in the nation, with shows to suit every taste.

The Steppenwolf. The Second City. The Royal George Theatre Center. Park West. We could go on, but you probably get the idea. If you're looking for a neighborhood that represents the best and brightest of Chicago theatre, Lincoln Park is a safe bet.

Lincoln Park boasts everything from world-class improv to Shakespeare (and yes, even Improvised Shakespeare, if you take a short walk over to the legendary iO Theater). And it does all of them famously well.

In fact, some of the most famous professional theatre companies in the Midwest call this neighborhood home – and with its thriving real estate market, you might just end up settling down in this lovely area, too. 

2.  The Loop & Near North

The Loop offers the bright lights of Broadway – smack dab in the middle of the heartland! 

The Goodman, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater are just a few of the homegrown institutions that put on stellar stage performances near the center of the city. You’ll also be in a prime location for touring productions straight from the Great White Way, which set up shop in theaters like the Oriental, the Cadillac Palace, or the CIBC Theatre.

If you call the Loop and its surroundings – including the South Loop, and the Near North neighborhoods of Streeterville and the Gold Coast – your home, you’ll also be in a prime spot to grab a decadent meal before the show, or find a delicious watering hole to unwind after a masterful performance.

On top of all that theater, the Loop and Near North offer all of the charming hustle and bustle of city life, conveniently located near numerous “L" stops, which make it easy to branch out and take in all of what Chicago has to give.

3. Lakeview

Though close to Lincoln Park, Lakeview's thriving and supportive community inform its grassroots, collaborative approach to theatre programming. The Lakeview area is home to many of Chicago’s “storefront” theaters, which offer great productions in smaller spaces, usually for a slightly lower price.

Along with hosting the annual, enormous Chicago Pride parade each June, Lakeview is also home to the nation's only non-profit, cooperative comedy theatre, the Playground Theatre (which you may recognize from its recent appearance in the movie The Big Sick), as well as a grassroots comedy clubhouse emerging on the scene, known as The Crowd.

For comedy fans looking for more, Lakeview is also home to the offbeat and deliciously off-color shows that go up at the Annoyance Theatre. This area is also home to the Mercury Theater and Stage 773, which each host a variety of theatrical performances and festivals throughout the year, as well as the Briar Street Theatre, long-time home to The Blue Man Group in Chicago.

Looking to learn more about Lakeview – including its housing and condo markets? You can check out our neighborhood guide right here!

4. Wicker Park

Wicker Park offers innovative theatre, largely influenced by the artistic, engaged community that calls this West Town neighborhood home!

There's Salonathon, a weekly performance at the Beauty Bar that invites defiant performances (with a $10 cocktail and manicure special!). There are also venues like the Chopin, the Den, the Flat Iron Arts Building, and Gorilla Tango, which offer energized and focused performances for eclectic audiences.

There are also plenty of great places for after-show coffee, as well as bars, restaurants, galleries, and more.

Bottom line? Wicker Park offers experimental shows next to classic housing, making it an ideal candidate for a theatre nerd who's looking to expand their horizons and take in the next big thing. Interested in Wicker Park – or any of the other amazing neighborhoods that make up West Town, including Bucktown and Ukrainian Village? You can learn more with our handy guide, available here.

Your Real Estate Superstars

When you're ready to begin the buying or selling process in Chicago, the Real Group team would love to help!

With more than 30 years of combined experience, we know the ins and outs of the Chicagoland marketplace, and we have just what it takes to help you find a new place to call home. Drop us a line when you're ready to get started down the right path to real estate success!

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