If you’ve been to Chicago before you know about the big Broadway playhouses. These classic theaters in the heart of the Loop provide an inspiring home to musicals and plays performed by some of Broadway’s finest cast and crew.

Alongside these impressive venues, Chicagoland has a vibrant theatrical community with over 150 theaters stretched across the three county region. This week I got up-close-and-personal on a group leader fam trip with some of these jewels. We met actors from the Porchlight, Million Dollar Quartet, Late Night Cataclysm and American Blues Theater. We toured off-Broadway venues like Stage 773, the Apollo and the Greenhouse, got a behind-the-scenes tour at Lyric Opera (ask me about the wigs!) and a were treated to a special performance with the cast of venerable Second City.

Our day was organized by Chicago Show Tickets, a cooperative venture of wholesalers, group sales agents, Second City and Lyric Opera. They’re experts at bringing these special Chicago venues to light. As illustrated by our crew, quality theater runs long and deep in Chicago’s veins.

So next time Chicago is on your radar, venture off-Broadway.In the meantime, check out my Twitter recap of the day’s events!

Our day starts at the Porchlight Music Theater office where we  were treated to a special performance of upcoming musical.

Our leaders address the group to the day’s activities before our morning performance.

Off to Stage 773, non-profit venue that exists to cultivate great theater and performances. Check out their comedy event in early January, guaranteed laughs!

Johnny Cash could be the best tour guide EVER!

This is a special performance by the lead actor in Hank Williams: Lost Highway. Just like Hank, why is this performance leaving us too soon?

Group photo opp at Second City, new UP performance area. If you’re planning student groups, ask about improv classes and workshops!

Wrapping things up with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lyric Opera. Over 3,500 seats in this 85 year old venue!