Windy City, Red-Hot Shows

The lights are still bright on Broadway, but for true theatrical wattage, Chicago is now the place to go. New York City's offerings tend to be more business than show, with astronomical theater rents and rocketing production prices. But the only things soaring in Chicago are the skyscrapers. Aided by tax breaks, theater there is free to take bigger risks, and the payoff is enormous. "Here, you neither fail nor succeed," says Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls.

"It's purely about doing the work, so people get very good at it. Chicagoans make theaters everywhere—out of a storefront,...

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