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  • Nov 24 2014

    A Celebration of Sheldon Patinkin

    A celebration of the life of Sheldon Patinkin will take place Monday, January 26, 2015, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, located at 9501 Skokie Blvd. in the suburb of Skokie north of Chicago. The free event starts at 7:30 PM, with guest speakers reflecting on Mr. Patinkin's enormous impact on Chicago theatre. A reception with cash bar will follow the presentation. RSVPs are encouraged. For reservations, please call 312-369-6333 to leave a message or respond via Eventbrite.

    The event is presented jointly by the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and The Second City -- three organizations with which Mr. Patinkin had close professional and personal ties for decades.

    Sheldon Patinkin was Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department from 1980 to 2009, when he assumed the title of Chair Emeritus, continuing to teach and direct at the College until his death. He was an Artistic Consultant at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of The School at Steppenwolf, and taught at The School for 17 years. And he was an original member of Second City from the company's beginnings -- when it was founded in 1959 by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills, and Howard Alk. He served as Sills' assistant director and then succeeded Sills as artistic director of the groundbreaking comedy theatre, eventually becoming an Artistic Consultant there.

    Born in Chicago on August 27, 1935, Mr. Patinkin died September 21, 2014, following a heart attack. He was an integral figure in the development of a professional, grassroots Chicago theatre scene starting in the 1950s, when he was part of the talented young group of artists who created the Playwrights Theatre Club, Compass Players, and The Second City. He directed some of Chicago theatre's most memorable productions, including the commercial Chicago premieres of several Off-Broadway hits as well as productions at Steppenwolf, The Second City, Gift Theatre, City Lit Theater, National Jewish Theatre, and other Chicago-area companies. During his tenure as Chair, the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department educated hundreds of students who have gone on to distinguished careers in theatre, film, and television; he also mentored alumni who went on to start their own theatre companies. His books include Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater (Sourcebooks, 2000) and "No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance": A History of the American Musical Theater (Northwestern University Press, 2008). In that book, he wrote:

    "We live in a time when, more and more, the response to trouble is violence; when too many individual communities have become too insular for the good of the larger community; when too much beyond one's immediate world seems to exist either to be feared to taken advantage of; when too many people try not to feel deeply or try to disguise their feelings with catch phrases, crudeness, inarticulateness, and sentimentality. It is one of the most important functions of both art and entertainment to help us transcend such times, sometimes by helping us to think things through, sometimes by helping us not to think at all."

    "Sheldon was an artist, a scholar and a dear friend. He was a mentor to multiple generations and a productive and prolific leader of the Chicago theatre community until his final days. We look forward to celebrating his extraordinary life and career," said Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc.

    “Sheldon has been a part of the Steppenwolf family from the earliest days of our existence," said Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. "He was an artist, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend. The School at Steppenwolf will always be a part of Sheldon’s legacy. His influence lives on in the work of several generations of theatre artists.”

    "At Columbia College we encourage our students to 'live what you love,' and Sheldon personified that ideal every day -- in every aspect of his teaching, directing, and mentorship," said John Green, Mr. Patinkin's successor as Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department. "Like George in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, he awoke students to the many possibilities of their lives as theatre artists, and the extension of those lives out into the community he loved and served so well."

    11/24/2014 Comments (0)
  • Nov 21 2014

    Twist Your Dickens Special Guests & Event Announced

    Equal parts naughty and nice, Chicago’s famed The Second City brings our version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, beginning December 5.

    Titled Twist Your Dickens, Or Scrooge You!, this send-up of Dickens’ classic includes a special Chicago-based celebrity guest in a cameo role at each show; while audiences won’t know who appears in this spot from night to night, expected appearances include:

    Comedian and Vocalo host Brian Babylon
    WBEZ’s Niala Boodhoo
    WXRT’s Lin Brehmer
    Senator John Cullerton
    Actor Allen Gilmore (Scrooge alternate in A Christmas Carol)
    Chef Stephanie Izard
    Chicago Tribune’s Candace Jordan
    Chicago Cubs’ Len Kasper
    WBBM-TV’s Bill Kurtis
    Musician Jon Langford
    Author Sara Paretsky
    Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
    B96’s Showbiz Shelly
    Sommelier Alpana Singh and more.

      Written by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort and directed by Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center Matt Hovde, Twist Your Dickens—a “riotous havoc” (Los Angeles Times) that blends legitimate theater, parody, sketch comedy and improvisation, including the integration of audience “misdeeds” that are written in the lobby preceding the show—finds Scrooge and Tiny Tim hopelessly mixed up with characters from the Peanuts holiday special, the Island of Misfit Toys and even Little Orphan Annie.

      While the set and costumes reflect The Second City’s minimalist aesthetic, audiences can expect to see backdrops of their favorite holiday television specials and the ensemble sporting “business casual Dickensian” wear inspired by ugly sweaters and other pop culture icons. Twist Your Dickens runs December 5 - 28 in the Owen Theatre (press night is December 10 and opening night is December 11) and is appropriate for adults and savvy teens age 16+. 

      Tickets ($15 - $45; subject to change) are on sale now, available at, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Please be advised that the show incorporates the use of strobe lights, smoke and haze. 

      “Peter and Bobby have written a play that not only upends a classic holiday staple of the stage and screen, but lampoons a variety of other holiday farrago that has become an ingrained part of the yuletide season,” said Kelly Leonard, Executive Vice President of The Second City and President of Second City Theatricals. Added Goodman Theatre Executive Director Roche Schulfer: “The Goodman has always wanted to pair A Christmas Carol with a holiday production in the Owen. The Second City's Twist Your Dickens, Or Scrooge You! is a perfect fit and we look forward to expanding our audience now and in the future"

      As previously announced, the seven-member cast includes Francis Guinan as Scrooge, Frank Caeti as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Peter Gwinn as Jacob Marley, Sayjal Joshi as Tiny Tim, Beth Melewski as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Robyn Scott as Mrs. Cratchit, and Tim Stoltenberg as Bob Cratchit. The creative team includes Tom Buderwitz (sets), Rachel Lambert (costumes) and Gina Patterson (lights). Mara Filler is the Production Stage Manager.

      Headshots and bio information can be found in the Press Room.

      Special Event: “Cocktails with a Twist”
      Tuesday, December 9
      6pm Pre-Show Reception, 7:30pm Performance
      $65 with promo code TWIST

      The Goodman’s Scenemakers auxiliary board hosts a night of yuletide debauchery with pre-show cocktails and hors d’oeuvres—with a twist, and a few surprises—in the theater’s rehearsal space, followed by a performance of The Second City’s send-up of Christmas classics in their holiday revue. The party continues post-show with more holiday libations and revelry.

      Goodman Theatre is grateful to Nesek Digital, the Presenting Sponsor of the Scenemakers Board 2014/2015 Season; Baird, the Event Sponsor; and Sopraffina Marketcaffe, Trattoria No. 10 and Twisted Stem, the Event Partners of “Cocktails with a Twist.”

      The Scenemakers young professionals board of 37 is in its 12th season, having contributed more than $80,000 to the Goodman’s new play development initiatives and Education and Community Engagement programming in the immediate past 2013/2014 Season. Other events scheduled this Season include: “Two Trains and a Sidecar” on March 11, 2015 and the Scenemakers’ signature fundraiser, the fourth annual “Scene Soiree” on June 13, 2015. For tickets and information visit

      11/21/2014 Comments (0)
    • Nov 20 2014

      RIP Mike Nichols

      "We have lost a giant. Mike Nichols was an architect of modern improvisational theater. As a member of The Playwrights Theatre Club and The Compass Players, Mike helped create the foundation for not only The Second City, but for a host of storefront theaters that eventually became the thriving theatrical community that you see today in Chicago. His work always played to the top of its intelligence, bathed in wit and infused with honesty. We mourn the loss of our esteemed forbears and offer our condolences to his family."

      Andrew Alexander
      CEO/Executive Producer
      The Second City

      For more information, click here.

      11/20/2014 Comments (0)
    • Nov 19 2014

      Cecily Strong Hosts White House Correspondent's Dinner

      Second City veteran and current SNL cast member, Cecily Strong, has been asked to be the featured entertainer and host of next spring's White House Correspondent's dinner. More details here.

      11/19/2014 Comments (0)
    • Nov 18 2014

      SC Announces Two Shows Benefiting Deserving Chicago Families

      The Second City is thrilled to announce two epic events: the return of its legendary 24-hour improv and music marathon, as well as an intimate all-star evening. Proceeds from both shows will support families from Chicago’s Onward Neighborhood House.

      First up, The Second City That Never Sleeps: 24 Hour celebrates its 13th year, running non-stop from Tuesday, December 16th at 6:00 p.m. until Wednesday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m. in The Second City e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 N. Wells Street, 2nd floor of Piper’s Alley.

      This year’s lineup includes music by James McCartney, Kim Deal, J.C. Brooks & The Uptown Sound with Ian Rubbish, Bobby, Holly & the Ricketts, Renaldo Domino, Robbie Fulks and Jeff Tweedy. Live improv and comedy will be provided by a team of Second City’s finest and funniest. Special guests include Steve Albini, Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne.

      In addition to the live performances, several one-of-a-kind items will be up for auction at 24 Hour, including two sets of tickets for two to Saturday Night Live, compliments of Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant.

      Then on Monday, January 5th, join us for Our Living Room Show in UP Comedy Club. This all-star evening will feature sketch comedy and improv from Saturday Night Live cast members and distinguished Second City alumni, including Aidy Bryant, Mike O’Brien and Tim Robinson, followed by an intimate “living room”-style musical performance from Wilco’s Grammy-winning frontman, Jeff Tweedy.

      Tickets to Our Living Room Show are on sale now via The UP Comedy Club Box Office at (312) 662-4562 or Prices range from $300 (general house seating) to $500 (first row).

      Tickets to The Second City That Never Sleeps: 24 Hour are $20 and will be sold at the door throughout the event as long as seats are available. Doors open Tuesday, 12/16 at 5:00 p.m. The event will also be streamed LIVE at or Donations via PayPal are appreciated.

      For ongoing schedule updates and information, "Like" our Facebook page at Onward Neighborhood House empowers families and individuals in need to achieve their full potential in a community-based setting.

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      11/18/2014 Comments (0)
    • Nov 5 2014

      Dick Schaal

      "We are very sad to hear the news of Dick Schaal's passing. As an improviser from the early days of The Second City, he was an artist, innovator and an incredible physical comedian. Through the years, he would often return to Chicago to see the latest Mainstage revues. Through his acting, directing and teaching, he inspired generations of actors and improvisers. Our thoughts are with his family and friends." - Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer for The Second City

      Click here to read Dick Schaal's obituary in the Chicago Tribune.

      11/5/2014 Comments (0)
    • Sep 21 2014

      Sheldon Patinkin

      "We are heartbroken to learn of the sudden death of Sheldon Patinkin. Beginning as a bar manager at The Second City in 1959, Sheldon became our artistic conscience as director and artistic consultant. He has worked with Second City casts and directors for the past 55 years; most recently giving notes and consulting on The Second City e.t.c.’s “Apes of Wrath.” His work expanded beyond The Second City and he became a prolific director and educator. He was a beloved mentor to thousands. His legacy is exponential and we are so proud to have also called him a friend." - Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer, The Second City

      9/21/2014 Comments (0)
    • Sep 18 2014

      Key and Peele Found Love at SC

      Here's a great piece on SC alum Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele on how they got their start together at The Second City!

      9/18/2014 Comments (0)
    • Sep 4 2014

      SC Alum Joan Rivers Passes Away

      We are so sad to learn of Joan Rivers’ death. Though her time with Second City was short, Joan Rivers embodied all of the attributes of a Second City alum - hard-working, smart as a whip and incredibly funny. We are very sad to lose this trailblazer but are so thankful for her prolific body of work. Our thoughts are with her beloved family and friends.

      - Andrew Alexander, CEO & Executive Producer, The Second City

      9/4/2014 Comments (0)
    • Sep 3 2014

      Stephen Colbert On Late Night with Seth Meyers

      If you didn't catch SC alum, Stephen Colbert, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, here's a clip -- one where he sings a lil' song from his time at Second City nonetheless!

      9/3/2014 Comments (0)