Chicago production of 'Wicked' to close January 2009

CHICAGO After three and a half years of entertaining audiences, the witches in the musical "Wicked" will hang up their brooms. The final curtain call will come in January.

When "Wicked" closes next January, more than 3 million people will have seen the "untold story of the witches of Oz." Its run is coming to a close at a time when more people are open to the idea of hanging out in the Loop past work hours. And the number of options for people coming to the area just keeps growing.

"Wicked" certainly has been popular with theater-goers, who have helped make it the top-grossing and longest-running musical in Chicago history.

But now, time to see it is running out. Producers of the musical announced it will close next January. It's a run that, by all accounts, has exceeded the expectations of the theater community and has made the Loop's theater district an attractive location for future productions.

"Our economic impact of Broadway in Chicago to the city and state has exceeded $700 million on an annual basis," said Lou Raizin, Broadway in Chicago.

It's nn impact that comes from a large amount of out-of-state audiences who spend money at restaurants and hotels in the Loop.

"Great impact on our weekend business, we do about 30-40 rooms just for theater goers," said Glenn Innes, Kimpton Chicago.

Innes says the Hotel Allegro is finishing up a $40 million renovation to stay on pace with an emphasis from the city to transform the Loop from a 9-5 neighborhood to a 24-7 destination, one that will have even more options when new shops come to the Carson Pirie Scott flagship store on state street, including grocery store Fox and Obel.

"It's very exciting, I think we'll have a new story to tell every year about today's State Street as well as the Loop area," said Ty Tabing, Chicago Loop Alliance.

As for "Wicked," there are still tickets available for the shows. But if you can't make it before it ends in January, producers hope to bring it back to Chicago some time in the future. The musicals "Dirty Dancing" and "Mary Poppins" will take turns at the Oriental Theater once "Wicked" leaves.
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