The big top is up at River Front Theater

May 26, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The sight of the big top might conjure up images of clowns and contortionists, but the organizers behind the new River Front Theater want you to broaden your view. In just a few days, the Twelve Irish Tenors will be taking the stage.

"We'll then have something called 'Dancing Queen,' wonderful 1970s disco, Donna Summer-type production," said Robert Butters, executive producer at River Front Theater. "Then we'll have something called 'La Soiree,' which is sort of a more burlesque evening, very risque."

Construction is going down to the wire with expectations that the venue will be top-notch by opening night. It is a temperature-controlled tent that will seat between 1,300 and 1,900 people.

"We will have configurations where we can be in the round, where we can have an end-on stage," said Butters. "Actually, because of the height and because of the flexibility of the space, we can do things that other venues can't have."

Nestled alongside the Chicago River, organizers hope patrons will take advantage of the new outdoor space. It will host a pavilion tent with food and drinks and outdoor decking with seating for a beer garden.

"You don't have to have a ticket to come into the venue - you can join us in the beer garden in the afternoons and come and have a drink and a little bit of food," said Surinder Martignetti, venue director at the River Front Theater. "We want to have local artists out here to have their work presented and shown, maybe have a few artists on-site live."

The tent is slated to remain in place through October. If all goes well, the theater may become a permanent fixture.

"Chicago's a little colder, a little windier, but the tent itself wouldn't have a problem," said Butters. "It's really about how we feel for an inaugural season, which for us is the launch pad for the future."

Opening night for the River Front Theater is Wednesday, May 30th with the Twelve Tenors from Ireland. If you would like a sneak peak, they will be performing Sunday at Navy Pier.

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