Chicago LIVE Again! brings performing artists together at Navy Pier

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two days of outdoor performance at Navy Pier showcase and welcome back Chicago's best performing arts groups.

"It was a totally different energy," said Eric Bremer, who attended Chicago LIVE Again!

The pandemic has been especially hard on the performing arts; while many other segments of society have been slowly returning to normal for months, live theater performances are just now starting back. That's why Navy Pier gathered many of the city's most renowned and talented companies together at once, performing vignettes on several stages around the pier.

"Our performing arts community was the first to be darkened by the pandemic and the last to recover, so we though there's no better place than the people's pier to bring these performances out of the darkness," said Marilyn Gardner, Navy Pier president.

"I think the whole idea of a celebration of the live performances coming back in earnest, I'm not sure what that means, but I like the idea of getting back closer to normal," said Edward Hunt, attendee.

It may look like the WWE but it was actually the first day of onstage rehearsal for the Chicago Shakespeare Company's avant garde production of "As You Like It." It was also the first day back on stage for the actors who have been craving the chance to be here for a year and a half. They can hardly wait to share it with a live audience.

"I thank God that we're able to come back and be creative again," said Kevin Gudahl, Shakespeare Theater. "It's been hard not having that outlet other than entertaining your children at home."

Hubbard Street Dance is preparing to open a new show at the Harris Theater in a couple weeks and will perform a preview at Navy Pier.

"I can't remember another time when you've had such a concentration of Chicago's best performing arts community all performing together," said Dave McDermott, Hubbard Street Dance.

Months before the pandemic, Keanon Kyles left his 9-year custodial job at ABC7 to pursue dreams of becoming an opera singer. Now he's back on stage, this time with an audience.

"This event at Navy Pier is definitely the starting point for this new form of live music, and now we're coming back even stronger," he said.

For many performers, actors, dancers and musicians who have been craving a creative outlet for months, the chance to return to the stage is emotional.

"I almost cried. It was very moving. I was so excited. I feel really, really happy right now," said Nancy Voigts, Shakespeare Theater.

Chicago LIVE Again! is being held Friday and Saturday, and you can find more information on Navy Pier's website.
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