Ten years have passed since the dedication of the Goodman Theatre in its luxurious home on Dearborn. The rebirth of the Theater District all began with this major pillar of the community moving from its Art Institute home to what were the old facades of the Harris and Selwn theaters ( back in the old days). With the coming of The Goodman, others followed and the “Theatre District” went from a dream to reality.
Today marked 10 years since August Wilson stood on the Goodman Stage and described what this theater meant to the city, as a cultural institute and as a place where playwrights would be able to “tell their stories”. A place where the diversity of the city would be explored through the plays that depict the histories and legends of specific races and nationalities. On this special day, we were welcomed by Goodman Chairman Patricia Cox who spoke of the vision that was to make this all happen. Remarks were then made by Life Trustee Peter C.B.Bynoe and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, taking us back in time to the day when it was decided that this was the place to build the new Goodman with the blessings of Mayor Ricard M. Daley and of course, the woman behind the man who loves everything and everyone associated with Chicago, Maggie. When the Daley’s came on stage, thunderous applause was heard throughout the building as every person rose to their feet , filling the theater with the warmth and love that IS Goodman Theatre.
The reading of August Wilson’s opening speech 10 years ago was done by some of the greatest talent in Chicago; Regina Taylor, Henry Godinez, Ernest Perry,Jr., Steve Pickering, Mary Beth Fisher and although not a Chicago resident, a man who has become Chicago ( at the Goodman), Brian Dennehy. Just having all of these people on one stage made for an exciting presentation, but there was more. The Board of Directors, in honor of the Mayor and Maggie, made two seats the Daley Seats Yes, B13 and 14, second row pretty close to center, will now bear their names and when they attend an opening I would expect that would be where they would sit. But there was more to this marvelous day. Both Mayor and Maggie daley have been made honorary Lifetime Board members and to top it off, Scrooge flew in to offer the Daley family a once in a lifetime opportunity- to do a walk on role in the classic “A Christmas Carol” ( to be announced as to when). Scrooge did inform the Mayor, that it was a “non-speaking part”.
After this wonderful day filled with lots of emotions, all positive, Mayor nd Maggie Daley allowed some time for questions in the foyer and of course to kind of say his goodbyes as he finishes his final term as Mayor of Chicago. One of the reporters asked him about his love for theater and he expressed that while his dad, the original Mayor Daley, did not appear to be a theater person, he loved the theater and our current Mayor said that he has been an actor all his life ( as are all politicians). Many members of the audience, press, subscribers, board members, donors and even the Saints ( that marvelous group that ushers at all of our local theaters) had a tear in their eye as the Mayor and Maggie left the building. One never knows when our paths will cross again, but as I shook his hand, I said to Mayor Daley, ” See you at the Theater”!