The House Theatre of Chicago

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The House Theatre of Chicago is a non-profit, ensemble theatre company in Chicago, IL. The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends from the British American Drama Academy and Southern Methodist University with the mission of exploring the ideas of Community and Storytelling in order to create a unique theatrical experience for audience members.[1] Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has been nominated for more than 40 Joseph Jefferson Awards. In 2007, The House became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago's Emerging Theater Award. Performances currently take place at the Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park.


The House staged its first show, Death and Harry Houdini at the Live Bait Theatre in the Fall of 2001. Artistic Director Nathan Allen wrote and directed the show which starred company member Dennis Watkins in the title role.

The team followed with the critically acclaimed hit, The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan. Allen directed the production, written by company member Phillip C. Klapperich. The show was extended twice, running for five months.[2]

The genre-bending Valentine Trilogy spanned three seasons and established the House’s dedication to exploring the ideas of Community and Heroes through Storytelling and the use of music. The trilogy began with the critically acclaimed opening chapter of the Valentine Trilogy, San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid in winter 2004. Playwright and songwriter Allen crafted an epic rock 'n’ roll drama about a small band of cowboys who hit the open range with more than cattle herding on their minds. A year later the company transported the story to feudal Japan for the samurai sequel, Curse of the Crying Heart. In 2006 the company mounted the concluding chapter, Valentine Victorious, which found reluctant hero Elliot Dodge taking on the corrupt streets of 1930s Chicago while battling his own demons.

The House found critical success again in 2006 with The Sparrow. Chicago Tribune Theatre Critic called it "a fresh, guileless, quirky and entirely lovable celebration of high school memories and small-town goodness, told in the accessible, youthful spirit of the iconic comic book."[3] Following a sold-out run at the Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theater, the House remounted the show the following season at the Apollo Theatre.

The House Creative Team collaborated with the American Music Theatre Project and students at Northwestern University to develop the new musical Girls vs. Boys. The show premiered at the House in April 2010.[4]

In 2014, The House was awarded the American Theatre Wing's National Theatre Company Grant.[5]

In October 2020, Nate Allen announced that he was stepping down from his role as the House's Artistic Director. (He was the only person to hold this position in the company's twenty-year history.) This announcement followed the cancellation of House escape room productions Nova to Lodestar and The Last Defender.[6] The Covid-19 pandemic had already force-furloughed most House staff. Allen estimated that the company could survive for another year under pandemic-related limitations, but he explained "what the House deserves is someone to really rebuild a company. I know what that is, but it’s not me. That was a commitment I had in my 20s, but I don’t have it now."[7] Allen had immeasurable influence on the House and also on several generations of Chicago artists who encountered theatre through the House's signature maximalist style.

Production history[edit]

Past Seasons[edit]

  • Season Zero
    • Death & Harry Houdini '01
    • The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan
  • Season One
    • Death & Harry Houdini '03
    • San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid
    • The Rocket Man
  • Season Two
    • Cave With Man
    • Curse of the Crying Heart
    • Dave DaVinci Saves the Universe
  • Season Three
  • Season Four
    • Hope Springs Infernal
    • The Sparrow
    • Hatfield & McCoy
    • Pop Theatre At The Old Town School
  • Season Five
    • The Magnificents
    • The Nutcracker
    • The Attempters
    • The Sparrow Returns
    • The Secret Order of The Magic Pearl
  • Season Six
    • Dave Davinci Saves the Universe
    • Rose and the Rime
  • Season Seven
  • Season Eight
    • Thieves Like Us
    • Star Witness
    • The Nutcracker
    • Odradek
  • Other Productions
    • Ellen Under Glass
    • A Midsommer Night's Dreame
    • Alice
    • The Care Bears Movie: Live in Concert
    • Newsies: Live in Concert
    • Tremors: Edited for TV
    • Nice Guys Finish Last: Collaboraction's Fable Party
    • Defy Gravity: Museum of Science and Industry
    • Millennium Park Audio Installation
    • Beginners Guide to Camping
    • San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid: Theatre on The Lake
    • Curse of the Crying Heart: Theatre on The Lake
    • The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz: Northlight Theatre
    • Hero, Dragon, Pearl: The First Annual Gathering of The Secret Order of The Magic Pearl


  1. ^ About Us » The House Theatre of Chicago. Retrieved on 2010-11-20.
  2. ^ Shows » The House Theatre of Chicago. Retrieved on 2010-11-20.
  3. ^ Jones, Chris. (2007-10-06) 'The Sparrow' takes wing in new incarnation at Apollo. Retrieved on 2010-11-20.
  4. ^ Girls vs. Boys » Season Seven » The House Theatre of Chicago. Retrieved on 2010-11-20.
  6. ^ The Escapes » The House Theatre of Chicago. Retrieved on 2020-10-13.
  7. ^ Allen, Nate. (2020-10-12) [1]. Retrieved on 2020-10-13.