Steppenwolf Theatre Company

steppenwolf theatre
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In the perfect Chicago bucket list, attending a Steppenwolf play would hold an important spot. The Tony winning Chicago ensemble is iconic in the world of performance art, especially in the Chicago realm. The ensemble was formed in 1976 by Highland Park High School friends Gary Sinise and Jeff Perry, who were joined by Illinois State University friend Terry Kinney.

Sinise’s high school classmates Rick Argosh and Leslie Wilson approached him about putting on a production of Paul Zindel’s And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little in 1974 and the first Steppenwolf Theatre production was set in motion. They performed this inaugural play in the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois where Sinise’s parents had a connection. It’s said that Argosh was reading a Herman Hesse novel at the time, evoking the name Steppenwolf for their ensemble company.

The trio would put on several more plays, including Grease, The Glass Menagerie, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; the latter of which would employ the acting and contributions of Jeff Perry and Terry Kinney. During the production, Sinise, Perry, and Kinney decided that they would start their own professional theatre ensemble, and Steppenwolf was incorporated in 1975. It included the three founders and six friends from Illinois State University including H.E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder. Six of the nine original are still in the now 43 member ensemble.

Many ensemble members have gone on to have successful film careers as well. Founder Gary Sinise is most recognizable from his role in Forrest Gump, while John Malkovich has appeared in a number of famous films such as The Man in the Iron Mask, Being John Malkovich, and Con Air. You may recognize Laurie Metcalf from Roseanne, John Mahoney from Frasier and Martha Plimpton from The Goonies.

The ensemble relocated to Chicago in 1980 and to its current location at 1650 N. Halsted in 1991. We suggest grabbing dinner at one of the nearby restaurants on Halsted like Vinci, Landmark, or Trattoria Gianni before your show; these places are used to theater go-ers and will be sure to have you finished before your showtime. The theater has plenty of parking, or is easily accessible by the Red Line and Halsted and North Avenue buses.

Most Steppenwolf plays don’t maintain “the happy ending” fairytale mentality, so beware when attending with anyone who simply likes the glitter and lights of the theater. There are multiple Steppenwolf productions to choose from and the experience of a Steppenwolf play will surely be unforgettable. Many of the ensemble’s production have gone international, and the theatre company has won the National Medal of Arts and nine Tony awards among its many honors for its work over the years. For more information on shows playing now, visit their website.

The Essentials:
Location: 1650 N. Halsted
Phone: 312-335-1650

Getting There:
L: Red Line (North & Clybourn)
Bus: #8, 72

Box Office Hours:
11am-5pm Monday – Saturday
1pm-5pm Sunday
Open until 7pm on days with evening performances
Not open on certain major holidays


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Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.

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