A group of Northwestern University graduates founded Lookingglass Theatre Company in 1988. Since, it has grown to become a nationwide leader in the creation and presentation of new, cutting-edge works of theater. The company’s ensemble-based theatrical techniques capture audience’s imaginations and leave them engaged and empowered. Lookingglass won a 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Today, the group is based inside the Chicago Water Tower Water Works Building on Magnificent Mile.
Lookingglass Theatre Facilities
Lookingglass has been based in the Chicago Water Tower Water Works Building since 2003. Located in the heart of Magnificent Mile, the venue has a black-box style stage that can be rearranged for each production. It has a capacity of 240 patrons, including 60 seats in the removable balcony level.
Additionally, there is a multi-purpose studio space used for rehearsals, special events, and educational programs. Morris Architect Planners were able to convert the Water Tower landmark into the theater’s home base. It includes the Lookingglass performance space as well as lobbies, dressing rooms, and concession areas. There is also a Chicago Public Library in the building. The building also still functions with its original purpose and pumps 125 million gallon of water to the city’s Near North Side daily.
Lookingglass Theatre Programs
The first production held in the Water Tower space was an adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Race by David Schwimmer. Today, the Lookingglass Ensemble is made up of 24 artists dedicated to transformational theatre. Among them are celebrities like David Schwimmer, Joey Slotnick, and Mary Zimmerman.
Lookingglass has hosted such world premiers as Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Plantation!, Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth, Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure, In the Garden: a Darwinian Love Story, Still Alice, and The North China Lover. Currently, its Lookingglass Alice has an anticipated return down the rabbit hole for what the Chicago Tribune describes as “pure, unadulterated magic.” The theater also hosts holiday-themed performances like The Steadfast Tin Soldier.
Theatre Night Out is a popular event held throughout the season. Pre- and post-show receptions join young professionals and members of the Lookingglass Associated Board to meet and share their love for theater.
Lookingglass is also known for its educational programming. It gives back to Chicago Public Schools with in-school residences and student matinee programs. The theater also hosts classes and artistic summer camps for Chicago’s youth.
Getting to the Lookingglass Theatre
Lookingglass Theatre Company is located in the Historic Water Tower Water Works building at 821 N Michigan Avenue on Magnificent Mile. Enter through wooden double doors from the elevated terraces across Pearson Street. There are three convenient parking options within a block from the theater: 875 N Michigan, Olympia Centre Self Park, and Water Tower Place. Bring your parking ticket to the box office, and the staff will validate it for a discount.
For public transit, take the Red Line L train to Chicago Ave and N state street. There are also an array of CTA bus lines that stop conveniently near the theater on Magnificent Mile.