I’ve been coming to see performances at The Auditorium Theatre since 1999. I’ve seen everything from the American Ballet Theatre to singer Michael Buble, but my favorite outing is to see Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”. It’s a tradition. The beauty of the ballet and seeing the little girls dressed up is part of the magic, but the grandness and detail of the theater is what really makes it special. It wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.
Kindness ushers you through the front doors into the bustling lobby with marbled mosaic floors, a children’s choir singing carols and holiday decorations adorning 123-year-old walls. Once inside the theater, I can’t wait to look up at the gorgeous details of the painted murals and gold leaf designs on the walls and ceiling. Right before the conductor comes out, I take a moment to read the quote painted at the top of the proscenium – “The utterance of life is a song, the symphony of nature.” – and I think of all the people before me who have come here to appreciate the arts and be entertained.
In “The Nutcracker” there is a specific moment at the end of the Snow Scene in Act I, when the music and dancing all stops for a brief moment. That lull was always filled with Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino yelling “Bravo!” at every show. He passed away in 2008, yet I can still hear his voice in my head at that moment every time I watch and it makes me smile. He is part of the theater and my memories created at The Auditorium.
My real name is Vicki Crain. I’m a freelance writer, mainly arts and culture, in Chicago and a former dancer and dance teacher. I danced with a semi-professional regional ballet company in Central Illinois for over ten years (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker…the usual), where I also taught at the affiliated dance school while finishing up college (B.A. in English). After moving to Chicago, I danced for a season with Zephyr Dance and did freelance work, including six years dancing and touring with a Chicago-based production company. I’ve worked with a range of choreographers including Randy Duncan, James Kelly, Jan Erkert and Dame Libby Komaiko. My age is irrelevant except for the times when I’m getting out of bed and need to use my dog Giselle’s steps for help.