Auditorium 19/20 Season Features Live-Scored “Get Out” and Sondheim 90th Birthday Concert

Auditorium 19/20 Season Features Live-Scored “Get Out” and Sondheim 90th Birthday Concert

The Auditorium Theatre has announced its 2019-20 season, celebrating 130 years.

“When the Auditorium Theatre first opened 130 years ago, its founders envisioned it as The Theatre for the People, a gathering place that could bring Chicagoans together to experience everything from dance and music to science and art,” says C.J. Dillon, Auditorium Theatre Chief Programming Officer. “We uphold this vision during the 2019-20 Season by presenting a diverse array of programming that showcases the versatility of our National Historic Landmark and offers something for everyone, whether you are looking for world-renowned dance, uplifting music, or inspiring speakers. We are incredibly proud that the Auditorium Theatre continues to be a renaissance theatre and one of the pillars of Chicago’s cultural landscape after 130 years.”

The Auditorium’s International Dance Series opens with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returning for its annual appearance with Chicago premieres combined with classic repertory works. Visiting Resident Company American Ballet Theatre will then celebrate its 80th anniversary with Natalia Makarova’s “La Bayadère.” Russia’s premier ballet company, the Bolshoi Ballet, makes its first Chicago appearance in 16 years when it brings Yuri Grigorovich’s “Swan Lake” to the Auditorium. Chicago is one of only two stops on the company’s 2020 United States tour.

The Auditorium’s American Music Series features the Chicago premiere of the live-scored version of Jordan Peele’s Oscar-nominated film “Get Out,” presented in partnership with the Chicago Sinfonietta and conducted by the film’s composer Michael Abels. On Halloween and November 1, the Chicago Philharmonic returns to perform alongside Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The theatre’s signature annual event, “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah,” celebrates 15 years in Chicago ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Also part of the American Music Series is a salute to Stephen Sondheim in commemoration of his 90th birthday. “Chicago Celebrates Sondheim!” is directed and produced by Chicago cabaret icon Joan Curto, and features some of the city’s best classical, jazz, theatre, and cabaret artists.

The “Made in Chicago” Dance Series, showcasing the city’s homegrown dance companies will feature Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater sharing the stage with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in a one-night-only performance that explores identity and culture. Trinity Irish Dance Company performs two shows on Leap Day in 2020, presenting a world premiere and other new works. Giordano Dance Chicago, America’s original jazz dance company, brings a high-energy program back to the Auditorium. And Hedwig Dances makes its Auditorium debut with a special performance in which audience members will be seated on the theatre’s landmark stage.

For the second year, the Auditorium will present the National Geographic Live speaker series, which in the 2019-20 Season focuses on daring explorers who are dedicated to protecting our planet. Hear from adventurers who have hiked the Grand Canyon in its entirety, devoted their lives to researching and defending big cats and orangutans, and spent more than 10,000 hours underwater in order to capture the soul of the sea.

Renewals and subscription packages will be available March 27, 2019. Individual tickets and discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more people will be available at a later date.

THE AUDITORIUM THEATRE’S 2019-20 SEASON (descriptions from the press release)


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | 7:30PM
Thursday, March 5, 2020 | 7:30PM
Friday, March 6, 2020 | 7:30PM
Saturday, March 7, 2020 | 2PM
Saturday, March 7, 2020 | 8PM
Sunday, March 8, 2020 | 3PM

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, “one of the best known companies in the world” (The Associated Press) that “never fails to inspire and delight” (Chicago Tonight), returns to its Chicago home of more than 50 years as a Visiting Resident Company. Presenting premieres, new productions, timeless classics, and audience favorites, the “extraordinary Ailey dancers” (Chicago Tribune) are known for their incredible artistry and mastery of modern, ballet, hip-hop, and a variety of dance techniques. “If you haven’t seen a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in a while, you might forget just how accomplished the company’s dancers are. You know they can do anything, but the visible evidence can leave you reeling” (The New Yorker).

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

American Ballet Theatre – La Bayadère
Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 7:30PM
Friday, March 20, 2020 | 7:30PM
Saturday, March 21, 2020 | 2PM
Saturday, March 21, 2020 | 7:30PM
Sunday, March 22, 2020 | 2PM

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) celebrates its 80th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of Natalia Makarova’s restaging of “La Bayadère” when it returns to Chicago as the Auditorium Theatre’s Visiting Resident Ballet Company. Set in the Royal India of the past, ABT’s La Bayadère is a “sumptuous full-length ballet” (The New York Times) that tells an enthralling story of eternal love, mystery, fate, vengeance, and justice in a “hypnotic spectacle of precision and heavenly harmony” (The Washington Post). With dramatic dancing, opulent sets, and exquisite costumes, ABT’s La Bayadère makes for “edge-of-your-seat watching” (The New York Times).

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

Bolshoi Ballet – Swan Lake
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | 7:30PM
Thursday, June 11, 2020 | 7:30PM
Friday, June 12, 2020 | 7:30PM
Saturday, June 13, 2020 | 2PM
Saturday, June 13, 2020 | 7:30PM
Sunday, June 14, 2020 | 2PM

Considered the “the world’s greatest dance company” (The Independent), Russia’s premier ballet company makes a triumphant return to Chicago and to the historic Auditorium Theatre after 16 years. Yuri Grigorovich’s “Swan Lake,” set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score (performed by the Chicago Philharmonic), incorporates choreography from masters Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Alexander Gorsky. Called “dazzling” and “immensely rewarding” (The Telegraph), Swan Lake highlights the “world’s greatest dancers” (BBC) and the “emotional, athletic, and theatrical style” (The Washington Post) that earned the company its international acclaim. Chicago is the only city presenting the Bolshoi’s “Swan Lake” on the company’s 2020 United States tour.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.


“Get Out” with the Chicago Sinfonietta
Saturday, September 21, 2019 | 7:30PM

The live concert experience of Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” comes to the Auditorium Theatre in this Midwest premiere. Score composer Michael Abels conducts the Chicago Sinfonietta, the city’s most diverse and inclusive orchestra, as they perform the movie’s heart-pounding music. Get Out, nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, is a film that is equal parts gripping thriller and provocative social commentary.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.

Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 7:30PM
Friday, November 1, 2019 | 7:30PM

What’s this? What’s this? No, it’s not a dream…”The Nightmare Before Christmas” is returning to Chicago! Get in the Halloween spirit with a screening of Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion film, featuring beloved songs like “This Is Halloween!” and “Jack’s Lament” performed live-to-film by the Chicago Philharmonic, who “truly [bring] to life the spooky magic of Danny Elfman’s legendary music” (Chicago Stage Standard). This new Chicago tradition has everything you need to celebrate Halloween with your family or your friends: Dress in your Halloween or Nightmare finest and come early for trick-or-treating, fun activities, and a costume contest in the Auditorium Theatre’s historic…and perhaps even haunted…lobby.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.

Chicago Celebrates Sondheim!
Saturday, November 16, 2019 | 8PM

The Auditorium Theatre salutes Stephen Sondheim, America’s greatest living composer and lyricist who celebrates his 90th birthday this season, with a one-night-only performance that features some of the city’s best classical, jazz, theatre, and cabaret artists. Directed and produced by Chicago’s own Joan Curto, with musical direction by Beckie Menzie, performers including Susan Werner, Robert Sims, Paul Marinaro, Johnny Rodgers, Heidi Kettenring, and more bring their unique voices to songs from Sondheim’s beloved repertoire, including selections from Sweeney Todd, Follies, Company, West Side Story, and more. Live music is provided by the Chicago Philharmonic, conducted by Rich Daniels.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah
Saturday, January 18, 2020 | 7:30PM
Sunday, January 19, 2020 | 3PM

This “exuberant, jazz-gospel makeover” (Chicago Tribune) of Handel’s classic Messiah celebrates 15 years in Chicago! Join us on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend to witness the transformational powers of the performing arts and uplift King’s vision of a “beloved community.” With fiery soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen Marie Richardson; a chamber orchestra, jazz combo, and 100-person choir under the baton of Suzanne Mallare Acton; and spirited Detroit pianist Alvin Waddles, famous for his jaw-dropping cadenzas, Too Hot is an annual Chicago tradition that fills your soul and spirit.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.


Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre
Friday, October 4, 2019 | 7:30PM

Two beloved Chicago companies that explore identity and culture through dance and music share the Auditorium Theatre’s stage in this one-night-only performance. The world-renowned Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, in residence at Northeastern Illinois University, is “pushing Spanish dance into the 21st century” (Chicago Tribune), fusing flamenco, folkloric, classical, and contemporary styles. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre “has never looked better” (See Chicago Dance), using dance, music, and visual art to contemplate the ideas and themes that shape our community.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.

Trinity Irish Dance Company
Saturday, February 29 | 2PM
Saturday, February 29 | 7:30PM

Celebrate Leap Day with Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC) as they fly across the Auditorium Theatre’s stage! TIDC follows its acclaimed 2019 return to Chicago and the Auditorium Theatre with a new program featuring audience favorites and brand-new works, including a world premiere. The company effortlessly “[stretches] the limits of what Irish dance can do aesthetically and rhythmically” (Chicago Tribune) and “entices you with mesmerizing footwork that seems unreal” (Chicago Stage Standard). Helmed by founder and artistic director Mark Howard and associate artistic director Chelsea Hoy, TIDC elevates the art form and puts its strong female dancers at the forefront.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

Giordano Dance Chicago
Saturday, June 6, 2020 | 7:30PM

Giordano Dance Chicago, the “powerful tour de force of Chicago’s dance community that consistently brings us to our feet” (Chicago Tribune) comes to the Auditorium Theatre for its fifth full-length performance, celebrating its 57th season with exhilarating new pieces and classic repertory favorites. Led by Artistic Director Nan Giordano, named the Chicago Tribune’s 2018 Chicagoan of the Year in Dance, the mesmerizing performers of America’s original jazz dance company always bring down the house with “eye-popping, high-impact, aerobically fearsome pieces” (Chicago Tonight).

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

ADD ON: Hedwig Dances – SPACE PLAY
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 | 7:30PM

See Hedwig Dances, the innovative contemporary company known for “[blurring] the line between movement and visual art,” (Chicago magazine) in a special setting on the Auditorium Theatre’s landmark stage. As the company celebrates their 35th anniversary, audiences will experience an intimate look at company founder Jan Bartoszek’s continued exploration of the Bauhaus modernist art movement through dance. Bartoszek expertly uses light, sculptural objects, and projections to create imaginative works that examine human connection and invoke a sense of wonder and curiosity.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.


This season, National Geographic Live returns to the Auditorium’s historic stage with a new series focused on the daring explorers who are dedicated to protecting our planet.

Between River and Rim: Hiking the Grand Canyon
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | 7PM

In an effort to learn more about the uncharted glory of the Grand Canyon, which was officially declared a National Park 100 years ago, writer Kevin Fedarko and photographer/filmmaker Pete McBride set off on an audacious and demanding adventure to travel the length of the canyon on foot. These National Geographic explorers shed light on the myriad environmental threats that the National Park currently faces and share stories from their trek, accompanied by McBride’s stunning photos and videos that showcase the beauty of the landmark canyon.

Individual tickets go on sale July 19, 2019 at 9AM.

On the Trail of Big Cats
Sunday, January 26, 2020 | 3PM

From trekking India’s Himalayas in search of rare snow leopards to tracking the elusive jaguar through Latin American jungles to pursuing the American cougar throughout Hollywood Hills, award-winning National Geographic photographer Steve Winter has ventured far and wide to come face-to-face with his subjects. This is no easy task – many of these species are in danger of extinction. Follow Winter into the endangered, wild, and unpredictable world of these creatures as he reveals some of his most memorable experiences from working with big cats and discusses the work that is being done to save them.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

Adventures Among Orangutans
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 7PM

Husband-and-wife duo Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott have dedicated their lives to understanding and protecting orangutans, a threatened species that can only be observed a handful of places around the world. Together, biological anthropologist Knott and photojournalist Laman have combined innovative new techniques with traditional fieldwork to get a closer look at these incredible animals. In this presentation, the pair provides a closer look into the work that they’ve done with this intelligent, resourceful, and endangered species with whom we share 97% of our DNA, giving us insights into not only the animals’ world, but also our own.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

Ocean Soul
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 | 7PM

National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry has captured the soul of the sea for more than 20 years, spending more than 10,000 hours underwater (often in extreme conditions beneath Arctic ice or in predator-infested waters). Journey with him from the North Atlantic, where harp seals face off with commercial hunters, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in search of the endangered blue fin tuna, to research facilities around the world to study dolphin intelligence. The images Skerry captures offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the soul of the sea and remind us why we need to preserve our oceans.

Individual tickets go on sale October 18, 2019 at 9AM.

About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue