Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chicago, Second City and a Talented Daughter

Roger here...  You will have to tolerate a little bit of parental bragging when reading this post.  It just cannot be helped.  

Near the end of our stay at Prophetstown State Park, we made an important side trip for two nights in Chicago.  Our daughter, Robyn, has been performing at Second City's UP Comedy Theater for the summer:  #DATEME.  Robyn developed the concept of the show.  She and friends wrote the show for the Second City stage in Hollywood, where it has been running for more than two years under a different name (UNDATEABLE).  

Second City and OK Cupid (an online dating site) liked it so much that they scheduled a run in Chicago in February.  That run was so successful that they brought it back to Chicago for the entire summer.  Dianne and I have been trying to figure out how to see it for two years.  A major reason for our swing through Indiana was so that we could finally see Robyn perform in the show that she wrote.  

Melty havarti pepper cheese on perfectly grilled buns 
The two-hour drive (in the car) from our spot in Indiana to Chicago was not the best of fun, but we did arrive safely at our hotel in The Loop.  There was one highlight --- toasted cheese sandwiches at 
Fair Oaks Farms along the way (just off I-65).  

The first order of business after checking into our hotel and parking the car was to connect with Robyn.  She took us to a nearby pub for appetizers.   We then took a cab to Old Town, where Second City is located.  We met Dianne's cousins Charles (with his wife Leslie) and Becky (with her daughter Katie) at another pub where they were finishing dinner.  It was going to be fun to have family with us during the show.

When we arrived at the theatre 45 minutes prior to the show a line was already forming.

Proud Parents pointing to "Created by Robyn Lynne Norris, written by Robyn Lynne Norris...."

Dianne and I  took a moment to pose in front of a promotional poster before getting in line.

Just one of the quirky profiles which garnered actual responses

When we were seated in the theatre three large video screens flashed pictures of the cast members.  The premise of the show is unique:

A friend of Robyn's in Los Angeles had asked Robyn to check her OK Cupid dating profile to "see if it was weird."  Robyn opened a profile on OK Cupid so that she could gain access to her friend's profile.   Robyn was not interested in on-line dating at the time, so she submitted a profile that was so outlandish that she thought it would not attract any responses. Wrong!  Her Crazy Cat Lady character generated all kinds of interest.  The show is based on the characters that she and her friends created.  It has been selling out throughout the summer run.

Click here to read an interview with Robyn describing the process of creating the show.

If you're in the Chicago area and want to see the show, the current run goes through September 6.

As with most Second City performances, the cast consisted of six comedic actors.  In addition to the non-stop comedy, the two-hour show had poignant moments, as well as improvisation utilizing input from the audience.   The link above gives a clearer and better description of the concept.

This was an emotional experience for mom and dad.  We were watching our daughter perform in a show that she created and wrote, in front of a full house at Second City in Chicago.  This is the place where many of the icons of comedy got their starts:  Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Steve Carell, John Candy, Bill Murray, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and an endless list of others.  We got to see our little girl perform a very successful show in that setting --- a highlight of our lives.

Robyn and the rest of the talented cast during a "cat lady" moment

The show ended.  I quietly wiped the tears from my face.  Robyn brought the cast out to meet our family group as the audience exited the theatre.  After bidding farewell to Charles, Leslie, Becky, and Katie, we (Robyn, Dianne and I) decided to walk back to our hotel and her apartment rather than take another cab.  It was a brisk, five-mile walk along Lake Michigan.  It was exhilarating.  It was surreal.
Chicago skyline from our walk along Lake Michigan 

Wow, what a view!
Robyn didn't have to perform the next day, so she spent most of her day with us.  We met Robyn at her nearby apartment (provided by Second City).  Usually, Second City finds housing for its visiting performers near Old Town, but none was available for this run.  I think that this 38th floor apartment in The Loop was a suitable replacement, don't you?

Robyn and Dianne (her biggest fan)
The activity of the day was walking along the Chicago River.  All three of us enjoy walking and it was a beautiful day.  

Robyn and her proud dad
Here we are at the beginning of what would be a seven-and-one-half mile stroll through the city.  

We look so refreshed and energetic.  As I said, it was the beginning of the walk.

Robyn made us pose beneath the waterfall fountain

Chicago really is a beautiful city.  So many interesting buildings, water falls and things to do.

In this photo, the boat on the left is taking tourists on a river tour of Chicago's architecture.  We have taken this tour in the past.  I highly recommend it. 

 (I never realized this downtown apartment building had boat docks on the Chicago
River below the "round" parking garage, which is
beneath the round apartments above it -- D.)

Here's a closeup photo Dianne took of a flower garden on the balcony of this same apartment building:

Beautiful day to walk the city

You can rent kayaks.  I think we will wait until we get to Turkey Run State Park in a couple of days for that.

It was half-way through the walk, and we were starting to fade (at least I was).  We were also hungry. Robyn checked out good lunch spots on her iPhone.  That one across the river with the umbrellas looked good.

It was!

Can you spot the rainbow?
The walk back to Robyn's apartment was brisk.

We needed to hurry back so that we could rest before dinner.

Photo of the waterfall fountain we posed behind, taken from across the Chicago River

Robyn led the way as we walked to the Water Tower shopping area.  We became true tourists.  We visited the Hershey Chocolate shop....

.... We waited in line to buy some expensive Garrett popcorn.  I was skeptical about the wait until I tasted the popcorn.  I am actually munching on some leftovers right now.

We spent quite a bit of time trying to decide where we would eat dinner.  In the end we opted for something a little different --- tapas.  Good choice.  Yum.

View from our hotel room.  Robyn's apartment building on the left.
After a long and wonderful day we headed back to our hotel (just across the street from Robyn's apartment).

We ate breakfast with Robyn the next morning and  made a quick stop at the downtown Whole Foods and an awesome Italian marketplace, Eataly, described by Wikipedia as: 

 Eataly is the largest Italian marketplace in the world, comprising a variety of restaurants, food and beverage counters, bakery, retail items, and a cooking school.

Eataly is a foodie's wonderland, and definitely worth a return visit.  Then we said our goodbyes and drove back to West Lafayette.  The good news is that we get to see her again in two weeks when we make a return trip to Chicago with friends to see her show again before heading back to Texas.

Next stop....  Kayaking at Turkey Run State Park.

The pet photo of the day shows Bandido and Tequila at Dogwood, the luxury boarding facility they stayed in while we were gone.
Dogwood Boarding Kennels, Lafayette, Indiana
 Their "ultimate suite" opens to an outdoor area via a pet door.  Dianne paid a little extra for a webcam so we could check on them while we were in Chicago.  Looks like they were waiting for us to return.

My Poor Babies!   -- D.


Nancy and Bill said...

Congratulations to Robyn and we can only imagine how proud the two of you must be:o)) What a wonderful time you had together!!! Not a big city fan, but having a personal tour guide sure made it nice;o))

heyduke50 said...

How very cool that you got to see her show...

Steve Conrad said...

WOW!! WOW!! Wonderful!! So happy for you!! What a great and proud day!! A super post, thanks for sharing.