Best Outdoor Theaters In Chicago

June 3, 2013 7:00 AM

(Credit: Wilmette Park District’s facebook)

If all the world’s a stage, then it’s only fitting to head outdoors to see a play. With a number of plays scheduled for this summer, you can meet up with friends and make it a fun night out. The outdoor performances also range from family-friendly musicals to Shakespeare’s works, ensuring there is a performance for just about any theater fan. Check out the following venues to see where you can catch a play in an outdoor theatre in Chicago.

City Of Chicago Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Various locations in the Chicago Park District

This summer, you won’t have to head to a theater if you want to see a play. The City of Chicago’s Cultural Affairs & Special Events is bringing several free plays performed by professional actors to select parks within the Chicago Park District. Most plays are family-friendly and many are interactive, giving the audience a chance to get in on the action. Some concerts are also scheduled to be performed at several parks in the Chicago Park District. For details on where you can find a performance near you, check out the Cultural Affairs & Special Events’ website.

(Credit: Wilmette Park District's facebook)

(Credit: Wilmette Park District’s facebook)

Starlight Theatre At The Wallace Bowl
Gillson Park
Wilmette, IL 60091
(847) 256-6100

With the Starlight Theatre at the Wallace Bowl, you can see a Broadway play right near Lake Michigan. A production of “Seussical,” the Broadway musical, is scheduled to kick off on July 11, 2013. The family-friendly play includes many favorite characters from the world of Dr. Seuss, including the Cat in the Hat and Horton. All performances are free, and a concession stand is available for snacks. Blankets are not permitted, but you can bring your favorite lawn chair so you can relax and enjoy the show. Seating is first-come, first-served, with many performances scheduled to start at 8 p.m. To see if the show will still go on in case of rain, call ahead at (847) 920-7949 after 6 p.m. on the day of the performance. Smoking is not permitted, and don’t forget the bug spray.

Related: Best Directors In The Local Theater Scene In Chicago

First Folio Theatre
Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve
1717 W. 31st St.
Oak Brook, IL 60523
(630) 986-8067

Head outside and experience Shakespeare’s works the way they were originally staged with the outdoor production of “Cymbeline” at Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve starting on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. First published in 1623, this version of the play takes place in Appalachia and features music. Performances start at 8:15 p.m., but seating is opened up at 6:45 p.m. and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A concession stand onsite is available and is stocked with snacks. Lawn chairs and blankets are permitted. If you forget yours, you can also rent a lawn chair. For ticket information, including tickets for group sales, check out the theatre’s website.



Oak Park Festival Theatre
Austin Gardens Park
1010 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 445-4440

What’s a hot summer night without a play centered on jealousy, talent and classical music? “Amadeus,” which will be performed at Austin Gardens Park in Oak Park, features the intrigue and drama of Amadeus Mozart as told through his contemporary and rival, Antonio Salieri. The outdoor production will be performed from June 13 through July 13. Shakespeare’s classic “Twelfth Night” will also be performed outdoors. Reimagined as a beach party, the play will run July 18 to Aug. 24. And why not let your dog receive an education in theatre, too? Dogs are allowed, as long as they are on a leash and do not disrupt the performance. For a look at the theatre’s rain check policy, check out its website.

Theatre On The Hill
375 W. Briarcliff Road
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
(630) 908-2538

It will be a summer of musicals this year for Bolingbrook’s Theatre on the Hill, with both “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Zenobia” scheduled. The theatre was re-established in 2004, and in its short history, has staged productions that include “Back to the 80s,” “Den of Thieves” and “End Days.” Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and you can even bring your own picnic basket to this outdoor theatre, which has a first-come, first-served seating policy. For information on tickets, check out the website.

Related: Best Chicago Neighborhood Theatres

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at

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