More than 450 people enjoyed the rollicking Chicago premiere of "Pullman Porter Blues" on Sept. 24 as part of the Goodman Theatre's season-opening celebration. The festive evening began at The Standard Club, with a reception in its elegant wood-paneled Living Room followed by dinner in the Grand Ballroom. Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls welcomed the crowd to this "kickoff for the theater's 2013-2014 dream season."
The evening honored Resident Director Chuck Smith and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrating 40 years at the Goodman.
"There's no art form that involves greater collaboration than theater," Schulfer said, "and all I've tried to do is mirror that in what happens offstage."
During the reception, Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Smith what "Pullman Porter Blues" was about, and Smith said, "It's about Chicago, Mr. Mayor!" He went on to add, "Cheryl L. West has written a play that's perfect for Chicago, and I couldn't be more proud to be celebrating 20 years at the Goodman with 'Pullman Porter Blues,' the 20th show I've directed here."
It was a packed house for the performance, which was held at the theater after dinner. A standing ovation rewarded the high-energy trip back to the 1930s, the era of luxurious Pullman trains and their African-American porters. The play included 12 classic blues songs, including "Sweet Home Chicago," that were performed by a live band onstage. A cast party followed at Petterino's.
The event— chaired by Les Coney with corporate chair Elaine Leavenworth — raised more than $370,000 for Goodman Theatre programming.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.
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