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Second City plans to invite Chicago firefighters to a special show to thank them for saving their theater from damage when a fire destroyed a restaurant and the Second City offices on Wednesday. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Second City shows canceled through Sunday

SHARE Second City shows canceled through Sunday
SHARE Second City shows canceled through Sunday

Shows at Second City will be canceled through Sunday because of a Wednesday fire that tore through much of the building that houses the renowned Old Town neighborhood comedy theater’s offices.

Tickets to shows through Sunday will be refunded, said Tyler Alexander, Second City’s vice president of brand and marketing. Tickets to shows for the following week are in a holding pattern, he said.

“We’re not selling any new seats at the moment. There’s a chance we might be able to get a temporary operating certificate and have those shows,” Alexander said.

Alexander suggests anyone with questions call the Second City box office at 312-337-3992 or check their Twitter account @TheSecondCity for the most updated information.

Much of the common area of the first three floors of the building — which housed an Adobo Grill on the first floor, and two floors of Second City offices — was heavily damaged. It will need a lot of new drywall.

The fire will offer the theater a chance to play with the redesign of the space, Alexander said.

Alexander said the nearby Chicago History Museum has offered space for Second City employees to use temporarily — an offer they plan to accept.

“Our insurance is very robust and they’ve been super duper helpful,” Alexander said. “And so we’re covered on that end.”

The theater’s most important artifacts — original scripts and photos — were not damaged because they have been stored at a secure off-site facility for years, Alexander said.

“The only thing that may have been lost is a couple of [Bill] Utterback drawings, caricatures from the ’80s and ’90s and we probably only lost five of them,” Alexander said.

Utterback was the Second City cartoonist who created its famed caricatures that hang in the theater’s lobby bar. He died in 2010.

Staff members huddled across the street at Corcoran’s tavern Wednesday as firefighters extinguished the blaze. As a token of compassion to their distressed neighbors, the bar even picked up their tab, Alexander said.

Second City actors and employees are planning a free show for the 150 Chicago firefighters and paramedics who worked tirelessly to save their beloved theater.

“They are the real heroes. They’re the ones that should get all the credit for this. The Chicago Fire Department did an amazing job,” Alexander said.

As about a foot-and-a-half of water filled the room above the Main Stage theater, firefighters worked to divert the water to a nearby stairwell to avoid damage to the theater. That bit of creativity came after nearly four hours of fighting the blaze at 1610 N. Wells St., which sent plumes of smoke up in the air and could be seen for miles.

“We’re taking our time because we don’t want to destroy the Second City Theater,” Chicago Fire Dept. Commissioner Jose Santiago said at the scene on Wednesday.

“There’s a little bit of water in the ETC [Theater] space and almost nothing wrong with the Main Stage. That’s good news. Still there’s going to be some clean up there as well just to get everything back in place,” Alexander said.

Alexander said Second City has received plenty of support on social media, as well as some personal notes from its veterans.

“The Chicago community, the comedy community, everyone has really just been super, super supportive to help us. We’re keeping a positive attitude. It could have been a lot worse,” Alexander said.

The iO Theater on Wednesday took in some Second City box office employees to let them call customers affected by the theater being closed.

Three people were hospitalized from the Wednesday afternoon fire, including two firefighters. Fire officials say the flames began in the kitchen of the Adobo Grill, then quickly shot up the kitchen vent and spread to the roof of the building, the upper floors of which housed the Second City offices.

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