A fire in a restaurant next to Second City destroyed the comedy operation’s offices on the upper floors of the building. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Second City cancels week of shows

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A fire last week that gutted the offices of The Second City improv/comedy operation has forced the cancellation of shows through Sunday, Sept. 6.

Second City posted an announcement on its Web page saying they need the extra time “to finish work n the spaces to be sure they’re operational for talent, staff and customers. We are hopeful performances will begin Monday, Sept. 7.”

That message also said it is hoped that classes at the Second City Training Center in Piper’s Alley will resume on Wednesday. Students will be notified by Tuesday afternoon.

Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Tyler Alexander, Second City’s vice president of brand and marketing, said carpet and ceiling tiles in the comedy company’s two theaters are being replaced due to minor water damage. Drywall is still being replaced. And replacement chairs have been ordered.

“If we can get everything in, there’s no reason we can’t be open the following week,” Alexander said, noting that the adjacent Starbucks had already reopened for business. “But we’re working with a ton of venders and there are a lot of moving pieces. And the fire department needs to inspect the place and sign off.”

Much of the staff has taken up temporary residence at office space set up at a building at Dearborn and Madison. “We have about 70 employees there now, but our rehearsal space is a little more fluid,” Alexander said, adding that many of the performers have been using space at the nearby Chicago History Museum.

The fire started last Wednesday afternoon in Adobo Grill, which was on the first floor of a building next to the Second City entrance on Wells Street. The fire spread into the upper floors of the building, where Second City had its offices.

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.

Second City actors and employees are planning a free show for the 150 Chicago firefighters and paramedics who worked helped 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 last week.

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.

Three people were hospitalized from the 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.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles

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