You walk into a courtyard full of long, wooden refectory tables. Have a seat at the nearest one, and you’re suddenly in 1940’s Mexico. The story of a depressed señora, proprietress of La Cascabel -the boardinghouse in whose courtyard you’re sitting - begins to unfold around you. You see her new, talented young chef trying to lift her spirits, pique her interest (specifically in him), and revive her appetite with his food. You’ll notice an absurd, bumbling maitre d’, and you won’t be able to ignore the acrobatic gardener or the tight-rope walking sous-chef. Your food appears on the table in front of you, fresh and full of flavor, and prepared by celebrity chef Rick Bayless.
celebrity chef Rick Bayless of Topolabampo, XOCO, and Frontera Grill takes the stage — Photo courtesy of photo by Ben Collins-Sussman
Although you may not actually be in 1940’s Mexico, Chicago’s prolific Lookingglass Theater Company joins forces with Bayless to create a one-of-a-kind “dinner theater” experience. Cascabel enjoys an extremely limited run this spring at Lookingglass’ theater located in the city’s historic Water Tower Water Works facility on North Michigan Avenue. Those lucky enough to procure tickets (only 24 performances, 150 audience members each) will be treated to appetizers and a three-course meal prepared by Bayless and his team in convection ovens at theater. Although some work can be done beforehand, the meals will be cooked, plated, and served during each performance.
Bayless is a familiar face to many as the restaurateur behind Chicago’s Topolabampo, XOCO, and Frontera Grill, the host of PBS’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time, and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: Masters. He’s teaming up with author Heidi Stillman (Hard Times and The Bothers Karamazov at Lookingglass) and circus artist Tony Hernandez (creator of Lookingglass’ acclaimed Hephaestus, currently starring in Absinthe at Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas).
Lookingglass Artistic Associate Tony Hernandez brings his circus expertise to the (kitchen) table — Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski
All three rock stars in their own fields, Bayless, Stillman, and Hernandez joined forces to create this unique immersive theatergoing experience in which the audience joins the guests of La Cascabel as the mysterious new chef’s food transforms them with fantastic and magical results. However, the melancholy mistress of the house shows no interest in his food and barely leaves her room. You’ll have to see it to find out if she ever takes a bite, but rest assured, incredible things will happen along the way.
Lookingglass Theatre Company makes its home in the historic Waterworks building — Photo courtesy of Mike Burton Food plays a leading character in this performance of “dinner, daring, and desire,” so if you’re hungry, get your tickets yesterday! The show began on March 21 and has been extended through April 29. Individual tickets (if the subscribers haven’t snagged them all) are on sale now for $200 each. Information on any remaining seats will be tweeted by Lookingglass (@gglasstheatre) each morning, or you can call the box office for availability at (312)-337-0665. Performances will run in April Tuesday-Saturday at 7:00pm and Sundays at 5:00pm.