Chicago has always had a special place in my heart. Not only did I spend summers here as a kid but Chicago was also where my Mother grew up. I am also lucky to call Chicago my first workplace as it was where I debuted my first leading role in a national tour (Doody in Grease) about 9 years ago. We opened at the Chicago Theater and my entire family was able to attend. It was such a magical and special evening! Since then I have worked here five times and it has only gotten better. The audiences, for one thing, continue to blow me away. They have such an amazing energy along with a great appreciation for the arts. They remind me of audiences in New York but with a warm mid-western charm!
The city itself is so energetic and there are almost too many areas and things I love to do here that it is hard to pick a favorite. Whenever I’m here I find myself going to the museums, the Shedd Aquarium, shopping on Michigan Avenue and taking in the incredible architecture. Unfortunately, I usually find myself here during the winter so those are the main things I am able to enjoy without freezing my pants off. I will say, though, that the weather is the perfect excuse to explore all of the amazing restaurants and eat EVERYTHING! All the food is great but nothing has compared to the chocolate cake I have destroyed at Gilt Bar, an incredible restaurant I discovered within walking distance of our theater. As far as going out, I love to explore the Wicker Park area. So far it has the most interesting places to go out in, from The Violate Hour speakeasy to the Emporium arcade bar! It reminds me a lot of the Village in NYC or Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A home away from home, I will always look forward to an excuse to visit Chicago… and being able to perform in one of the most beautiful and intricately designed theaters I’ve ever seen is just the topper on the cake!
We’ll be doing a Twitter Q&A with Jesse on Thursday, November 21 at 1 p.m. Be sure to tweet your questions here using #WickedBIC and he’ll respond with his answers!
You can see Jesse perform as Boq in WICKED at the Oriental Theatre now through December 21st. Click here to buy your tickets now.