The 2014 SPARC Great American Cities Tour took us to Chicago, Illinois, which for good reason is called “the Windy City.” Our first outing was to Millennium Park where we saw the world famous “Cloud Gate,” also known as “the bean.” We also saw the world’s largest Tiffany dome in the Chicago Cultural Center. Monday night we were “dining in high-style,” literally, in the Signature Room on the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Building.


Tuesday we did the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory where we saw brilliant floral displays and lush fern gardens as well as a Siberian tiger, some rowdy adolescent gorillas and a very friendly Meer cat. For lunch we had some world famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnatti’s. Next was free time on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – one of the ritziest shopping districts in the country. Tuesday evening we visited the Navy Pier and the Shakespeare Theatre where we watched the Stephen Sondheim classic, Gypsy, about the vaudeville performer Gypsy Rose Lee.


On Wednesday we toured the highly acclaimed Field Museum of Natural History and saw a three-D movie about the well-known T-Rex named Sue on display at the Field. That evening we went to the Cadillac Palace Theatre to see the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. This was a very high energy song and dance show that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.


On Thursday morning we awoke to snow in the windy city and hastened to the airport for our departure back to Dallas where we attended another Lloyd Webber show, his new adaptation of the classic The Wizard of Oz.


Not everyone shares the same passion for musical theatre, but the shows we saw on this trip presented the students with a very nice variety of literature and performance styles and exposed them to some of the classic works of modern American musical theatre.  Students also received a crash course in navigating a major city using public transportation and saw some truly extraordinary exhibits at the museum.

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