NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
WHIM opens with drinks and drag
Sun. August 21, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
WHIM is a new immersive experience located a 1225 West Belmont Avenue and presented by Stage 773. Playing off the word whimsical, defined as acting or behaving in a playful manner, the title is shortened and means to change one's mind or to act on impulse.
This actually perfectly fits the venue because the overall idea needs some expansion with a little more brainstorming from the creators.
The mural in front is an eyecatcher and perfect for the Instagram accounts of those that pass by. It's free advertising and hard to miss. After visiting Miami's Wynwood Walls area of town, I have felt Chicago is truly missing the boat on improving its neighborhoods with street graffiti.
The Lobby of Second Chances welcomes guests as they enter the premises with a variety of objects and setups to take in visually. Some of the found objects work well together such as a cozy booth full of clocks for a group, but others are an accident waiting to happen. Chairs are balanced over sitting areas with wires attached and a conveyor belt is converted to become an awkward tabletop.
There were many props from past shows in the theater space used to decorate such as books and memorabilia with 30 individual spaces planned for the future. The lighting was new and sometimes didn't mesh well with the overall vision of the place. There is a potential to be had here and hopefully, the team hires a strong cleanup crew with all the dusting necessities involved with this many antiques in the collection.
The Second Shots bar is to the right of the room and has a wide range of offerings. The mixologist who created the cocktail menu went wild with the recipes making it a daunting task for even the most skilled bartender to maintain in a timely fashion. The Fluffy Punch is a rum drink with a cotton candy topping that creates a gummy environment and there were several drinks that required fire from lighters. This slowed down the waiting time and left many frustrated on the night I attended. Sometimes imbibers just want a quick refreshment and not something that becomes a lesson in patience.
Another noticeable bar flaw was found inside the theater where someone had spray painted directly on the vinyl upholstery below a bar top. This didn't adhere very well to the material leaving it sticky with the possibility of ruining a patron's clothing. There are correct ways to accomplish this same task with a little more research from the team.
The Enchanted Forest room is the performance space containing more decorations and a sound system for productions. Dragged on a Whim is one show currently running and is hosted by Jakki Love who laid down the ground rules about consent and gratuity at the beginning of the show. Several people on the night I went had never been to a drag show before. Love stated that a tip is mandatory, which makes it in reality a fee, not something extra for doing a good job. Venmo handles were offered for those without cash and a bucket was passed around for the guests that were not comfortable approaching the front of the stage.
Drag king Travis Fiero, Gender Neutral Gena, Trisha Can and Tory Chiffon all did excellent jobs of using the entire space in their various segments during the extravaganza.
For future events reserve tickets at WHIMChicago.com and Stage773.com. WHIM begins with some good ideas that need more development in terms of execution and overall design. Better constructed themes and balanced cohesiveness would make much more room for whimsy!