The Den Theatre in Wicker Park expands its audience with the addition of big-name comedy.
When Ryan Martin first opened The Den Theatre in 2010, it was a single black-box theater space up a rickety flight of stairs from Milwaukee Avenue—the term “firetrap” springs to mind. But he persisted, producing plays for his then-nascent troupe. Nine years and two kids later, Martin is a Winnetka dad with a booming business, and The Den space has expanded to encompass seven theater spaces (ranging in size from 50 to 285 seats), two cabaret lounge spaces and a cafe-bar. Seven of Chicago’s independent theater companies call it home. On any given day, you might find improv, dance, drama or musical performances underway. It’s truly one-stop shopping for entertainment.
Ryan Martin takes The Den to hilarious heights with more comedy than ever.
In the last year, through a series of fortuitous coincidences, Martin has found himself booking national comedy acts as well as local stars. Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) appeared in March to try out new material and tweeted her love for the venue, while Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio, Ratatouille) played to large crowds at The Den. “Compared to theater, these shows are so easy to set up technically,” says Martin. “The volume of people they bring in and the very nature of them make them so appealing. People come to comedy shows to have a good time, and we are really geeking out.” 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 773.697.3830, thedentheatre.com
Photography by: Austin Peters