1903: The Iroquois Theatre

24 W Couch Pl Chicagoundefined

The Curse of Peg Leg Sullivan/1903: The Iroquois Theatre
The House Theatre
Written By The House Theatre

The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

Peg Leg Sullivan arrived at the Iroquois Theatre on December 30th around 3 P.M., just in time for the second act of the show playing that night, Mr. Bluebeard. Sullivan intended to sneak in, but a large usher had stationed himself at the door. When he confronted the usher, Peg Leg pretended to search for his ticket, but the man saw right through his act. However, instead of booting him out, the usher made an offer: in exchange for entrance to Mr. Bluebeard, Peg Leg could hand over his brown suede bowler hat. Sullivan agreed (the hat was stolen anyway), but the usher earned more than just a new hat that evening, he had invited in Peg Leg's infamous curse... 

The usher led Sullivan to his seat: SECTION 6, ROW 54, SEAT 12, and a few minutes later, at 4:56 P.M., the show began. Partway through Act II, a character spoke these lines: 

The name I seek My gentlemen and madams Is capitally chic B’twixt the fish and the rams 

Just as they were spoken, Sullivan heard a buzzing sound from above. He looked up — and was horrified saw sparks glowing from an arc light high above the stage. The sparks ignited a curtain. Deathly afraid of fire after his experience in 1871, Sullivan could not suppress his screams, and quickly rose up and bolted past the stunned patrons. As the fire spread and the play devolved into chaos, Sullivan followed performers backstage and through the door leading to what is now Couch Place Alley. He escaped.

The same can't be said for most of the patrons. When the fire began to grow and panic seized the audience, the crowd rushed to the exits, many of which opened inward into the auditorium preventing escape. Stationed at one of the exits was the usher with the black bowler hat. He attempted to calm the theatregoers, but the frenzied people continued to crowd the exit. The usher could not pry open his exit door. He was trampled soon after. Tragically, more than 600 others were burned, crushed or suffocated by the smoke, in the single deadliest building fire in American history. The black bowler hat burned as well.

Answer is 8 letters.
What word is hidden in chapter 4 — and an L sign downtown?
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The Curse of Peg Leg Sullivan

1903: The Iroquois Theatre

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