January Insider Spotlight: Meet Sam Durbin
Welcome back to our Insider Spotlight. Each month we’ll be profiling some of Chicago’s most avid theater-goers to get the inside scoop on why they love Chicago theater, what shows they’re looking forward to, and what they recommend you check out. This month, we’re excited to introduce you to Sam Durbin!
Sam is a Trust & Safety Team Lead for Raise.com during the day and by night you can see him onstage as drag queen Briawna Banana. Sam grew up in Oklahoma City and now lives in Boystown.
TodayTix: Why do you love theater in Chicago?
Sam: I feel like Chicago theater is always fresh and experimental. Audiences here are much more welcoming to all kinds of live performances, whether it be a standard musical revival or a one-woman show where the actor cold reads from a script they just received. You just never know what you are going to get!
TodayTix: If you had a friend looking for a date night recommendation, what theater company would you recommend they check out?
Sam: If they lose out on the Hamilton lottery for the 70th time like me, I would recommend either the Porchlight in Lakeview or pH Comedy in Andersonville. Porchlight has a great habit of putting on musicals fresh off Broadway like with their upcoming production of The Scottsboro Boys. Porchlight also offers their “Revisits” series for the die-hard theater lover like myself. If you are looking for a late-night date, pH Comedy is in a great spot and always a ton of fun; they offer improv shows, the occasional musical, and tons of laughs.
TodayTix: Can you tell us about a recent theater experience you had that inspired you?
Sam: I was so happy to catch the first preview of About Face’s Production of I Am My Own Wife. I recognized the material, but to see it on stage in a re-imagined way made me thankful that Chicago theater is always up for trying something new. It was also nice to catch Eclectic Full Contact’s production of Dog Sees God at the Athenaeum. Smaller productions like these are treasures for Chicago’s art scene and always inspire me to perform my best when I am on stage myself.
TodayTix: Are there any shows you’re particularly looking forward to this season?
Of course, as a part-time drag queen, Pride Films and Plays production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is at the top of my list. I am even thinking about going in full drag! I will be taking my friend to his very first musical to go see Kokandy’s production of The Wiz in March. It is always a treat to introduce people to musicals.
TodayTix: What was the first show you ever saw?
Speaking of first musicals, I grew up in Oklahoma City and caught the touring production of Spamalot with Gary Beach as King Arthur. Once I saw, “Diva’s Lament,” I knew theater had to be a part of my life and now I get to be a lamenting diva on stage!