Dec 17, 2021 - Things to Do

Best Day Ever: Joe Mantegna

A photo of a man throwing a baseball.
Joe Mantegna throws a ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field in June, 2019. Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The play I'm Not a Comedian…I'm Lenny Bruce is currently on stage at the Mercury Theater. It's directed by one of Chicago's theater legends, actor Joe Mantegna.

Background: Joe Mategna has starred in movies like "Godfather 2" and television shows like "Criminal Minds." But Mantegna's Chicago theater roots go back to the original production of "Hair" in 1969.

  • He was also part of the legendary Organic Theater, where he wrote and starred in the original Bleacher Bums.
  • Mantegna currently lives in LA, but jumped at the opportunity to return to Chicago.

What they're saying: "I was drawn to direct the play because I’m a firm believer of the fact that “If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage," Mantegna tells Axios. "When I saw my friend Ronnie Marmo do a reading of the script he had written for himself, I was convinced it was a wonderful piece and was flattered to be asked to help develop it."

Why it matters: If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Chicago theater, Mantegna would surely be on it.

  • "Whatever I have done or may do in my career starts with the fact that my roots are as a Chicago theater actor, director, and in the case of Bleacher Bums, a writer."

Based on his roots, we asked Mantegna to give us his perfect Chicago day.

🥞 Breakfast: "In the old days it would be a trip to Ann Sather."

🖼 Mid-morning activity: "A walk down Michigan Avenue most anywhere on the Magnificent Mile. Perhaps a stop at the Art Institute or Field Museum."

🐄 Lunch: "Has to be a stop at Mr. Beef at 666 N. Orleans."

Mid-afternoon: "If the season is right, it's Wrigley Field and the Cubs."

🥩 Dinner: "Can't miss at either Gibsons or one of the Rosebuds."

🚬 Late-night event: "A trip to Berwyn to visit my brother-in-law's bar, Cigars and Stripes.

What's next: I'm Not a Comedian…I'm Lenny Bruce runs through the end of the year.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found

Chicagopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more