Rewind: July 22, 1977

From semistaged operas and musicals to plays and other performances of spoken word, top stagecraft has long been a part of Ravinia’s DNA, but even longtime fans of the festival might be surprised to learn that during a three-year period in the late 1970s, you could enjoy violins at 8 and violent laughter at 11. On four (late) nights in each of 1976 and 1978, and six in 1977, the homegrown humorists of The Second City performed a series of live revues—just as their televised sketch-comedy compatriots SCTV and Saturday Night Live were taking off—inside the Murray Theatre. Though few records exist of these raucous shows, except perhaps in seat cushions years ago discarded when the theater was renovated and renamed the Martin Theatre, a few snapshots exist from 1977, which may have been the best year of them all, featuring some of the earliest appearances of Jim Belushi with the troupe, as well as a reunion with alumni George Wendt and his future wife, Bernadette Birkett.