The Goodman, under artistic director Robert Falls, is the top dog of the Chicago theater scene, producing both original shows and familiar standards. (Some of its high-profile productions, including acclaimed revivals of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Desire Under the Elms, both starring Brian Dennehy, went on to Broadway.) Productions at the Goodman are always solid; you may not see anything revolutionary, but you'll get some of the best actors in the city and top-notch production values.

The Goodman's custom-designed home in the North Loop is a rehab of the historic Harris and Selwyn theaters, a pair of rococo former movie houses. The renovation retained none of the historic bric-a-brac, and the new structure has a modern, minimalist feel. (The side of the building glows with different colors in the evenings.) The centerpiece is the 830-seat limestone-and-glass Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre. Connected to the main theater is a cylindrical, glass-walled building that houses retail operations, the 400-seat Owen Theatre, and the restaurant Petterino's.

Every December, the Goodman stages a production of A Christmas Carol, which draws families from throughout the Chicago area and beyond. If you're in town then, it's great fun, but buy your tickets in advance, because many performances sell out.