An encore at the Auditorium

Rich Regan has returned to the storied theater as CEO.

John R. Boehm

Rich Regan

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Rich Regan, 50, returned to the Auditorium Theatre this year as its new CEO, in time for the historic venue's 130th birthday on Dec. 9. Formerly the general manager from 1999 to 2006, he was vice president and general manager at the Lyric Opera of Chicago until his recent return. Regan lives with his wife and three children, ages 15 to 20, in Riverside.

What's top of mind for the theater?

79彩票注册网址Restoration, for one. We are in the midst of fundraising, perhaps $20 million. When we have roughly $5 million, we will start restoring plaster friezes, stencils, walls and ceilings. Seats, too.

Have you decorated your new office?

I have posters with phrases from Carl Sandburg poems. I think often about his words, "building, breaking, rebuilding," from his "Chicago" poem. It defines the city, but for my work at the Auditorium, I would add "restoring" to that.

How did you break into the entertainment business?

At 15 I became a summer maintenance worker at (the former) Poplar Creek Theatre in Hoffman Estates. Quite frequently I spent entire summers there, from dawn through midnight, high school through college. What could be more fun than working at a place where people go to be entertained?

A memorable celebrity moment?

A helicopter ride with Jimmy Buffett. One year he landed at Poplar Creek for a show, and, as production manager for his performance, I was there to greet him. He wanted to go back up and invited me on board. We flew all over Hoffman Estates with me as tour guide—"Hey, there's my house!"

A crisis averted?

79彩票注册网址Jack White of the White Stripes arrived for a concert at the Auditorium in the early 2000s with a terrible bout of the flu. He could barely do his sound check. But he mustered his energy and put on an amazing performance. After the final encore, he virtually collapsed. And he did that all again two more nights. An amazing display of professionalism.

On what do you splurge?

Solitary time to go biking. It's a mental cleanse opportunity.

A favorite author?

Hemingway. I have read "The Old Man and the Sea" half a dozen times. We all go through solitary struggles like Santiago, reeling in the fish of his life while being dragged into the Gulf Stream. But he stays focused as the elements beat down on him. Hopefully it doesn't end for us like it did for him.

An embarrassing moment on the job?

Early in my career, when I managed Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin, we had an Aerosmith show just before the Fourth of July. I thought it would be a nice surprise to blow off fireworks at the end. Because we were surrounded by farms and a ski resort, I didn't think I needed to notify the neighbors.

How did that go?

79彩票注册网址I had to do an apology tour with all the farmers within a 2-mile radius for disrupting their cattle. Sometimes you just have to face the music.

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