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This Much I’ve Learned... about Chicago

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Updated: July 30, 2013 10:56PM



Stage shows come and they go, and as many of the productions that wind their way through Chicago, cast members may or may not find the time to explore all that the city has to offer. For those who venture forth on their days off, there is much to discover.

Matt Baldoni, currently starring as Barry Gibb in “The Australian Bee Gees Show” at the Broadway Playhouse, exploring Chicago has become a Monday ritual for the 35-year-old Californian who has traveled the world for his music craft.

“I love just riding the public transportation just to see where it will take me today,” said Baldoni, who has one week to go in the show’s three-week run here.

Here are five things Baldoni has learned about Chicago:

1) “Chicagoans put so much into enjoying the few months of nice summer weather they have. I have never seen so many cool people just enjoying the [heck] out of going to the lake, or the beach, or running, or riding a bike. The joy they put in to enjoying this time is amazing to me. I’ve never seen anything like it either in California where I’m from, or in Las Vegas, which is my home base now. It’s so cool. I love it.”

2) “The Italian-American [vibe] here makes me proud to say I’m an Italian.”

3) “Chicago musicians make me proud to be a musician. Some of the world’s best musicians came from Chicago, are currently working in Chicago. The guys at Chicago Music Exchange [on North Lincoln Ave.] are my new best guitar buddies. I can just walk in and start jammin’ with these guys. They have been so good to me. It’s unbelievable.”

4) “The neighborhoods. I just love to take [the L] to some stop and get off and just check out what there is to see and do. And people have been so unbelievably friendly. I can ask someone on the street for some place to get a great bowl of pasta for lunch and they’re offering up five places in a minute. That kind of hospitality and warmth is something nobody should take for granted whether they’re living here or just visiting. Or maybe it’s because they mistake me for Jesus. [Laughs] I get that a lot.”

5) “The public transportation system. San Francisco and L.A. don’t have a clue about public transportation. New York’s system is a cesspool. Chicago’s system is affordable and efficient. Let me just say to someone who’s visiting now or coming here soon: Forget the taxi. Get underground and just see where it takes you.”

“The Australian Bee Gees Show” runs through Aug. 4 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 N. Chestnut. $35-$80. Visit broadwayinchicago.com



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