Stage 773 theater is now WHIM, an immersive, art-filled, Instagrammable cocktail bar
LAKEVIEW – Stage 773, an arts-based nonprofit, has transformed its space at Lakeview into an immersive cocktail bar.
WHIM, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., opened June 25 after months of converting Stage 773’s four-theater building into a cocktail lounge with over-the-top decorations that transport guests to fantastical settings.
Upon entering, customers might first notice the “shoe shark” – a shark display created entirely from recycled shoes – or a billowing cloud-like display that appears to be raining down toys and figurines from action on the bar.
“There are a lot of little Easter eggs and things to play with in the space,” said Brad Younts, producer of WHIM, presented by Stage 773. first things you see and the magnitude of it, but then you start digging into those little details and there’s so much to check out.
WHIM is in its first phase, which will convert the entire building from four theaters into creative lounges meticulously decorated by artists, Younts said. The first phase covers approximately 3,000 square feet of the 12,000 square foot space.
Although the theaters will be converted into a bar lounge, the shows will still be part of the Stage 773 building, Younts said. One room – the Enchanted Forest, decorated with a witches cave, mystical tree and more – features a stage for live performances including theater, bands and karaoke.
“Many venues will have that live performance element,” Younts said. “It could be a DJ who is in the space or an artist who is actually part of the venue experience.”
Stage 773 plans to introduce more live theater elements as WHIM expands, Younts said.
The bar’s cocktails are also interactive, Younts said. The drinks are designed to be visually appealing with creative garnishes and opportunities for customers to help create them.
The Tarty Party — a mix of vodka, triple sec, and fresh lemon and lime juice — is topped with lemon-lime soda and a syringe filled with pea flower syrup that can change color and sweetness of the drink, Younts said.
Another interactive cocktail is the Chain Smoker, with tequila reposado, mezcal, bitters and agave syrup, Younts said. The drink is topped with smoked cherry wood chips which create smoke.
“There’s a lot of fun things to shoot, whether it’s just a shot of your drink or using the sets as a fun background,” Younts said.
The idea for WHIM was conceived around August 2020, when cinemas were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Younts said.
“It all started with this idea of how we could get artists back to work during the pandemic,” Younts said. “But it was also a way to evolve the form of theater and explore other creative ways to use our space.”
Among the team members behind WHIM is Brian Posen, who quit stage 773 in 2017 amid sexual harassment allegations. Posen worked as a remote consultant for WHIM.
Posen acknowledged the accusations in an emailed statement, saying he “behaved in a callous manner and accepted[s] responsibility.”
“Although I don’t think all of the allegations are accurate,” Posen said. “I came into counseling and left the state five years ago where I spent a lot of time reflecting. I am responsible for my actions and I am deeply sorry.
WHIM is open 6 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
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