The Theo Ubique Theatre opened its new location on Howard Street in Evanston with a production of “The Full Monty” last weekend.

“We didn’t want to play it safe,” for the opening show in the new theater, said Fred Anzevino, artistic director. “We wanted to open with a bang, and ‘The Full Monty’ is very celebratory and fun.”

“Our goal is to create intimate, exciting musical theatre,” he said, and the cabaret format is a communal environment where people can eat and drink with music and stories.

After starting in 1996 at the No Exit Cafe, Theo Ubique moved from plays to musicals and eventually outgrew the space. “We wanted a more expansive space,” said Anzevino, but didn’t want to buy the No Exit Cafe when it was offered for sale.

The newly-renovated theater at 721 Howard St. is in a building leased from the city on a 10-year lease with renewal options for four additional five-year terms.

“We asked our architect to keep it a flexible, black box of space,” Anzevino said, that allows the experience for the audience to be new for every show.

“It’s only five to 10 feet bigger on the sides,” said Adam Webster, the general manager, “but it allows us to increase our audience size from 65 to 88.”

Ribbon cutting on Friday. (Austin D. Oie photo)

The Howard Street Theatre has a full bar, including cocktails, wine and beer and a warming kitchen. Approximately half of the seating is cabaret-style, with a three-course meal provided by a caterer and served by the actors.

“We’re hoping to partner with Evanston-based businesses,” said Webster. Soul and Smoke is catering “The Full Monty.”

Renovation costs were covered partially by Theo Ubique and the rest from the city’s capital improvement program and the Howard Street TIF.

“The Full Monty” runs through Jan. 27. Tickets are $25-50 and are available online.

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