April 30, 2011
Richard Daley's clearly heartfelt love of the theater was one of the more surprising of the mayoral passions. But the evidence for its existence was everywhere.
I remember Daley hosting a conference of suburban mayors at a performance of "Jersey Boys" and climbing excitedly up on stage to exhort his fellow politicians to go back to their communities and "support the theater." But nothing quite compared with Daley's performance during the 10th anniversary of the downtown theater district. It was an emotional day last June, and the health of Maggie Daley was much in the news. Daley began to talk of the importance of the arts in education. His voice cracked. "Every one of these children can learn," he said, fighting back tears. "Everyone of them can achieve." TV cameras zoomed in on the mayoral visage.
But I was more struck by something he'd said before, when asked what government and industry could learn from the arts. "The dreaming factor," he said. That answer sums up a key aspect of Daley: He is an outwardly prosaic but internally romantic man. At the theater, we always got Daley the dreamer.
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