Stage 773 Theater is now WHIM, an immersive, artful and instagrammable cocktail bar

LAKEVIEW – Art-based nonprofit Stage 773 has transformed their Lakeview space into an immersive cocktail bar.

WHIM, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., opened June 25 after months of transforming Stage 773’s four-theater building into a cocktail lounge with over-the-top decorations that transport guests to fantastical settings.

Upon entering, guests may first notice the “Shoe Shark” — a shark-like display made entirely from recycled shoes — or a puffy, cloud-like display that seems to rain toys and action figures across the bar.

“There’s a lot of little Easter eggs and things to play with in this room,” said Brad Younts, producer of WHIM Presented by Stage 773, but then you start delving into those little details and there’s so much to it see.”

Recognition: Provided/Stage 773
Customers can grab a drink in a small cove covered with ticking clocks.

WHIM is in its first phase, in which the entire four-theater building will be transformed into creative lounge areas, carefully decorated by artists, Younts said. The first phase comprises approximately 3,000 square feet of the 12,000 square foot area.

Although the theaters will be converted into the bar’s lounge area, the performances will still be part of the Stage 773 building, Younts said. One room – the Enchanted Forest, adorned with a witches’ grotto, mystical tree and more – has a stage for live performances, including theatre, bands and karaoke.

“Some of the rooms will have this live performance element,” Younts said. “It can be a DJ who is in the room or an artist who is actually part of the room experience.”

Stage 773 plans to introduce more live theater elements as WHIM grows, Younts said.

The bar’s cocktails are also interactive, Younts said. Beverages are designed to be visually appealing, with creative toppings and opportunities for customers to help create.

The tarty party — a concoction of vodka, triple sec and fresh lemon and lime juice — is topped with lemon-lime soda and a squirt full of pea blossom syrup, which can change the drink’s color and sweetness, Younts said.

Another interactive cocktail is the Chain Smoker, which features tequila reposado, mezcal, bitters, and agave syrup, Younts said. The drink is topped with smoked cherry wood chips that produce smoke.

“There’s a lot of fun things to photograph, whether it’s just a picture of your drink or using the sets as a fun background,” Younts said.

Recognition: Provided/Stage 773
In the room “Enchanted Forest” there is a witch’s grotto.

The idea for WHIM came about around August 2020, when cinemas were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Younts said.

“It started with this idea of ​​how we could get artists back to work during the pandemic,” Younts said. “But it was also a way of evolving the form of theater and exploring other creative ways we could use our space.”

Team members behind WHIM include Brian Posen, who resigned from Stage 773 in 2017 over allegations of sexual harassment. Posen worked as a remote consultant for WHIM.

Posen confirmed those allegations in an emailed statement, saying he had “behaved insensitively and accepted[s] Responsibility.”

“Although I don’t think all of the allegations were correct,” Posen said. “I entered counseling five years ago and moved out of the state where I spent a lot of time thinking. I am responsible for my actions and I am deeply sorry.”

WHIM is open Wednesday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Friday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Recognition: Provided/Stage 773
WHIM, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

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