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In Memoriam: Marie A. Cali

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Marie Cali. Marie was a Gold Card Member and for more than 30 years served as house manager of the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Marie passed away on May 22, 2023.

A native Chicagoan, Marie grew up on the northwest side and in the mid-1960s went to work for Mrs. Beatrice Spachner, credited with saving the Auditorium from demolition and creating the Auditorium Theatre Council. The Council raised $3 million and Harry Weese oversaw the restoration that led to a grand reopening in late 1967 with the New York City Ballet.

The 1970s saw many rock and pop performances as well as ABT, the Bolshoi, Alvin Ailey and more. One story Marie loved to tell involved her walking into a rehearsal for an Elton John concert in which Mr. John was dancing on the (theatre’s) piano with his shoes on. She told him he could not dance on the piano in his shoes, and he responded that he was getting ready for that evening’s performance. She repeated that he could not dance on the piano in his shoes. At that evening’s performance, he danced on the piano in his sox and in an aside to the audience said it was because “I got yelled at for wearing my shoes.”

By the mid-1980s the Auditorium hosted long runs of the biggest Broadway touring shows, including PHANTOM, LES MIZ, MISS SAIGON, SHOWBOAT as well as HELLO DOLLY, THE KING AND I , THE WHO'S TOMMY.

On a personal note, Marie was the first house manager I'd had the opportunity to work with when American Ballet Theatre premiered SLEEPING BEAUTY in 1987. I was very green and she was very patient. She was known for her kindness and wit. Those of us who travelled through Chicago during her years at the Auditorium will undoubtably remember her with great fondness.

Thank you to Maury Collins for helping to put Marie’s history together with her daughter Barbara for us to share with you.

Marie retired after serving more than 30 years as the house manager. She is survived by her daughter Barbara, and sons Chuck and Joseph, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Services have been held; for those wishing to do so, contributions may be made to The House of Good Shepherd which provides services to battered women and their families and on whose Board Marie served for many year, or Mercy Home for Boys and Girls,

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