Book by June Finfer
Music by Elizabeth Doyle
Lyrics by June Finfer and Elizabeth Doyle

He was a dreamer who fought to make his dream come true.    He wanted to be the most famous architect in the country.    When Dan Burnham arrived with his parents from upstate New York, he was 8 years old. The City of Chicago was 17.  DAN BURNHAM AND CHICAGO GREW UP TOGETHER.  He never went to college, but at 25, when the center of the city was destroyed by the Chicago Fire of 1871, he was a draftsman in an architectural office, ready to help to rebuild it.   By the time he was in his early 40s, he had become the busiest architect in the city, along with his partner, John Root. When Chicago is chosen to host the 1893 Columbian Exposition World Fair, Burnham and Root are hired to plan and build it.   It  is the chance of a lifetime for ambitious Burnham and his partner, but at great personal cost.    Burnham’s Dream is the tale of ambition  of a city and of an architect.  It is Chicago’s Dream City that lived for only a few months, then vanished.  But its influence on our lives today continues.

THE FAIR LED TO A PLAN FOR CHICAGO                                                                                    Daniel Burnham wrote in 1909:
“This same spirit which carried out the Exposition in such a manner as to make it a lasting credit to the city is still the soul of Chicago, vital and dominant… This spirit — the spirit of Chicago — is our greatest asset. It is not merely civic pride: it is rather the constant, steady determination to bring about the very best conditions of city life for all the people…”

In music and song, dance and dialogue, Burnham’s Dream explores the politics and passions behind this unique national event. The music is reminiscent of the Gay Nineties, the dress and lifestyle reflect a Gilded Age,  but the urban  problems are like those of our time.  Most of the population was born somewhere else, or their parents were.  They came to Chicago to find opportunity in a fast-growing city.