The Chicago Theatre, originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, is a landmark theater located on North State Street in the Loop area of Chicago. Built in 1921, the Chicago Theatre was the flagship for the Balaban and Katz (B&K) group of theaters run by A. J. Balaban, his brother Barney Balaban and partner Sam Katz. Along with the other B&K theaters, from 1925 to 1945 the Chicago Theatre was a dominant movie theater enterprise. Currently, Madison Square Garden, Inc. owns and operates the Chicago Theatre as a performing arts venue for stage plays, magic shows, comedy, speeches, and popular music concerts.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places June 6, 1979, and was listed as a Chicago Landmark January 28, 1983. The distinctive Chicago Theatre marquee, “an unofficial emblem of the city”, appears frequently in film, television, artwork, and photography.
The Y-shaped figure behind the horizontal word Chicago on the State Street marquee is the city’s “municipal device”, a badge which symbolizes the forked Chicago River at Wolf Point.
The original 1921 interior decoration of the auditorium included fourteen large romantic French-themed murals surrounding the proscenium by Chicago artist Louis Grell (1887-1960), a common feature that Rapp and Rapp architects included in their movie palace designs.
When it opened October 26, 1921, the 3,880 seat theater was promoted as the “Wonder Theatre of the World”. Capacity crowds packed the theater during its opening week for the First National Pictures feature The Sign on the Door starring Norma Talmadge.
During its first 40 years of operation, the Chicago Theatre presented premiere films and live entertainment. Throughout its existence, many of the top performers and stars of their day made live appearances at the theater. Ronald Reagan announced his engagement to Jane Wyman at the theater.
During the economic and social changes of the 1970s, business at the theatre slowed for owner Plitt Theatres, affecting ongoing viability.
The Chicago Theatre Preservation Group commenced renovation of the buildings which were completed in 1986 at a cost of million (.1 million), with .3 million (.6 million) spent on the Theatre. The theatre reopened September 10, 1986, with a performance by Frank Sinatra.
The interior shows French Baroque influence from the Second French Empire. The grand lobby, five stories high and surrounded by gallery promenades at the mezzanine and balcony levels, is influence by the Royal Chapel at Versailles. The grand staircase is patterned from the grand stair of the Paris Opera House and ascends to the various balcony levels. Marshall Field and Company supplied interior decorations including drapes and furniture. The crystal chandeliers and bronze light fixtures fitted with Steuben glass shades were designed and built by Victor Pearlman and Co.
In 2004, the original marquee was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The marquee is featured in numerous movies and TV shows set in Chicago, and its neon font was used in the title of the 2002 film Chicago.
The theatre is also known for its grand Wurlitzer pipe organ. At the time it was installed it was known as “The Mighty Wurlitzer” and could imitate the instruments of an orchestra.Jesse Crawford, a noted Theatre Organ performer, is attributed as the person who “was responsible for the design and choice of sounds”. The organ came from Wurlitzer’s North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory in July 1921 with “four manuals and 26 ranks of pipes-Opus 434”. The American Theatre Organ Society restored the organ in 1970, which had expanded the organ from 26 to 29 ranks by that time. It is one of the oldest Mighty Wurlitzers still in existence.
More info on Chicago: Chicago Theatre
Chicago: Chicago Theatre - BingNews
A Drive Around Lake Michigan in November, Searching for One Thing or Another
Chicago is the easiest answer, but in truth I came into this world a few miles from ... I accept it as a good omen and move on. The Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre in Honor, MI (Jason Diamond) Indiana ...
Best bets: 'Charlie Brown Christmas' plays Rosemont; 'Nutcracker' dances into Chicago, suburbs
Courtesy of Keith Gerling The classic Christmas ballet "The Nutcracker" abounds in select productions opening this weekend. • Ballet Chicago presents "The Nutcracker" at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N.
Will ‘Light in the Piazza’ be the perfect musical for the Lyric Opera?
If you’re older, you might see it as wise about the challenges of marriage in later years. “The Light in the Piazza” has a long history in Chicago. As directed by Bartlett Sher, the musical was first ...
Sound check: Four nights of Wilco; Holiday Hang with Sister Hazel
Wilco returns for four nights of "Winterlude 2019" at the Chicago Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Dec. 15-16, with Robyn Hitchcock; and Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 18-19, with Sharon Van Etten ...
Teen improv to take over the Burgdorff on Dec. 14
MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Teen ’Prov at the Burgdorff on Saturday, Dec. 14, consists of two shows featuring teen improv troupes, Fire in the Theater and Cobra Clan ... a mix of both short-form and long-form, ...
December 12 Arts and Entertainment Source: Option for Jews at Christmas: Stand-up comedy
I told him my parents aren’t rich, which was true,” Hoffman said. It was in Chicago where Hoffman was in The Second City, the legendary comedy club and improvisational theater. It was “an invaluable, ...
Five Worth Finding: Gay spy movie, Santa Suite and more
TELEVISION 'Work in Progress'spotlights Chicago, LGBTQ+ representation 2019-12-10 - The new Showtime series Work in Progress really features queer represenation—arguably, more than such landmark ...
Get in the holiday spirit with Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' at the Cadillac
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Based on the classic 1950s movie, the on-stage musical version of "White Christmas" will be in Chicago this week. "White Christmas" will be at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from Tuesday ...
Hit show 'Hamilton' preparing to close in Chicago
If you haven't seen the Tony-winning musical "Hamilton," you have only three weeks to secure your tickets. "Hamilton" is set to close Jan. 5 at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago. The musical opened in ...
In search of a happier ending
Raven Theatre's Cold Town/Hotline, the Chicago holiday play it commissioned from writer and director Eli Newell, features one extraordinary kid actor—fifth-grader Jonah Kaufman—and the mostly happy ...
BCA scholarship spotlight: Ready for the stage
After graduation, she will be based in her hometown of Chicago where she will kick off her acting career in the prestigious Chicago Theatre District. In the past year, Stewart experienced highs and ...
Deals Signed at One Vanderbilt to 280 Park as SL Green Snags 1.2M SF of Leases
RAD Entertainment Group signed a deal to replace the Playstation Theater at 1515 Broadway in the Theater District ... has 220,759 square foot offices at 196 Broadway and it’s unclear when it plans to ...