Chicago Entertainment: Theatres

Chicago has a vibrant downtown theater district that features some of the best entertainment in the city.  From historic to modern, the theaters sometimes tell a story all their own, apart from the plot taking place on stage.  The venues, both large and small, number in the dozens, but here are a few that stand out in their own right.

The Cadillac Palace Theatre, located on151 West Randolph Street first opened its doors in 1926.  This historical building has been fully restored and designers cite Versailles as one of the inspirations.  The Cadillac has in house seating for 2,500 guests, making it one of the larger theaters in the city.  In days gone by, big names in entertainment such as Mae West and Bob Hope once stood on stage at the Cadillac.  

The Ford Center for the Performing Arts may be better known as the Oriental Theater.  Located at 24 West Randolph, this theater is unique in that it has an Asian motif.  The Ford Center was completely restored, complete with a museum of Asian art, stunning lobby and statues.  Popular recent productions featured there include Wicked, Jersey Boys and High School Musical.

The theater is available to be booked for private use, with several options and spaces available.  The Grand Lobby holds as many as three hundred people at table or six hundred for drinks.  The Balcony Lobby can accommodate seventy seated guests or one hundred and twenty-five for drinks.  The Lower Lobby fits the same ratio as the Balcony.  The Choreographer's Hall is a flashy rehearsal room with mirrors.  The Hall has room for seventy-five seated guests or one hundred guests for drinks.  The other Rehearsal Hall is slightly larger and can comfortably contain one hundred at the dinner tables or one hundred and fifty having drinks.
A local standard and favorite is the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts on 777 North Green Street.  The theater has a total of three hundred and fifty seats with a lobby bar and tables.  Besides classic productions like "Singing in the Rain" and "Miracle on 34th Street," there are yearly events, workshops and classes.

Another classic is the Apollo Theater on 2540 North Lincoln Avenue.  Popular past shows include "Always, Patsy Cline."  The Apollo houses the children's theater group, Emerald City Theater.

Steppenwolf Theatre on 1650 North Halsted Street is a beautiful structure with a lobby, an upper and lower theater and concession area.  Steppenwolf focuses on productions that are unique, original and always entertaining.

A great nonprofit theater is the Beverly Arts Center, located at 2407 West 111th Street.  The Beverly not only has some wonderful performances, but also offers classes for actors and artists.  This center hosts various film festivals, including the only Irish Film Festival in town.  The second story of the Beverly is dedicated to exhibits in the art gallery.

Many families have a holiday tradition of seeing "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre
on 170 North Dearborn Street.  The Goodman claims the title of being the biggest and most senior nonprofit theater in Chicago.  The complex takes up a whole block, housing two theaters that can seat 856 in one and 480 in the other, plus a spacious lobby. The Goodman offers free art education to a large group of high school students and hosts a Latino Theater Festival.

Stage performance is alive and well in Chicago’s many theaters.  There is something nearly magical about attending one of these shows, be it a classic play or modern act.  Chicago’s theaters are entertainment at its finest.