Broadway In Chicago

Broadway In Chicago

Broadway In Chicago was created in July, 2000 as a joint venture between The Nederlander Organization and Live Nation, the two largest commercial theatre producers and owners/operators in the United States. The creation of Broadway In Chicago allowed the two theatre industry leaders to present a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of three of the finest theatres in Chicago's Loop -- Bank of America Theatre, the Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre and the Cadillac Palace Theatre. In 2007, Nederlander acquired Live Nation Theatrical’s interests in Chicago changing Broadway In Chicago from a joint venture to a Nederlander company. Broadway In Chicago continues to bring the best new, classic and completely spectacular entertainment that Broadway has to offer.

Said Mayor Richard M. Daley, "Broadway In Chicago is a leader in the Downtown Theatre District and is an economic engine that will keep our downtown alive and full of energy to come." Broadway In Chicago’s executive staff includes Lou Raizin, President, Suzanne Bizer, Vice President and Eileen LaCario, Vice President.


Broadway In Chicago operates in three venues in downtown Chicago including The Bank of America Theatre (18 W. Monroe St.), Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph St.), Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St.)

Bank of America Theatre

The Bank of America Theatre opened as the Majestic Theatre in 1906. It was Chicago's first million-dollar-plus venue and Chicago's tallest building at the time. The Majestic Theatre was a hot spot on the Vaudeville circuit and was later a host to luminaries such as Harry Houdini and Lily Langtry. The Majestic Theatre closed during the Great Depression and was shuttered for 15 years however, most of the original design was retained when the theatre was remodeled and then reopened in 1945. The Majestic Theatre reopened just in time for a heyday of favorites like"Carousel", "South Pacific", and "Guys and Dolls".

The Bank of America Theatre has hosted pre-Broadway world premieres of Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp's "Movin' Out" and Monty Python's "Spamalot". Recent production credits include Edward Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Doubt" featuring Cherry Jones. The Bank of America Theatre is currently housing the musical phenomenon, Jersey Boys.

Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre

The Oriental Theatre was one of the first motion picture palaces whose décor was inspired by the Far East. Chicago's Oriental Theatre opened to much fanfare on May 8, 1926. This theatre was also, designed by George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp for the theatre managers Balaban and Katz. [Citation | last = Newman | first = Scott A | title = Jazz Age Chicago — Theater News Archive | date = 1998-08-08 | url= | accessdate = 2007-12-13] The Oriental Theatre was a virtual museum of Asian art and also presented popular first-run motion pictures, complemented by lavish stage shows. Turbaned ushers led patrons from the lobby, with polychrome figures and large mosaics of an Indian prince and princess, through an inner foyer, with elephant-throne chairs and multicolored glazed Buddhas, to the auditorium's "hasheesh-dream décor."

The many stars that played at the theatre were Paul Ash (billed as "the Rajah of Jazz"), The Three Stooges, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Stepin Fetchit, Sophie Tucker, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fanny Brice, Danny Kaye and Alice Faye.

In 1930, during a record-breaking week, as many as 124,985 patrons visited the Oriental Theatre to see the hit film "Flight". Management changed hands several times in the subsequent decades, but the Oriental Theatre continued to feature films until the early 1970s, when the M&R Amusement Company briefly presented live performances by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Little Richard.

The theater soon fell into disrepair. In an effort to preserve the theatre, it was added to the Federal National Registry of Historic Places in 1978, however the building continued to crumble. The Oriental Theatre was closed to the public in 1981, and the site was considered for a two-story, 50,000 square-foot shopping mall and also a 1,600 seat cinema. [Citation | last = Newman | first = Scott A | title = Jazz Age Chicago — Oriental Theater | date = 1997-01-12 | url= | accessdate = 2007-12-13] In 1996, The Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, announced that the Oriental would be restored to its original grandeur for the presentation of live stage musicals by Livent, Inc. The Oriental Theatre was renamed the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1997, and in October 1998 the restoration of the theatre was completed. The theatre opened with the Chicago premiere of "Ragtime," which was a huge success. The Ford Center for the Performing Arts was acquired by SFX Theatrical Group in 1999, and its production of "Fosse" debuted there before embarking on a national tour. The list of hits continued to rise and included the pre-Broadway show of "Blast" in 2000, as well as the world premiere of "Sing-A-Long Wizard of Oz" in January 2003. The Ford Center for the Performing Arts is currently home to "Wicked", which has been playing an open run since 2005. [Citation | last = Oxman | first = Steven | author-link = Steven Oxman | title = Touring shows stay in the loop: Broadway in Chicago boost economy| magazine = Variety| year = 2007 | date = 2007-1-22 | url =]

Cadillac Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre opened in Chicago on October 4, 1926 and was designed by the legendary theatre architects, the Rapp Brothers, featuring an interior splendor previously unseen in Chicago — a breathtaking vision inspired by the palaces of Fontainebleau and Versailles. The theatre's distinctive characteristics include a lobby richly appointed in large decorative mirrors and breche violet and white marble, which sweep majestically through a succession of lobbies and foyers. Great wall surfaces are enhanced with gold leaf and wood decorations, and the house holds 2,500 plush, ample seats.

The theatre originally opened as the flagship of vaudeville's legendary Orpheum Circuit, and among the stars believed to have played at the Palace in its early years were Jimmy Durante, Mae West, Jack Benny, Sophie Tucker and Bob Hope. Despite the popularity of Vaudeville's acts, audiences in the late 1920s and early 1930s had begun to lose interest in vaudeville, and in 1931 the theatre was converted into a movie palace. Initially, the Palace presented films with live stage shows, and then eventually showed only movies. Movie audiences began to stay at home to watch television in the 1950s, and theatre managers, hoping to attract larger audiences, tried to book occasional Broadway shows, such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" starring Carol Channing.

During the late 1950s, the Palace became equip to show films in Cinerama. In the mid-1970s, management of the Bismarck Hotel transformed the Palace into a banquet hall, removing all the seats in the orchestra and leveling the stage with the floor. The Palace, which was renamed the Bismarck Theatre in 1984, was converted into a rock venue. It was used sporadically during the 1990s however, in 1999 the Bismark Theatre was completely restored for live theatre and was renamed the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

The Cadillac Palace opened with the premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" and since then, has been the home to several pre-Broadway hits including "The Producers - The New Mel Brooks Musical" and "Mamma Mia!" as well as long-run engagements of "Disney's The Lion King" and "Oprah Winfrey presents The Color Purple". In September, 2008, the Cadillac Palace will be home to the United States' premiere of "Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage". [ [ Broadway In Chicago Theatre Archive] Retrieved on July 25-2008]

Economic Impact

Since 2001, Broadway In Chicago has had an attendance of over 6.5 million, with an annual attendance of 1.5 million and rising. Broadway In Chicago has contributed to the revitalization of Chicago’s Theater District and is currently the fifth largest tourist attraction in Chicago. Approximately 42% of audiences travel from out of state for long-running productions, and of these out of town patrons, 82% attribute the production as the main reason for their visit to Chicago. Broadway In Chicago provides over 7,500 jobs and has an economic impact of over $635 million dollars each year. In addition, Broadway In Chicago audiences spend more than $75 million at local resturants and account for 500,000 hotel room occupancies each year, which is 6% of Chicago's annual total of hotel rooms used. [Citation | author-link = Mayor's Press Office | title = Theaters Creating Thousands of Jobs, Mayor Daley Told | year = 2007 | date = 2007-1-16 | url =]

Broadway In Chicago also contributes to various public benefits throughout the City of Chicago by providing complimentary tickets to many charitable organizations and also to the Chicago Public Schools. Other public benefits include a field trip reward program, special access programs for seniors, and discounted programs for many of Chicago youth groups. [Citation | last = Burghart | first = Tara | author-link = Tara Burghart | title = Study Outlines Chicago Theater Impact | newspaper = San Francisco Chronicle| year = 2007 | date = 2007-1-16 | url =] [ [ Associated Press - Study Outlines Chicago Theater Impact (January 16, 2007)] Retrieved on January 5-2008.]

Notable productions

Chicago has been the home to many pre-Broadway productions because of Broadway In Chicago. These productions include "The Pirate Queen", "The Producers", "Movin' Out (musical)", "Mamma Mia!", "Aida", "All Shook Up", "Sweet Smell of Success", "Tallulah", "A Thousand Clowns", "Sweet Charity", "Spamalot", and "Blast!". Broadway In Chicago was also responsible for bringing many long-run productions to the city including "Wicked", "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", Disney’s "The Lion King", "Jersey Boys", and "Ragtime".


External links

* [ Broadway In Chicago]
* [ Wicked Official Chicago Production Site]
* [ Jersey Boys Official Chicago Production Site]
* [ Broadway In Chicago Myspace Profile]
* [ Broadway In Chicago Twitter]
* [ Broadway In Chicago Blog]
* [ Broadway In Chicago Podcast]

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