Happy Book of Mormon Day! I'm crossing my fingers for someone to get me tickets to this amazing musical for my birthday. (Hint to the husband who is hopefully reading this.) I always thought the Chicago theater scene was underrated and after some research I'm even more convinced. I wanted to share the information for this week's 'Did You Know, Chicago?'.
Originally called the Palace Theatre, the theater opened in 1926. It was designed by legendary theater architects the Rapp Brothers who were inspired by the Fontainebleau and Versailles palaces. The Palace Theatre opened as a vaudeville theater on the legendary Orpheum Circuit, but when vaudeville lost popularity it was converted into a movie palace with live stage shows. The Bismarck Hotel turned it into a banquet hall in the 1970s, but in 1984 it became a rock venue. It was renovated and renamed the Cadillac Palace in 1999 for the world premeire of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida."
Bank of America Theatre
The theater opened as the Majestic Theatre in 1906 as Chicago's first million-dollar-plus venue and the tallest building at the time. Another theater on vaudville's Orpheum Circuit, it even hosted Harry Houdini. When vaudeville tanked, the theater closed but opened again as the Sam Shubert Theatre in time to show heyday favorites like Carousel, South Pacific and Guys and Dolls. The theater was restored and renamed the LaSalle Bank Theater in 2005 and then the Bank of America Theatre in 2008.
Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre
The Oriental Theatre opened in 1926, also designed by the Rapp Brothers and built on the site of the former Iroquois Theatre. It was one of Chicago's many ornate movie theaters, presenting first-run motion pictures with by lavish stage shows. Many famous performers were featured there, including Judy Garland, Burns and Allen, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. The theater continued to show movies until the early 1970s but got into the exploitation film industry and closed in 1981. Fortunately it had already been added to the Federal National Registry of Historic Places. The theater was completely restored in 1998 and has been the home to dozens of successful shows.
Tags: Bank of America Theatre, Book of Mormon Chicago, Cadillac Palace, Chicago, Chicago history, Chicago Quirk, Chicago Theater, Did You Know Chicago, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Iroquois Theatre, LaSalle Bank Theatre, Majestic Theater, Majestic Theatre, Oriental Theater, Oriental Theatre, Orpheum Circut, Palace Theatre, vaudeville, vaudeville Chicago