During its first 40 years, The Chicago Theatre presented the best in live and film entertainment, including John Phillip Sousa, Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, and Benny Goodman. The Chicago Theatre was redecorated in preparation for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and “modernized” in the 1950s when stage shows, with few exceptions, were discontinued. In the 1970s, under the ownership of the Plitt Theatres, The Chicago Theatre was the victim of a complex web of social and economic factors causing business to sag. It became an ornate but obsolete movie house, closing on September 19, 1985.
In 1986, Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates, with assistance from the City of Chicago, bought and saved the theatre from demolition and began a meticulous nine-month multi-million dollar restoration undertaken by Chicago architects Daniel P. Coffey & Associates, Ltd. and interior design consultants A.T. Heinsbergen & Co. of Los Angeles, interior design consultants. The Chicago Theatre reopened on September 10, 1986 with a gala performance by Frank Sinatra.
Since that time, an array of the entertainment world’s brightest stars and greatest productions have graced the stage, including Allman Brothers Band, Arcade Fire, Blues Traveler, Kelly Clarkson, Harry Connick Jr, Ellen DeGeneres, Aretha Franklin, Kathy Griffin, Gipsy Kings, Indigo Girls, Alicia Keys, David Letterman, Lyle Lovett, Oasis, Dolly Parton, Prince, Diana Ross, Van Morrison, Widespread Panic and Robin Williams.