Illinois' 10 Best Live Theater Venues!

Live theaters: Incredible spaces with an undeniable aura of old-fashioned splendor. Illinois is home to several exquisite live theaters, each with a diverse and magnificent history. Some of these theaters date back to the early 20th century and boast some of the most elaborate architecture in the country. The following theaters have all hosted noteworthy productions ranging from dramatics to opera and are still operating today. 

1. The Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL

This Chicago landmark is one of the most famous theatres in the country. Located in the Loop, the Chicago Theatre features an exquisite interior complete with French Baroque-style architecture. The auditorium seats 3,600 people and has seen the world’s brightest stars including Prince, Robin Williams, Aretha Franklin, and many other celebrities. 

2. Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL

Built in 1926, the Arcada Theatre is considered the “gem of the Fox Valley.” It has been completely restored to its original splendor, featuring a pipe organ and old-fashioned elegance of the 1920s. This magnificent venue seats around 900 people and has hosted iconic stars like Jerry Lewis, Martin Short, and Mickey Rooney. 

3. Chopin Theatre, Chicago, IL

Founded in 1990, the Chopin Theatre is a pillar in the Chicago community. This active arts center has hosted over 1,800 diverse events in film, theater, music, literacy, and other various artistic offerings. The Chopin Theatre was originally built in 1918 and features two stages. 

4. Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL

Dating back to the late 1800s and the Great Chicago Fire, The Auditorium Theatre has been a glorious site for over 126 years. It’s a National Landmark and a magnificent display of architecture, history, and art. A wide variety of music, dance, and other creative engagements are held here, along with historic theatre tours for guests. 

5. Black Ensemble Theater and Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

Founded in 1976 by Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is one of the most diverse theaters in the country and the only theater promoting the eradication of racism through theater arts. Located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, this innovated theater boasts excellent musical performances and has evolved into an internationally renowned arts institution. 

6. Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont, IL

The Rosemont Theatre is known for hosting world-class entertainers, full-scale productions, and Broadway musicals. This plush theatre features extra-wide aisles and superior sound systems for unforgettable performance experiences. It’s also located in the heart of Rosemont near the Allstate Arena, DES Convention Center, and ML Financial Park. 

7. Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago, IL

Few theaters have as much history as the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago. Built in the early 1900s, this long-standing landmark has served as parish, high school, and temporary church over the years. Although severely damaged from the Chicago Fire in 1939, this architectural beauty has hosted magnificent orchestral, dance, opera, and dramatic performances throughout the decades. 

8. Corn Stock Theatre, Peoria, IL

Founded in 1954, Corn Stock Theatre was founded by a small group of friends with a love for quality theatre. It was the first outdoor theatre in Central Illinois and hosted many successful performances. Although Corn Stock has refined its appearance throughout the years, its mission has always been to entertain and enlighten through dramatic arts while providing an educational environment for creative artists to study theatre. 

9. Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL

This ornate theatre was built in 1926 and boasts magnificent European architecture from Eugene Romero, a Sicilian immigrant who settled in the Chicago area. Known as the “Jewel of Joliet”, Rialto Square has always encouraged cultural and artistic development. It’s definitely a stunning landmark worth visiting for the architecture if not for a performance. 

10. Genesee Theatre, Waukegan, IL

The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan is a beautiful piece of history and reminiscent of the early 20th century. It’s been impeccably maintained to retain its original grandeur, making it one of the most interesting live theaters in the state. The Genesee Theatre seats 2,416 and features a variety of events. 

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