Going to the Theatre in Downtown Chicago, a Guide, provided by Chicago Traveler

Chicago Symphony Center

by Zahra Ink - Chicago Writing Services

Guide to Chicago Loop Theatres

Chicago's downtown area is a vibrant mix of work, recreation and culture. A significant aspect of Chicago's culture is its rich, developed live theatre scene; there are several excellent theatres in downtown Chicago. The theatres are located near one another and boast a wide spectrum of performances on their stages. There is also a specific "Theatre District" in the downtown area; this term refers to a handful of theatres near the intersection of Randolph & Dearborn Streets within the Loop. The city's stages are rich and widespread; whether you want to catch a Broadway musical or see a ballet, there are several venues from which to choose.

Theater Chicago

A significant aspect of Chicago culture is live theatre

This article will steer you through the process of seeing a play in downtown Chicago. Learn what theatres are in the area, the types of shows and how to buy tickets. You'll also find directions to the area, parking information and nearby dining choices.


What are the theatres in Downtown Chicago?

1. Theatres that primarily feature Broadway musicals:

Chicago Cadillac Palace

The Cadillac Palace Theatre opened in 1926

Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, www.broadwayinchicago.com. The Cadillac Palace Theatre, opened in 1926, is located in the very heart of the Theatre District. A majestic theatre, it has a long history in Chicago; it opened on the vaudeville circuit and has had upon its stage legends such as Mae West and Bob Hope. Inspired by French palaces, the interior of the Cadillac is plush and rich; red velvet seats and gold leaf wall decorations add to its sweeping air. Now one of the theatres in the city that run extremely popular Broadway musicals, its recent shows have included "The Producers" and Disney's "The Lion King".

Ford Center for Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, www.broadwayinchicago.com. The Ford Center opened in 1926 and immediately became popular for its Asian-themed décor. Today, visitors continue to be delighted by the mosaics depicting Indian princes, huge elephants and calm Buddhas; in the moments before the lights go down, they strain to catch last glimpses of the intricate carvings adorning the walls. Here, exoticism reigns. The Ford Center hosts a variety of Broadway musicals, including the current hit "Wicked".

LaSalle Bank Theatre, 22 W. Monroe, www.broadwayinchicago.com. The LaSalle Bank Theatre (formerly the Shubert Theatre) was the city's tallest building when it opened in 1906. It has undergone many transformations since its early days on the vaudeville circuit but has retained its original decor. Designed with long, clean lines and simple elegance, this theatre is a timeless classic. Today it hosts popular Broadway productions such as "Rent" and Monty Python's "Spamalot".

2. Theatres that host various kinds of performances, including music concerts, comedy, live theatre and dance:

Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, www.auditoriumtheatre.org. The Auditorium Theatre is located at Roosevelt University. This National Historic Landmark theatre is home to The Joffrey Ballet and hosts performances by major dance companies. It also features Broadway musicals, music concerts and even rock concerts; recent presentations range from the Bolshoi Ballet to Bob Dylan. The theatre's golden-hued interior is famous for its beautiful murals and wall mosaics. It also boasts perfect acoustics, which skyrocketed the Auditorium to acclaim when it was first opened and continues to draw music and opera lovers today.

See our Chicago Auditorium Theatre Video.

Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, www.thechicagotheatre.com. The Chicago Theatre, opened in 1921, is one of the most recognizable features of Downtown Chicago. Its massive, vertical "CHICAGO" sign and its entrance, a replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, make it one of the most photographed theatres in the city. The theatre features live music concerts, comedy shows and other entertainment. It has a separate venue on its lower level, The Chicago Theatre Downstairs, which also offers a variety of entertainment.

Chicago's Ford Center

Ford Center became popular for its Asian-themed décor

Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, www.goodmantheatre.org. The Goodman Theatre offers fresh, interesting plays that are often brimming with social commentary. The theatre dedicates itself to the principles of quality, diversity and community.

Silk Road Theatre Project, 77 W. Washington, www.srtp.org. TheSilk Road Theatre Projectis held at The Chicago Temple is dedicated to the works of playwrights writing about the Silk Road and the Diaspora.

Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, www.harristheaterchicago.org. The Harris Theater is housed at Millennium Park. The company brings to the stage various types of music and dance, both traditional and eclectic.

3. Theatres that offer performances in classical music and opera:

Chicago Opera Theater, 70 E. Lake, Ste 815, www.chicagooperatheater.org. The Chicago Opera Theater strives to make opera more accessible to the public. To this end, it provides performances from the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries, as well as educational programs for young artists.

Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, www.cso.org. Symphony Center is home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra began as the Chicago Orchestral Association in 1890, and since then has become a strong musical influence in Chicago, holding more than 150 live concerts in several genres of music every year.

Chicago Travel Info

Shows in the Heart of Chicago

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Blue Man Group Located in Lakeview


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Pinkalicious the Musical Located in Gold Coast


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Rock of Ages Located in The Loop


Cheap $70 Best $80
Jersey Boys Located in The Loop


Cheap $35 Best $165
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Chicago Travel Info

Attractions in Chicago

Venue Info Location
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Willis Tower Located in The Loop Sights of Chicago


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Children's Museum Located in Gold Coast ArtsyCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago


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Spas and Relaxation in Chicago

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What's Playing?

To learn what shows are playing at any theatre, simply visit that theatre's website. You will find details about current and future performances, show timings and the cast of each show.

You can also visit Chicago Traveler's Theater Events Schedule to find what's playing at many of the most popular venues in Chicago as well as its suburbs.

How do I Buy Tickets?

In most cases, you can buy tickets either online via the web, or offline at a theatre or other ticket outlet. Tickets are commonly available from the theatre itself or through a third-party. Last minute tickets can sometimes be obtained at a discount.

Unless you can obtain last-minute tickets at a discount via Hot Tix or similar option, tickets purchased directly from the theatres are the least expensive option to use. Tickets obtained from third-party ticket brokers are usually the most expensive due to their acquisition costs and profit margin.

Chicago Opera House

The Chicago Opera Theater strives to make opera more accessible to the public

Directly from Theatres:

  • You can go to each theatre's individual website and order tickets for any show at that theatre. This is an easy option as long as you know beforehand which theatre you want to visit. See the individual theatre web sites appearing elsewhere in this article.
  • Each theatre has a box office as well. You can phone or visit the box office and purchase tickets from a representative. For box office phone numbers, locations and hours, visit the individual theatre's web site. Again, the individual theatre web sites appear elsewhere in this article.

Through a Third-Party:

  • When premium tickets are desired, or when a show is sold out, it is often best to seek a third-party ticket broker. Ticket brokers will have a wide selection of performances, show dates and times, as well as seating choices. All available from a single web site. One of the most popular ticket brokers in Chicago with a large inventory of tickets is Gold Coast Tickets. The website for Gold Coast Tickets is http://chicagotravel.goldcoasttickets.com .
  • Another option is Hot Tix, an affordable option that is ideal if you have flexibility regarding shows and dates. Tickets for shows are sold at half-price and are taken off sale one hour before show time. You can access Hot Tix either online (www.hottix.org). or at one of their two locations in Chicago: 72 E. Randolph and 163 E. Pearson. Their website tells you what shows, dates and times are available.
  • There are also several ticket sales locations throughout Chicago, such as Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, Carson Pirie Scott, Tower Records and selected Coconuts stores.

How do I Get There? Directions Please!

You have many options for getting to Chicago's downtown theatres. Here are some basic directions to get to downtown Chicago from the outlying areas. Once you reach the Loop, follow specific directions to each theatre.

For these directions visithttp://www.broadwayinchicago.com/planyourtrip.php, or find directions for any other theatre at its official web site.

By Car: Several Chicagoland expressways will take you to Downtown Chicago. Take the Kennedy (I-90/94), the Stevenson (I-55), the Eisenhower (I-290) or Lake Shore Drive for direct access to the Loop area.

By Rail: By CTA Rapid Transit Red Line, exit at Lake or Washington. By CTA Rapid Transit Brown, Green & Orange Lines, exit at any of the Loop stations, including State/Lake and Randolph/Wabash. After emerging from the station, you will be within walking distance to most theatres in the district.

By Bus: Several buses serve the downtown area. Take #29 State Street, #36 Broadway, #62 Archer, #145 Wilson/Michigan or #146 Marine/Michigan.

By Metra: Several Metra routes serve the downtown area. Take any line that ends in Chicago; lines will end at either Union Station or Ogilvie Transportation Center. From these stations, most theatres are a quick walk to the East. Alternatively, the South Shore Metra Line is another option; exit at Randolph and Michigan.

For more information, call CTA/Metra/Pace at 312.836.7000 or visit http://www.transitchicago.com.

Where do I Park?

Finding parking in the downtown area is not always easy; parking spots are scarce and finding them can take time. When you have a show to see, you can avoid the hassle of searching for a spot and simply park in one of the many parking garages downtown.

Interpark is the main parking garage for theatre in downtown Chicago. While there are other lots in the downtown area, InterPark offers several locations with close proximity to the downtown theatres. Their locations are as follows:

  • Auditorium Theatre: Adams & Wabash Self Park, 17 E. Adams
  • Cadillac Palace: Lake & Wells Self Park, 171 N. Wells
  • Ford Center/Oriental Theatre: Wabash & Randolph Self Park, 20 E. Randolph
  • Drury Lane Theatre: Olympia Centre Parking, 161 E Chicago and Water Tower Place Parking, 175 E Chestnut
  • Goodman Theatre, Chicago Theatre and Ford Center: Theatre District Self-Park, 181 N. Dearborn
  • LaSalle Bank Theatre: 55 East Monroe Self-Park, 55 E. Monroe
  • Interpark offers a special theatre rate to patrons; just keep your ticket stub and present it at the garage.

There is also a Government Center Self Park at the corner of Clark & Lake, which offers a discounted rate to Goodman Theatre patrons.

See our Map of Chicago Downtown Theatre Dining & Parking.

Is there Dining Near the Theatres?

Before or after your show, have dinner at a restaurant near your theatre. The following restaurants are located near enough to various theatres to allow you to park in one place and be within walking distance of both your show and your restaurant. Several of these restaurants also offer a discount or a special menu for theatre patrons.

See our Map of Chicago Downtown Theatre Dining & Parking.

Auditorium Theatre:

Cadillac Palace:

Chicago Theatre:

Ford Center:

Chicago Goodman Theater

Goodman Theatre offers fresh, interesting plays that are often brimming with social commentary

Goodman Theatre:

LaSalle Bank Theatre:

  1. Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe, www.italianvillage-chicago.com.
  2. Nick's Fishmarket, 51 S. Clark, www.nicksfishmarketchicago.com.
  3. La Strada, 155 N. Michigan, www.lastradaristorante.com, offers a 3-course pre theatre package.
  4. The Atwood Café, 1 W. Washington, www.atwoodcafe.com.
  5. Rosebud, 70 W. Madison, www.rosebudrestaurants.com.

Symphony Center:

See our Map of Chicago Downtown Theatre Dining & Parking.

After the show, have a drink at one of the lounges or bars near your theatre. Try Encore Liquid Lounge, 171 W. Randolph, near the Cadillac Palace Theatre or Cavanaugh's, 53 W. Jackson, www.cavanaughschicago.com near the Auditorium Theatre.

What Other Theatres are near Downtown Chicago?

While the theatres in the downtown area get the most attention, there are dozens of smaller theatres scattered throughout the city. It is these smaller theatres that boldly test boundaries and truly bring Chicago's theatre scene forward. Some of these theatres include the Trap Door Theatre (www.trapdoortheatre.com), the City Lit Theatre (www.citylit.org), the Stage Left Theatre (www.stagelefttheatre.com) and the Neo-Futurarium (www.neofuturists.org).

Other noteworthy theatres outside of the Theatre District include the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Lincoln Park (www.steppenwolf.org), the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at Navy Pier (www.chicagoshakes.com), Drury Lane Theatre at Water Tower (www.drurylanewatertower.com), the Lookingglass Theater at the Water Works building (www.lookingglasstheatre.org) and Marriott's Theatre in Lincolnshire (www.marriotttheatre.com).

For a description of theatres elsewhere in Chicago and in the suburbs, see Chicago Traveler's Theatre Directory. Also on this page, find a Map of Downtown Theatres.

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