The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is Chicago’s leading residence for music and dance. Its 1,499-seat theater is the crown jewel of Millennium Park. The building was the city’s first multi-performance venue build downtown since 1929, and the Harris Theater has called it home for more than 15 years. The theater aims to support local music and dance, present national and international artists, and engage with the community through entertainment and educational programs. Today, the theater’s original group of 12 resident companies now includes more than 30 diverse music and dance companies.
Harris Theater Facilities
Before the Harris Theater, there was a void in Chicago for a modern performance venue downtown. The building in the city’s sprawling Grant Park, situated to the north of the Art Institute. It features an above-ground entrance with a glass-walled lobby. The multi-sensory design stretches several metallic and neon floors that lead downward from street level.
The theater is located beneath the Jay Pritzker Pavilion — Millennium Park’s outdoor performing venue. Inside, the Harris Theater is designed with 100 feet on each side, so that all seats are relatively close to the stage. The 1,525 seating capacity is made up of about 600 main floor seats, 500 raised orchestra seats, and 400 balcony seats. At the front, the modern orchestra pit hosts 45 musicians.
The design scheme features a neutral palette complemented by maplewood seats and muted carpets in black, charcoal, and gray. The theater is known for its unparalleled acoustics. The raised proscenium is 31 feet high with 75-foot reflector towers on each side to focus sound.
Harris Theater Programs
Harris theater works to support local music and dance companies and also highlight touring international talent. Today, it hosts more than 30 resident groups. Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNow, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, and Music of the Baroque all call Harris Theater home, to name a few.
Additionally, the theater presents high-quality artistic programming from all over the world through its Harris Theater Presents series. Such artists as Daniel Barenboim, Joshua Bell, Paris Opéra Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Stephen Sondheim have all performed on the theater’s Elizabeth Morse Genius Stage.
Enjoy an array of music like the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Complete Beethoven Symphonies, and DCASE World Music Festival.
Additionally, touring dance theaters perform an array of modern dance and ballet. There are also fun extras like the “Mix At Six,” the venue’s first happy-hour series. Enjoy fast-paced, one-hour performances over cocktails and food from Chicago’s most popular food trucks. The venue also hosts an array of family series for children ages 4-12 during the weekends.
Along with scheduled programming, the theater engages with the community through ongoing programs like Arts Education Partnerships and Access Tickets. The former offers master classes and artists talks, while the latter has provided more than 13,000 free tickets to youth and families in the city.
Devout patrons can purchase subscription packages for main stage acts or chamber music series. Perks include deep discounts of 40% off of tickets and free exchanges. Subscribers also get invitations to subscriber events and receptions throughout the year.
Getting to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance
If you’re driving, it is best to park in the Millenium Park Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive. The garage offers direct access to the Harris Theater lobbies. Be sure to follow signs for Millennium Park Garage and not Millennium Lakeside Garage — unless you have your walking shoes. Have your ticket ready for discounted parking validation.
If you prefer to take public transportation, the closest CTA train stations include the Red Line Washington Street Station and Lake Street Station and the Brown/Green/Purple/Orange line’s Washington/Wabash Station and State/Lake station. Or take the bus to Millennium Park on one so several CTA routes.