The James M. Nederlander Theatre is an undisputed Chicago icon. Located in the heart of the Downtown Chicago Loop, the theater opened as the Oriental Theatre in 1926. Designed by the legendary George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp, it was one of the first movie palaces designed to create a full experience for the theater patron. Visitors here enjoy not only a show but entrance into a virtual art museum. Original Art Deco mosaics, elephant-throne lighting, and multicolored glazed Buddahs are equally as engaging as the show onstage. Over the years, the venue showed both first-run motion pictures and lavish stage shows. The Three Stooges, Judy Garland, and Danny Kaye have all graced the stage here. Today, the venue serves as Chicago’s premiere outlet for world-class Broadway in Chicago.
Nederlander Theatre Facilities
The stunning James M. Nederlander was originally designed by George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp of Palace and Chicago Theatre fame. The 3,250-seat venue features decor inspired by Indian architecture. The ornate movie palace still features mosaics of an exotic prince and princess, glazed Buddahs and elephant-throne lighting.
The beautiful condition of the theater today is thanks in part to an extensive renovation in 1996. Architect Daniel P. Coffey was careful to preserve one-third of the theater’s original steel structure as well as the building’s Dearborn facade. The theater reopened in 1998 with a reconfigured seating capacity of 2,253. Today, it hosts touring Broadway shows.
Further renovations in 2015 looked to transform the 22-story office building attached to the theater into luxury apartments. Instead, developers created a 198-room hotel that opened in October 2017. Now, guests can stay at the Cambria Hotel and head right downstairs to enjoy a show.
Nederlander Theatre Programs
The James M. Nederlander Theatre is best known for hosting world-class Broadway in Chicago. It has hosted classic productions like Ragtime and Wicked as well as innovative acts spanning The Cher Show, Once Upon a One More Time with Britney Spears, and the pre-Broadway showing of Addams Family.
The current roster features an array of Broadway meg-hits. Theatergoers can see Hamilton, Oslo, Corduroy, The Simon & Garfunkel Story, Mean Girls, Riverdance and much more. Shows are put on by Broadway In Chicago, one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country. And don’t worry, it isn’t always second runs. Broadway In Chicago is best known for attracting pre-Broadway Acts.
There are many big names who have taken the stage, as well. Fanny Brice, George Burns, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Henry Youngman have all performed at the Nederlander.
Ardent theatergoers can join the Broadway in Chicago club to get first dibs on promotional offers. For $50 per year, members enjoy priority seating, presale tickets, and an array of discounted offers. You can also subscribe to season tickets for all of the best seats each season.
Getting to the Nederlander Theatre
If you’re driving, Broadway In Chicago partners with iParkit for convenient parking. The closest location to the James M. Nederlander Theatre is at Wabash & Randolph streets. Be sure to purchase parking tickets in advance.
Located in the heart of the loop, there are many options to get her via public transit, as well. The closest options include the Dearborn & Randolph bus station, State & Randolph Bus Station, and Lake Subway stop.