Hello readers,

It’s been a big few weeks for local theater—and we’re not just talking about all that post-election hoopla at Hamilton. Rather, the latest news involves two revered venues that made some unexpected announcements to help end the year on a high note. On Dec. 5, ground was broken on a $6 million renovation to Theater on the Lake. The enhanced infrastructure and expanded community spaces provide a much-needed modern update to the Chicago Park District building and will also allow it to remain open year-round as a bustling cultural center. (This popular open-air venue first debuted in 1953 and has hosted a number of small theater productions, generally in the summer months since the building sits on the banks of Lake Michigan). The initiative was a 12-year vision of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to DNAinfo Chicago, and will include an enclosed 330-seat theater, a full-service restaurant (managed by Lakefront Hospitality Group) and a conjoining meeting room. An outdoor terrace is also planned, which will likely become a popular wedding and special event space. The renovation is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2017. In November, news also broke that the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind., would remain open, reversing the previous decision by White Lodging to shutter the historic performance hall in order to erect a new hotel on the property.

“We were not prepared for the outpouring of emotion that the announcement generated,” says Charlie Blue, CEO, Star Productions, in a supplied statement. “Not only did our patrons express their deep sadness at seeing the theater close, many nationally renowned artists also contacted us to express how much they would miss performing at the Star Plaza. After much deliberation and consultation with our contractors, we determined that it was indeed feasible to retain the theater despite the nearby construction work.”

The new hotel will also benefit planners by offering an adjacent property with guest rooms and meeting spaces.

Happy Planning!

Selena Fragassi
Illinois Meetings + Events

Located in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, Hotel Drover, an award-winning Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott, focuses on simple pleasures and genuine hospitality. Kick-off your boots and stay awhile with 200 rustic-luxe rooms and suites. When ready, grab a hand-crafted cocktail or cold beer and wander outside to The Backyard at Hotel Drover, an outdoor oasis, with creekside seating, outdoor games, and seasonal live music.


In 1927, Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton said, "Abilene, Texas will be well prepared to handle large conventions and please the most fastidious visitor." Nearly 95 years later, Abilene has fulfilled this vision and is excited to welcome back the Hilton family of hotels in the heart of Downtown Abilene with a recently announced DoubleTree by Hilton.


Temperatures are starting to dip in Seattle, but if you want to get in one last outdoor gathering before winter, consider The Rooftop at WeWork Cap Hill. Located on the penthouse level on 11th Avenue near Seattle’s storied Pine and Pike Streets, the space offers inviting landscapes and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Capacity: 74.  Bring sweaters and scarves!