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.
Illinois Meetings + Events