Certainly, there’s a lot to see in Chicago, and it’s easy to miss some amazing sights. One thing that you’ll want to check out on your visit to the Windy City, though, is the Cadillac Palace Theatre. This legendary venue first opened its doors in 1926 under the name of the New Palace Theatre. It began as a part of vaudeville’s Orpheum Circuit, hosting such stars as Jimmy Durante, Mae West, Sophie Tucker, and Jack Benny. With the decline of vaudeville, the venue was converted into a movie palace and didn’t take on its current incarnation until 1999.
While seeing a show at the Cadillac Palace Theatre is ideal, it must, at the very least, be seen. Designed by the Rapp brothers, who also designed the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre and the Chicago Theatre, inspiration for the Cadillac Palace Theatre is said to have been taken from the Palace of Versailles and the Fontainebleau in France. From a decorative standpoint, that means that you’ll encounter lots of gold leafing and ornate wood decorations, along with marble, complex arches, and large decorative mirrors throughout.
The Cadillac Theatre in Chicago’s decorations were actually preserved through some clever trickery on the part of the theater’s owners. During World War II, the government confiscated brass from theaters throughout the country, as the metal was used to make ammunition and other items that were vital to the war effort. The owners at the time had all of the brass in the building painted white, which fooled the government inspectors who came to collect. This was not discovered until the most recent renovation of the theater, when all the paint was scraped off and the brass ornaments throughout the building were restored and displayed once again.
The Cadillac Palace has been the home of many high-profile shows, particularly those from Broadway. It hosted the premiere of Mel Brooks’s The Producers (starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick) in 2001, along with The Pirate Queen in 2006. A national tour of Mary Poppins began at the theater in 2009, as did a similar production Shrek the Musical in 2010. It also played host to Wicked in 2010. In short, the Cadillac Palace Theatre is a beautiful venue to see high-caliber theatre productions, and it’s not to be missed for anyone who’s visiting Chicago.
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