Auditorium Theatre to Celebrate 125 Years with Opulent Gala Performance

The Landmark Auditorium Theatre will celebrate 125 years of diverse performances with "Living the History - 125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre" this December (photo courtesy of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University).

Exactly 125 years from the day the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt first opened its doors in 1889, the National Historic Landmark, led by Board Chairman Melvin L. Katten and executive director Brett Batterson, will celebrate its milestone 125th anniversary with a special performance, “Living the History – 125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre” on December 9, 2014. The celebratory evening, which begins with a star-studded program at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E Congress Pkwy), will include a tribute to the diverse entertainment that continues to be presented at the theater, including symphonic music, opera, Broadway musicals, rock music and dance. The performance will be immediately followed by a Gala Celebration Dinner at the Palmer House Hilton (17 E Monroe) to cap off an extraordinary evening.

“The Auditorium’s 125th Gala Celebration showcases the diversity and scope of talent that has graced the historic landmark stage since it opened in 1889,” noted Batterson, “We estimate that over 20 million audience members have attended the theater in its 125 year history and the memories created for those patrons have helped to make the Auditorium the iconic destination that it is for all Chicagoans.”  

Paying homage to the past, present and future of the Auditorium and its Chicago roots, the evening’s host, Chicago actor John Mahoney, will welcome friends old and new to the stage, helping to commemorate the original opening night of the venue on December 9, 1889. Broadway legend Patti LuPone, whose great-grand aunt Adelina Patti sang on the very same stage at the original grand opening, will delight guests with show-stopping numbers.

Performances by the Apollo Chorus, who also performed at the 1889 opening, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and singers Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi and Eric Owens from the Lyric Opera of Chicago will pay tribute to the stage that was originally built as Chicago’s home for classical music. Also paying tribute to the world-renowned dance that has graced the stage in recent years, dancers from Joffrey Ballet—which has made its home at the Auditorium for the past 16 years—will perform, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present a special performance by two Chicago area natives, Sarah Daley and Vernard Gilmore.   Performances will also give a nod to the many appearances by top performing artists at the Auditorium in the genres of rock, jazz, and big band.     

As a special salute to the veterans who were accommodated at the Auditorium during World War II, the theater is planning a salute to their service as part of the festivities. Currently, the Auditorium is seeking those living veterans and volunteer workers who were at the Auditorium during WWII in order to collect their memories for the salute. Veterans or individuals who know veterans who were at the theater at that time can contact theater personnel at  (312) 341-2365 to participate.   

The gala production, led by the acclaimed Chicago director Rachel Rockwell, whose most recent praise has stemmed from a stellar revival of Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre, kicks off at 6 p.m. Immediately following the performance, Gala Celebration guests will be shuttled to the Palmer House Hilton, where they will be welcomed by Rich Daniels and The City Lights Orchestra, before enjoying an elegant dinner and more Anniversary surprises.  

First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, will serve as the Honorary Chair for the historic season-long celebration highlighted by this gala; Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs.   For more information about the upcoming “Living the History – 125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre” gala celebration, contact Amanda Martinez Byrne at (312) 341-3825.

For more information about the Auditorium Theatre’s milestone season celebration, visit