Theater Recommendations in Chicago

Theater Recommendations in Chicago for a Wonderful New Year

Published on January 15, 2022

Hey there! It’s Jon Matuzak. The New Year is upon us, and 2022 offers the opportunity to discover special places across Chicagoland.  While the city usually deservedly gets most of the attention, there are numerous suburban gems you should check out in 2022.  Already on my do list for 2022 are some of the historic and architecturally unique theaters that can be found in the Chicago suburbs.  So, here are my theater recommendations in Chicago.

Tivoli Theatre – Downers Grove, IL

Despite the fact that I live in Downers Grove and am admittedly biased, you absolutely must visit the Tivoli Theater there!  Built in 1928 and designed by architects Van Gurten and Van Gurten, the Tivoli first opened on Christmas Day—94 years ago!

The Brooklyn Paramount theater was the first to screen sound movies in November 1928, quickly followed by Tivoli. Originally built as a theater seating just over 1,000 people, the Tivoli is unique in that it still hosts one screen—thanks to the care of Classic Cinemas, a local corporation that purchased the theater in 1976. Classic Cinemas has done a great job of maintaining the unique interior design of the space, resembling a “French Renaissance-style”. Recently a much smaller second screening room was added in 2021 to the overall theater, however, it was done without impacting the unique historic value of the original Tivoli.  

True to its origins featuring movies and vaudeville acts, today you can occasionally catch live music at the Tivoli, in addition to their movie runs.  They even utilize the original Wurlitzer organ before Friday evening shows.

Tivoli Theatre

Photo by
Photo by

Woodstock Theater – Woodstock, IL

With Groundhog Day coming up on February 2nd, head to Woodstock, IL.  The theater hosts an annual celebration of Groundhog Day, including an appearance by Woodstock Willie the Groundhog.  Let’s hope he doesn’t see his shadow! Also, check out a screening of the film Groundhog Day. 

Miller Theater (the original name) opened in 1927, hosting movies and vaudeville entertainers.  With seating capacity of 1,000, designers equipped the theater with a Barton-style, 23-theater organ. In the 1980’s, Classic Cinemas, included additional screens and restored much of the original charm, including the domed ceiling in the historic main auditorium. 

Woodstock Groundhog Days

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The Arcada Theatre – St. Charles, IL

If you want theater recommendations in western Chicago suburbs check out Arcada.  Built in 1926 by local millionaires, Dellora and Lester Norris, the Aracada was a vaudeville mainstay.  Legendary artists such as Fibber McGee and Molly, Liberace, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Garland, Carol Channing, Jerry Lewis, Dionne Warwick, Joan Rivers, Kenny Rogers, Gladys Knight and so many more have performed here.

Today, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places and is still functioning as an active performance space.  Upcoming performances range from local favorites like Mr. Blotto to tribute bands like Kashmir (Led Zeppelin) and Mr. Speed (KISS) to favorites of the 80’s and 90’s like Richard Marx, Everclear and a Flock of Seagulls. 

There’s plenty of dining and drinking options, as well as overnight suites that will be opening soon.  There’s even a Speakeasy with their own entertainment offerings, featuring Sinatra Sundays. 

Arcada Theatre

Rialto Square Theater – Joliet, IL

Much like the Arcada, The Rialto Square Theater in Joliet opened in 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace.  Designed in the Neo-Baroque style by architects CW Rapp and George Rapp, it features stunning marble walls and 18 Corinthian-style columns fashioned after the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France and a rotunda featuring a dome similar to the Pantheon in Rome.  Maybe you’ll love it so much, you’ll get married there.  You can!  If you’re not interested in marriage, you can always go for one of the great performances, movie nights, or simply to take a tour and hear the Barton Grande Theatre Pipe Organ. 

Shows and performances run the spectrum here.  Everyone from Tony Bennett to Dwight Yoakim has performed at the Rialto.  Upcoming shows include musicals like South Pacific, Chris Janson, Buddy Guy, Daughtry, Church Basement Ladies, and Baby Shark Live!  They also periodically show movies like Casablanca, Rocketman, or A Star is Born.  It’s definitely worth the visit for the beautiful architecture and the great entertainment.  

Rialto Square

Ready for 2022 experiences?

At eATLAS, we are very grateful to celebrate another year doing what we love,  surrounded by amazing people. For us, this new year is full of hope, opportunity, and goals to keep growing this beautiful project.

We’re excited to be part of your next adventure in 2022, and we’d like you to get to know a little more about the people who make eATLAS possible.  This year, our team members will share their passion for traveling and outstanding experiences. 

For January, we’re posting our members’ New Year’s Travel Resolution lists.  We hope you’ll share your own with us, too, by tagging @playeatlas on FB, and Ig. Remember to send us videos of your guided trips showing your incredible moments while being part of the traveling eATLAS community. 

We wish you all the best for 2022, hoping you’ll enjoy unforgettable moments with friends, family, or your favorite travel buddies! 

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