New Palace Theatre

Randolph at La Salle Streets / Chicago

(Opening Night Souvenir Program - October 4, 1926)

Opened in October of 1926, as the New Palace Theatre (there was already a Palace Music Hall located at Clark Street and Randolph Street which was later renamed the Erlanger Theatre), and was designed by Rapp & Rapp at a cost of $12 million.

The Rapp Brothers, George and Cornelius, were also the architects behind the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre and the Chicago Theatre, as well as dozens of other theaters around the country. Their inspiration for the look and feel of the Palace Theatre came from the Fountainebleau and the Palace of Versailles, both found in France. The interior includes huge decorative mirrors, breche violet and white marble. The walls inside are adorned with gold leafing and wood decorations, as well as a series of complex arches and detailed brass ornamentation.

During World War II the United States government went around to most theaters and confiscated all the brass. Brass was melted down and used for ammunition, shells, etc. At the time, the owners of the Palace Theatre painted all the brass in the theater white, so that when the government came in, they were tricked into thinking the theater contained no brass. The brass was left this way and generally forgotten about until the recent renovation of the theater, when the paint was scraped off and the rare brass ornamentation was rediscovered and restored to its original state.

The interior design of the Palace is similar in vein to the Los Angeles Theater Ė a French Renaissance style beauty inspired by Versailles. The New Palace Theatre was originally opened as the flagship of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit (the State Lake Theatre, also in the Loop, was another one of the Orpheum circuitís vaudeville palaces in Chicago). After showcasing dozens of big-name stars during the late-1920ís, the theatre was converted into a movie palace in 1931 as the RKO Palace Theatre.

In the 1950ís, attendance began to wane, at what was by then called Eitelís Palace Theatre and live shows were re-introduced to the repertoire. During the late-1950ís, the Palace was altered to show Cinerama films. The neighboring Bismarck Hotel purchased the theater in the 1970ís and the auditorium was converted into a banquet hall by removing the seats on the orchestra level. In 1984, the theatre, now renamed the Bismarck Theatre, was converted into a concert venue.

Barely used during the 1990ís, the former New Palace Theatre was finally restored and renovated during 1999, and renamed the Cadillac Palace Theatre thanks to a large donation by the company towards the theaterís spectacular restoration. The renovated theatre was reopened during the fall of 1999, with the premier of Elton John and Tim Riceís ďAidaĒ.

It currently has maximum capacity of 2,344 people. Since its reopening it has been home to many pre-broadway hits. The theatre is currently operated by Broadway In Chicago which has allowed for more Broadway hits to tour through Chicago causing a great economic impact on the city of Chicago.


(L) Grand Auditorium - (R) Grand Lobby

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