Broadway In Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre
24 W. Randolph St.
George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp, 1926
The James M. Nederlander Theatre, originally named the Oriental Theatre, opened to much fanfare as a motion picture palace in 1926. Designed by George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp for theater managers Balaban & Katz, the theater is a virtual museum of South Asian-inspired art with an auditorium of "hasheesh-dream design." It presented popular first-run motion pictures complemented by lavish stage shows, and hosted such legends as the Three Stooges, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, and Duke Ellington. Like the other great Loop theaters, it went through a period of decline despite being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and was nearly demolished. Fortunately, restoration of the theater as a home for live stage musicals was completed in October 1998, at which time it re-opened with the Chicago premiere of Ragtime. It has since staged a long list of premieres and traveling hits, including the record-breaking run of Wicked and the long-run production of Billy Elliott. In February 2019, it was renamed the James M. Nederlander Theatre, in honor of the legendary Broadway theatre owner, producer, and founder of Broadway In Chicago.