Laugh Factory

3175 North Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Broan
Broan on April 20, 2006 at 6:38 am

Here’s a 2002 article on it: “The former Broadway Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, is scheduled to reopen next month after a $250,000 refurbishment to turn it into a live venue. The Broadway was part of the Cineplex Odeon movie theater chain and was closed in 2000; an experimental live production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch” played there last summer.

A group composed of former Northlight Theatre impresarios Chris Ritter and Richard Friedman and the real estate-development firm Sterling Bay Inc. is returning the 380-seat venue to its original name, the Lakeshore Theatre.

But that’s the only part of the project that looks to the theater’s past.

“There’s a popular myth that the Lakeshore Theatre was originally a vaudeville house, but we haven’t been able to find any architectural evidence of that, like dressing rooms or backstage areas,” Ritter said.

“We think the building was erected about 1915 and has always been a movie theater, or nickelodeon. We’re adding all the theater elements, like dressing rooms and lighting.”

He added that the group is “excited about this project because of the diversity of the neighborhood and the number of potential audiences right here in Lakeview.” Plans call for the Lakeshore to be a commercial rental venue able to host major productions in the evening time slot and, perhaps, children’s theater during the day and music and comedy performances late at night.

The debut production will be “Life Isn’t Fair … So What” by John Powers, creator of “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” It is scheduled to open Oct. 4.

Interior designer Douglas Allen is redesigning the lobby in the style of the late Christian Berard, a Parisian artist whose most famous work in the 1930s included theater and movie sets, costumes and magazine art. The lobby will feature three murals in Berard’s style, all depicting theatrical interior backgrounds. The auditorium will be painted a soft gray with matching draperies.

“This will be a very distinct and unique space, but the style will be immediately recognizable to the most sophisticated theatergoer,” Allen said. “The style is pure escapism, and that’s what theater is about."

I think that under Cineplex, it was a flagship theater, and they had refurbished it pretty extensively.

LongGone
LongGone on March 27, 2006 at 3:10 pm

What a wonderful anchor the Lakeshore Theater was to the mid-northside community when I live there in the 60’s and 70’s. Even living at Irving Park Road I was able to walk the mile to Belmont and Broadway to see first run flics in this very interesting neighborhood. It was either that or go a mile north from Irving Park and visit the Riviera or Uptown in the Uptown neighborhood. Here’s hoping the Lakeshore makes a well-deserved comeback.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 2, 2005 at 8:27 am

Story above is not entirely correct. Cineplex Odeon gave it the face lift and put the BROADWAY name out front (and, for the record, it was also Cineplex that ran the Biograph in the late 80’s). It must have ended up in the hands of Meridian through the Loews – Cineplex Odeon merger. Now owned by a private party, Defending the Caveman is enjoying a long run in this venue. The lobby has been completely altered. But the auditorium still contains original design features. A stage, complete with dressing rooms behind it, has been constructed at the front of the auditorium. This required the removal of seats. So my guess is that the capacity is under 300 now. They are tossing around the idea of running a brew and view series, as they hold a liquor license.

Jean
Jean on September 24, 2002 at 1:57 pm

My mom lives just down the block from this theatre. The last show I saw advertised there was “Blue Man Group.”

Jean
Jean on August 17, 2002 at 5:09 pm

I am related to the Katz’s ( Balaban & Katz ). My mother is related to the Katz family.