Michael Todd Theatre

180-190 N. Dearborn Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Michael Todd

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Located next door to the Cinestage (the former Selwyn Theatre) on Dearborn Street, the Michael Todd Theatre was the second Todd-AO 70mm roadshow theater, and was originally known as the Harris Theatre. The Harris, designed by C. Howard Crane in 1922 (along with the next-door Selwyn) as a playhouse for legitimate producers Sam H. Harris and Archie and Edgar Selwyn. The Harris was given an Italian Palladian design, while the Selwyn was done in neo-Georgian style.

Michael Todd took over in the 50s after the Harris' legitimate days were over. The Michael Todd was a bit different than the Cinestage, as it had a large flat screen instead of a curved strip screen. It also had a great waterfall curtain, whereas the Cinestage had a standard curtain that opened horizontally. There was also a huge balcomy and the Century JJ-equipped projection booth was on the main floor under the mezzanine.

Before it was razed, the Michael Todd’s entire ceiling had collapsed and was basically in ruins. Unfortunately, the roofs were always neglected in both of the theaters.

Today, the Michael Todd’s facade, along with that of the Cinestage (both saved when the theaters were torn down), now form part of the facade of the new Goodman Theatre complex, which moved from its long-time location at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000.

Contributed by Mark, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 77 comments)

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 9:54 am

“The Sound of Music” premiered at the Michael Todd 50 years ago today. With a reserved-seat run of 93 weeks, do you think it is the long-run record holder for this venue?

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here.

JRS40 on March 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

I have a record of all bookings of the Todd (when it became the Michael Todd)from 1958 until it’s closing in 1977. No movie came close to playing there as long as “The Sound of Music.” I would have to check my records to confirm but I am guessing “Ben-Hur” would be the next closest. It played for 40 weeks.

To answer the question posed by Bobby S above – “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Cinestage from 4/4/57 to 12/25/58.

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 10:55 am

JRS40… Forty weeks for “Ben-Hur”? Maybe I have a wrong opening or closing date or did the math incorrectly, but I have a much longer duration than 40 weeks for the Michael Todd roadshow run of “Ben-Hur.”

JudithK on August 10, 2015 at 4:08 am

I saw a play at the Goodman Theatre yesterday; there are two theatres in this complex, and I was in the Owen Theatre, which is in the space that was home for the Michael Todd Theatre. Massive renovations occurred as the Todd, the Cinestage and the Woods Theatre had severe condition problems for many years. This is now a theatre in the round, to use a probably antiquated term, and a very good one at that. You can (somewhat) tell that the Owen Thatre was previously a legitimate theatre set-up that was converted into contemporary use. I am guessing that the Cinestage portion is now part of the main stage, and the common areas (I am guessing the office complex and Petterino’s Restaurant) are what were part of the Woods Theatre. Quite fascinating to see this adaptation made and in active use. I think the previous creators, stars and owners of the theatre complex would approve.

Khnemu on September 7, 2015 at 10:30 am

Judith, both the former Michael Todd and Cinestage Theaters have been demolished, as was the Woods. While nothing remains of the Woods, the facades of both the former Michael Todd and Cinestages theaters were saved. The Goodman Theater complex you were in was constructed on the site of the Woods, Cinestage and Michael Todd Theaters.

JudithK on September 7, 2015 at 11:16 am

Yes. I have worked in Chicago for many years (1973-to date), and the Goodman complex (former Woods, Michael Todd and Cinestage Theatres) is approximately a block from my office so I have been an interested – and concerned – observer for some time, especially during the era of the question of the future of the three theaters which extended over quite a few years. The Woods was indeed demolished, and the Cinestage and Todd Theatres gutted, with facades retained which I kept track of due to the closeness of my offices to it. It was a fascinating process to watch! I would urge theatre fans to attend an event at the Goodman Theatre to observe the end result. They have a very comprehensive webpage should you wish to investigate further.

macoco on September 7, 2015 at 9:41 pm

“Ben-Hur” played 74 weeks at the Todd. Just checked Variety. It opened Christmas week 1959 (I remember that—I lived in Chicago then) and closed mid-May 1961. But that is still shorter than “The Sound of Music.”

RalphBenner on September 10, 2015 at 5:05 am

Though the McVickers ran hardticket the 70mm version of “Gone with the Wind” starting in April, 1968, it did so only after its opening run at the Cinestage. Here are the Chicago Tribune links:



Eight months following its opening at the Cinestage, the 70mm jobbie would be the premiere attraction at the UA Cinema 150 in Oak Brook.

Kudos to the Tribune for making its archives public. What trips down memory lane!

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 7:00 am

This opened as a live theatre on December 26th, 1958. Its grand opening ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 7:15 am

September 2nd, 1923 grand opening ad as Harris in the photo section.

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