Water Tower Theatre

175 E. Chestnut Street,
Chicago, IL 60611

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Water tower place

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theater opened in the mid 1970s and its original four screens were built in the upper floors of the Water Tower Place Mall. Screens 5 to 7 were erected on street level on Chestnut Street.

By the 1990s, the Water Tower was in rather rough shape and eventually closed in 2001.

In mid-2002, the Village Theatres chain, which also operates the historic Biograph, Village and Village North Theatres, renovated and reopened the former 5-7 Water Tower auditoriums along Chestnut Street, as simply the Water Tower Theatre. It screened mainly art and foreign features. The 1-4 auditoriums were gutted and turned into retail space.

As of the end of August, 2003, Village Theatres closed the Water Tower theaters. In May of 2005, the former 5-7 screens of the movie house on Chestnut Street were reopened after a converstion back into a single auditorium seating 549 as the Drury Lane Water Tower Theatre. Like the other Drury Lane Theatre in suburban Oakbrook Terrace, the theater will present live musical theater.

Contributed by Aaron S. Wood, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on September 23, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Water Tower lower level aka 5-7 opened on 4/13/84. Opening attractions were “Swing Shift”, “Iceman”, and “Terms of Endearment”.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 24, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Greetings. The Water Tower Theatre on the Chestnut Street level side, was indeed originally built for live theatre. The plays “Vanities” & “Evita” with Patti Lupone & Mandy Patinkin played there around 1981. Also possibly one of the first verions of “Love Letters”.
After that it was coverted to movie screens. I last saw “Kingpin” there when it came out. Possibly “Terminator 2” also.
And of course it is now back to being called Drury Lane, and features live theatre & music. Their one day promotion today was to receive tickets to January’s staging of “Xanadu”, if you were of the first 20 to roller skate up to the box office this morning.

There was another long standing Drury Lane Theatre in Evergreen Park, that did strictly stage shows for decades.
A time warp of a place that felt as if you were walking into a `60’s Las Vegas hotel lobby. It also had a unique wedding chapel & lower level banquet facility. The name of the entire complex escapes me.
It was sadly all torn down several years ago.

CinemarkFan
CinemarkFan on October 28, 2008 at 12:44 pm

T2 did have a 10pm screening on 7/2/91 at WT Lower Level. And I remember the Drury Lane in Evergreen Park, but I never went inside.

I miss these places. It just seems that they had character.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Thanks CinemarkFan for the confirmation. I was pretty sure Drury Lane/WT is where I saw T2. I lived two blocks from there in `91.

The Drury Lane stage theater in Evergreen Park was in a complex called “The Martinique”. The place with the chapel, banquet hall & giant Vegas style signage. Inside the lobby near the theatre entrance was a small rather low `60’s looking bar. With swiveling, high backed vinyl bar stools that were attached to the floor. Pictures of Debbie Reynolds, Robert Goulet etc. adorned the walls.
It was razed to build a WalMart, but not sure if that ever happened.

In addition to Oakbrook, there is also a Drury Lane North in Lincolnshire.
A “theater in the round” as they say, but really it’s a smallish square stage with ascending seats on all four sides. It’s been active for quite sometime, and is part of a hotel complex itself. The theatre is designed for and only suitable for stage plays. Which is as far off topic as I’ll go.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

I finally made it back in here a few Sundays back. For the next to last performance of “Xanadu”.
Much has changed since it’s off again/on again movie theatre days.
The Chestnut St. side entrance is pretty much in the same spot. But the theatre space has been built out differently and off to the left of the entrance.
The stage area seems much smaller. And the seats seem to rise above the new lobby area. I can’t recall the old multiplex configuration at/from street level. But I think it went straight back. Where the restrooms & coat check are now. The lobby has a lower ceiling like the old Drury Lane in Evergreen Park had. But there the theatre stage was downstairs. There is a brief “Drury Lane History” in the back pages of the Playbill. Possibly accessable online.
Or via the official site under this CT page’s description.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 15, 2009 at 12:51 am

I know, I know… check the box.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

What are the other Water Tower Theatre’s, that were located upstairs and inside of the Water Tower Place Mall listed under on CT?

Robin Roz
Robin Roz on August 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm

This entry needs to be changed. Drury Lane is no longer at Water Tower. They are solely at Oakbrook now.

This theatre is now known as Broadway Playhouse and it’s run by Broadway in Chicago. It will be closed until September 2010 for renovations. The website at least temporarily is www.broadwayinchicago.com

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on December 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm

This theatre reopened in September with Sutton Foster in concert. It currently has the Canadian show TRACES. Broadway in Chicago has other shows scheduled to play here in 2011 including a revised version of WORKING.

JRS40
JRS40 on November 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The ad in the photo section above is for the opening of the original Water Tower theaters I-IV located inside Water Tower Place. This would have been December of 1976.

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