Chicago’s Portage Theater Reopening Tonight

posted by Broan on May 19, 2006 at 6:36 am

CHICAGO, IL — After a year of refurbishing the Portage Theater from a worn-out twin back to its original one-screen auditorium seating over 1300, the Silent Film Society of Chicago is reopening the Six Corners (Milwaukee, Irving Park, and Cicero) landmark as a showplace for Silent Films and much more.

Doors open May 19 at 7 with pre-show entertainment by the Ron Smolen Orchestra, and the opening film will be an early full-length comedies, 1914’s Tillie’s Punctured Romance, starring Charlie Chaplin with Mark Noller on the theater organ. Also on Saturday and Sunday, Chaplin’s classic Modern Times will be showing.

This weekend kicks off the Spring Silent Film Festival, featuring a different silent each Friday through June 16. Visit for more details.

Theaters in this post

Comments (7)

LouisRugani on May 21, 2006 at 8:21 pm

I was there, and the Grand Re-Opening audience was at near capacity and very enthusiastic, with constant applause and cheering. The opening feature, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance” was preceded by an excellent Charlie Chaplin solo impression.

Coincidentally, as the doors were opening there had been a nonrelated traffic accident around the corner, and all area traffic had then been rerouted onto Milwaukee Avenue right past the PORTAGE for all to see its long lines of reopening-night patrons entering under the brilliant marquee with its message of welcome.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on May 22, 2006 at 5:18 am


I was there yesterday (5/21/2006) for the 6:30pm showing of MODERN TIMES. There were only about a dozen people in the auditorium. I hope that the owners of the Portage can keep the momentum going and earn enough to keep the place open!

Broan on May 22, 2006 at 5:26 am

In fairness, Modern Times was a last minute addition and had virtually no advance publicity.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 22, 2006 at 7:33 am

I have a feeling that they will be alright. I went to a silent film with organ at the Gateway some nine years ago. There was such a crowd that we had to sit in the balcony. That would seem to suggest there is consistent demand for this type of product. If they can run even just a few capacity shows every year (and sell concessions) I would think they should make enought to pay the property taxes and utility bills and have a little left over. I’ll admit that there may be some unknowns in my calculation. I don’t really understand how this Chicago amusement tax works for instance.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if they receive inquiries from people looking to put on concerts in a smaller space (like the Riviera or Park West).

CompassRose on May 26, 2006 at 3:28 pm

A friend of mine was at the opening and says the Portage has the best popcorn around.

The Portage has also generously offered to host “Uptown: Portrait of a Palace” on June 8th. This documentary on Chicago’s Uptown Theatre has already won two awards for “Best Documentary” in national and local competitions. Info can be found at:

portageparkmom on July 17, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Summer Silent Film Festival starts this Friday July 21st 8pm and every friday there after thru August 25th 8pm shows. Tickets available at the box office. 7/21 Opening Night ceremony West End Jazz Band begins at 7:30pm for more info go to

TLSLOEWS on April 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Sorry I missed it.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment