James M. Nederlander Theatre Information
Originating as a motion picture house inspired by the Far East, the venue presented popular first runs of films, with the addition of elaborate stage shows. During a week in 1930, a record-breaking 124,985 people visited the Oriental to see the film “Flight”. The venue continued to show films up until the 70s, when it also hosted live performances from artists such as Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight.
However, it was around this time that management began to fail and the theatre fell into disrepair. To help preserve it, it was added to the Federal National Registry of Historic Places in 1978. It wasn’t till 1996, however, that restoration of the theater began in earnest. Reaching completion in October 1998, it re-opened to the public with a premiere of Ragtime, followed by a string of one massive touring production after another. Today, the venue is held in high regard as one of the most prestigious in Chicago.