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Ford Center for the Performing Arts / Oriental Theatre


In Brief:

The Ford Center for the Performing Arts / Oriental Theatre first opened as a movie cinema in 1926, but the landmark building was fully restored in 1998 and is now home to quality Broadway-style shows.

Oriental Theatre Seating Chart:

Oriental Theatre Seating Capacity:

2,253 seats, made up of various levels -- Orchestra Level (986 seats), Dress Circle (241 seats), Loge (204 seats) and Balcony (822 seats). Numbers may vary slightly based on needs of a particular production.

Ford Center / Oriental Theatre Phone:



Recommended Hotel:

The Hotel Monaco Chicago is a French-inspired boutique hotel approximately two blocks from the Ford Oriental Theatre.

About the Ford Center / Oriental Theatre Chicago:

Chicago's Oriental Theatre first opened as a movie cinema on May 8, 1926 and quickly grew in popularity for its ornate Far East decor and first-run movies along with live stage shows. A whole range of popular performers appeared at the Oriental, from the Three Stooges to Judy Garland to George Burns and Gracie Allen. The theater continued as a movie house until the early 1970s, when it began solely presenting live music performances.

Unfortunately during that period the theater also became sorely neglected. Despite being added to the Federal National Registry of Historic Places in 1978, the Oriental Theatre was finally closed in 1981. A number of development ideas were presented for the location, but in 1996 Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley -- as part of his overall plan to revive Chicago's theater district -- announced that the city would restore the Oriental and it would be the new home of world-class live stage Broadway-style musicals. To help pay for the restoration the theater took on a corporate sponsor and was renamed the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1997 (although it's still most commonly referred to as the Oriental Theatre).

The Ford Center/Oriental Theatre is managed by Broadway in Chicago, which also oversees two other major theaters in Chicago: the LaSalle Bank Theatre (formerly the Shubert Theatre) and the Cadillac Palace Theatre (formerly just the Palace Theatre).

Currently, the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre is host to the hit musical "Wicked", which tells the story of the Witches of Oz "before Dorothy dropped in." The original touring production of "Wicked" sold out so fast a separate Chicago production company was created. "Wicked" is still one of the hottest tickets in town, and is currently enjoying an open run that's not likely to end anytime soon.

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