Michelle Obama to Serve as Honorary Chair of Roosevelt University's 125th Anniversary Season
The National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, led by Executive Director Brett Batterson and Board Chairman Melvin L. Katten, celebrates the milestone 125th Anniversary and announces programming for 2014 - 15 Season.
Built in 1889 by the pioneering genius of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, along with their young draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright, the Auditorium Theatre, often referred to as "the eighth wonder of the world," would catapult Chicago onto the world's stage driving both culture and tourism to the Windy City.
In honor of the momentous anniversary, the Auditorium Theatre is thrilled to announce First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, as the Honorary Chair for this historic season-long celebration; Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule will serve as Honorary Co-chairs. Co-chairs for the 125th Anniversary Season include Norm and Virginia Bobins, Steve and Nancy Crown, Jorge and Catrina Ramirez, Jim and Sandy Reynolds, Jack and Carole Sandner, Ed and Dia Weil and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy with wife Sue Miller.
"On behalf of all Chicagoans, we are thrilled to celebrate the Auditorium Theatre's 125th birthday," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "This national historic landmark is representative of our rich history in the arts as well as the unique Chicago architecture styles that have influenced American building structures for generations. The Auditorium Theatre continues to make Chicago a leader in the arts and culture today, and I wish the Theatre nothing but good fortunes in the coming years."
At the time of its opening in 1889, the Auditorium Building was the epitome of modern design, the largest structure in the United States and the tallest in Chicago. It housed not only the glorious Auditorium Theatre, but also a luxurious 400-room hotel and 136 offices. The theatre itself was a marvel of cutting-edge technology, featuring the prominent display of an astounding 3,500 bare carbon filament light bulbs (only publicly seen for the first time in 1879), unrivalled acoustics, air conditioning (which called for the delivery of 15 tons of ice daily), 26 hydraulic lifts that could easily raise and lower sections of the stage, and an expansive 95-foot loft above the stage for flown scenic elements. During the grand opening night of the theatre, attendee President Benjamin Harrison was evidently so impressed that he was rumored to have whispered to Vice President Levi P. Morton, "New York surrenders, eh?"
The Auditorium Theatre played a key role in Chicago's honor to host the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which, in turn, helped to make Chicago the city it is today. Local civic leaders in Chicago were vying with those in St. Louis, New York City and Washington DC to host a fair that could reestablish Chicago as a solid destination for travel and commerce. The international sensation brought about by the opening of the Auditorium was seen by Congress as an indication that the people of Chicago possessed the vision, forethought, work ethic, and financing to successfully produce a world-renowned fair. These factors also led to the Auditorium Theatre becoming one of the finest venues in the world to present first-class entertainment and was the first home to some of the greatest performance institutions including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Grand Opera Company.
The Anniversary Season pays homage to the extraordinary caliber of dance over the past 125 years with the return of The Royal Ballet to Chicago after a 37-year absence from Chicago. Led by Director Kevin O'Hare, the company will present Carlos Acosta's production of "Don Quixote" and a triple bill of Wayne McGregor's "The Art of Fugue," Christopher Wheeldon's "Aeternum"-which premiered at the Royal Opera House in February 2013 and was nominated for an Olivier Award-and an as yet, un-choreographed piece by Liam Scarlett which will premiere at the Royal Opera House in February 2015. The company will make their Auditorium debut during a three-city tour of the U.S. that includes The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
"I am delighted to bring The Royal Ballet back to Chicago as part of our US Tour in 2015," said O'Hare. "The Company has a long history of performing in North America and we've always been made to feel very welcome by our American audiences. The Royal Ballet hasn't visited Chicago since 1978 so the two programs we plan to bring are designed to showcase the depth of the company's repertory and the talent of our dancers led by our world-class roster of principals. We are honored to be part of such a special season at the Auditorium Theatre."
In November 2014, Dance Theatre of Harlem makes a triumphant return to the Auditorium Theatre after 16 years, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression with a mixed repertoire performance.
"The Auditorium Theatre was one of my favorite places to perform when I was a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem," said Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. "Now, as Artistic Director, it is a thrill and honor to bring the new Dance Theatre of Harlem to Chicago and the Auditorium, particularly as part of its 125th Anniversary celebration."
"The Auditorium's 125th Anniversary Season showcases the incredible diversity and scope that has graced this historic landmark stage for 125 years," said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. "When the doors of the Auditorium Theatre opened in 1889, the world was not expecting the grandeur that came along with Adler and Sullivan's pioneering design and insightful forward-thinking. What the people of Chicago as well as the rest of the world received, was a historic space where anything could happen. From National Conventions to stunning theatrical performances, breathtaking ballet to the most heart-pounding rock concerts, this building has seen a little bit of everything and true history lives within the intricate walls that are sure to house another 125 years of extraordinary talent and mesmerizing performances."
Highlighting the Anniversary celebration is a special Gala performance on December 9, 2014, exactly 125 years from when the Auditorium Theatre's doors opened in 1889. The evening will host Chicago's premiere cultural institutions including members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, singers from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as The Apollo Chorus - who participated in the opening night of the Theatre 125 years ago. These world-renowned organizations including surprise celebrity guests (to be announced soon), celebrate the rich history and opening night that put Chicago on the world's stage. The evening's program will include a tribute to the diverse entertainment that has been and continues to be presented at the theatre including Broadway, Pop, Rock, Dance and a special salute to the Military, which made its home at the Auditorium during wartime. The Gala performance will be followed by a celebrity dinner at the Palmer House.
2014 - 15 Season Programming
Highlighting both International and Chicago talent, the Anniversary season features the International Dance Series with six announced world-class dance companies including The Royal Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem; the "Made in Chicago" Dance Series, presenting Chicago's premiere dance companies; the "Made in Chicago" Variety Series including comedy acts and music performances (some still to be announced); and a free "Made in Chicago" Film Series dedicated to Chicago films including movies filmed at the Auditorium Theatre. The theatre will also present Special Community Outreach programming including the Preservation Snapshots Lecture Series, an in-depth architectural lecture series in collaboration with Landmarks Illinois; and many more collaborations with Chicago's premiere cultural institutions throughout the season.
International Dance Series
In addition to The Royal Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Auditorium Theatre's 2014 - 15 Season includes the return of American Ballet Theatre. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie brings an eclectic mixed repertoire to the Auditorium stage including "Bach Partida" by Twyla Tharp, "Fancy Free" by Jerome Robbins, and two Pas de Deux's still to be announced. January gets a heat-wave when Tango Buenos Aires makes a one-night-only stop in the Windy City. Georgina Vargas and Oscar Mandagaran, recognized as one of the best tango couples on the international level, bring their sensual passion to the Auditorium stage. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a perennial Chicago favorite, returns to the Auditorium in March 2015. "America's cultural ambassador to the world," celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of American modern dance while bringing audiences to their feet at every performance. After unveiling their innovative, jarring portrayal of "Rodin" during the Auditorium's 2012 - 13 Season, The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returns to debut the American premiere of a new ballet currently being created. Led by visionary choreographer Boris Eifman, the company continues to push the limits of contemporary ballet and is hailed by the "The Financial Times" as "the dance equivalent of a guilty pleasure." More exceptional International Dance presentations will be announced at a later date.
"Made in Chicago" Dance Series
Paying tribute to the abundant amount of talent within the Chicago dance community, the Auditorium Theatre announces the "Made in Chicago" Dance Series. Performing a special ode to the Windy City, Thodos Dance Chicago performs an innovative rendition of "Devil in the White City" in addition to a mixed repertoire program. Returning to the Auditorium stage after their "jolting" performance during the Auditorium's Music and Movement Festival, Giordano Dance Chicago brings a program of mixed repertoire including their critically acclaimed "Moving Sidewalks," a piece about Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. After stunning audiences with the world premiere of "Havana Blue" in 2013, River North Dance Chicago returns to the Auditorium to showcase their athletic, sensual and dynamic repertoire. Additional Chicago companies will be announced as part of the "Made in Chicago" Dance Series at a later date.
"Made in Chicago" Variety Series
To highlight the wide-range of entertainment that is presented at the Auditorium, the theatre celebrates the diversity and scope with the "Made in Chicago" Variety Series. Also celebrating a significant anniversary, "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah," returns for its 10th year, once again paying tribute to DR. Martin Luther King Jr. The joyful, exuberant and all-American version of Handel's beloved oratorio takes the stage with Chicago's own Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson in January 2015. Auditorium Theatre audiences get a treat when the United States Army Band makes its debut appearance on the Auditorium's landmark stage for a free performance in support of Soldiers and their families. Susan Werner, an Auditorium Theatre favorite, will return for an intimate "On Stage With" performance allowing audiences to experience a performance while sitting on the actual landmark stage. An exciting line-up of some of Chicago's greatest comedians and musicians will be announced at a later date.
"Made in Chicago" Film Series
Paying homage to the classic movies that have been filmed in Chicago, and in many cases in the historic theatre ("The Untouchables" and "Public Enemies"), the Auditorium presents the free "Made in Chicago" Film Series. Chicagoans will have the chance to select the chosen films by voting on their favorites including "Risky Business," "Blues Brothers," "High Fidelity," "The Fugitive," and many more. Voting details and a full list of film choices will be available at a later date.
Auditorium Theatre's 125th Anniversary Creative Engagement Programming
The Auditorium Theatre's Department of Creative Engagement will launch a collection of free or low cost family and community programming for the city to enjoy throughout the 125th Anniversary Season celebration. Kicking off the educational programming, the Auditorium Theatre and Landmarks Illinois partner to present a free year-long series of lectures celebrating the architectural landscape of 1889 in Roosevelt University's Murray-Green Library (430 S Michigan). Other highlights include a free Family Fun Day when the theatre open its doors for a day filled with arts activities and performances for the entire family. Celebrating Honorary Chair of the 125th Anniversary Season First Lady Michelle Obama's fitness agenda "Let's Move!," the Auditorium presents Dance Fit Day urging and inspiring Chicagoans to get moving with dance focused fitness classes featuring Chicago based dance companies. Event dates to be announced.
Roosevelt University, which acquired the Auditorium Building in 1947, will celebrate three anniversaries in 2014 - 15: the 125th Anniversary of the building and theatre, the 70th Anniversary of the University and the 60th Anniversary of the University's merger with the Chicago Musical College, now known as the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA).
The University will celebrate with a lecture series commemorating Roosevelt's restoration of the building and its founding faculty and students. Throughout its 2014-15 Season, CCPA will explore ways to reflect upon the Auditorium's history in programming by its theatre and music conservatories. In addition, its annual musical highlight, "Vivid", in April 2015, will feature music that has played an important part in the history of the Auditorium Theatre. "The Auditorium is clearly one of Chicago's treasures and we are pleased to join with them in celebrating this milestone," said CCPA Dean Henry Fogel.
125th Anniversary Season Sponsors
The Auditorium Theatre is also proud to announce two of the 125th Anniversary Season Sponsors: Lead Foundation Sponsor The Robert R. McCormick Foundation and David D. Hiller, and International Dance Series Sponsor NIB Foundation.
The theatre will be making additional announcements over the next six months with exciting programming and various fundraising initiatives to continue the renovation and refurbishment of this National Landmark to ensure another 125 years as a centerpiece of Chicago.
Fundraising and Restoration Initiatives
Now in its 125th year, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University celebrates its historic landmark status as a true symbol of the City of Chicago. With vast improvements already made, the Theatre continues to build upon the incredible framework that Adler and Sullivan designed 125 years ago. In order to maintain both the structure of the theatre as well as the commitment to the community both educationally and theatrically, a strong fundraising campaign has been set forth to celebrate the 125th Anniversary with a goal of $2 million, which will be split between programming and capital improvements. To date, over $1 million has already been raised!
Ticket and Subscription Information
Subscriptions will go on sale to current Auditorium Theatre Subscribers in February/March of 2014. New subscriptions will go on sale in April of 2014. Tickets to individual performances will be announced later this summer.
For more information, visit AuditoriumTheatre.org/125.