Now the 2017 Concert for America was incredible; they had all kinds of Broadway stars in it, including the great and one and only Chita Rivera. Two days before that concert, Seth Rudetsky sends me an email and he says, “Hey, would you sing backup for Chita Rivera?” Would I sing backup for Chita Rivera?! The day of the show, we get there, and Chita Rivera was as wonderful and lovely you would hope a star like that which you’ve revered for all your life would be. And she was so gracious. She opened the show, and right before the show she came out of her dressing room — she was all dressed in red, and I swear to god there was a halo over her head.
The David Byrne show American Utopia, which was such an amazing experience. That day I had moved, so I had been lifting heavy boxes all day, and I actually didn’t want to go but I forced myself to show up for it, and every single person on that place was on their feet dancing — and I mean every single person — except me. I was too tired to dance, but that did not stop my enjoyment of the show at all. And in fact, if you asked me, “Name your top three concerts of all time” … this would be up at the top of that list.
I opened an old book my Mother had given me years ago … On the inside cover is a perfect listing of the January shows at the Auditorium, but no year. I pulled up the old shows on your site and noticed a period when the San Carlo Opera was listed (1938?). The specific shows were exactly what my Mother had listed, and even the price! My family will get a kick out of this, since none of us even knew that my Mother was an opera buff!
I’ve been lucky enough through the years to perform at the Auditorium many times with Wilco. One of those times was really memorable for me: it was 2004, I believe … and one of the nights happened to be on Halloween. For that show, we decided to dress up for the holiday for the encore in costumes. I didn’t have a costume, but I remember someone brought a bunch of costumes backstage, and I immediately gravitated toward a large mustard bottle costume, because as my bandmates know, I love mustard — I probably have fifteen different types in the house right now. So I put on that costume, we went out and played “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, and I just remember playing the song and looking up in this beautiful theatre, this historic theatre, and thinking, What am I doing playing here in a mustard costume?! Anyway, that was bizarre to say the least.
I went to see Bob Dylan, but Merle Haggard just blew my mind — this working man, songwriter, he was incredible. Bob Dylan was good, but Merle Haggard stole the show. And the top of all of them is the David Byrne American Utopia Tour: this brilliant amalgam of dance and performance and music. It was extraordinary and it was a very joyful moment.
I have countless fond memories of seeing some of my favorite performers and ensembles onstage at the Auditorium Theatre. Among my favorites are: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Giordano Dance, and Ensemble Español.
However, my favorite memory at #theAud took place on September 30, 2017. That evening I was a member of The Chicago Freedom Singers, a fantastic chorus of local singers that performed with legendary soprano Kathleen Battle for her concert, Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey.
Accompanied by Joel A. Martin, and with strong support from the chorus, Ms. Battle led the enthusiastic audience through a powerful and moving concert of spirituals–songs that were born in the despair of slavery, but remain as a testament to the strength of a people to survive. I had followed Ms. Battle’s career since I was a teenager. I never dreamed that, one day, I would be singing onstage with her. I was also a featured soloist on “Wade In The Water.” It was an unbelievable night at #theAud. One I will always cherish.
Since 2012, I’ve been a part of the “Too Hot To Handel” performance. I remember entering into the Auditorium backstage for dress rehearsal and then the actual performance for three days. Going through so many doors reminded me of the TV show “Get Smart”. As I entered the locker room and connected with the choir members, there was so much excitement because I knew what was about to take place. Day one of the performance was the student Matinee. The Auditorium began to fill up schools by schools. Just to see the students come to hear me sing was joyful. Days two and three the crowds were overwhelming. As the orchestra played their first song, it was so riveting. Next, each soloist, Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Richardson sang with such conviction that it brought the house down, not to mention the sound from the choir conducted by Susanne Acton. Another fond memory was enjoying the sounds from the great pianist, Alvin Waddles as he tickled the ivory. This music permeated throughout the Auditorium. Just to witness this performance in the Auditorium was more than awe-inspiring. The Auditorium is a must-see. There is so much rich architecture and by all means spacious.
My high school classmate and I attending Too Hot to Handel and supporting our classmate, the AMAZING Alfreda Burke! My 98-year-old mom braving the frigid winter to see THTH. Celebrating and supporting classmate Alfreda Burke! The choir and the orchestra/conductor are AMAZING!
Every visit to the Aud is memorable!!! From the beautiful venue to the top-notch talent. Seeing Miles Davis in the late 80s (this century), Robert Plant twice, Chick Corea & Bela Fleck, & David Byrne — how do you pick a favorite? All of them made the trip into Chicago well worth it. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences at the beautiful ATRU but I believe attending the epic play The Color Purple with my family and friends surpasses them all.
For a number of reasons, I think if I chose a favorite, it would be the Mavis Staples 75th birthday gala. It was a star-studded group of some of my favorite musicians… so much of the musical fabric of the city of Chicago. Hearing her sing some of her stuff and hearing other people sing songs that The Staples Singers either did or inspired, that’s the show that really sticks out in my mind for all those reasons. That was one of those rare moments where you know you’re going to remember it for the rest of your life.
The one memory that pops out is The Who in 1994 doing Tommy. I had seen the original cast in London a year or two before. And then when I saw that it was playing at the Auditorium in, I think it was ‘94, I had to go see it again. And it was really good! The acoustics were better than the one I heard in London!
One of my favorite memories actually is from a Hearts to Art reunion … when a camper who has been with us for a very long time came up to me at intermission and he said, “Has there ever been a male camp director?” And I was like, “Yeah, of course there has, why?” And he said, “Because I think I really want your job when I grow up.” And to have a 12-year-old boy who has gone through extreme loss be able to so clearly see this place as his home that in a long-term way he wants to be a part of this community just made me go, “Ok, we are doing something right.” So that was pretty special.
The Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tour that we hosted; those performances were fantastic. And then my other most impressionable memory is during the restoration, when we had the entire theatre scaffolded out so we could work on the arches. And on the proscenium mural, I got to be up there next to the arches… and I remember standing up there right next to the mural thinking, The last time somebody was up here was when the muralist was painting it. And I got to be right there next to it.
One of my favorite memories of Too Hot To Handel was the 1st time I sang (2010) in the Too Hot chorus on the Auditorium Theatre stage. There were so many emotions going through me. To think that I was a part of this musical treasure, to be on the stage with so many talented singers and most of all the opportunity to sing on the same stage that legends performed on. (Jackie Wilson, Elton John, Bette Midler, The Impressions , Booker T. Washington, Beverly Sills,) and to be there with Rodrick Dixon and Alfreda Burke; a dream come true!
Thank you Auditorium Theatre
I have wonderful memories of attending numerous concerts since 1970 and hope to to see many more. Just wanted to express my gratitude for keeping a great venue open for so many years. You’re the best!
It was back in the 80’s when Keith Jarrett performed at the Auditorium. He was one of many artist I would enjoy there in addition to Three Dog Night, Elton John, The Doobie Brothers, Osibisa, Loggins and Messina and the many performances of American Ballet Theatre. Keith needed wine glasses for a party he was hosting back stage after the show. He did not want to use the plastic cups that would be provided for the champagne that would be served. I went home between sound check and the show and wrapped a dozen wine glasses to take for the after show reception. The glasses were a hit and I was recognized for providing stem ware to what would have been lackluster service of champagne in plastic cups. Keith thanked me with tickets and a signed poster I still have. A real nice memory.
Seeing Bob Dylan live… without the band!!!
My favorite concert at the Auditorium was Frank Zappa, who always performed the day after Thanksgiving in Chicago.
My fondest memories of many performances at the Chicago Auditorium lends itself all the way back to the early 80’s as being one of the most splendid of all theatres.
My favorite memory is one when Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino were still alive. My dear friend, Barbara Conklin, had insisted I see “Le Patineur”. It was over the top to which I said, “Let’s go back stage and tell Robert and Gerald how much we enjoyed the ballet.” Bringing our two teenage daughters with us, we found both of the men and were delighted when they appreciated that we brought the girls. Afterwards there was a wine and cheese reception in the hallway of the Auditorium. We were besides ourselves with delight. This truly was a memorable experience for all four of us. Thank you, Auditorium, for all the artistic works you’ve produced. Keeping the arts alive is our responsibility, yours and mine. Gratefully, Marcia H Mally, piano teacher for over 50 years.
I have been member from Joffrey Ballet for about 10 years. In addition, it has been amazing to see the performance of many companies, as well. However, the Nutcracker performance was my first time in the Auditorium Theater, is been such a great memory to me. Thank you for excellent art companies that perform in this beautiful place!
I saw Janis Joplin on November 23, 1969.
My then pregnant older sister took me to the Janis Joplin Concert as part of my 13th birthday present – we had tickets that cost $5.50 each – Great show – Janis sang with so much emotion –
I will never forget that show!
I also saw the Who (1970 and 1971) CSN&Y (1970) , 3 Dog Night, Jefferson Airplane, Rush (met Alex Lifeson/Geddy Lee after the show) and many other great rock performances in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.
Beautiful Theatre, great sound, great performers – that live on in my memory approximately 50 years after seeing these shows.
In the late 1960’s The Auditorium Theatre was renovated. I was a high school drama student. Several area high schools were invited to participated in a one-act play competition on stage in this gorgeous theatre. It was the thrill of a lifetime! I clearly remember looking out and seeing the rows and rows of incandescent lights. The acoustics are a marvel. The theatre is gorgeous from the audience seating , however, it is spectacular from the stage!
Receiving my degree from Roosevelt University and having my family in the boxes and onstage for the event.
Another event was the onstage benefit for the Auditorium, which was a memorable night in the beautiful venue.
Well, we have seen wonderful ballets and theater at the Auditorium Theater, but we graduated from Roosevelt University from the Auditorium’s stage in 1968. We also married in 1968.
I worked for Andy Frain from 1966-1970. Did a lot of concerts there and loved it. No standing room, every seat clearly marked, and everyone usually showed up before the show, so I got to enjoy whoever was performing. And acoustically perfect, and a wonderful life experience.
I worked for Sammy Davis Jr when he was at the Auditorium Theatre in Golden Boy. I worked with his advance rep, helped fill the group sales orders and, helped answer Sammy’s fan mail. After the show closed, I stayed on at the theater working with group sales. I loved sitting in on many rehearsals and sound checks, most memorably The Joffrey Ballet, Diane Carroll, Jerry Lewis to name a few. What a treat! I’m attaching a picture of Sammy and me and also an autographed publicity photo.
Derek and the Dominos, 11-25-70. Eric Clapton’s new band, before the ”Layla” album came out. Opening act was some new guy named Elton John. $ 6.50 at the door. Beautiful theater, great sound, what a show!
In 1990 something my mom surprised us with Phantom of the Opera tickets! We had great seats just in front of the railing in the small area above the dress circle, stage right. I’ll never forget the opening scene, especially after seeing Phantom a few years back at another Chicago theater, and the chandelier being lifted above us, then later “crashing” down to the stage to replicate the doomed fate. The whole production was phenomenal, and one other memorable scene was as he’s taking her down to the catacombs the stairs and scenery were moving with them to simulate their escape downwards. It was AMAZING, and so much more impressive at the Auditorium Theatre!
After nearly a half-century, there’s some uncertainty as to which specific Who concert we attended during my 20th birthday week in August of 1971. The band played three concerts on consecutive days. Jo, my then-girlfriend, and now-wife of 47 years, and I were all but penniless at that point, but had scraped enough cash together to afford two passes to a remote section of the beautiful Auditorium Theater. We had enough left over to buy two bus tickets back to the Illinois Valley, but not enough to get to Chicago. So, we did the only logical thing… we hitchhiked. The only eventful part of our trip to the City was when a semi-truck driver picked us up. He had me climb back into the sleeper, and directed Jo to the passenger seat. When I got turned around, I immediately noticed a large revolver that looked a lot like a Colt Peacemaker lying on the console next to him, within his easy reach. I assumed that it was loaded, ready to fire, and he likely knew how to operate it. As you might imagine, it made for a rather tense ride… during which he tried to persuade Jo to ditch me, and accept employment as his much-needed “bookkeeper”. Ever-the polite Southern belle, Jo sweetly, and repeatedly declined his generous offer. I’m very glad she did, because it didn’t seem like I was in an advantageous position to object much to his negotiations. Before he actually let us out, I was unsure if our peaceful exit from the cab would be permitted. Of course, there was the obvious option of my forced departure, and Jo’s mandatory accompaniment of his continued travels. Fortunately, we climbed down without incident, thanking him openly for the assistance, and silently for sparing our lives.
When we entered the theater, I realized that we were underdressed for the venue… the glorious wonderland of Adler and Sullivan’s formal imagination. It didn’t take long though, to get comfortable. We were in good company in faded bell-bottom jeans, and well-worn, unbuttoned flannel shirts. Our tickets placed us somewhere near the rear of the second balcony, which seemed like a mile away until the band kicked-off Summertime Blues. Every nook and cranny of the space was instantly filled with booming sound, and the crowd was wildly energized from that point on. The only relatively quiet times came during soft segments of Won’t Get Fooled Again, See Me, Feel Me, and Behind Blue Eyes… which floated out over the audience on a sea of deep blue lighting that swallowed the crowd, whole. It was fitting that the concert concluded with Magic Bus, because… to the bus station we were headed. However, the magic dust power of our “Who in the Auditorium” experience significantly dissolved before we got there. We turned into pumpkins when we understood that we’d missed the last departure for home, and would have to wait until morning.
We had no choice but to spend the night in The Loop, with no lodging and no clue. In retrospect, we wisely decided that it would be safest to stay in a well-lighted area. So, we chose to huddle, and cuddle on a bench under the “warmly inviting” Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza. It was a warm, dry night, and we were comfortable, if not a little apprehensive. At one point, a rather large gentleman approached us to chat. He explained that he and a group of his good friends were camping in Grant Park, and wondered if we’d like to join the party. As I said, we had no clue, but I’d been to Grant Park a time or two, and had never seen any campers. Seemed far-fetched. Now, if he had claimed that they were having a midnight badminton tournament, I might have been tempted, but I wasn’t falling for it. We politely declined, but the guy was persistent. He stayed with us for hours, trying desperately to change our minds. We didn’t budge from the bench until he agreed to settle for a short stroll to an all-night diner, where we bought him a cup of coffee. By then, it was beginning to get light, and I got the bright idea that my Southern Lady needed to see the sun come up over the Lake Michigan. So, after a very long day, and an even longer night, I persuaded her to hike from Daley Plaza to the beach, the equivalent of about nine blocks (one way). By the time we got there, the poor thing was exhausted. “Yeah, but LOOK at that sunrise!”, I exclaimed. “Okay, let’s head back to the bus station.”
Our ride home might best be described as a very welcome, gently rockin’ n rollin’ nap… or, we passed out like sedated possums. In spite of my youthful foolishness, she MARRIED me, and we have this great memory to share with our children, grandchildren, and to cherish for the rest of our lives. Happy 130th Birthday, Auditorium Theater!
For a short period of time the Auditorium Theater hosted Rock Acts.
Saw the Raspberries open for Blue Oyster Cult.
I don’t know who made that lineup but it didn’t go well for the Raspberries.
I remember that someone sitting in a box seat unscrewed on of the light bulbs and threw it on stage at the Raspberries drummers. They then walked off.
I think this show might have ended the Rock Era there.
I also saw Frank Zappa there as well as Paco De Lucia, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin in their acoustic guitar show.
Paco blew the other two away.
I also remember playing in the Bogan HS Band for a graduation there.
My High School Band Master told us about the perfect acoustics of the Auditorium Theater. How a stage whisper could be heard it the last row of the top balcony.
My very first visit to the Auditorium was in June of 1984 for my graduation ceremony from Columbia College Chicago. Since then I have seen several amazing concerts and performances. But as a concert photographer I feel particularly honored to capture artists in these hallowed walls. David Byrne 2018 are amongst my most cherished photos.
Too many to have just one… 1979 Paul Simon Concert… early 80s taking student groups from my Chicago History classes for building and theater tours, given by Roosevelt U. employee Harry_____? 1983, graduating from RU with my masters degree. 1980s seeing Phantom…1989 attending the 100th Anniversary weekend workshop with a lengthy tour of the building and theater…1990s attending the theater open house and wandering around for several hours… finding the door to the stage from the main stairway on the Michigan Ave. side and the 7th floor door from RU to the theater balcony… I could go on forever!!!!
My first year in the NYC Ballet was memorable for many reasons, one was being able to dance with the company at the reopening of the gorgeous Auditorium Theater in Chicago. The ballet was JEWELS, and even though I was in the last ballet, DIAMONDS, I was able to sneak out into the theater to watch the first two ballets, EMERALDS, and RUBIES, from the front. I’d throw on an overcoat hiding my costume, wait for the lights to go down (because I was already wearing full make-up) and dash out to the first balcony where I found a place to stand. Then after the Pas De Deux in DIAMONDS, I’d run like crazy just in time to get in line for the final Polonaise…luckily I was next to last couple out. In those more innocent times they did not lock the door from the stage to the audience. I’m sure they do now. The photo is of me and Patricia McBride in RUBIES
Went to many shows there in the early Seventies. So many memories. It’s hard to pick a favorite. First show: Leon Russell. 71. It was shortly after the Mad Dogs and Englishman tour. Basically the same band without Joe Cocker. The rumor was that Russell just wanted to keep touring. Amazing night.
The Faces. 71. Deep Purple opened. Loudest I had heard at that time. (Maybe ever?) Faces came out and acted so drunk that I had doubts they would make it through the show. On the third song Rod threw the microphone stand up in the air and caught it on the beat. They launched into “You’re My Girl” and there was no turning back. Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane tried to trip Rod with the wires from their guitars. (Remember those?) They said it was the last night of their American tour and passed out bottles of Dom Perignon to the audience from the stage!
The Who. 71. What can I say? Really impossible to describe how great they were live.
At least four Mothers of Invention shows including two in one night. I remember Zappa’s beady eyes staring the audience down during his solos.
Alice Cooper. 72? I had a seat very close to the stage. At the end, when he started throwing the torn posters out to the crowd there was a surge to the front and I got knocked on my ass! (I’m 6’3” 210.) I had seen him before and knew it was going to happen, but the force of the crowd still bowled me over and knocked my glasses off!
Among other memories: B.B. King. Johnny Winter. Wishbone Ash. Robin Trower. ELP. Yes. Grateful Dead. Genesis. J. Geils. I’m sure there’s more.
Certainly one of my favorite venues ever. Favorite show? Any Mothers of Invention show. Especially on Mother’s Day. They passed out “Mother’s Day cards!”
On September 23,1971 my band Mountain Bus opened up for the English rock band Black Sabbath on the Auditorium stage. Having gone to many shows there, it was a thrill to play on the same stage as many of my favorite bands.
One more memory: in March 1983, I helped publicize Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo when the New York drag dance company came to Chicago to perform at the Auditorium. We got great writeups in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, and other papers. Even more exciting, I arranged for the Trocks to meet the great Chicago dance critic/historian Ann Barzel, who gave the company a private tour of her dance memorabilia collection at the Newberry Library. See attached newspaper reviews/features.
One more memory of an Auditorium Theatre experience: in May 1988, the English Shakespeare Company’s production “The Wars of the Roses,” a day-long marathon performance of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” “Henry IV,” “Henry V,” “Henry VI,” and “Richard III,” presented as part of the Chicago International Theatre Festival. Click here to read more from the Chicago Reader.
One more memory of a favorite performance: On Feb. 28, 1988, the Auditorium hosted a concert conducted by Maurice Peress, leading his own “1988 Palais Royal Orchestra” in a re-creation of the “Experiment in Modern Music” concert by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra at New York’s Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924. The program included George Gershwin’s landmark classical-jazz fusion “Rhapsody in Blue,” with Dick Hyman as piano soloist. The concert was produced by Sarah Zelzer, widow of the Chicago music impresario Harry Zelzer. Click here to read more from the Chicago Reader.
Oh my god, so many! I vividly remember the excitement surrounding the Auditorium’s reopening in 1967. I vividly remember seeing many great performances there, including: the Joffrey Ballet in their signature rock ballets “Astarte” and “Trinity”; New York City Ballet in Balanchine’s “Jewels”; the soul group Ashford & Simpson, with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson dancing around waving hankies while singing “Pull Out Your Handkerchiefs”; Joni Mitchell on her “Court and Spark” tour; the national tour of the Broadway hit “Crazy for You”; the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s great Judith Jamison performing the solo ballet “Cry”; . . .
BUT — My favorite memory of seeing a show there is viewing the 1971 touring production of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s acrobatic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Peter Brook. The sprawling Auditorium stage was the only venue fit to showcase that luminous staging of Shakespeare’s comedy, with its gleaming white set inspired by a handball court. The cast of the touring production included Ben Kingsley, Frances de la Tour, Alan Howard, Sara Kestelman, and . . . Patrick Stewart as Snout.
I’ve also had the privilege to appear on the Auditorium stage as a singer in several Columbia College Chicago graduation ceremonies (I teach at Columbia), singing in the vocal ensemble assembled by the college’s late longtime Music Dept. chair, William Russo, alongside fellow vocalists Carol LoVerde, Bobbi Wilsyn, Aisha de Haas, and H.E. Baccus. My favorite memory in that category is the 1983 graduation, whose commencement speaker and honorary doctorate recipient was — Mayor Harold Washington, who had just been elected mayor a little more than a month before. Washington was introduced by Pulitzer Prize winning poet and former faculty member Gwendolyn Brooks. Here’s a picture of Washington receiving his doctorate from Columbia College president Mike Alexandroff.
On December 19th, 2009, I walked across the stage at the Auditorium Theatre to receive my Master’s degree in education from Roosevelt University. I will always cherish this day because it was the day I became an educator. Since then I have worked in special education educating students with some of the most significant needs. Being an educator is who I am and the Auditorium Theatre is a place I will always remember as playing a part in my journey.
Frank Zappa and the mother’s of invention reunion or my high school graduation on the stage in 1972or was it when we snuck into the gallery from the Roosevelt dorm to see the original Allman Brothers Band.
I have a couple of memories. The first is King Crimson in 1974. It was a show that changed a lot in how I viewed and listened to music. They were mesmerizing.
My favorite, though, is probably the Mott the Hoople show in May 1974. The original bill was Mott the Hoople and Queen. Queen had cancelled a couple days earlier, without any real publicity. Kansas was brought in as the unannounced replacement. We came in during the first song, and the audience wasn’t happy. They had come to see Queen (so had I). After the second song, I think it was Robbie Steinhardt who came up to the mic, and said, “We didn’t know we were supposed to be here, either. If we had known you wanted Queen, I’d have worn glittered underwear”. The audience were theirs, and the band was incredible. Then, Mott came on. They played a somewhat short set, but they were everything you wanted from Mott. It’s one of my all-time favorite concerts.
Probably saw 90% of the rock concerts there between 1971 -74 wish I could remember them all. Just to list a few King Crimson Robin Trower Allman Brothers Band Jefferson Airplane Pink Floyd Hawkwind Deep Purple
I worked for JAM Productions starting in ’77, and saw MANY shows there. The first one was Bruce Springsteen 9/25/75 my first day of classes as a Northwestern U. freshman. Many years later saw Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, about ten days apart. I have a somewhat blue story from a Paul Anka show there as well, but have fond memories of The Band, Leif Garrett, Weather Report, Eurhythmics, Elton John (red Piano Tour), Ashford and Simpson, The Time and many more.
My most memorable moment on 2003 my graduation 👩🎓
My dad telling me about it having a bowling alley on stage.
Re-opening night. 1967? A Midsummer’s Night Dream with New York City Ballet. I think that’s correct, but the fact that I remember anything at all after 50-some years, speaks to the fact that it was a spectacular evening for me. I specifically remember the beautiful painting of Spring. I still marvel at the beauty of the Auditorium Theatre.
I previously had taken my daughter & my niece to see the Nutcracker. Which was simply Wow , fantastic!
When I become a member of the Too Hot Too Handel family and sang in the chorus for the 1st. time 15 years ago, what a difference that had made in my life and that of family & friends✌🏼😉👍🏼.