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Theater on the Lake Envisioned as Major Player in Cultural Scene

By Paul Biasco | October 14, 2014 6:02am
 A rendering of the exterior of the Theater on the Lake renovations.
A rendering of the exterior of the Theater on the Lake renovations.
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City of Chicago

LINCOLN PARK — The renovation of the Theater on the Lake at Fullerton Avenue is expected to turn the once seasonal venue into a year-round cultural staple along the lakefront.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he hoped the theater would join the ranks of significant institutions once the proposed renovations and new 400-seat performance space were complete.

A new vehicular drop-off area and loading access are included in the plans for the theater, which currently has limited transportation options.

Paul Biasco says the project will alleviate a bottleneck in the area:

The renovations will include new lighting and sound systems as well as dressing rooms, green rooms and event space in the northern half of the pavilion. 

 A rendering of the proposed Theater on the Lake renovations.
A rendering of the proposed Theater on the Lake renovations.
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City of Chicago

"I'm really excited about it. There are lots of theater companies that need homes," said Ald. Michele Smith (43rd). "Having that in Lincoln Park is a great thing for the neighborhood."

The building will also include a glass-enclosed main lobby that will face the lake and a cafe with outdoor seating.

“We are now going to turn what was seasonal, the Theater on the Lake, into part of the entire network of cultural institutions, from the Chicago Theater to the zoo to Peggy Notebaert [Nature Museum]," Emanuel said in a statement. "And, with this rehab of the Theater on the Lake, we will have four great cultural institutions here."

The Park District is reviewing proposals for the project, which is expected to begin next year to coincide with the completion of the Fullerton Revetment project.

The revetment project is scheduled to be complete by summer 2016.

“Back when I was a congressman, I secured funding for Theater on the Lake so that it could put on not just community and amateur shows, but also some of the best productions in the world," Emanuel said.

Theater on the Lake performances were moved to neighborhood parks this past summer and will again be held in parks until the conversion of the theater is complete.

Theater on the Lake will continue to perform in neighborhood parks as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Night Out in the Parks in 2015.

The theater had previously operated as a summer venue, with the season lasting eight weeks followed by a Halloween haunted house.

"The Theater on the Lake will be available for young companies to use, to enjoy, to start their own productions," Emanuel said. "I think these are critical investments."

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