The Palace Theatre opened at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle Streets in Chicago on October 4, 1926. Designed by legendary theatre architects the Rapp Brothers, the theatre's interior featured a splendor previously unseen in Chicago — a breathtaking vision inspired by the palaces of Fontainebleau and Versailles. The theatre's distinctive characteristics included a lobby richly appointed in huge decorative mirrors and breche violet and white marble, which swept majestically through a succession of lobbies and foyers; great wall surfaces enhanced with gold leaf and wood decorations; and 2,500 plush, roomy seats. The theatre was originally opened as the flagship of vaudeville's legendary Orpheum Circuit, and among the stars believed to have played the Palace in its early years are Jimmy Durante, Mae West, Jack Benny, Sophie Tucker and Bob Hope.
Despite the popularity of such acts, audiences in the late 1920s and early 1930s had begun to lose interest in vaudeville, and in 1931 the theatre was converted into a movie palace, initially presenting films with live stage shows, and then eventually showing only movies. When movie audiences began staying at home to watch television in the 1950s, the theatre managers, hoping to attract larger audiences, booked occasional Broadway shows into the theatre, such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" starring Carol Channing.
During the late 1950s, the Palace was fitted with special equipment to show films in Cinerama. During the mid-1970s, the management of the Bismarck Hotel transformed the auditorium into a banquet hall by removing the seats on the orchestra level and bringing the floor flush with the stage. In 1984, the theatre, now renamed the Bismarck Theatre, was converted into a rock venue. Sporadically used during the 1990s, the venue was completely restored and renovated during 1999, and renamed the Cadillac Palace.
The renovated theatre was reopened during the fall of 1999, with the premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida." Since then, the Cadillac palace has been the home to several pre-Broadway hits including "The Producers - The New Mel Brooks Musical" and "Mamma Mia!” as well as long-run engagements of "Disney's The Lion King" and “Oprah Winfrey presents The Color Purple.”
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