Chicago >Regal Theater
Great Vintage Theatre.
A little known fact about the New Regal (former Avalon) Theatre:
Shortly after it's opening, the theatre owners summoned the theatre's architect, John Eberson, to observe a phenomenon that was occuring in the audience watching the show.
From the balcony, Mr. Eberson was shown an almost steady procession of theatre patrons leaving their seats and headed for the restrooms.
It seems that a bronze fountain, with running water, in one of the wall arches on the left side of the theatre, was giving people the "urge" to visit the necessary rooms.
A little tinkering with the plumbing of the fountain cured this urge, and the theatre patrons thence forth remained in their seats for the majority of the show.
When I visited the theatre in 1971, the bronze fountain was still in it's niche on the left wall. I ahven't been back to the theatre since its restoration. I wonder if it's still there?
This theater is a vestige of the days when great vaudeville theaters anchored the city's neighborhoods..
From a distance you might mistake the dome of the New Regal Theatre for that of an Islamic mosque, but it's actually a theater. The interior continues the Moorish theme with a bejeweled Oriental rug mosaic on the lobby ceiling and the decorative minarets in the auditorium. Chips, candy and pop are on sale during every production.
Today, the 2,277-seat New Regal hosts a variety of live concerts, plays, comedy showcases and touring shows of interest especially to African-American audiences. The New Regal Theatre Foundation, which administers the space, seeks to instill pride and positive values through children's programs that include matinee performances, a summer performance series and a young writers workshop.
Originally built in the 1920s as the Avalon, it was renamed to take up the legacy of the legendary Regal Theater. In its heyday, the old Regal's stage was graced by all the great entertainers of the day, including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Josephine Baker. Community leaders sought to duplicate the Regal as a cultural and entertainment center in the African-American community, giving the theater a $4.5-million overhaul in 1987 and christening it the New Regal Theatre.
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