57 Best Performing Arts Venues in Chicago, Illinois

Joffrey Ballet

Chicago Loop Fodor's choice

Fine-tuned performances, such as the glittering production of The Nutcracker, make this Chicago's premier classical-dance company. The Joffrey performed at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University for nearly two decades but took up residence with the Lyric Opera in 2021.


Far North Side Fodor's choice

Neo-Futurists perform their long-running, late-night hit The Infinite Wrench in a ramshackle second-floor space in Andersonville. The piece is a series of 30 ever-changing plays performed in 60 minutes; the order of the plays is chosen by the audience.

Redmoon Theater

Pilsen Fodor's choice

Telling imaginative, almost magical stories is Redmoon Theater's specialty. The company's “spectacles” take a number of forms but can best be described as madcap theater with a twist—imagine a mix of live music, puppetry, pageantry, and visual art. Some are staged outdoors, others inside a converted Pilsen warehouse called Spectacle Hall.

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Lincoln Park Fodor's choice

Steppenwolf's alumni roster speaks for itself: John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Joan Allen, and Laurie Metcalf all honed their chops with this troupe. The company's trademark cutting-edge acting style and consistently successful productions have won national acclaim. An ultramodern 2021 expansion added a 400-seat theater in the round, an education center, and two bars to the company’s already-impressive assets.

Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Formed in 1872, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago is one of the country's oldest oratorio societies. Don't miss the annual Handel's Messiah if you're here in December. Otherwise, the group performs choral classics throughout the year at area churches.

Athenaeum Theatre


The 1,000-seat Athenaeum Theatre, adjacent to St. Alphonsus Church, stages comedy, dance, children's theater performances, and more.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

South Loop

Designed by notable architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the 4,300-seat, Romanesque Revival–style Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University opened in 1899 as an opera house and later became a National Historic Landmark. Known for its perfect acoustics and excellent sight lines, the ornate theater features marble mosaics, dramatic gilded ceiling arches, and intricate murals. (Also of note: This was one of the first public buildings to have electric lighting and air-conditioning.)

Bella Voce

Bella Voce—"beautiful voices," indeed. Formerly known as His Majestie's Clerkes, the 20-person a cappella group performs a variety of sacred and secular music, including everything from early music to works by living composers. Concerts are often held in churches, providing a powerful acoustical and visual accompaniment to the music.

Black Ensemble Theater

Far North Side

The Black Ensemble Theater has a penchant for long-running musicals based on popular African American icons. Founder and executive producer Jackie Taylor has written and directed such hits as The Jackie Wilson Story and The Other Cinderella.

Briar Street Theatre


Originally built as a horse stable for Marshall Field, Briar Street Theatre is the spot to catch the long-running hit Blue Man Group.

Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place

Near North Side

Formerly known as Drury Lane, the 550-seat theater in Water Tower Place was taken over in 2010 by the Broadway in Chicago group, which modernized the space and reopened it as the Broadway Playhouse. Its inaugural season included a new production of hometown scribe Studs Terkel's Working.

Cadillac Palace Theatre

Chicago Loop

Designed by famed theater architects the Rapp Brothers, the Cadillac Palace opened to much fanfare in 1926. The ornate, gilded interior was inspired by the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau; restored to its original opulence in 1999, the 2,500-seat space now hosts a wide range of traveling productions.

Chicago Children's Choir

A performance by the Chicago Children's Choir is the closest thing we can imagine to hearing angels sing. Its members—ages eight to 18—are culled from a broad spectrum of racial, ethnic, and economic groups. Most concerts are scheduled during the holiday season and in May.

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Loop

This block-long landmark building houses several performance spaces. The most magnificent is the top-floor Preston Bradley Hall, with its Tiffany glass dome and ornately detailed white marble walls.

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Chicago Opera Theater

Chicago Loop

This company shrugs off esoteric notions of opera, preferring to make productions that are accessible to aficionados and novices alike. From innovative versions of traditional favorites to important lesser-known works, the emphasis is on both theatrical and musical aspects. Fear not—performances are sung in English or in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage. They alternate between the Harris Theater in Millennium Park and the Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Near North Side

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater devotes its considerable talents to keeping the Bard's flame alive, and also showcases new international dramas and musicals. It has three theaters of varying sizes in its Navy Pier complex, so there's almost always something on.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Loop

Under the direction of internationally celebrated conductor Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is a musical tour de force. It has two award-winning, in-house composers and an annual calendar with 150-plus performances. The impressive roster includes regular concerts as well as special themed series dedicated to classical, chamber, and children's concerts. The season runs from September through June. Tickets are sometimes scarce, but they do become available; call or check the website for status updates.

CIBC Theatre

Chicago Loop

After debuting as the Majestic in 1906, this 1,800-seat theater became a major stop on the vaudeville circuit. Today, after a series of name changes (the current naming-rights holder is a Canadian bank), the plush, red-and-gold venue hosts Broadway in Chicago performances such as Jersey Boys, The Book of Mormon, and other traveling shows.

City Lit Theater


City Lit Theater Company produces notable staged readings and full productions of famous literary works—by the likes of Henry James, Alice Walker, and Raymond Carver—as well as original material with a literary bent.


Wicker Park

Actors, artists, and musicians share the stage in Collaboraction's experimental free-for-alls. In recent seasons, the company has refocused its mission on social justice, with original performances taking on issues specific to Chicago communities.

Constellation/Links Hall

A converted warehouse on Western Avenue is home to an eclectic mix of adventurous performance, ranging from genre-fluid jazz and new music to small, scrappy dance troupes to cutting-edge solo performance art.

Court Theatre

Hyde Park
This professional theater on the campus of the University of Chicago has a mission of producing "classic theater," but it's expanded the definition of that term well beyond Shakespeare and the Greeks. You'll find those here—and done exceptionally well—but Court also produces stunning reinventions of musicals, works by August Wilson and Pearl Cleage that have helped it tap into Hyde Park's largely black population, and the occasional new play dealing in classical themes.

Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

South Loop

Thought-provoking fare with leading national and international contemporary-dance artists is presented by the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.


Lincoln Park

Film buffs shouldn't leave Lincoln Park without visiting this long-running nonprofit movie theater, which presents an eclectic selection of films from around the world. Each year, Facets also hosts the Academy Award--qualifying Chicago International Children's Film Festival: the massive (think upward of 250 screenings) event showcases the best in culturally diverse, value-affirming new cinema for kids and offers young viewers opportunities to chat with filmmakers.

1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL, 60614, USA
Performing Art Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.--Thurs.

Gene Siskel Film Center

Chicago Loop

New releases from around the globe and revivals of cinematic classics are shown at the Gene Siskel Film Center; the best part is that filmmakers often make appearances at screenings.

Goodman Theatre

Chicago Loop

Founded in 1925, the city's oldest and largest nonprofit theater presents an exceptional repertoire of plays each year featuring local and national performers. Works by August Wilson and David Mamet have premiered here, and the Goodman's annual holiday staging of A Christmas Carol is a Chicago tradition.