Auditorium Theatre Celebrates 50 Years Since Reopening

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Above: Roosevelt’s Auditorium Theatre 50 years ago.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

The landmark Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University celebrated the 50th anniversary of its grand reopening — marking 50 years of continuous operation — on Nov. 12 with its annual gala and an unforgettable evening of dance performances.

Roosevelt’s Auditorium Theatre 50 years ago.

Lead dancers from companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Dutch National Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, New York City Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, MOMIX, Parsons Dance, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and The Washington Ballet took the stage for “A Golden Celebration of Dance,” honoring the theatre’s grand reopening in fall 1967.

Closed to the public and in disrepair for more than 25 years beginning in 1941, the theatre was converted for use as a servicemen’s center in World War II, during which time the stage was used as a bowling alley. After World War II ended, the theatre closed down entirely.

Although Roosevelt acquired the Auditorium Building in 1946, its acoustically perfect theatre remained shuttered for another two decades. In 1959, Roosevelt’s Board of Trustees created the Auditorium Theatre Council, headed by Trustee Beatrice Spachner, to raise money for and oversee the restoration of the theatre.

The theatre reopened on Oct. 31, 1967 with a performance of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the New York City Ballet.

At the time, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley declared the theatre a “wellspring of the arts — in literature, theatre and music.”

Suzanne Farrell and Edward Villella, the principal New York City Ballet dancers who performed on that historic evening in 1967, served as honorary co-chairs for the Auditorium Theatre’s annual gala, which took place at the Standard Club before the performance. During the gala, Sonia Florian of the NIB Foundation received the second annual Adler and Sullivan Award for her commitment to the performing arts.

“This event was a wonderful way to commemorate the Auditorium Theatre’s legacy since its grand reopening in 1967,” said Auditorium Theatre CEO Tania Castroverde Moskalenko. “We are looking forward to serving the Chicago community as the ‘Theatre for the People’ for many years to come.”

The Auditorium Theatre’s 2017-18 season continues with Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah in January and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in March. For a full list of performances, visit

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