From Chicago Tribune/Theatre Loop
I've written a lot over the years about the Uptown Theatre at 4814 N. Broadway. I stare at it from the "L" on a regular basis. As its many passionate supporters well know, the venue almost has been renovated on a number of occasions; it's been in the sights of everyone from charlatans to poorly funded enthusiasts to civic-minded business folks who've tried to make it happen but became worn down by the size and difficulty of the job.
Its challenges are well known — terrible state of disrepair, a location outside of downtown, parking issues, massive size, and so on. But its assets — most notably an interior that stirs the soul — are just as worthy of attention.
There have been various rumblings of late involving Jam Productions, which has an interest in the facility, and Clear Channel Entertainment, which is itself in a state of flux but reportedly is chatting with the city about the joint. I don't know what's going to happen. But there's probably more reason to feel optimistic about the Uptown than at any other time in years.
You can thank Madison Square Garden Entertainment for that — even though the owner of the Garden and Radio City took a pass on the Uptown. By taking ownership of the Chicago Theatre, MSG has got the local players worried. They now want to shore up their venue-ownership positions by looking again at the Uptown. And believe me, the amount of money needed to fix the Uptown will need deep corporate pockets.
So when you read that the rise of the Loop theater district has no impact on the neighborhoods, ponder the Uptown for a moment. The red-hot Loop may well be its salvation.
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photo courtesy: CRCC