Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Old Regal Theater Chi Town's Gem
Living near the Apollo Theater in Harlem, I get to see some great performances, sometimes, even artists we know today as legends. Growing up in East Chicago, Indiana my friends and I would trek to the Regal Theater at 47th and South Parkway (now Martin Luther King Drive) on Chicago's Southside sometimes referred to as the "Harlem of Chicago", there we’d catch acts like the Temptations, James Brown or the Miracles. Opened in 1928, the Regal was an architectural gem. The Chicago Defender observed at the time, "It presents one of the most beautiful and amazing spectacles ever exhibited in a public institution." It was accentuated with Spanish Moorish and Eastern architectural elements making it wholly distinctive, bestowing a feeling of opulence on visitors. With over 3,500 leather-covered seats, its imaginative design has been described as carrying theatergoers into an Oriental garden on a moonlit night. For the young impressionable person it was the height of glamour. The big national acts played the Apollo and the Regal back to back during the holiday season, the Apollo's motto is "The place where stars are born" and legends are made but if a star or legend were to continue to shine they had to play the Regal as well. Apollo Shows are great but few theaters can match the old grandeur of ‘Chi’ Town's Old Regal Theater. The original edifice was demolished in 1973.