Chicago's Oriental Theatre to be renamed for James M. Nederlander
Broadway in Chicago announced plans Tuesday to rename Chicago's Oriental Theatre as the James M. Nederlander Theatre.
Nederlander, a Detroit native who died in 2016 at the age of 94, was a theatrical impresario who built his family business into one of the largest private live entertainment companies in the world. The Nederlander Organization owns nine Broadway theaters, has produced hundreds of plays and musicals and was a founder of the local theatrical producing company Broadway in Chicago in 2000.
"In 1954, James M. Nederlander had faith in Chicago as a long-run theater town and has supported Chicago getting the best of Broadway since then," said Broadway in Chicago President Lou Raizin in a statement. "Renaming the theater gives us a way to say thank you and to acknowledge the extraordinary difference he made for Chicago in his lifetime."
The Oriental Theatre opened in 1926 as a lavish vaudeville/movie palace designed by architects George and Cornelius Rapp. In 1998, the venue was renovated and reopened by the Canadian theatrical company Livent as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre. After Livent's Chapter 11 bankruptcy later that year, the Oriental was sold to SFX Entertainment (later Live Nation) and then to the Nederlander Organization in 2007. The Ford name was quietly dropped in 2010, though the corporate signage remained in place.
The new Nederlander marquee will be unveiled to coincide with the touring arrival of the Tony Award-winning musical "Dear Evan Hansen" in February.