The Rialto Square Theater located in Joliet, IL (U.S.). Originally a vaudeville cinema palace, it currently hosts musicals, plays, concerts, and stand-up comedy. It can also be hired for events. The Neo-Baroque style building is one of the American Institute of Architects’ “150 Great Places in Illinois.
Shiny scagliola columns soar into a heavenly dome filled with beautiful sculptures inside Rialto Square Theater, built in 1926 and restored in the 1980s. The rotunda has a Duchess chandelier. Cherubs fly inside the theater, lined with cream-colored marble. Conrad Schmitt Studios, which restored the Rialto in 1980, cleaned the lobby’s marble walls. The esplanade’s black marble base and the exquisite red, pink, and gray scagliola above the base have been polished.
The Rialto Square Theater was designed by C.W. and George Rapp and debuted on May 24, 1926 with “The Evolution of Joliet”. On October 9, 1928, Lights of New York became Rialto’s first talking picture. The theater got stereophonic sound in 1953.
The building’s design incorporated a four manual, 28 rank Barton theater organ, with the pipework arranged into two chambers that surround the stage. In the orchestra pit, the organ console is positioned on a movable platform. This instrument was extensively restored and is the star of the spring organ spectacular concert.
Miss Mavrich started a campaign to “SAVE THE RIALTO! The group was dubbed the Rialto Square Arts Association. Christo Dragatsis helped Miss Maverich get local, state, and federal backing. Miss Mavrich joined a student campaign coordinated by ROTC Cadet Lt. Colonel Don Probst on the Joliet Township High School East Campus. Mr. Probst enlisted student help to paint the dressing rooms, clean the theater, and usher before the big repair. The 51st Anniversary included “Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays on Love, July 30 and 31, 1977. The Rialto stage included choirs and swing groups from the East, Central, and West Campuses.
The Rialto complex became public property in 1978, and the Joliet Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority was formed to oversee the upcoming repair.
In the penultimate episode of My Fair Brady, Christopher Knight and Adrianne Curry married at the Rialto.
The theater used to house the Rialto School of the Arts, a children’s art, choir, and acting program. Artists used a variety of mediums and equipment. A choir camp was also provided, with a final performance on the famous Rialto Square Theater stage. Our Town Productions, a professional theater company from Downers Grove, IL, also provided workshops for children at the Rialto.
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