Athenaeum Theatre

With its grand main stage and intimate studio performance spaces, offices for fourteen creative arts groups, rehearsal rooms, gymnasium and community food pantry, the Athenaeum Theatre is more than a theater. It has served as both a creative hub and collaborative cornerstone of the North Side neighborhood of Lakeview for over 100 years.

On any given night, you're guaranteed to catch an outstanding theater, music, dance or comedy show, ranging from the purely entertaining to the creatively challenging, featuring everyone from up-and-coming stars to established, international sensations, in one of the Athenaeum's five performance spaces.



Chicago's Second-Oldest Off-Loop Theater

Athenaeum Theatre exterior

The completion of the theater was a dream come true for Fr. George Thomas, pastor of the adjacent St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in the early 1900's, who envisioned a community space that offered nightly operatic performances and other entertainment, a welcome diversion for the many local immigrant families, most of whom were German Americans who called this corner of Chicago home. Erected in 1911, the Athenaeum today remains a Lakeview institution and a cultural resource now enjoyed by Chicagoans from every corner of the city and beyond. 



See a Big Act on the Main Stage

Athenaeum Theatre main stage

Though it seats just under a thousand patrons on its main floor and lower & upper balconies, the main stage at the Athenaeum offers a decidedly intimate theater-going experience.

German-American architect Hermann J. Gaul, who apprenticed under noted Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, designed the theater with optimal acoustics and viewing in mind: an upper balcony that extends approximately two-thirds of the way over the main floor means that even a seat in the corner of the upper balcony rests only 95 feet from the stage. The lack of columns or pillars allows patrons to relish unobstructed views and the chance to hear even a hushed whisper onstage.



Or Take In a Studio Show

If you're looking for an even more intimate theater experience, however, you'll want to see a performance in any of the three smaller, studio theaters, each of which seats less than 100 patrons. Five off-Loop theaters are residents in the Athenaeum Studio Theatres, and more than a dozen artistic organizations are housed on the second and third floors above—ensuring the place is always abuzz with creative energy and collaboration. 

Athenaeum Theatre lobby
No matter the show you see, enjoy a glass of wine before or after at the Curtain Call Club, the intimate cabaret space located just off the main lobby. The club is also opening during intermission, when, if you're lucky, an ensemble member might play some show tunes on the baby grand piano.


Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Box Office: 773-935-6875

See a listing of all upcoming shows and plan your trip today.