Stage773 announces million-dollar renovations

$1-million facade and interior renovations

starting July 2011

Exterior rendering of Stage773 Renovations - John Morris Architects 2


Noted Theatre Architect John Morris to Head Renovation

Stage773 Artistic Director Brian Posen has unveiled plans for a massive renovation to the 33-year old and newly renamed Stage773 building (1225 W. Belmont). The $1 million renovation, helmed by Architect John Morris of Morris Architect Planners, transforms the exterior and interior of the building into a virtually new space that will be more accommodating for performers and audiences. The project will break ground July 2011 and promises to produce a state-of-the-art home for the numerous itinerant companies in Chicago as well as all of Stage773’s productions. 

Says Posen:

The renovation brings new life to a space that has such an important place in the history of Chicago theater. We know that our audiences are going to be wowed by this new airy and modern theater. The conversion of the West Theater into two new spaces will provide additional opportunities for itinerant companies, a boost in overall space usage and new funding sources for the building. We will continue to offer traditional theater and dance performances in the North and South Theaters, while hosting additional events, like improv, cabaret, stage readings and sketch comedy, in the two new spaces.“

Stage773 Renovations - John Morris Architects

The renovation plans, with renderings currently on display in the theater lobby (shown in the above picture), include:

  • Redesigning the Belmont Avenue façade;
  • Increasing the amount of lobby light and opening the lobby to street side viewing with the addition of floor to ceiling windows along Belmont Avenue;
  • Modernizing and doubling the number of lavatories;
  • Completely overhauling the South Theater, including relocating the stage and seating to allow for easier load-in, better sound proofing and convenient audience access.
  • Transforming the West Theater into two new flexible spaces: a cabaret and a blackbox.
  • Stage 773 Board Chair Laura Michaud expects the renovations to have a marked positive impact. “This will provide Chicago’s theater community with two new, state-of-the-art venues. The increase in performances and audiences that this renovation brings will also benefit businesses in our Lakeview neighborhood,” she said. Executive Director Megan Flanagan added, “For 33 years, this building has played a vital part in the history of Chicago Theater. Once the renovations are complete, Stage773 begins a new chapter in this history as a brand new building, inside and out. We will provide not only performance spaces but also a home that both audiences and artists will visit again and again for high-quality entertainment of all kinds.”

  • About John Morris and Morris Architect Planners

    • John Morris, AIA, has had distinguished careers in both professional theater and architecture. In 1986, he founded the firm James, Morris & Kutyla, where he designed residential and commercial projects. In addition, he headed the firm’s theater design division, leading design teams for several adaptive re-use and new-construction theater projects, including the internationally acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company‘s home in Chicago. Other Morris-designed spaces in Chicago’s Loop and off-Loop theater and performing arts districts include the Noble Fool (now Fox Valley Rep), the Lookingglass Theatre, the Raven Theatre, the Beverly Arts Center theater, the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, and the Old Town School of Folk Music‘s performance space.

    • For ten years prior to 1980, Morris worked on over 200 professional theater productions in Detroit, New York, and Chicago. He owned and operated an independent scenic studio in Chicago, where he designed sets and lighting for local productions. Morris has also worked as scenic artist, master carpenter, stage electrician, rigger, stage manager, and technical director. He has worked with the Goodman Theatre, Meadowbrook Theatre, Apollo Theater Chicago, and Second City, among others. Morris has been artist-in-residence for the Chicago Council on Fine Arts, and he has taught set and lighting design for a summer program at Cranbrook Institute in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

    • Morris Architects Planners is an architectural practice based in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1984 it has provided a broad scope of architectural services with a special emphasis on performing arts projects.


    One Response

    1. […] I spoke with Posen the day before the launch of this year’s Sketchfest. We discussed the festival, cheap beer and the future of Stage 773. […]

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