Dubbing the theater “The Palace” when it opened in 1921, Chicago architect J.S. Aroner strove to capture a regal ambiance with a patchwork of diverse, though uniformly opulent, building styles. Patrons today can spot baroque, Greco-Roman, and even art-deco designs as they drift through the restored rose, blue, and cream entryway. But in 1959, The Palace was crumbling, and it seemed that future generations would miss out on this aesthetic experience. A concerned citizen by the name of Mrs. Ella Morris swooped in, though, purchasing the building for an undisclosed sum and then selling it back to the city for $1, which she promptly blew on gumballs. Newly named, the theater welcomed such acts as Louis Armstrong, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac in the ensuing decades until a major, two-year overhaul began in 1998. Now restored to its original condition, the venue hosts standup acts, Broadway musicals, big-name concert performances, and fully produced ballets.
Blackhawk boasts a history as flavorful as its food, starting in 1830 when Colonel Isaac Barnes built a crude cabin that would later develop into a multilevel trading post, then into an event hall, and finally into the current bar and grill. The historic restaurant, which was rebuilt in the 1970s after a devastating fire, continues to draw crowds with heaps of old-fashioned hospitality, as well as a monumental menu of fire-grilled pizzas ($9.95–$13.95), pastas ($6.95–$9.95), burgers ($6.95–$9.95), steaks ($12.95-$17.95), salads ($6.95–$8.95), and more. The Wet Burrito ($8.95) forms the saucy spine of Blackhawk's Latin American menu with mounds of meat smothered in colby jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and black olives. The pan-fried walleye ($14.95) is a house specialty, pairing perfectly with frosty suds from the bar.
Recognized by Billboard as one of the top 25 touring artists of the 2000s, Trans-Siberian Orchestra explodes onto the stage with a juggernaut of progressive rock and metal infused with symphonic instrumentation and themes. Surrounded by a spectacle of lasers and pyrotechnics, the band's 2012 tour covers the entirety of its millennial concept album Beethoven's Last Night, a rock opera set on the eve of the composer's death as he battles wits with the devil for control of his soul, his 10th Symphony, and his collection of vintage ear trumpets. The show opens with the methodical triplets of Moonlight Sonata played on a lonesome piano, swelling and slowing before the thunderous arrival of drums and electric guitar. Plumes of flames blast from the stage as the group careens into the evening's centerpiece, "Requiem," a hard-rock interpretation of the Fifth Symphony, grounded by light-bending ax solos and tumbling violins punctuated by a heavenly backing choir.
The Venue at Horseshoe Casino offers big city entertainment from just outside the big city. Revelers pile into the casino's complimentary shuttles and set off for Hammond, where penny slots and game tables await before they file into The Venue. The acts taking the stage could land anywhere on the live spectacle spectrum: Penn & Teller might combine comedy and magic with the sound of only one person talking, MMA fighters could get adrenaline pumping, or Huey Lewis and the News could inspire audience sing-alongs.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.