Mercury Theater Chicago will soon be back in business.
After announcing last June that the theater would permanently close due to the financial losses suffered amid COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, executive director L. Walter Stearns announced Wednesday that the theater, a longtime fixture on North Southport Avenue, will reopen under the leadership of newly appointed artistic director Christopher Chase Carter.
Carter is no stranger to the Mercury having previously collaborated on the hit productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Hair.” The dancer-choreographer’s stage credits also include Lyric Opera of Chicago and Porchlight Music Theatre, among others.
“Mercury Theater Chicago will offer a platform for artists of all backgrounds to tell stories unapologetically,” Carter said via statement Wednesday. “We will create art that represents the world in which we live. I am determined to create a safe and fair environment while focused on equality and inclusivity. We look forward to welcoming and supporting a new generation of artists. At Mercury Theater Chicago, we hear you and we see you. I am excited about the evolution of performance and artistry in this ever-changing great city. And I am excited to reveal our ambitious season in the coming months.”
Opened in 1920 as a silent film nickelodeon, the Mercury movie theater would undergo several retail business incarnations in the decades that followed. In 1994, it was transformed into a 300-seat live theater rental venue by veteran theater producer Michael Cullen, who also incorporated a restaurant as part of the renovation of the four-city-lot site. It “reopened” in 2011 under Stearns’ leadership as an Equity-affiliated commercial theater house, having since produced 25 plays including four world premieres. The theater over the years entertained nearly 400,000 audience members.