Lakeview’s deep appreciation for the arts and support for its thriving creative community are just some of the many reasons we love the neighborhood. In anticipation of Optima Lakeview’s upcoming opening, we’re taking a walk through one of the community’s most vibrant sectors, the Belmont Theater District.
A collaboration between the Lakeview and Lakeview East Chambers of Commerce in partnership with local theaters and businesses, the Belmont Theater District functions as a critical supporter of the immense talent that calls the Lakeview community home.
Located in the heart of Lakeview, the theater district pulses with lively energy through more than 20 theaters that line the streets surrounding Belmont Avenue. Its prime location is within walking distance to hundreds of shops and restaurants, making it the perfect spot to spend quality time with friends, family and everyone in between. The historic venues, some of which are nearly a century old, all bring their own unique contributions to the theater district.
With more than 100 live shows every week, visitors can find everything from world-class performances to hole-in-the-wall comedy shows. In the midst of this abundance and variety, the Belmont Theater District — the largest theater district in Chicago — is home to a few showstopping venues and performances that stand out from the rest.
One of the neighborhood’s most beloved venues, the Briar Street Theater has provided a constant source of entertainment since its opening in 1985. The renowned theater has hosted several famous guests, including Sada Thompson and Dorothy Loudon, and displays artwork created by Van Gogh and Picasso. Since 1997, it has been the home to the iconic Blue Man Group act, which continues to delight audiences of all ages with its stage productions that incorporate many kinds of music and art, both popular and obscure.
The Music Box Theater found on North Southport Avenue has been standing for nearly a century, making it one of the oldest theaters in the neighborhood. The venue originally opened as a single-screen theater playing everything from independent films to Spanish and Arabic language films. Today, the ornately-designed theater operates as an art-house and revival cinema and is recognized as the largest full-time operating film theater in Chicago.
Other iconic venues in the community include The Playground Theater, which showcases the Chicago-born art form of improvisation, and Mercury Theater, where melodramatic musicals and plays ranging from Sister Act to Clue are enjoyed by all.
With a shared appreciation for the arts and community, we couldn’t be more excited to become an official member of the Lakeview community and can’t wait to explore more of the charismatic neighborhood.