TIVOLI THEATRE 5021 Highland Avenue Downers Grove, IL 60515 Show Info: (630) 968-0219
DIGITAL PROJECTION for state-of-the-art entertainment
September, 2008, the Tivoli is selected by the American Institute of Architechs as one of the 150 best places to
visit in Illinois
large single screen theatre in the western Chicago suburbs
Refurbished stage and dressing rooms
Home of the "West Towns Chorus Christmas Show"
Home of the "After Hours Film Society"
(speciality movies with moderated discussions following the presentation,
2nd and 4th Monday of each month)
HPS4000 7.1 Digital Sound
Equipped with systems for the hearing AND visually impaired for movies and live shows
West Suburban Living Magazine's "Best of the West" for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 (and counting....!!)
Money-back guarantee on movie admission if not satisfied in the first 30 minutes
(A "Classic Cinemas" innovation!)
Free refills on popcorn and soda for all sizes
(Another "Classic Cinemas" innovation)
To one who loves film and its history an old theater exemplifies
motion picture evolution. Through the doors of a picture house can be traced
the cultural, economic and technological growth of movies. In
Downers Grove, a western suburb
of Chicago, stands a theater built in the era of the movie palace.
It supplies just such an example, providing an opportunity to witness the
growth and evolution reaching back over 8 decades into movie history.
Today, Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre is one of the best known landmarks
in the area, and remains one of the most successful single screen theatres in
the entire U.S.! It's beautifully renovated French Renaissance
interior, classic marquee, and state of the
art Digital projection and sound systems makes going to The Tivoli Theatre an
experience in itself! The Chicago Tribune has cited the Tivoli as
the "best movie theatre in the suburbs".
(The picture is of the Tivoli during opening week, December, 1928. The interior
photo is by Leslie Schwartz, November, 2003.)
On December 25, 1928, four thousand people were waiting in line outside of
the Tivoli Theatre anticipating its 1:30PM premier performance.
Children paid fifteen cents and adults paid forty cents (fifty cents on
Sundays and holidays) for admission into the five hundred thousand dollar
theatre. Designed by Chicago architects, Van Guten and Van Guten, the Tivoli
Theatre was operated for its first 20 years by the Balaban and Katz theater
chain, and was only the second theatre in the U.S. designed to play "sound"
movies. Dubbed the "wonder theatre of the western suburbs" the Tivoli boasted
Vitaphone and Movietone capability. A typical showing in these early days
would include a feature length talking picture, three Vitaphone talking
and singing acts, and a Movietone news reel.
The Tivoli is a large theatre built to originally seat
1392 persons. A 2 manual, 7 rank Wurlitzer pipe organ was installed
as well as a stage for live entertainment.
Another interesting feature of the Tivoli is the building
in which it is housed. Opening at the same time as the theatre and all
under the same roof were bowling and billiards, a hotel with dining room,
barber shop and stores. The hotel, bowling alley, stores and barber shop
remain to this day.
The Tivoli succeeded in maintaining its popularity well
into the 1960s. Remodeling occurred
in the 1950s to "modernize", removing the gilded red and gold decor to
cooler blue and green colors. The nine foot jeweled chandeliers were reduced
in size and their "jewels" were removed and seating capacity was reduced
to 1044 to provide more leg room. In 2003 the seats were again replaced with
larger and more comfy seats, along with dedicated places for handicap seating. This
further reduced the seating capacity to a little over 1000 including handicap spaces. Also in 2003
the restrooms were remodeled so that both men's and women's rooms were on the same floor
as the lobby and fully handicap accessible.
The theatre's original ornate marquee was replaced in the 1950's
to make room for a sleeker, more modern marquee.
(The picture shows the Tivoli as it appears today.)
At some time in the 1970s attendance began to decline
because the theatre's ownership at that time allowed the theatre to
deteriorate. In 1978 the Tivoli closed its doors for the first time since
1928 shortly after Tivoli Enterprises, Inc. was formed to own the entire
Tivoli complex. The theatre remained closed for repairs and cleaning for only a matter of weeks before
it was reopened under the new ownership.
The theme of sound runs through the Tivoli's history beginning
with its inception as a "talkies" theatre and continuing today with
continuing upgrades to itís Dolby system from early models to the present Datasat AP200 Digital 7.1 channel system.
The present system
equipment and Klipsch speakers, all designed by one of the country's
foremost sound engineers, representing state-of-the-art in motion picture
multi-channel surround sound. And, true to its history as a cutting edge theatre, the Tivoli
now has the latest in "4K" Digital Projection for astounding picture clarity.
The Tivoli Theatre is the flagship of the
"Classic Cinemas" chain of
theatres in the western Chicago suburbs and outlying areas. "Classic Cinemas"
encompasses theatres from Oak Park on the
east, to Freeport in the far west, to Kankakee in the far south, to Fox Lake
in the far North. A number of the theatres are 1920's & 30's vintage
theatres all lovingly renovated and/or restored, and cared for beautifully.
Tivoli Enterprises, Inc., was founded in 1978 with the
purchase of the entire Tivoli building. Renovation and restoration started
in 1980. In the 1950's a CinemaScope screen was added in front of the
proscenium arch thus covering that beautiful architectural element and
preventing use of the stage. Just one of the many projects completed in the 1980's was
the moving of the screen back behind the proscenium arch to once again
allow orchestra or live entertainment capabilities.
Also added in 1991 was a 3 manual/10 rank Wurlitzer organ that rises from the
orchestra pit. The original organ, also a Wurlitzer, was removed in 1932.
The present organ came from the closed Indiana
Theater and is owned and maintained by CATOE,
the Chicago Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts.Click Here to see the stoplist of this instrument. The organ is played every Friday and Saturday night before movies, and for special
performances by house organists David Rhodes and Tim Charlton.
In 1989 efforts were made by local volunteers to
restore the stage to full operation with the original 1928 equipment. The
original 1928 Frank Adams Major lightboard was completely
with several enhancements made to facilitate the dual role of movie theatre
and playhouse. The dressing rooms (4 plus a green room) in the theatre
basement were restored, complete with makeup tables and excellent lighting.
Additional sound facilities specifically oriented towards the needs of
live theatre were added as well.
Live shows are staffed by members of the Tivoli Stage Crew.
In 2014 a major renovationn of the stage eliminated the unused orchestra pit and extended the stage to the front of what used to be the pit.
This nearly doubled the effective area of the stage and presents many new opportunitiues for live entertainment. In 2017 the stage
lighting began a continuing upgrade to modern LED and moving head fixtures, to enhance the visual experience for rock concerts and
To take a guided online tour behind the scenes of the Tivoli,
The Tivoli, as a live theatre since 1989, has seen hundreds
of live plays oriented towards families and school children, dozens of
classical music concerts, many community events, several "beauty" pageants,
and a variety of theatre organ concerts.