National Pastime Theater Gets New Space

Jan 23, 2012
National Pastime Theater

After nearly twenty years in the old speakeasy, The National Pastime Theater is closing its doors...and unveiling Chicago's newest theatrical venue in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. With the support of the 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, NPT rediscovered the historic Masonic Hall on the forth floor of the Preston Bradley Center at 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. The New NPT is located in the center of Chicago's most historic, notorious neighborhood and the center of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's deemed Neighborhood Entertainment District.

The New National Pastime Theater space includes a lobby and office suites. NPT's total space is over 6,500 square feet. NPT's performance space is located in the Masonic Hall that Preston Bradley commissioned when he built the elevator building in 1925. The Masonic Hall turned theater alone is well over 3,000 square feet and can seat up to 300 patrons. The room contains twenty-four foot ceilings, period murals, the original maple floors and Neoclassical architecture typical of the period. (Please see a link for the high resolution photographs at the bottom of the page.)

Although Bradley intended the room as a meeting space for the Masons, it was destined to be a theater. Used by the Chicago theater troop The Uptown Players from 1929 through the '30s, the room was then closed until 1991 when the Chicago Actors Ensemble took over the space for their brief tenure until 1996. In addition to the theatrical hall, the floor contains rooms purposed for a multi-use arts center which will include a gallery, studio space and, in the evening, will be used as a small theatrical space. The Preston Bradley Center is on the Federal Register of Historic Places.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, The National Pastime Theater announces company members Keely Haddad-Null and Joe Loffing stepping into the position of Managing Director and Technical Director respectively. Both are committed to building a the space into a center for theatrical entertainment and arts in Uptown for the next twenty years.

The new theatrical venue opens to the public this Valentine's Day for The Beginning of the Big Time, a speakeasy-style Jazz Benefit, featuring live music from Fred Barr's Organ-ized Sound. All proceeds from this benefit go to the restoration of this historic theatrical space.

The inaugural production reunites NPT's Founder and Artistic Director Laurence Bryan and NPT resident playwright Michael Sokoloff in the world premier of A Bend in the Road, a brilliantly skewed take on American western expansion.

2012 marks the fourth anniversary of The National Pastime Theater's annual summer festival Naked July: Art Stripped Down. NPT's Keely Haddad-Null directs the headliner of this year's festival, Jose Rivera's References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. The Living Canvas joins the festival along with a multitude of other acts which will be unveiled.

To close out NPT's 2012 season, the second annual holiday production of Grammy Award winner Terry Abrahamson's Hannukatz The Musical will fill the National Pastime stage with subversive musical delight.

The National Pastime Theater rings in the new year, 2013 with a masquerade ball at The Exact Center of the Universe.