The Star Plaza Theatre To Close

The  near Chicago – one of the truly legendary music venues of the modern era – will be locking its doors next May in advance of the wrecking ball. 

The 3,400-capacity hall, which opened as the Holiday Star Theatre in 1979 with a concert by Donna Summer, has hosted so many famous names that it’s easier to list the people who didn’t play it. From Bob Hope to Garth Brooks to Jimmy Buffett, practically everyone in entertainment has performed there with the exception of Frank Sinatra.

The razing of the venue, which happens to be one of Pollstar’s very first subscriptions, will be bittersweet for Charlie Blum, longtime president of Star Productions, which manages and books the room.

The downside is the obvious nostalgia of the space; Blum has been associated with the theatre since 1981 when he initially acted as a consultant as VP of marketing for the Nederlander Corporation, then named CEO of Star Productions in 1989, succeeding Bruce White.

The upside is that Star Productions will no longer be anchored to the building.

“The theatre has been a small part of Star Productions’ plans for the last 10 years,” Blum told Pollstar.

Now that the company manages the group Under The Streetlamp, produced four public television specials, and books acts like Frankie Valli and Mel Brooks in venues across the country, the closing of the Star Plaza will provide Star Productions with more freedom.

“This gives us the opportunity to be more aggressive including but not limited to doing partnerships, acquisitions, management, booking of other facilities and national tours,” Blum said. White Lodging Services Corporation has been considering the destruction of the adjacent Radisson Hotel for six months to make way for a new state-of-the-art hotel, meeting and training facility, according to Blum.

The closure of Star Plaza was a recent decision but it was for the same reasons.

“The surveyor’s report suggested the issues we knew we were going to encounter in the hotel would eventually be encountered in the theatre because we sit on the same plot of land,” Blum said. “The sewers, the electrical, the roof, all the structural elements that over time would cause a rebuild. There are plenty of issues on a 47-year-old building.”

As for Sinatra, the chairman was to play the building but accepted the offer to open Chicago’s  in 1994. Blum was compensated with a makeup date six months later but Sinatra died before fulfilling the obligation.

“I still have the offer letter from Frank,” he said.

The catalog of performers who did play the room is enormous: Sammy Davis Jr., Whitney Houston, Christina AguileraBette Midler, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, RebaJay Leno, and Kenny Chesney just to name a few.

Liberace played there for an entire month. Red Skelton collapsed on stage then returned to complete the last two minutes of his routine. Tim McGraw was joined onstage with a surprise duet by someone named Faith Hill.

As for the farewell concerts, it’s too early to tell but Blum would not be surprised if they included Chicago talent or some of the recurring acts like the , which have played the room each of the 37 years of its operation.