About Our Theatre
A brief history
Welcome to Chicago Street Theatre, a vibrant hub of artistic excellence with a rich history that spans over six decades. Originally founded in 1955 as the Valparaiso Little Theatre Guild, we have grown and evolved, embracing our diverse community and fostering a love for the arts. From our humble beginnings as a PTA group raising funds for band uniforms to becoming an internationally acclaimed theater, we have never lost sight of our mission to challenge and inspire our audiences. Today, we offer a wide range of performances, from cutting-edge dramas to family-friendly shows, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Join us as we continue to celebrate our illustrious past while eagerly anticipating the future of Chicago Street Theatre.
From a PTA group raising money for band uniforms, sprung an amateur theatre company known as The Valparaiso Little Theatre Guild. Their first production, Papa is All, opens in August at the Memorial Opera House. Tickets were $1.00.
Realizing their membership is far-reaching, the name is changed to Community Theatre Guild (CTG) and a lease for the Memorial Opera House is signed.
CTG launched fund-raiser to raise $15,000 for new seating. The county commissioners covered cost of new flooring. A bronze plaque was created to honor all donors and installed in the lobby, Two prominent names were among the donors, Beulah Bondi, who had appeared on the stage as a child and Lowell Thomas, newscaster, VU alumni.
Beulah Bondi visits and attends performance of Looking Glass Land, an original musical fantasy by CTG member Don Shirer.
CTG is asked to bring their production of A Christmas Carol to the Holiday Star in Merrillville for a weekend.
After getting approval from the Porter Co. Commissioners, CTG member Robert Bennett files the necessary documents to get the Porter County Memorial Hall, aka Memorial Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places. Registration was finalized 5/24/84.
CTG hosts the annual Indiana Community Theatre League Festival. Theatres from all over the state compete to represent Indiana at the upcoming regional festival. CTG’s production of The Children’s Hour takes top honors.
CTG is asked to represent the U.S. at the Glasgow International Theatre Festival. 31 members crossed the pond to Scotland and came home with Best Show and Best Actor awards for their production of The Boys Next Door.
Memorial Opera House Foundation is formed to raise money for needed renovations in anticipation of the 100th anniversary, and to create a perpetual maintenance fund for future needs.
CTG hosts a huge celebration to honor the 100 year anniversary of the Memorial Opera House.
In the middle of our 41st season, major renovations are scheduled to begin. We vacate the Memorial Opera House at the end of the year and ultimately, lose our lease. We became a gypsy troupe performing and hosting 25 productions at 5 different locations, primarily at a rented space dubbed “CTG’s Alley Studio.”
CTG purchases the Assembly of God Church on Chicago Street. The building is renamed and we begin doing business as Chicago Street Theatre. First production, Greater Tuna, opens April, 1998.
Chicago Street presents the World Premier production of A Christmas Story. Adapted for the stage by Phil Grecian.
We launch the first major renovation resulting in a new lobby, bathrooms, tech booth and stadium seating. There is no longer a bad seat in the house! The education department is formalized with the hiring of Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, Director of Education.
A donation allows us to remodel the upstairs classroom and rehearsal space, creating the new Edith B. Wood Studio theatre.
The Covid shutdown allowed further lobby renovations with all new wood flooring, an increase of space, and a stunning mural of our history created by local artist, Jessie Howe.
We pride ourselves in being a home for everything artistic – cutting edge dramas, new works, comedy and farce, family shows, Shakespeare, even cult musicals. We want to challenge our audience as much as we challenge ourselves.