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Rialto Square Theatre: Intimate, Spirited And Always Live

By Elizabeth Elstien

Visitors who sit in the historic and intimate Rialto Square Theatre, built in classic Art Deco grandeur, can view all types of performing arts in style. From orchestras and singers to comedians, many have graced the theatre's stage. The 2015-2016 lineup includes everything from William Shatner, Lyle Lovett and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra to comedian Sinbad and the preschoolers; favorite, The Wiggles.

Providing a dramatic venue for weddings, Rialto also puts on the annual Bridal Expo. This February event has become a signature theatre occasion for the past 10 years and "provides a one-stop-shopping experience for future brides," General Manager Randall Green describes. The area's best wedding professionals are all here, along with creative wedding planning sessions, and even a VIP on-stage engagement party for the first 100 brides-to-be in the door.

A popular performance is Rialto's presentation of the live theater and radio broadcast of It's A Wonderful Life. December 2015 will be the 10th anniversary performance of this classic, multigenerational show that takes viewers back in time.

Funded in part by the City of Joliet, business sponsorships and private donations, the main source of income for this nonprofit theater still comes from ticket sales. Residents and visitors alike enjoy attending a live performance here for many reasons, including close parking and ease in purchasing tickets. Green explains Rialto's appeal, "I think one of the many reasons people enjoy attending events at the Rialto is the architecture found in the Rotunda and Esplanade that people experience before they make their way into the auditorium. The lobby area is great for socialization. People can see who is attending, and often see friends and acquaintances, and then visit for a few minutes."

Those who enter through the back door can take part in the theater's spirit performance. The Illinois Paranormalists (TIP), experienced ghost hunters, invite guests to come along with them while they investigate Rialto's paranormal scene using state-of-the-art equipment. Visitors can purchase tickets at the theater box office for this event. Guests may or may not see ghosts, as they make their presence known as they please, but they are guaranteed to experience an informative and lively evening.

Just as the community supports the Rialto, the theatre also gives back to the community. The Rialto provides tickets to nonprofits to raffle off in their fundraisers. Additionally, shows bring in over 100,000 residents or visitors to partake of the nearby downtown business establishments before or after a theater performance or event. Annual economic impact created by the Rialto is in excess of $7.5million. Green states, "We provide quality of life opportunities that help make Joliet a great place to live."

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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