The unique, Award-Winning, State-of-the-Art performance venue designed by Boston based architect/developer Graham Gund opened in November 1996. In 1998 the North Shore Center was presented with the National Commercial Builder’s Award of Excellence Merit Award, Division IV. Capable of hosting a wide variety of performing arts, corporate and special events, the North shore Center is a multi-purpose, modern, efficient theatre facility with 68,000 square feet of space. World famous performers, tradeshows, and local productions are equally at home.
The facility was conceived in the mid 1980’s when Dorothy Litwin (former Executive Director of Centre East) applied to the State of Illinois for funding under the “Build Illinois Program”. The Village of Skokie supported the project as an economic stimulus to the area and as a cultural asset to the community. The Centre East Metropolitan, Exposition, Auditorium and Office Building Authority was then created by the State of Illinois as the owner of the new performing arts center. The Village of Skokie appoints six of the nine members of the Authority aboard and Niles Township appoints three members. Professional Facilities Management (PFM) has managed the North Shore Center since its opening.
The North Shore Center was constructed at a cost of $18 million. The State of Illinois contributed $13.2 million and the Village of Skokie $3.4 million. The remaining construction funds were contributed by the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation and other private donors. Northlight Theatre raised additional dollars for the build-out of its namesake theatre.
Shortly after it opened, the North Shore Center hosted the pre-Broadway tryout of the musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown starring Kristen Chenoweth and Anthony Rapp. The North Shore Center has been the home to the Chicago Theatre Community’s annual Joseph Jefferson Awards seven times. Among the stars that have performed on the North Shore Center stages are Bob Newhart, Kathy Griffin, Queen Latifah, Bill Maher, Rita Moreno, Paula Poundstone, Neil Sedaka, Bill Cosby, Joffrey Ballet, Twyla Tharp Dance Company, The Capitol Steps, and many more.