What makes a Theatre Sign so unique?

We love every outdoor signage project that comes into our shop, but there's just something elegant about designing, building, an installing a theatre sign. It's as if we become a small part of every production that graces their stage(s).

At the completion of our latest theatre sign project - a marquee facelift for the iconic, independent The Music Box Theatre in Chicago - our team started thinking about all the elements that distinguish a theatre sign, and why the sight of one heightens the crowd's anticipation before the curtain raises. Here were a few thoughts:

Their nods to history.

With their new three-sided illuminated marquee including CCB Copy & LED-Neon Copy, the Music Box Theatre updated their marquee to the latest technological standards while keeping their timeless look. Such special attention to detail included splashes of cast ornamentals, egg & rope moulding, leaves, and corner drops.

The history associated with them. And Whitey.

When it opened in 1929, The Music Box Theatre wasn't a typical theatre in the standard sense of the time. The theatre was smaller, void of an elaborate stage, and focused on the "sound picture theatre which is rapidly taking the place of the ‘deluxe’ palace.” (MusicBoxTheatre.com).

Through the years, as with all classic theatres, The Music Box had its shares of ups and downs before cementing itself today as one of the premier destinations for independent cinema. The theatre remains protected by "Whitey" the Theatre Ghost, who was – and some say still is - the manager from opening night way back in 1929 till he passed in his sleep on one of theatre's couches in 1977. We believe Whitey's protection extends to the sign and possibly aids in the sign's ability to keep its transcendent appeal.


As noted, we slipped LED lighting into the marquee for modernization and efficiency, but the look and feel of the marquee is as vintage today as it was modern when it was first installed. Each message still goes up one letter at a time.

The Music Box's Theatre is still the first thing that draws your eye on the block, and for blocks in either direction. It's a beacon identifying itself as the center of attention. The shower of lights emanating from the marquee draws customers in, setting the stage for an exciting time.


It's not every day we get to craft such ornate mouldings into the trim. Their incredible attention to detail still inspires us.

Their Austere.

A theatre sign sets the tone for the evening. It straightens the bow ties, bats down the cowlicks, touches up the blush & foundation, and shines a spotlight on every theatre goer who passes underneath.

Are you a theatre, or would like to know how to incorporate their design mystique into your signage?

To learn more about how to make your customers feel like the center of attention with your signage, much as they are with The Music Box Theatre's sign, contact us today.