Miller High Life Theatre

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Miller High Life Theatre
Former namesMilwaukee Auditorium (1909-2003)
Milwaukee Theatre (2003-2017)
Address500 West Kilbourn Avenue
United States
Coordinates43°02′30″N 87°55′03″W / 43.041759°N 87.917404°W / 43.041759; -87.917404
OwnerWisconsin Center District
OperatorWisconsin Center District
Opened1909 (1909)
Closed2001–2003 (renovations)
ReopenedNovember 7, 2003
Milwaukee Wave (AISA) (1984–1988)

Miller High Life Theatre (previously Milwaukee Theatre and originally Milwaukee Auditorium[1]) is a theatre located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The building was extensively renovated between 2001 and 2003, at which point its name changed to the Milwaukee Theatre.[2] A naming rights deal changed its name in 2017 to the Miller High Life Theatre. It seats 4,086 people and can be configured into a more intimate venue that seats 2,500.[3] It is located at 500 W. Kilbourn Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Auditorium[edit]

The Milwaukee Auditorium was built in 1909, in a place formerly occupied by the Milwaukee Industrial Exposition Building, which had been destroyed by fire in 1905. The Milwaukee Auditorium held 13,520 people, and had 104,952 square feet (9,750.4 m2) of exhibition space.[4] The cornerstone was laid on August 1, 1908, and the building was dedicated on September 21, 1909.[5] At that time philanthropist Elizabeth Plankinton donated a $10,000 pipe organ.[6]

Historical uses included concerts, circuses, political rallies and sports events. For decades the Milwaukee Auditorium boasted its own orchestra, and hosted touring concerts from such historic notables as John Philip Sousa and Enrico Caruso to contemporary stars like Barry Manilow, Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, ABBA, the Carpenters, and Prince. Sitting Presidents from Taft to Clinton delivered important policy addresses in the Auditorium.[7]

On October 14, 1912, former president and then current presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech at the Milwaukee Auditorium shortly after a failed assassination attempt on him across the street from the Auditorium at the Gilpatrick Hotel, by a saloonkeeper named John Flammang Schrank. Schrank shot Roosevelt, but the bullet lodged in Roosevelt's chest only after hitting both his steel eyeglass case and a 50-page text of his campaign speech titled "Progressive Cause Greater Than Any Individual", folded over twice in Roosevelt's breast pocket. Schrank was immediately disarmed, captured and might have been lynched had Roosevelt not shouted for Schrank to remain unharmed.[8] Roosevelt assured the crowd he was all right, then ordered police to take charge of Schrank and to make sure no violence was done to him.[9]

Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not reached his lung, and he declined to go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt.[10][11] He spoke for 90 minutes before completing his speech and accepting medical attention. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."[12][13]

Afterwards, probes and an x-ray showed that the bullet had lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle, but did not penetrate the pleura. Doctors concluded that it would be less dangerous to leave it in place than to attempt to remove it, and Roosevelt carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life.[14][15]

Structural and cosmetic improvements were made throughout the Auditorium's life, both before and after a major 1978 renovation brought in modern heating and air conditioning, restored architectural details and overall physical upgrades. However, by the time it was acquired by the new Wisconsin Center District in 1995, the Auditorium's continued viability was questioned – until a 20-day run of Riverdance, in 1999, shattered sales records and indicated that a market existed for a venue of its size.[7]

Milwaukee Theatre[edit]

Beginning in October 2001, the Auditorium was converted into a theater. The project, which cost $41.9 million, was completed on November 7, 2003.[2]

In January 2016, the MillerCoors, a joint venture between the Molson family through their MolsonCoors Beverage Company and South African Breweries, purchased naming rights from the Wisconsin Center District for $1.85 million. On April 25, 2017, the name officially changed from the Milwaukee Theatre to the Miller High Life Theatre, which then had become controlled by Molson following its acquisition of the Miller brands after InBev acquired South African Breweries.[16]

Since opening, The Miller High Life Theatre has hosted a wide range of convention, corporate, religious and political assemblies as well as Broadway musicals and other entertainment.[17]

Notable events[edit]

Ground level


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "About the Miller High Life Theatre".
  3. ^ "Seating Chart :: Milwaukee Theatre". Archived from the original on 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
  4. ^ William George Bruce, History and City and County. Milwaukee: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922. pp. 421-432.
  5. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Hampton 1909, p. 120.
  7. ^ a b "Wisconsin Center District - About Us". Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  8. ^ "The Bull Moose and related media". Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010. to make sure that no violence was done.
  9. ^ Remey, Oliver E.; Cochems, Henry F.; Bloodgood, Wheeler P. (1912). The Attempted Assassination of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The Progressive Publishing Company. p. 192.
  10. ^ John Gurda. Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee's Past. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2016, pp. 189-191.
  11. ^ "Medical History of American Presidents". Doctor Zebra. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  12. ^ "Excerpt", Detroit Free Press, History buff.
  13. ^ "It Takes More Than That to Kill a Bull Moose: The Leader and The Cause". Theodore Roosevelt Association. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  14. ^ "Roosevelt Timeline". Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  15. ^ Timeline of Theodore Roosevelt's Life by the Theodore Roosevelt Association at
  16. ^ "Miller High Life Theatre signs installed at former Milwaukee Theatre - Milwaukee - Milwaukee Business Journal". Archived from the original on 2017-04-29.
  17. ^ "Wisconsin Center District - WCD facilities have a 100-year history of events". Archived from the original on 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  18. ^ Ronald H. Snyder, "Wisconsin Ends the Political Career of Wendell Willkie." Wisconsin Magazine of History.
  19. ^ Ocala Star Banner, Oct. 24, 1960 at 9.,4938013
  20. ^ "The Beatles Milwaukee Auditorium US tour programme (395870) TOUR PROGRAMME".
  21. ^ Kenneth R. Lamke, Best, Worst of the 1980s.
  22. ^ Michael Finnigan, "Bush Charges Gore Seeks to Be Reform's 'Obstacle-in-Chief.'" Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2000.
  23. ^ "Wisconsin--Details".


External links[edit]