top of page

Rex Theatre

The Rex is one of the incarnations of the Varsity, Encore, and Illini theatres.

The Varsity was renamed the Rex in 1943.
The Rex closed in 1948.

By 1943, the old Varsity Theatre, already having had multiple owners, was about to begin its series of name changes.  The theatre was completely remodeled over several months.  Seating capacity was 330, kept small to allow wide aisles and extra space between the rows of seats.  The color scheme included shades of cream and tan with a blue and gold ceiling.  Indirect lighting was used in the lobby and in the auditorium.  New leather seats and aisle lights were installed.  Two easily accessible exit doors, one on either side of the screen, were installed at the rear of the building.  A new  ventilating system provided plenty of fresh air and was designed so that air conditioning could easily be installed at a future time.

Two of the latest projection machines and a Western Electric sound system were installed.  Particular attention was paid to fire-proofing the projection booth located above the lobby.  The booth's ceiling, walls, and floor were all concrete, the furniture steel, and it had a special ventilating system.

The Rex opened the evening of Friday, October 1, 1943, with  the movie "Iceland" starring Sonja Henie and featuring John Payne, Jack Oakie, and Sammie Kaye and his orchestra.  Short subjects on the program included the March of Time, "Along the Texas Range," "Lift Your Heads Comrades," and a cartoon.

On June 29, 1948, the Rex was purchased by M & M Platz of Monticello along with Dr. Caldwell, director of the Syrup of Pepsin Company.  The theatre reopened as the Illini on July 16, 1948.

Rex Theatre NG 06161947 ed UI Archives 0

The Rex Theatre can be seen behind construction work in this detail from a News-Gazette photo that appeared 16 June 1947.  University of Illinois Archives 0004370,

bottom of page