Friday, November 9, 2007

Places to Go, People to See

The Hippodrome Theater is a treasure and a must see. Designed by Thomas Lamb, a prominent theatre architect, the theater opened for business on November 23, 1914 as a movie house which also hosted vaudeville performances. The theater seated 3,000 and had a weekly attendance of 30,000. Sound for the performances was provided by piano, an organ, and an orchestra.

In 1931 a huge marquee was added and new seats. At the time the theater had three price levels, 25 cents before noon, 35 cents from noon til 6, and 50 cents after 6pm. It was the period between 1931 and the 50's that the theater was most successful, becoming one of the most popular vaudeville houses in the country. Performers such as Bobe Hope, Jack Benny and Red Skelton perfomred at this theater. It is the place where Frank Sinatra first appeared with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The theater maintained a house orchestra into the 50's. The last stage show was performed in 1959.

The theater underwent a major renovation in 1963 in preparation for the regional premiere of Cleopatra. In 1969 it hosted the world premiere of Slaves.

During the 70's and 80's the Hippodrome was the last theater showing movies in downtown Baltimore and attendance declined severely. The theater closed it's doors in 1990.

The theater has been lovingly restored to it's former beauty. I went not long after it reopened to see an off Broadway production of The Producers. It is just a majestic theater. They have done a wonderful job with the restoration.

The theater is currently showing My Fair Lady.

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