GOOD MORNING WORLD
In order for you to have the real picture of the title I should have put quotes around ‘Seldom Scene’ as it is the name of a group of men who play Bluegrass music. This type of music is my husband’s favorite sound. He started playing a guitar in high school then took it up seriously 25+ ears ago. A favorite pastime of his is to attend festivals to hear these groups. A gift of tickets to see this group, one of his favorites, seemed like a very good Christmas gift.
As I am writing this I am being pulled in multiple directions. I can write about the music, the groups, attending festivals, camping in an RV…..keep focused keep focused.
I decided this morning to investigate and look into America’s theaters. In one of my posts a few days ago I mentioned the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor that we thought was the fanciest theater going. That is where I saw my favorite movie, “Auntie Mame”, on my girlfriend’s thirteenth birthday! I also had a tap dance recital there and performed in a one act play on the stage. My aunt used to play the organ in that theater for the early ‘talkies’.
We attended The Grand theater in Wilmington, DE last night. We had not been to this building before. We looked it up on line, directions etc and got a parking space right up front in the garage. We saw some people exiting and followed them up the stairs to the street level though the Doubletree lobby and out the door. We knew we had to walk a block until we saw the people ahead of us turn into a plain door with a small canopy above that said ‘The Grand’. In we went and VIOLA we were there – simple. We took our seats.
When I ordered the tickets it was already quite full and I could only get two together in the last row on the left side. They were just fine. There were three empty seats to my right. Gentlemen took the one right next to me. As we sat there we chatted and he let us know we were actually NOT in ‘The Grand’. We were in the ‘Baby Grand’.
Easier to go to wikipedia than retype it all; from the program.
The Grand Opera House, also known as The Grand or Masonic Hall and Grand Theater, is a 1,208-seat theater for the performing arts inWilmington, Delaware. The four-story building was built in 1871 by the Delaware Grand Lodge of Masons to serve as a Masonic Temple and auditorium. The construction cost was $100,000. It was designed in Second Empire style by Baltimore architect Thomas Dixon and incorporates symbolism from Freemasonry into the cast-iron facade.
Historically, the Grand hosted a variety of operas,symphonies, Victorian melodramas, minstrel shows, burlesque, vaudeville, and other exhibitions, including performers such as Ethel Barrymore, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and John Philip Sousa. For most of the twentieth century the Grand was operated exclusively as a movie theater, run by Warner Brothers from 1930 and eventually closing in 1967. It was reopened four years later and returned to programming emphasizing classical music, partnering with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, OperaDelaware, and the First State Ballet Theatre.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 with assertions of both architectural and historical significance. It was argued it is “one of the finest remaining examples of 19th century cast iron architecture in America” and that it has important association with events and persons in Delaware’s history.
In 1973, management was turned over to a non-profit organization and the building underwent extensive restoration, which was completed in 1976.
One day perhaps we will go to ‘The Grand’. The gentleman next to me said that David Bromberg played ‘The Grand’ often like I was supposed to know who David Bromberg was. He chatted on to say that Bromberg was with the Grateful Dead and the lights went up. I had to check this out and as an aside today Bromberg lives in Wilmington and is very successful making violins. He was in the 70’s a go to guy to play a guitar for groups in recording sessions. He met Jerry Garcia at Woodstock and Garcia and four other members of the Grateful Dead played on Bromberg’s next two albums.
Oh my golly – albums – another way to go with this post. No back to theaters! I was in RadioCityMusic Hall in November and as a theater buff (used to read plays for fun) that was a really big thrill. My husband and I briefly chatted about the theaters we had visited ourselves.
There was the Orpheum in Memphis. That was quite a place! The history is that it was built on the corner of Main and Beale in 1890 as The Grand Opera House as the best theater outside of New York City. It became part of the Orpheum Vaudeville circuit and the name changed in 107 to the Orpheum. It went through a major restoration in the 1980s and then when we were in Memphis it was closed for a repair and at that time they made additional repairs so they could host large scale plays like Phantom and Les Mis.
When we were in St. Louis we attended the Fox! It was built in 1929 to showcase movies of the Fox Film Company. I was not thrilled with the acoustics there and very glad when we saw “The Civil War” that the actors had on head mikes. Although “Riverdance” had no problem with acoustics. That is one very loud show!!!
Sadly old fancy theaters are from a bygone era. We who believe in theater must support them as we can to keep them alive for future generations. So that our children and grandchildren know there is something more than the multi-plex!
Check out the two links. I googled America’s famous theaters and found two sites.
…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…