Majestic Theatre: Events for the Entire Family
The Majestic Theatre is a performing arts theatre that is situated in the City Center District at Downtown Dallas. It is the last remaining memory of Theater Row, which is Dallas’s historic entertainment center that is located on Elm Street. Aside from that, this Majestic Theatre is a contributing property in the Hardwood Street Historic District. The Majestic Theatre is considered as a Dallas Landmark, and it is on the list of National Register of Historic Places. In this article, we are going to know more about Majestic Theatre and its history.
History of Majestic Theatre
The Majestic Theatre was designed by an American architect named John Eberson, and its construction began in 1920. The Majestic Theatre in Dallas is the flagship theatre for the Interstate Amusement Company, which owns a chain of vaudeville houses. The development of this theatre costs about $2 million, and it is a Renaissance Revival structure that can accommodate up to 2,800 people. The theatre was opened in April 1921, and it replaced a previous theatre that has the same name, but it got burned down. The operations of the old Majestic Theatre were moved to the Dallas Opera House, which was named as the Majestic Theater until the construction of the new Majestic was completed.
The interior design of the Majestic Theatre has initially been divided into an office space and the theater. While the 20,000 square feet of the four floors were used as the headquarters of the Interstate Amusement Company. The lobby of the theater, as well as its auditorium, has an elaborate design with decorative detailing such as egg-and-dart molding, Roman fretwork and swags, Corinthian columns, and cartouches. The lobby of the theater also has a stunning black and white Italian style Vermont marble floor as well as twin marble staircases. Aside from that, you will also get to see crystal chandeliers, a marble fountain, brass mirrors, and an ornate cate elevator that serves the two balconies.
The ceiling of the Majestic Theatre’s auditorium has a sky of floating clouds design along with mechanically controlled twinkling stars. The seats were on the main floor, and it has two balconies that have woven cane seats. The stage of this theater was bordered by gigantic Corinthian columns, and it has an orchestra pit in front. The backstage of the theater has twelve dressing rooms as well as a set of wooden lighting controls and a loft to accommodate scenery. The Majestic Theatre also has a Kilgen theater organ opus 3054.
The Majestic Theatre is considered to be one of the grandest theaters on Dallas’s Theater Row. The Theater Row, which stretched from Elm Street, Tower, The Melba, Rialto, Capitol, Telenews, Strand theaters, and Fox were all demolished in the late 1970s, only the Majestic Theatre remained standing and in operation until today.
The Majestic Theatre has hosted several artists such as Houdini, Mae West, and Bob Hope during the vaudeville era. Since 1922, the theater started showing films as a part of their regular vaudeville offerings. Majestic Theatre began to host movie premieres and stars such as Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, and John Wayne. They also continued the tradition of live entertainment by showcasing The Big Bands with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway.
In 1932, the Majestic Theatre started to exclusively show movies, and people started calling it “the man’s house” because they featured films that starred James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, as well as other heroes. On the other hand, the nearby theater was called Palace was hailed as the “ladies’ house” because it liked to feature films that have strong female leads. However, in 1973, the Majestic Theatre closed after they finished showing the movie “Live and Let Die.”
The Rebirth of the Majestic Theatre
In 1979s, the Hobitzelle Foundation decided to turn over the Majestic Theatre to the City of Dallas. This was the time when the theater was restored for use, and the city rebirthed it as a performing arts center.
The newly restored Majestic Theatre had the original balustrades, Corinthian columns, trellises of the auditorium, and urns. The city of Dallas decided to re-apply the 23K gold leaf to the extensive interior decorative accents. They also installed new seats, but they chose to reduce their capacity from 2,400 to 1,570 so that the theater will have a bigger orchestra pit. They also installed advanced sound and lighting systems. Not only that, but the City of Dallas also had the stage replaced with a resilient floor that is suitable for dance performances.
In 1977, the Majestic Theatre became the first structure in Dallas to be included in the National Register of Historic Places list. And in 1983, the theater received a Texas Historical Commission marker.
The Majestic Theatre was reopened in January 1983, and today, it is now often used for dramatic plays, dance, national pageants, and concerts.