Art Deco theaters of Manila

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Rizal Avenue or colloquially Avenida in Manila thrived with art deco theaters during the growing popularity of cinema as a form of entertainment in the country.

Art Deco theaters of Manila are theaters constructed in the 1930s to 1950s built in Art Deco style, or a similar branch of the style like Streamline Moderne, in the Philippines. The construction of these early theaters in the City of Manila provided the venue for early forms of entertainment like bodabil, a local adaptation of vaudeville, with most eventually converting to movie theaters with the growth and popularity of Philippine cinema in the metropolis. Several theaters built within the city of Manila were designed by prominent Philippine architects, including future National Artists Juan Nakpil and Pablo Antonio. Unfortunately, some of these theaters have since been closed and several of them demolished.

Performing arts theaters[edit]

Manila Metropolitan Theater[edit]

The Manila Metropolitan Theater is located on Padre Burgos Street, Ermita district adjacent to the Mehan Garden. The theater was built in 1935 with an Art Deco design by architects Juan M. Arellano and Otillio Arellano[citation needed] and could accommodate as many as 1,670 people. The theater is endowed with bronze sculptures depicting female performers designed by Francesco Riccardo Monti, a stained glass mural mounted above the main audience entrance, and relief woodcarvings of Philippine plants found in the interior lobby made by Isabelo Tampingco. The theater was restored in 1978, but was again closed in 1996 due to lack support from the public and local officials.[1] Its east wing is now used as an office space for government services.

Movie theaters[edit]

Avenue Theater[edit]

Another architectural work by Juan Nakpil is the Avenue Theater. Located along Rizal Avenue in Santa Cruz district, the theater had a 1,000 seating capacity, with its lobby bearing a marble finish flooring. At one point, the building housed a hotel and also served as office space.[2] In 2006, it was demolished to make way for a parking lot, as realty costs were too expensive for it to be maintained.[3]As of 2013, this site is occupied by Padi's Point, behind to it is a parking lot.

Bellevue Theater[edit]

The Bellevue Theater is one of a few classic Philippine theaters built in the '30s still running today. It is located on Pedro Gil Street (formerly Herran), in Paco district and has a total seating capacity of 600. The theater features a Neo Mudejar theme, and contains a quonset hut design, and other classic ornamentation. The theater is not currently operational and a general merchandise store occupies its first floor.[4]As of 2013, this site is occupied by Novo Jeans and T-shirt.

Capitol Theater[edit]

The Capitol Theater, situated on Escolta Street in Binondo, was designed by Juan Nakpil and was built in the 1930s with an approximate seating capacity of 800. This theater had a double balcony, which is a rare architectural design. The theater's facade has reliefs of 2 muses done by Francesco Monti. The theater is now closed, its location serving as a venue for a few commercial establishments and restaurants in the area.[5]

Ever Theater[edit]

The Ever Theater is located along Rizal Avenue in Santa Cruz district. The theater was also designed by Juan Nakpil and has a single screen cinema with an 800 seating capacity. It was also visited by Walter Gropius during its inauguration in the 1950s, praising the theater's outstanding qualities. Currently closed as a theater, it now serves the public as a commercial arcade.[6]As of 2013, this site is occupied by Astrotel, a hotel.

Ideal Theater[edit]

The Ideal Theater was located at Rizal Avenue in Santa Cruz district and designed by the late architect Pablo Antonio in 1933. The theater was demolished in the late 1970s to give way to the construction of a department store. The Ideal Theater was one of the first major works of Pablo Antonio along with the buildings of Far Eastern University and Manila Polo Club.[7]

Life Theater[edit]

One of the works of Pablo Antonio, the Life Theater used to be one of Manila's prime movie houses. The theater was adorned with aluminum buffles and columns, consistent with its Art Deco design. Along with the Times Theater, the theater is found along Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo. It has since been converted to a shopping center.[8]

Scala Theater[edit]

Another theater designed by Pablo Antonio was the Scala Theatre, also on Avenida Rizal in Santa Cruz. With its floors paced with tea rose marble and its curved wall ligned with glass blocks, the theater's magnificence did not last: it was closed in the '90s. The theater catered to up to 600 people for its single screen operations.[9]As of 2013, the theater is now closed though the building structures still remain, albeit in a dire condition.

State Theater[edit]

Another work of the late architect Juan Nakpil, the State Theater was on Rizal Avenue, Santa Cruz. Built in the 1930s with an art deco design, the theater was eventually closed in the 1990s, and was demolished in 2001.[10]As of 2013, this site is occupied by Emerald Circle, a mini-mall.

Times Theater[edit]

The Times Theater, currently found along Quezon Boulevard, Quiapo, was designed by Architect Luis Z. Araneta. It was erected in 1939, with an Art Moderne relief. Unmaintained today, the theater is still operational, and can accommodate 800 people with its single screen operations.[11]

See also[edit]