|Address||719 Liberty Avenue
|Owner||Pittsburgh Cultural Trust|
|Current use||Performing arts center|
|Opened||February 27, 1928|
|Reopened||September 25, 1987|
Stanley Theater and Clark Building
|Area||Pittsburgh Cultural District|
|Architect||Hoffman and Henon|
|Architectural style||Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals|
|Governing body||Local , Private|
|NRHP Reference #||86000303|
|Added to NRHP||February 27, 1986|
|Designated CPHS||November 20, 1984|
The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Stanley Theatre) is a theater and concert hall located at 719 Liberty Avenue in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed by Philadelphia architectural firm Hoffman-Henon, it was built in 1928 as The Stanley Theatre. The former movie palace was renovated and reopened as The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in 1987.
The Stanley Theatre, built at a cost of $3 million, opened as a deluxe movie palace February 27, 1928, and seats about 2,885 people (the original seating configuration was over 3,800). It was designed by the architectural firm Hoffman and Henon, who were most well known for their design and construction of 35 theaters in the Philadelphia area. The Stanley Theatre had the distinction of being the largest movie theater in Western Pennsylvania. Operated by the Stanley Warner Theater circuit division of Warner Bros., it was Pittsburgh's main first run house for all Warner Brothers film releases.
In 1976, The Stanley was purchased and renovated by the Cinemette Corporation to be operated as a movie theater. In 1977, DiCesare Engler Productions bought the theater and presented live rock and roll concerts through 1984. The Grateful Dead performed two legendary shows at the Stanley, and reggae icon Bob Marley performed his last live concert at the Stanley on September 23, 1980, before his death in 1981. Prince kicked off his Controversy Tour in 1981 at the Stanley. The rock band Kansas has chosen the Benedum Center to host its 40th Anniversary Fan Appreciation Concert on August 17, 2013, which all the original members will attend.
On September 25, 1987, after a $43 million restoration was completed, the Stanley re-opened as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. In converting the former movie palace into a full performing arts center, a new building including an extension to the stage and support facilities was built at the rear of the theater. The interior was largely preserved and restored to its original design, with the addition of a new acoustical baffle covering the original proscenium. The signature piece of the Benedum Center is the original main chandelier which weighs 4,700 pounds, is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. It was restored in honor of the late H.J. Heinz II.
Today the Center is the home of the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera who formerly were based at Heinz Hall, (the former Loew's Penn Theater) that had been restored by and is the current home of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The 2,800-seat Benedum Center is the crown jewel of the Cultural District and is one of the most utilized theaters in the nation today.
The Center has also hosted several PBS doo-wop television concert specials including Doo Wop 50. The TV game show Wheel of Fortune taped two weeks of shows at the theater in 1998. The Benedum Center was also featured prominently in the 2006 documentary film Pittsburgh directed by Jeff Goldblum. The film follows Goldblum's appearances in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production of The Music Man staged at the theater.
In popular culture
- 2011's Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980 was recorded at the center.
- HBO's Boardwalk Empire mentioned a tap dancing act as having played "the Stanley" in Pittsburgh for 3 weeks during its season 4 premier.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "Local Historic Designations". Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
- Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
- Benedum Center for the Performing Arts Cinema Treasures
- "BobMarley.com | News". Web.bobmarley.com. 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- Billboard Magazine. Top Venues. TIA-50.22 December 1979.
- Billboard Magazine. Top Venues. TIA-46. 20 December 1980.
- "Engler, Clear Channel Communications part ways". Post-gazette.com. 2004-10-27. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- From Beatles to Broadway, DiCesare-Engler has booked it all. Snively, M. Pittsburgh Tribune Review 22 December 1994.
- "The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts". Pgharts.org. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- Benedum Center
- Pittsburgh Opera
- Stanley Theater History -Big Band Era
- Stanley Theater History -Rock Era