Colonial Theatre (Boston)
The Colonial Theatre, Boston, 2009
|Address||106 Boylston Street
|Operator||Citi Performing Arts Center|
|Opened||December 20, 1900|
The Colonial Theatre (est.1900) is the oldest continually-operating theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Designed by the architectural firm of Clarence Blackall and paid for by Frederick Lothrop Ames (see also Ames Building, Boston) the theatre first opened its doors for a performance of Ben-Hur on December 20, 1900. Ben-Hur operated with a cast and crew of 350 people and featured eight live horses on stage in full gallop during the chariot race scene. The play was so mechanically and technically extraordinary, it was featured on the cover of Scientific American. It is located at 106 Boylston Street on Boston Common at the former site of the Boston Public Library.
In the 1990s, Colonial president Jon Platt led a renovation of the Colonial. In 1998, Platt sold his Boston theater interests to SFX Entertainment (now Live Nation). In 2003, Emerson College began leasing the building. In 2006, Emerson bought the Colonial building to use the upper floors for dormitories. In 2008, Key Brand Entertainment purchased most of Live Nation's theatrical assets, including the lease on the Colonial Theatre. When the lease ended, the Citi Performing Arts Center took over the lease, but continued booking in partnership with Key.
The Colonial has long been used to house both touring productions of Broadway shows, and to preview shows before their Broadway debuts. Notable shows which were previewed at the Colonial before opening on Broadway include:
- Anything Goes
- Red, Hot and Blue
- Porgy and Bess
- Oklahoma! (called Away We Go! in Boston)
- The Merchant of Yonkers
- Born Yesterday
- Annie Get Your Gun
- Promises, Promises
- La Cage aux Folles
- Grand Hotel
- Beatlemania (musical)
- A Little Night Music
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Seussical The Musical
- High Fidelity
Presently the Colonial Theater continues to house Pre-Broadway shows and is often the first theater in the country to house national tours of Broadway shows. Because of its size, the Colonial can often host highly technical musicals that the smaller houses, such as the Shubert and the Wilbur, are unable to put on.
The Colonial has also played host to much larger shows such as Les Misérables, but after the renovation of the newly restored Opera House, some of its usual shows were taken away. Nonetheless, the Colonial continues to be a testing ground for Broadway-bound shows.
Other Boston theatres
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Colonial Theatre (Boston, Massachusetts).|
- Bostons Colonial Theatre website
- The Colonial Theatre at cinematreasures.org
- Jersey Boys performance at Colonial Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts
- Boston Public Library, Special Collections. William B. Jackson Theater Collection. Includes materials related to the Colonial Theatre, 1900–1993