Colonial Theatre (Boston)

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This article is about the theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. For other uses, see Colonial Theatre (disambiguation).
Colonial Theatre
2009 ColonialTheatre Boston 4122063381.jpg
The Colonial Theatre, Boston, 2009
Address 106 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Owner Emerson College
Operator Citi Performing Arts Center
Capacity 1,700
Opened December 20, 1900 (1900-12-20)
Rebuilt 1960, 1995

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.[1] In 1998, Platt sold his Boston theater interests to SFX Entertainment (now Live Nation). In 2003, Emerson College began leasing the building.[2] In 2006, Emerson bought the Colonial building to use the upper floors for dormitories.[3] In 2008, Key Brand Entertainment purchased most of Live Nation's theatrical assets, including the lease on the Colonial Theatre.[4] When the lease ended, the Citi Performing Arts Center took over the lease, but continued booking in partnership with Key.[5]


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:[citation needed]

Present day[edit]

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[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′08″N 71°03′56″W / 42.352296°N 71.065428°W / 42.352296; -71.065428