Broadway Hits Keep Historic Theatre Alive
Hollywood’s finest have performed at the Majestic Theatre. Its unique architecture has been the star of thousands of Broadway shows, concerts, and productions.
Since the 1900s, downtown San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre has been a haven for musicians and performers. The former movie palace has earned national recognition for its elaborate design. Everything from handcrafted carvings and statuary, to its lavish décor, has made patrons feel like royalty.
While many theatre’s have transformed to meet today’s standards of style and technology, this theatre has survived by keeping the old, new.
Setting the Stage
By 1929, architect John Eberson was well-known for his atmospheric theatre creations. He had the ability to transform a movie palace into an exotic destination, where audiences could become part of the drama.
When the opportunity arose to design one of the largest theatres in the country, Eberson headed to the heart of Downtown San Antonio.
He envisioned a mix of Spanish Mission and Mediterranean style, with three balconies and a clear view of the stage, from any angle. Coupled with elaborate, ornate walls and a twinkling, evening sky, audiences are transported into a fairy-tale villa. Vibrant, royal greens, and reds outline the windowed walls and bell tower.
Word spread and soon Hollywood’s finest headed to the city, to perform their vaudeville acts. Crowds lined up to see legendary stars like Bob Hope, George Burns, Jacky Benny, and Ann Miller.
The Curtain Rises
When the Depression-era set in, the entertainment business changed. For years, the industry struggled to regain its glory, but by 1974, the Majestic was forced to close its doors.
The following year, the theatre was added to the National Register of Historical Places. But as the cobwebs accumulated, many were worried it would never reopen.
Nearly a decade later, the Las Casas Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic buildings, decided it was time to do something. They spent $4.5 million restoring the original plaster, ornate carvings and statuary, even recreating the original upholstery on the house setting. They also upgraded their acoustic technology. The doors were reopened in 1989.
Since then, the theatre has welcomed over 4 million visitors. The 2,311 seat theatre is home to the San Antonio Symphony and Broadway Across America.
Broadway shows such as, “Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Lion King,” have been performed on the historic stage. Artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Tony Bennett, B. B. King and Sting. Famous comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kathy Griffin have also taken center stage