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Pantages Theatre

About Pantages Theatre :

The Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis is named for the Greek Pantages Theatreimmigrant Alexander Pantages. The Minneapolis location, opened in October 27, 1916 was the 26th theatre of what would eventually be a total of 500 theatres opened nationwide by Mr. Pantages.

The Minneapolis Pantages, located at 710 Hennepin Avenue, was designed by Minneapolis architectural firm Kees & Colburn. It was originally conceived as a twelve-story complex in Beaux Arts style, but was scaled back to a two-story Art Moderne facade with a Beaux art interior that accommodated 1600 people.

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Pantages TheatreThe building cost approximately $15,000 to construct and was credited as having the first air-conditioning in Minneapolis. The innovative air-conditioning system involved cooling the air with ice. Alexander Pantages also created the mezzanine, a carpeted lobby on the balcony level with restrooms and telephones. The first show at the Minneapolis Pantages Theatre was a variety lineup that included singers, comedians, and even a banjo player.

In 1922, a new glass dome was added high above the auditorium to add dramatic flair to the theatre. In 1926, The Pantages Theatre's entryway was renovated with a new facade of St. Cloud red granite.

In 1929, the Minneapolis Pantages, which had largely been used as a variety show stage, was sold to the Radio Keith Orpheum (RKO) Corporation. The Corporation discontinued the theater's live acts in favor of showing talking pictures. In 1946, the Pantages was purchased by a local promoter, Edmond Ruben, who renamed the theatre the RKO Pan. Ruben made extensive changes to both the interior and exterior, devastating much of the original architectural design in the process. His renovation included decreasing the seating capacity to 1400 and adding bird's-eye maple woodwork. The grand re-opening happened on April 14, 1946, with a screening of Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.

In 1961, Edmond Ruben sold the Pantages with the surrounding Stimson building to Ted Mann. Mr. Mann owned a number of other theatres in Minneapolis including the Orpheum, the Academy, the World, the Lyceum, and the Strand. Mann again renovated the theatre, decreasing the seating capacity to 1100 with red padded metal rocker seats, and removing Alexander Pantages' famous mezzanine. The Beaux-Arts interior, a signature element of all Pantages theaters, was also eliminated. The theatre reopened under the name Mann Theater on March 15, 1961 with the movie Spartacus.

The Mann Theater remained in operation until 1984, then sat empty until the City of Minneapolis purchased it in 1998. After four years of careful restoration, the Pantages Theater reopened on November 7, 2002 under the management of the Historic Theater Group, who operates the Historic State Theater and the Orpheum Theatre, also located on Hennepin Avenue's revitalized theater district.

In its final state, the 999 seat Pantages Theater is designed for Off-Broadway shows and concerts, and is the oldest surviving active example of a Pantages theater in the United States. The great history of this theatre and its fantastic Hennepin Avenue location makes this venue a hot spot in Minneapolis.


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