Fitzgerald Theater :
The Fitzgerald Theater is Saint Paul's oldest
surviving theater space. It opened in 1910 and
was originally named the Sam S. Shubert Theater;
it was one of four memorial theaters erected by
entertainment-industry leaders Lee and J. J. Shubert
after the death of their brother Sam. In 1933,
it became a movie house screening foreign films
and was thus christened the World Theater.
Minnesota Public Radio purchased the theater in
1980 and restored it in 1986 for their live radio
program, A Prairie Home Companion® with Garrison
Keillor. The theater was again renamed in 1994,
this time for author F. Scott Fitzgerald, a native
of Saint Paul. Over the years, the Fitzgerald's
stage has played host to Broadway musicals, vaudeville
shows, film festivals, and concerts of all sorts.
When the Fitzgerald
first opened, as the Sam S. Shubert Theater, it
was hailed as one of the most beautiful theaters
of its day. It was constructed of concrete and
steel with a sandstone facade, complete with 16
dressing rooms, a stage that could be raised or
lowered by two feet, a built in vacuum-cleaning
system and nearly 2,000 electric lights.
The Fitzgerald Theatre seats 996
and is one of those treasures of theater construction
known as a "two-balcony dramatic house,"
of which only a few remain across the country.
The physical arrangement of its interior affords
near-perfect acoustics and sight-lines. Audiences
are provided a unique sense of intimacy as no
seat is farther than 87 feet from the stage.
The lobby opens to a beautiful Beaux
Arts interior with red plush seats that are of
a hue found only in elegant theaters of the same
era. Eight opera boxes curve gently toward the
stage, each backed by a privacy curtain made from
the same burgundy velour used to make the stage
The proscenium rises 30 feet and
measures 36 feet from edge to edge - its arch,
like the opera boxes, is finished with ornate
plasterwork and glittering gold leaf. The stage
floor, constructed with the resilience essential
to dance performances, measures 35 feet from proscenium
arch to back wall. A fixed orchestra pit is located
8 feet below stage level. In addition, an orchestra
pit filler is available which will increase seating
From the stage, an actor can see
the pipes of the theater's own Mighty Wurlitzer,
a three-manual, 21-rank organ that was originally
installed in 1926 in the Texas Theater in San
Antonio - it was brought to the Fitzgerald with
the 1986 renovation.
The Fitzgerald theatre is one of
the Twin Cities' nicest theaters, with admirable
acoustics and three tiers of seating plus a collection
of opera boxes, all relatively close to the stage.
The theater's many assets make it popular with
touring acts that could probably sell out much