Amongst the few “star” musical venues such as Greek Theater, Red Rocks, Madison Square Garden, etc., the Capitol Theater which was shut since 1997, reopened amidst great fanfare five years back in 2012, in Port Chester, New York.
The historical Capitol Theater was designed by Thomas Lamb, the famous architect and it was built in 1926 as a concert hall of great comfort and beauty. The theater’s 1,800 seater hall served as a hall for cinema, Vaudeville shows, and concerts.
Until 1970, the Capitol Theater operated as a movie theater and on its opening night in 1926, the grand opening featured a ten-member orchestra that played “The Star Spangled Banner” and a screening of the Sea Wolf. All the seats were completely sold out on the opening night and hundreds of guests had to be turned away. The Capitol Theater attracted people from far and wide, who came there to see the shows and several blockbuster movies such as Gone with the Wind, Taming of the Shrew and Casablanca were screened in this historical theater.
In the 70s, the Capitol turned from screening movies to live music shows. The theater was remodeled for psychedelic rock n’ roll performances where some of the most memorable rock concerts took place. The theater unveiled some of the greatest and prolific bands that created rock and roll history such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, The Dominos, Janis Joplin, David Bowie and Phish.
In fact, there have been several historical moments created here at the Capitol Theater. The Grateful Dead played at Capitol Theater 13 times in a period of just one year from 1970-71. Janis Joplin unveiled her new song “Mercedes Benz” at the Capitol, a song which she had written at a bar close by. The Capitol hosted many musicals, events, and off-Broadway plays. The Capitol Theater was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
The theater performances ran into problems with the Village of Port Chester, which imposed a curfew on the timings of musical shows, where it prohibited live entertainment post 1 a.m. and the number of musical concerts and shows began dwindling. The Capitol Theater lay neglected after this, the roof of the theater decayed and it became home to pigeons. Until the 80s, the Capitol stayed dark and deserted. Later in the 90s, the Capitol Theater was converted into a place for special events and catering and became a popular venue for weddings and other social events.
In 2011, Peter Shapiro, a musical entrepreneur, and the jam king decided to reopen the Capitol Theater as a concert hall. The incredible history and the beauty of the theater motivated Peter to refresh and relaunch Capitol Theater.
The remodeling and renovation of the Theater were a multimillion dollar project, which involved the installation of hi-tech and state-of-the-art sound equipment, lighting, new furnishings, etc. The renovation project was all about a fine balance between the old and the new. A blend of the 1926-styled architecture with modern technology! The key was to keep the history of the Capitol alive. The lighting of the Capitol Theater’s dome was done by Marc Brickman, who also undertook the lighting at the Olympics. It took the efforts of dozens of contractors, workers, and technicians in getting the “Cap” back. The Capitol was not only a windfall for the locals, who could see world-famous shows close to home, the theater also had a regional charm.
In 2012, the Capitol Theater had a grand opening with the performance of the legendary rock star Bob Dylan. After the opening, there were performances by renowned musicians and stars like the Black Crowes, Willie Nelson, Billy Idol, Chicago, Foreigner, Patti Smith, Courtney Love, Cindi Lauper, Herbie Hancock to name a few. The Capitol Theater was also the location for the filming of “Make Happy”, the stand-up show of comedian Bo Burnham.
“The Cap Is Back” and how! Today, the Capitol Theater is still Westchester’s rock destination! If you currently in the United Kingdom and you are planning a trip to Westchester in New York, don’t forget to drop in at the Capitol and take in a show. You can call from your Vodafone UK Number and book your show.
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