CMU School of Drama

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The 21 most spectacular theaters in the U.S.

Curbed: Supertall skyscrapers and glamorous museums can boost architects’ reputations or put a struggling industrial town back on the map, but as far as architecture is concerned, one type of building should never be overlooked: the theater.

As the backbone of urban culture, theaters in the United States have been gathering places for centuries. From operas to ballets to movies, the arts required buildings that were as beautiful as the performances they housed. Early 19th-century theaters were temples to ornamentation, clad in over-the-top chandeliers, heavy drapes, and with a penchant for gold.

6 comments:

Alex Talbot said...

This is quite an extensive list, and some amazing theaters, most of which I have never seen or heard of. I was surprised by the inclusion of the Kresge, on MIT's campus in Cambridge. I've been to 1 or 2 things there, and while it's a cool theater, I was surprised that it was part of the 21 most spectacular. I find it funny that several of these buildings were designed by Frank Gehry--that one architect was solely responsible for so many amazing performance spaces. The theater on this list that I found most intriguing was the egg, the performing arts space in Albany that's shaped rather like an egg on a pedestal. It's certainly a really cool concept, and a striking structure. However, I can't imagine loading in in a space like that--unless I'm missing a part of it, there isn't much of a loading space or any space to move equipment quickly and easily in and out, unless there's something under the ground. Nevertheless, it is certainly a cool space.

William N. Lowe said...

These pictures are just gorgeous. I wish that there were more photos of each of the spaces to get a sense of all of the spaces; however, I did really enjoy seeing all of the different locations. I do think that some of the locations are more interesting looking than others. I personally believe that the performance space themselves are more stunning; however, I do think some of the exteriors are quite stunning. Arena stage’s performance spaces are nothing special; however, I agree with the article that the recent renovations have made the exterior quite stunning. That being said, it is rare to get this view that is in the image. I do think the image of The Theatre at Ace is interesting because it appears to show the lobby area, which is a unique choice, and would be interesting to compare these space’s lobbies since that is a feature not present in all theaters.

Claire Krueger said...

This article was clearly written with a theatrical bias, but being honest almost all of the articles are. Beautiful theaters do bring in money but I think there might be a bigger market for multi-purpose theaters. Like in high schools when the school needs an auditorium and the theater department needs a stage the two get combined. But because of this it usually doesn't suit both needs adequately. This leads me to believe that a theater space designed with multiple purposes in mind might be a solution to the common high school dilemma. Of course the school would need money in the first place but that's an entirely different problem. There's a saying, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but an ugly theater is a lot less appealing than an beautiful one. And when profits the motivator first impressions are everything, and even if the show is wonderful you have to buy a ticket to see it first.

David Kelley said...

I find my self torn with this list. A lot of the more modern architecture I really just don't love as much as the more classical looking architecture. Like Alex also found the Egg theater to be interesting, but not necessarily in a good way. I found it honestly not that appealing of structure, that seemed to me to be more of an architect just designing for the sake of it. And it is the only theater on the list I actually hated, while I may have been torn on some of the other modern architecture theaters I at least that there was interesting aesthetic to them even if it did not math my taste perfectly. That aside I kinda wish they went into a little more depth in the description of the specifications of most of the theaters more so than just the seat numbers. However the list does have a great number of outstanding looking building.

Claire Farrokh said...

It's interesting how a lot of these theatres look kind of similar in a way. For such unique and beautiful theatres, many of them share a lot of characteristics. The only one that seems truly very unique is the Egg theatre, which is kind of an interesting choice that I'm not sure if I agree with. Apart from the Egg, I really love the architecture of all of these buildings. I especially liked the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, though it was in some ways similar to the first theatre on the list. They are all very beautifully designed and stunning on the outside, but is what is inside that really matters. I liked that some of the photos showed the inside house, since that's what audiences stare at before the show and during intermission. Overall, I really enjoyed looking through this list, and I would absolutely love the opportunity to visit one of these places someday.

Ali Whyte said...

I love that The Orpheum Theatre is on this list. I had the opportunity to lighting design my school's final showcase in this theatre and I always thought that is was incredibly beautiful. I think it's interesting that a few different theatres on this list are older, but have been upgraded and modified to fit modern technology. I know that the Orpheum went though a remodel, and there are LED fixtures along the edges of the dome above the house that are used to create the sort of halo sky effect in the space. I do like, though, that many modern constructions were included in this list, as I think they are also beautiful in their own way. i really appreciate how this article included theatres of all shapes and sizes. I also like how they included performance halls, and other perhaps not completely traditional theatres as well, because I think many of them are also really stunning.