Our eighth venue visit on 2013′s Conclave Theatre Tour will be to:
(Stanley Center for the Arts)
261 Genesee Street, Utica, N.Y.
OPENED: September 10, 1928
ARCHITECT: Thomas Lamb
STYLE: Mexican Baroque
Famed architect Thomas Lamb designed the Stanley Utica Theater for the Mastbaum chain. The public got its first glimpse of this masterpiece on September 10, 1928, at a gala grand opening featuring Dolores del Rio in Ramona.
A true movie palace, The Stanley’s highly ornate features include an eclectic mix of style and design, starting on the façade and continuing into the lobby and auditorium. The décor teasingly incorporates almost every theater style popular in the twenties, including Spanish, Indian, Middle Eastern, and even a touch of Art Deco.
The signature design element of The Stanley is the gilded entrance lobby complete with a gleaming grand staircase, said to duplicate the one found on the Titanic. Countless Central New York brides have chosen this backdrop for their wedding photos.
Theater architecture enthusiasts will definitely experience a sense of déjà vu as they enter the cavernous auditorium. Large painted gold leaf stars cover the dark red-domed ceiling surrounding the proscenium and the twisted columns flanking the stage. As the late THS Member Steve Levin was fond of saying, The Stanley is an “identical twin cousin” to the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio, which opened six months earlier.
The Stanley survived the urban renewal effort in the sixties and seventies and remained operational when all the other theatres in Utica’s Theatre District were being razed. By 1974, it was apparent that the building suffered from neglect. When the threat of destruction became very real, the Central New York Community Arts Council acquired the property and saved the theatre.
Since its purchase, the Council has upgraded all mechanical, electrical, and safety systems, and continues to make technical improvements to accommodate the many touring productions and artists that perform at the Stanley. In 2006, The Stanley closed its doors and underwent a $20 million expansion project including the construction of a much larger stage, a new two-story addition, a state-of-the-art loading dock, modern dressing rooms, and a digital marquee.
Today, The Stanley is host to shows presented by the Broadway Theatre League of Utica, Munson Williams Proctor Great Artists Series, and the Utica Symphony Orchestra as well as several promoters. Recent acts include Lewis Black, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld, Jackson Browne, the Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day’s American Idiot, and Shrek: The Musical.
WHY ARE WE SEEING IT?
Stunning example of Lamb’s best work – beautifully restored and a jewel of the community.
Register for the 2013 Conclave Theatre Tour online.
(Portions of the text are courtesy of The Stanley website.)