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The Rapids Theatre Inside of The Rapids Theatre Address 1711 Main Street City Niagara Falls, NY Country United States Architect Leon H. Lempert & Sons Owned by John Hutchins Capacity 1,700 Type Concert Venue/Reception Hall Opened 1921 as Bellevue Theatre Reopened 2009 as The Rapids Theatre The Rapids Theatre is an indoor concert venue and events center situated in downtown Niagara Falls, New York. It hosts a variety of shows and events, including music concerts, comedy acts, wedding receptions, and corporate meetings[1]. Some performances recently held at the Rapids include The Used, The Deftones, Pauly Shore, and Eric Church.[1] Originally constructed under the name of The Bellevue Theatre in 1921, it opened as a movie theatre and vaudeville stage, complete with a grand balcony and domed ceiling.[2] After a long history of various ownerships and management changes, it most recently reopened as the Rapids Theatre in December 2009 on Main Street, Niagara Falls.[1] Contents 1 Early history 2 Recent History and Today 3 Structure and Interior Design 4 Other Early Movie Showings 5 References 6 External links // Early history The theatre first opened on North Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY on September 1, 1921 as a luxury movie house called The Bellevue Theatre. It also presented a variety of vaudeville acts through the RKO theatre company (Radio-Keith-Orpheum), one in particular being The Three Stooges[1]. It was located in the same building as The Harmony Shop sheet music store and a family-run pharmacy.[2] The Bellevue was constructed under the architect by the name of Leon H. Lempert, Jr. of Leon H Lempert & Sons architectural firm based in Rochester, New York and designed by interior decorator, William H Lusk.[2] Ownership and operation of the theatre fell into the hands of local Niagarans, most of which held political and city council positions in the county [3]: John Williamson (Treasurer) Frank Jenss (Vice President) George Haeberle (President) M. Arnson (Director) John O. Chapin (Secretary) D.H. Frank (Manager) Other theatres along North Main Street during the Bellevue’s first years were the Orpheum and the Elite.[4] There were also 11 other theatres in the surrounding Buffalo area that presented movies, vaudeville acts, and plays, including the Hippodrome on Pine Avenue and Shea’s Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo.[3] About 10 years later, the number of surrounding theatres expanded to 30, including the Cataract Theatre, and The Strand Theatre.[3] The Bellevue Theatre On Thursday, Sept. 1, 1921, the Buffalo News featured a story on the opening of the Bellevue called "The Theatre Beautiful Opens" and referred to the theatre as, “a monument to enterprise of loyal Niagarans, which matches the best in the state." [1] In the 1920s, a Sunday matinee movie ticket for the most popular movies could be purchased for 28 cents.[5] An advertisement run by the Niagara Gazette on March 30, 1929, stated that, “If it’s a good picture, the Bellevue will show it!” [5] In 1928, The Bellevue Theatre closed its doors only to be purchased one year later by the Shea-Publix Theatre Company, where they purchased a 21-year lease at a total rental cost of $900,000[6] In the 1940s, Vincent McFaul, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures, purchased the theatre from Shea-Publix.[7] For their grand re-opening of The Bellevue, the world premier of Niagara, a Hal Roach comedy about newlywed life starring Tom Brown, Marjorie Woodward, Zazu Pitts, and Slim Summerville, was held On October 25, 1941 at 8:00 p.m.[7] Over 1,000 attended the film that local papers reviewed as being “one of the funniest comedies of the year”, including the acting mayor of Niagara Falls, John H. Keller.[8] Then, in the 1960s, it was purchased by the Strand Cataract Theatre Corp. and renamed The Rapids Theatre.[9]. Under new management of a woman named Miss Louise Marigia, many improvements and changes were made to the building.[9] It was decorated with “flame red and green” furnishings and was described by local newspapers as being “splendid” and “handsome.” [10] Also during this time, the theatre was credited as having the first marquee in Western New York to use the Wagner type changeable letter mounting with transparent Plexiglas rails [11]. It was installed by a local business named Cooper Neon Sign Company. The Rapids held its grand opening on July 15, 1961 with a premier of the movie, Exodus (starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint) in which over 800 people attended.[10] Eventually, business declined and the theatre, along with most businesses in the Niagara Falls commercial district, closed down until it reopened in 1974 as The Late Show discotheque.[2] That business lasted until 1995, was closed down, and then reopened as yet another dance club called The Masquerade in 1996.[2] In 1998, it operated very briefly as a night club under the name, Centre Stage.[12] Recent History and Today The building was sold in 1999 for $13,000 at a city foreclosure auction.[13] It had a brief run in 2002 when it opened up as The Pleasure Dome. Two years later in 2004, the building was managed by Robert D. Hyde and Ray Page as simply The Dome Theatre, where it held heavy rock performances by Alice in Chains, Dragonforce, The Deftones and the controversial “Girls Gone Wild” Tour.[14] It closed once again and was purchased at a tax foreclosure auction in 2007 by current owner and Niagara Falls native, John Hutchins, for $85,000.[15] The run-down building underwent several renovations totaling $1.8 million and received assistance through a grant from the NFC Development Corp in late 2008.[15] The grant, which amounted to $250,000, came from the city’s share of slots revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel located downtown.[15] Renovations included new sound and lighting systems, an outdoor electronic marquee above the theatre doors, a maple-wood bar, and new floor, and art -deco plaster repaired walls [16]. The newly renovated Rapids Theatre held its grand public opening on December 5, 2009, with a performance by the 17-piece, Toronto-based band, Classic Albums Live, in which The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” album was covered.[16] File:THEUsed.jpg The Used, along with the band Atreyu, performed at the Rapids on February 16th, 2010 Since then, several popular acts of all different musical genres and acts have made their way to the Rapids Theatre, including Eric Church, The Deftones, The Used, Justin Moore, Fran Cosmo, The Tubes, Trent Tomlinson, Jimmy Wayne, Jason Michael Carroll, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and the longest-running Broadway production of Smokey Joe’s Cafe.[1] Other non-musical acts to make their way to the Rapids most recently include comedians Gallagher and Pauly Shore and Republican politician Carl Paladino. The theatre also hosts wedding receptions, charity banquets, private parties, and corporate events.[1] Structure and Interior Design The Rapids Theatre rests on one of downtown Niagara Falls busiest commercial streets, Main Street, and is only 5 minutes away from the Canadian border.[1] It has a large parking lot in the rear of the building and sits next door to a brand new police station. It is a 19,260 square-foot brick and concrete building, able to seat 800 people, 300 for table events, and up to 1,700 people standing for live concerts.[15] Unlike the classic theatre-style seating that the Rapids used to have permanently installed, all chairs and tables in the facility can be removed and designed according to each show and event.[1] There is a large tiled-floored front lobby with marble accessories that slopes up into the main portion of the theatre, which contains a large blue and white domed ceiling, a grand balcony for VIP seating, a concession stand, wood paneled floors, and columned walls.[1] The interior design of the theatre has a vintage and historical look, adorned with crimson, gold, and black accents that match the original style of the 1920s.[1] There is a large, maple-wood bar in the back center of the theatre and a bar on the left side of the balcony as well. Offices, meeting rooms, and dressing rooms are located on the upper level of the theatre. Two large projector screens hang to the right and left of the stage, directly in front of the elevated floor sections. Other Early Movie Showings About a month after The Bellevue’s 1921 opening, the theatre premiered the movie Handcuffs or Kisses featuring Elaine Hammerstein and a short film called, Figure It Out Yourself. On March 30, 1929, Shea’s debuted The Wolf on Wall Street, starring George Bancroft [5]. This was one of the first films shown with “100% Talking Pictures equipped with RCA Photophone,” the latest in sound/voice technology at that time. An adult matinee ticket cost 25 cents.[5] On November 26, 1930, the theatre held a week long Thanksgiving special premier of “Paramount’s hilarious comedy, Her Wedding Night, featuring Clara Bow.[17] In a review by the Niagara Gazette, they described the actress as, “the famous red haired ‘it’ girl vies for honors with Charlie Ruggles, ‘Skeets’ Gallagher, and Ralph Forbes.” [17] Other movies shown by the theatre between 1921 and 1931 included, The Doctor’s Secret, Canary Murder Case, Interference, The Night Club, The Wild Party, Chinatown Charlie, Eternal Love, Lummox, Nothing But The Truth, Lady of the Pavements, The Betrayal, The Letter, Coquette, The Dummy, She Goes To War, The Alibi, and The Leather-Neck.[5] References ^ a b c d e f g h i j k ^ a b c d e Schez, Jan M. “Researcher Preserves Theatre’s Past, Works On Future.” 5 April 1998. The Buffalo News. ^ a b c “Many Leading Business Places Of The City Have Been Identified With The Street Since The Village Days.” 14 Sept. 1923. The Niagara Gazette ^ Mizer, Hamilton B. Niagara Falls, New York, A City Is Born, A City Matures. Niagara Falls: Shipman Printing Industries, Inc. 1991 ^ a b c d e Advertisement. 30 Mar. 1929. The Niagara Gazette. ^ “Shea Leases The Bellevue And Will Soon Build Another Theatre.” 14 Nov. 1929. The New York Times. ^ a b “Oldest and Youngest Honeymooners Attend Premier of “Niagara Falls”.” 25 Oct. 1941. The Niagara Gazette. ^ “’Niagara Falls’ To Be Given World Premier at Shea’s Bellevue Theatre.” 14 Oct. 1941. The Niagara Gazette. ^ a b “Bellevue Will Become Luxury Movie House.” 23 May 1961. The Niagara Gazette ^ a b 800 Attend Opening of Rapids Theatre.” 15 July 1961. The Niagara Gazette. ^ “Rapids Installs New Sign.” 24 Nov. 1961. The Niagara Gazette. ^ “The Bellevue Theatre.” 19 April 1998. The Buffalo News. ^ Gee, Denise Jewell. “Dome Theatre’s Fate Still Uncertain, Says New Owner: Niagara Falls.” 28 June 2007. The Buffalo News. ^ Gee, Denise Jewell. “Old Shea’s Bellevue Theatre, Revived in ’04 as Dome, Could Be Closed Again: Falls Tax Auction.” 19 June 2007. The Buffalo News. ^ a b c d Gee, Denise Jewell. “Old Domed Theatre Gets New Life: Renovations Restore Original Features of Main Street Building.” 4 Dec. 2009. The Buffalo News. ^ a b Scheer, Mark. “Niagara Falls: Rapids Theatre Ready To Rock n’ Roll.” 3 Dec. 2009. The Niagara Gazette. ^ a b Advertisement. 26 Nov. 1930. The Niagara Gazette. External links [1] This article has not been added to any categories. Please help out by adding categories to it so that it can be listed with similar articles. (October 2010)