Monday, December 07, 2009

What Happened To The City's Theaters?

Wilkes-Barre, home of theaters here, theaters there, movies all over the place. Vaudeville houses where everybody played the city. So what happened to them, all the old folks ask? According to all the local natives, they were scattered all the way down South Main Street and every little borough had its own.

They were small little movie houses, most of them, while others were elegant palaces with fine lobbies and superb auditoriums. The smaller burgs made do with whatever they could put together. In later years, some of the larger houses simply cut up their space into doubles and triples

People here, many of whom are stuck in the past, often moan and groan to me about how great the city was when you couldn’t walk down the street without falling over a movie theater. I point out to them we now have fourteen; did we then? Maybe there were a bunch in the greater Wyoming Valley, but that was before we could travel at night.

Fourteen. The theater is even named “Movies 14.” It’s a pretty nice place, with the latest in sound, in ambience and everything else you would want.

What’s missing would be the live shows: vaudeville. Ok, so it went out of style years ago, maybe around the time radio got big and tv was coming aboard. Too bad I missed it; the shows must have been a lot of fun and there were no re-takes. What they did on stage was what you got, live and right in front of you.


Blogger D.B. Echo said...

I have long been waiting for the return of Vaudeville - live variety acts, maybe featuring a mix of local and touring talent. We are fortunate enough to have a version of this come to our area each year in the form of the Sideshow Gathering, though as the name implies the acts there are mostly of the Sideshow variety.

Still, at the rate at which online piracy is killing the music and movie industries, I wouldn't be surprised if within a few years it will become impossible for either of those industries to turn a profit. And then your entertainment choices will be limited to bands playing at the local corner bar, and variety shows being held in the local high school auditorium. Not necessarily a bad fate, really...

December 14, 2009 12:51 AM  

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