Hawaii’s Waikiki Theatre Demolished
HONOLULU, HI — The following was written by Lowell Angell:
“Honolulu – April 22, 2005
Demolition began last week of the 1936 Waikiki Theatre in Honolulu. Designed in a unique Tropical Moderne style, it was regarded by many as Hawaii’s most beautiful theatre.
Located on Kalakaua Avenue, the famed Waikiki resort area’s main thoroughfare, the 1353-seat theatre was designed by Hawaii architect C.W. Dickey and built by the local Consolidated Amusement Company as its deluxe flagship theatre. It opened August 20, 1936 with the movie “Under Two Flags.”
The theatre featured a lush garden forecourt with a large fountain, a lobby with ornate Moderne wall murals and ceiling fresco, and an atmosheric auditorium lined with artificial tropical vegetation including two full size coconut palms, a proscenium in the shape of a rainbow, and a corps of smartly-dressed usherettes. A 4-manual 16-rank Robert Morton organ was added soon after the theatre opened and enjoyed by generations of island residents and visitors. The organ has been removed and portions will be reinstalled in the local Hawaii and Palace theatres.
The theatre was renamed Waikiki 3 in 1969 (when the Waikiki 1&2 were built nearby), and renovated begining in the late 60s when the entry ramps from street level were converted to retail space. In the late 70s and early 80s, the theatre was heavily remodeled; an expanded concession area replaced most of the forecourt, the interior decoration was removed and the auditorium draped. It remained a single screen theatre until it closed in late November 2002. The Waikiki 1&2 closed at the same time; plans have not been announced for that site.
The Waikiki and other local Consolidated theatres are owned by Pacific Theatres, which operates some 400 screens in California. Another Pacific subsidiary, Robertson Properties, will build a low- rise retail shopping mall on the site.
For more about the Waikiki Theatre, visit www.geocities.com/hilobayatos/WaikikiTheatre.html, a website created by the Waikiki’s former organist Bob Alder; or see the Theatre Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Marquee (vol.35,nbr.4) for a comprehensive illustrated history of the Waikiki written by this author."