Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 26 - 50 of 140 comments

MPol
MPol on June 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm

How I miss their Monday Night Motion Picture Series!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

I walked within a block of the Wang yesterday afternoon and it does indeed have one of those colorful, ever-changing electronic cartoon -type marquees. There is one also on the Shubert across the street. They are both large rectangular devices attached perpendicular to the building facade.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 27, 2009 at 11:13 am

Further to the comments above by Chet Dowling regarding a passageway in the Wang basement leading from backstage to the front of the house. I looked at a floorplan of the basement printed in the 1927 book “American Theatres of Today” which is about to be reprinted by the Theatre Historical Society of America. There were doorways and a short set of steps in the basement on either side of the base of the orchestra pit. If you went out the door on the east side (stage-left) it was pretty much a straight shot out to the lower lobby. If you went out the door on the west side (stage-right) you would need a guide to lead you thru the maze! But you would end up near the men’s room.

ChetDowling
ChetDowling on January 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for the info Ron; Nice to hear that the old secret passage is still there. I live on the West coast these days; and have never been back to visit the new Wang Center.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 20, 2009 at 11:02 am

I remember when Martin & Lewis played the Met. It was around 1952-53; I was in Quincy H.S. at the time and some students skipped school and went to see them. The stage house at the Met then has since been replaced by a new and much larger stage house. The stage door and the loading door were at stage-left originally. I have been told a couple of times that it is still possible to go from the lobby to back stage by way of a passageway in the basement which leads from the lounges at the lower level to the basement under the stage.

ChetDowling
ChetDowling on January 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

The attendance record at the Metropolitan was broken in the early fifties when Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis were booked live on stage for a week. The shows were continuous every day and featured Les Brown & his Orchestra, Helen O'Connell and Gene Sheldon. The crowds were almost uncontrollable. I was assigned backstage, and discovered that there is a secret door leading from the dressing rooms directly into the downstairs Mens' Lounge. This is how Martin & Lewis escaped the mobs at the Stage Door. They simply mingled with the patrons walking out of the Lounge and out into the street. They called it “Hide In Plain Sight”. I wonder if it still exists at The Wang?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 14, 2008 at 10:27 am

I have heard that the upper marquee at the Wang, which is really sort of a short, wide vertical sign, has been converted to one of those electronic animated signs. And that there is a similar sign on the Shubert across the street. Anyone know for sure?

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on October 3, 2008 at 11:56 am

The new Corporate sponsor should restore its marquee to reflect the interior of this theatre. This is the missing link in the restoration of this theatre. Both the Wang and the Opera House have terrible marquees and the Paramount has the best marquee in the theatre district.bruce

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 26, 2008 at 11:50 am

I hope that’s not true, as I have tickets to the Old 97’s at the Wilbur on October 5!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 26, 2008 at 11:47 am

There are some ‘08-'09 attractions posted on the citicenter.org website, mostly the final season at the Wang Th. for the Boston Ballet, plus a few other things; but virtually nothing for the Shubert Th. (although their resident opera company will be back). Times are tough on that block of Tremont St.— I read somewhere just recently that a number of the music concert attractions at the Wilbur Th. (next to Wang) have cancelled.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 26, 2008 at 11:33 am

The ang doesn’t seem to be doing to well these days. Every other major local performing-arts organization has long since announced their 2008-09 calendar and starting selling subscriptions. Not the Wang. When I walked up to their box office a couple of weeks ago, they still had no information available about the upcoming season.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 26, 2008 at 11:25 am

I recently found among my stuff a program for the Music Hall from 1962. It’s for the Week beginning Thursday, Sept. 13, 1962. The program has 4 pages (a single 8" x 11" sheet folded in half). It says: Ben Sack’s MUSIC HALL, Showplace of New England. The program: 1. Music Hall Grand Organ, Louis Weir presents “Music Hall Medley”.
2. Music Hall preview of coming attractions.
3. Music Hall Orchestra conducted by Joe Holicker
4. “Manhatten USA” Produced by Buddy Thomas; Settings and Lighting by Major Theatre; Costumes by Madame Bertha, Bill Drew
A. “Central Park” Bob Warren and the Music Hall Girls
B. “Autumn in New York” Bob Warren and Les Dames
C. “Mambo” The Music Hall Girls and Les Dames
D. “La Vie Paris” Under Paris Skies, Leslie Post and Bob Warren
E. White and Gold Ballet Music Hall Girls and Les Dames, and the Star of our show: Denise Darcell Finale – Entire Cast
Movie: “The Interns” with Cliff Robertson, Suzy Parker, Buddy Ebsen and Tully Savalas.
Coming Next: “Boccaccio ‘70” w/ Sophia Loren, etc. directed by DeSica, Fellini and Visconti, produced by Carlo Ponti.
Coming Soon: Sol Hurok presents “The Bolshoi Ballet” on stage; Also coming: ABC’s Nationally Famous Television Show “Queen for a Day” starring Jack Bailey, live on stage.

MPol
MPol on September 22, 2008 at 8:29 am

The last time I went to the Wang Theatre, back in the winter of 2003, they were still showing the Monday Night Classic Film series, but they were showing them for free, instead of the usual five dollars that they’d previously charged. West Side Story was showing that night, and when my friend who was accompanying me arrived, we secured our seats in the theatre and went downstairs, where the movie theatre served up some great evening snacks and desserts as a pre-theatre reception. It was a sweet night, and my friend and I both had a wonderful time.

Ahhhhhh, nostalgia comes creeping in….mmmm.

bliberman
bliberman on September 22, 2008 at 7:57 am

As I recall, Ben Sack guaranteed 20th Century Fox $200,000 to obtain “Cleopatra” for the Music Hall, a fortune of money in those days. In advertising the film, a big deal was made over the fact that all seats were in the orchestra; but Sack and his manager A. Alan Friedberg – who later ousted Sack from his own company – notoriously sold “strip tickets” in the balcony on weekends when demand was high. These tickets were very unlikely reported in the ticket manifest that went to Fox, helping Sack get a quicker return on his “guarantee.”

MPol
MPol on August 31, 2008 at 7:34 pm

I agree with your last sentences, danpetitpas. I had a Friend of the Film Series Membership at the Wang for afew years, but when they gave up their annual Classic Film Series, I allowed my membership to lapse. I remember seeing the film “Ciao America”, “To Sir With Love”, ‘Ben-Hur", and, last but not least, my alltime favorite movie, “West Side Story”, at least three times at the Wang. How I miss their Classic Film Series. I wish they’d bring them back. I think there was some sort of ominous thing taking place when they began showing really junky-soounding classic films, too.

danpetitpas
danpetitpas on August 28, 2008 at 1:00 pm

I just wanted to give a few remembrances of movies I saw at the Metropolitan-Music Hall-Wang Center/Theater.

I remember first going there with my mother, probably in the mid-‘60s for a Disney film. I think the first show was at 9am and that was the bargain matinee, with the rest of the shows being full price.

My next experience was in 1974 when Columbia Pictures rented out the Met for a full day of free films to celebrate the studio’s 50th anniversary. I remember showing up there after the films had started, and there was no one at the door or in the lobby. I just walked in and took a seat. The theater was about one-third full with people going in and out at times. I saw Funny Girl, The Professionals, Bridge Over the River Kwai and Doctor Strangelove. It was incredible! Great films, and the chance to see them on a giant screen!

I can’t imagine anything like this being done this way today. When I saw Star Wars at the Charles in 1977, there were only about 100 people standing in line before the doors opened. Three years later for Empire, there was a line snaking down the mall about an hour before the movie. By 1982 for E.T., there was at least 1200 people in line and a four-hour wait! These days, people are willing to camp out weeks ahead of time for certain movies or events.

Columbia held a similar film festival at the Music Hall in 1982 for its 60th anniversary, but I was tied up at the time, and I think they might have charged admission. It was basically the same movies being shown.

I believe in 1991 the Wang started a Monday night film series to recapture its movie history. I remember seeing the Wizard of Oz there with a large gay audience that picked up on innuendos in the movie I had never imagined before. And on February 22, 1991 (a Friday night) it squeezed in a special showing of Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston sitting in the audience. He was only two rows behind my girlfriend and me and he stayed for the entire film, although the 70mm print was a blown up, cropped version of the original Cinemascope film.

And the film series even made U.S. history on April 29, 1991 when Citizen Kane, on its 50th anniversary tour, sold out all 3,600 seats for a record-breaking $18,000 single-showing take.

Unfortunately, by the time of Citizen Kane, the film series was getting so popular that it was difficult getting good seats. Subscribers to the entire series got seats in the orchestra, while the balcony was general seating.

For the Wizard of Oz, we were in the first row of the balcony, which was OK, but for Citizen Kane, we were about 1/3 back and the sightlines were positively awful. The screen was so low you had to peer down to see it, and you were basically staring at the head of the person in front of you. I had to crane my neck over to see between the heads in front of me, with the heads in front of them blocking my bottom view of the screen, while the person in back of me complained I was blocking his view. I know this was built as a movie palace, but I would say because the Wang is so huge that from 2/3 of the balcony the screen looks smaller than a 19" TV set at home.

I think the film series lasted about 10 years in the winter months, and then Monster.com did a series with free admission. Fortunately, because of the number of films being shot in Boston, and some Boston actors and directors climbing up the ranks of Hollywood, the Wang will be used from time to time for future film premieres. But it’s a shame the theater doesn’t host more cinematic events.

danpetitpas
danpetitpas on August 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

I think using the Wang as a first-run movie palace is a great idea, and I would certainly support it, but unfortunately it’s not going to happen. The movie chains actually aren’t in the business of showing movies. They’re in the food business. That’s why they’re all hot about installing bars and restaurants in the cinemas. Most of the staff is trained in food preparation and handling, not film, and movies are used to get patrons in to buy food. On-screen advertising has become an important source of revenue too. But since the studios can negotiate to keep up to 100% of the admission price during the first week of a movie’s release, (although it’s usually somewhere between 70%-90%), it wouldn’t make sense for either AMC or Regal to do it, especially since the food selection would be sparse at the Wang and the rental fee, I image, would be high. Also I get the feeling the Wang people don’t want the great unwashed masses trudging through their theater, since it’s been years since they’ve had a film festival there. So although I too wish it would happen, it’s not going to.

IanJudge
IanJudge on June 30, 2008 at 10:27 am

I think the Wang is also a victim of being too large for many shows that used to play there – now they find that the B.F. Keith Memorial/Opera House is more conducive to such touring shows.

I personally would love to see this theater throw its hat into the ring with the occasional movie run (beyond their occasional special screening) – given the piss-poor presentations at the Boston Common and Fenway theaters, what a treat it would be to see “The Dark Knight” or “Wall-E” booked into the Wang for a month – they could easily charge a higher ticket price too. I know I would pay $12-14 to see a film there rather than the other two downtown options. Given the nature of the film business, this scenario would be tough, but it is still something I think would give audiences something to remind people why the movies, versus DVD and so forth, are special.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 30, 2008 at 10:07 am

Corporate support for restoring and reopening an old movie palace is great.

Corporate “support' for an already fully functional theatre is something else, especially when the theatre’s programming and management has fallen into decline right after the "support” arrived. Which is the case here.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 30, 2008 at 10:00 am

To exwhiteway- the organ at the Wang was still there and playable during the Sack Music Hall days in the 1960s. I believe it was removed sometime in the 1970s (It was definitely gone by 1983). And to LuisV – I agree with your comments 100 % !

LuisV
LuisV on June 30, 2008 at 9:18 am

Thank you for letting me know Warren. I sincerely appreciate it. I know that he was a valued friend of CT and The Theatre Historical Society of America, but I was not aware of his passing. May he rest in peace.

LuisV
LuisV on June 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

This is a response to Jim Rankin’s comment of December 8th, 2006…

Why are you so bitter about Corporate Support of a Movie Palace? All across the country people beg for money to support the operation and restoration of historic movie palaces. When a corporation steps up to the plate and provides the needed funds we should applaud and encourage them and not not make ridiculous statements about corporations donating money in order to enrich their reputations. That’s pretty obvious that that is their primary purpose and SO WHAT! So many palaces around the country are crumbling waiting for the funding that could restore and or maintain operations. I wish there were many more corporations like Citibank that chose to express their corporate philanthropy through the restoration or funding of our historic movie palaces.

Ask anyone in Chicago if they would turn away Corporate funding from, let’s say United Airlines (a hometown corporation), for a restoration of the Uptown Theater which has been sitting decaying for over 30 years. Would Philadelphians turn down corporate money to fund saving the Boyd? Of course not!

We need more, much more, corporate involvement even if it means they change the name of the theater (and it doesn’t have to mean that). It’s a small price to pay to have an operating movie palace!

properduck
properduck on June 29, 2008 at 10:51 am

Does anyone remember when the Wurlitzer was removed from the theatre?
Supposedly, John Kiley and Ashley Miller (aka Kenneth Lane) recorded on it in the late 50’s. Here’s a nice photo of the console:
View link.pdf)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 20, 2008 at 10:52 am

There was a movie show at the Wang last night – the new comedy film “Get Smart” was shown one day prior to its general release. The showing was a benefit for a medical charity.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on June 10, 2008 at 7:38 am

The Wang will fill its schedule with more profitable shows such as “White Christmas”,“Radio City Christmas Specacular”. Ever since the Opera House was restored most Broadway shows moved from the Wang to the Opera House so the Wang could no longer afford some of its not for profit shows and switched to more commercial product to replace the Broadway shows that were lost to the Opera House.brucec