Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 76 - 100 of 152 comments

DennisJOBrien on January 11, 2007 at 7:03 pm

This theater has always been mind-boggling with its beauty. I always thought of it as Boston’s equivalent to New York’s Radio City Music Hall. I fondly remember being there on the day of the 1966 film premiere of “Torn Curtain,” with the famous director in attendance, even though the audience seemed to be hoping that Julie Andrews would temporarily depart from her sombre character and break into a spirited rendition of “My Favorite Things.” Years later, after its restoration, I saw an opera here on the big stage. Boston can be proud of its theater history.

There are some snobs who look down on motion pictures and conveniently forget that these great movie palaces were originally financed by the genre of cinema and the Hollywood system. They were part of an industry based on profit, not run as non-profit organizations dependent on grants and tax relief. Hollywood gave us national treasures apart from the films themselves, and the Wang Center is just one of them.

HowardBHaas on December 8, 2006 at 10:32 am

Theater naming rights aren’t usually sold to corporations but rather are LEASED for a term of years, like 5 or 7, etc. So, they not only didn’t buy the theaters, they probably didn’t even buy the naming rights forever either.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 8, 2006 at 9:08 am

I’ll try to come up with a new Description, as the current one is now out of date and reads a bit awkwardly.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 8, 2006 at 9:02 am

CitiBank only paid for “naming rights” for a specific number of years. The 2 theatres are run by a non-profit corporation which needed the money. I don’t know what the current ownership facts are, but some years back the Wang Theatre was owned by the New England Medical Center, while the Shubert was owned by the Shubert Organization in NY and leased to the performing arts center.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 8, 2006 at 8:46 am

To my knowledge, Citicorp did not actually ‘buy’ the theatres.

JimRankin on December 8, 2006 at 8:38 am

Anyone who thinks that a corporation bought these theatres ‘for the public good’ is simply naive; the only good a corporation or conglomerate can envision is its own. Granted, I am glad that they chose these theatres as the vehicle of their advertising themselves — if that means the maintenance of the theatres continues. But make no mistake about it: the purpose was the enhancement of their public image which is thought to translate to greater dividends to stockholders, and higher salaries to the officers. CitiBank will get its ‘pound of flesh’ out of these buildings in every way they can, and any statements to the contrary are strictly ‘for public consumption’ = a standard lie.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 8, 2006 at 8:18 am

In today’s Boston Globe, two ads for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular already call it the ‘Citi Wang Theatre’. An ad for Pilobolus still refers to ‘The Shubert Theatre’ and ‘The Wang Center’.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 8, 2006 at 7:59 am

It will be interesting to see how the theatre name appears in newspaper ads and posters during the next several weeks. The “CitiWang” name was on the lower marquee as of Nov. 30th but now they have wrapped blue plastic with the new name around the top of the upper marquee. And I don’t associate the bright blue color with the staid Wang Theatre ! Ugh !

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 7, 2006 at 11:50 am

Is Citibank already reneging on its promise not to change the name of the Wang Theatre? Check out this photo.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 2, 2006 at 8:09 am

Looks like the new name is actually Citi Performing Arts Center. The theatres are still called the Wang and the Shubert.

Broan on December 2, 2006 at 7:40 am

Wow, that just really… doesn’t work.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 2, 2006 at 7:35 am

Re- the name change issue. Local TV news on Nov. 30th showed the front of the theatre. The upper marquee still read “Wang Theatre”, but the name on the large, lower, marquee had been changed to “Citi Wang”.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 10, 2006 at 7:20 am

This is not exactly the most deft public relations I’ve ever seen. Both Citibank and the Wang Center could have waited until all the details were in place before making a big public announcement.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 10, 2006 at 7:18 am

The Boston Herald of Nov. 10th states that Citibank “currently has no plans to change the name of either the Wang or Shubert theatres. The official name of the arts center will be announced at a later date.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 9, 2006 at 11:19 am

Here’s the official press release. It says “The new official name for the center will be announced at a later date,” which is kind of lame. It also says “The Wang Theatre will retain its name”, but makes no such promise for the Shubert.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 9, 2006 at 7:42 am

The online version of the Herald article says this in the third paragraph: “That will include renaming The Wang Theater as the Citibank Theater and underwriting performances.” I haven’t seen the print version yet. The online article also misspells the name of the Shubert Theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 9, 2006 at 5:29 am

The edition of the Boston Herald which I have states that Citigroup beat out several other bidders for the renaming rights and that the Wang Center for the Performing Arts will be renamed Citibank Center for the Performance Arts, a slight twist on the name. The article does not mention if the Wang Theatre itself will be renamed. I suspect that the Wang name will not be changed, as per the Globe article mentioned above.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 9, 2006 at 2:04 am

Today’s Boston Globe reports that the Wang Center as an organization will today be renamed the Citibank Center for the Performing Arts. But the Wang Theatre will keep its current name.

On the other hand, today’s Boston Herald says the theatre will be renamed to Citibank Theatre. I guess we’ll find out this afternoon which paper has the story right.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 2, 2006 at 8:03 am

Yep. To make things totally clear, the theatre had these names in sequence:

Metropolitan Theatre (its original name)
Music Hall (under Sack Theatres ownership)
Metropolitan Center for the Performing Arts (first name under new non-profit ownership)
Wang Center for the Performing Arts (after Wang gave money to the non-profit)
Wang Theatre (after the Wang Center organization took over the Shubert too)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 2, 2006 at 7:50 am

The theatre has been known for some time (10 years, maybe) now as the Wang Theatre. That name is used in ads and posters. The old name, Wang Center for the Perf. Arts, is now the organization which runs the Wang Theatre and the Shubert across the street. This fact was brought out (above) in a posting made several years ago. I was reminded of this upon receipt of the latest issue of Marquee Magazine, published by the THSA. There is a full page profile of the theatre headed by “Wang Center of the Performing Arts” in big letters. Even they couldn’t get the name right !

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 25, 2006 at 7:41 am

That’s a funny story, GWaterman! The Metropolitan Opera tours came to the Met/Wang every year in the spring, after the old Boston Opera House near Symphony Hall was demolished in early-1958. The original stage at the Met/Wang was very shallow, so it was a real challenge for them. Their scenary was outside in tents and trailers and it was chaotic around the back of the theatre while they were there. I don’t doubt that someone could have pulled off what you describe. After the Wang’s big new stage was added circa-1979, the problem was over – but now the Met Opera doesn’t tour anymore. As for the adjacent Wilbur Theatre, it doesn’t have a Page in Cinema Treasures because it apparently has never presented movies.

GWaterman on April 24, 2006 at 5:29 pm

When I played Boston with a show in the early 80’s, we played the Wilbur, which isn’t featured here (I guess it never played films), which is just next door to the Wang.

The stagehands I worked with told me a funny story about a guy who was an opera enthusiast, and every season when the Metropolitan Opera played Boston at the (then) Metropolitan, he would show up and mingle with the very large crew of stagehands, and work setting up the show. This must have been the 60’s or 70’s or earlier. He did this for years, and because the crew was so large, no one ever questioned him. Finally one day the guys were all hanging out talking and someone mentioned what they were planning to do with their paycheck. “Paycheck?‘ said the guy. "Paycheck?? You guys get paid for this?”

I don’t know whether this story is true or just a tall tale, but my friends called this guy the “phantom of the opera”, because it turned out he was on nobody’s radar screen. He had been working backstage at the Met tour for years, but no one (employer, etc.) knew he was there.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 5, 2006 at 7:08 am

The Grand Opera House was famous for its wrestling matches during its final years. (No competition for the Met/Wang there !) I believe it was razed in the 1930s. I don’t know if it ever showed movies. One day in the 1960s I was walking south on Washington St., east side, from the Dover St. el station when I came upon brass letters spelling out “Grand Opera House” imbedded in the sidewalk. It was a large vacant lot. I think that there were road-show movies from time to time at the Colonial, and travel movies at Symphony Hall (I remember ads for those in the 1950s); in recent years they have presented classic silient films at Symphony Hall. To determine which of these houses showed movies would require research thru old newspaper ads.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 4, 2006 at 8:55 am

The Grand Museum and Grand Opera House are both on this 1895 map, on the east side of Washington Street just south of Dover Street.

The corresponding 1928 map no longer shows a theatre at the Grand Museum site, but still shows the Grand Opera House a few buildings to the south.

If anyone can definitively demonstrate that either of these theatres ever showed movies, I’ll be happy to add them to CinemaTreasures. (Ditto for the Castle Square/Arlington, Hollis Street, Colonial, Wilbur, and Shubert.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 4, 2006 at 7:37 am

RE: Hub Theatre info above— I should point out that Dover Street is now East Berkeley St., renamed about 30 years ago. Much of the information above is from the Donald King book. In a list of Boston theatres taken from an 1895 city directory, the house is called the Grand Museum, at Wash. & Dover streets. It does not appear in my 1921 list or in the 1927 Film Daily yearbook. In the late-1930s, the name “Hub” was applied to the Park Th. downtown after it was vacated by the Minsky Burlesque company. After about a year, the name was changed to Trans Lux. The old Grand/ Hub Theatre is not to be confused with the big Grand Opera House, also on Washington Street. There’s no question that when the Metropolitan (Wang) opened in 1925, there were many other theatres within a 20-minute walk of it.