Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 76 - 100 of 142 comments

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.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 3, 2006 at 8:12 am

The Hub Theatre was at the southeast corner of Washington and Dover streets. It was a rectangular building with the short end on Washington and the long left side on Dover Street. It originally was a market, Williams market. Then a hall was installed upstairs, which eventually became a theatre, then later the entire building was adapted as a theatre. Names were Williams, Hooley’s, Novelty, Windsor, Grand Museum, Grand Theatre and Hub Theatre. It reopened as the Hub Theatre on August 17, 1903, under managment of Stair and Wilbur. Early movies were shown there when it was still the Grand, according to Joe Cifre. He claims that the Grand was the first regular theatre in Boston to offer a show consisting 100% of films. I have seen photos where, if you know where to look, at least part of the Hub Th. can be seen – recent books by Arcadia Publ., maybe their South End book and/or their Orange Line book. (The Orange Line and the Dover el station were right in front of the Hub.)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 3, 2006 at 7:51 am

What and where was the Hub? Was it only a live stage or did it also show movies?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 3, 2006 at 7:17 am

Yes, Tom N, if you lived in the South End and didn’t care for what was playing at the Met (Wang), Wilbur, Shubert, or Hollis, you could head for the Castle Square/ Arlington, the National, Columbia, Apollo, Cobb, Grand Opera House, Hub, Puritan, and even our mysterious Lafayette. Have I left any out??

Tom10 on March 2, 2006 at 5:10 pm

The South End must have been an interesting place to live with all these theaters, whether live or motion picture. If your home was in these neighborhoods, you had much within walking distance. I’d give anything to go back to that era in a time machine.

IanJudge on March 2, 2006 at 9:27 am

We have, at the Somerville Theatre, a newspaper article noting that Busby Berkeley was leaving the Arlington Theatre on Arlington street for the Somerville Players, and mentioning his successful presentation of musical comdies at the Arlington.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 2, 2006 at 9:02 am

I agree that it seems that the Castle Square/ Arlington Theatre was a live house which never presented movies. It was demolished around 1932. Another theatre to the south of the Wang was the Hollis Street Theatre, also a live house. As for the mysterious Lafayette Theatre, just because it seems like a large structure on the map doesn’t mean it really was a big theatre. Why not see if you can find it in old City Directories, other old maps, and in old newspaper ads. The people who could give us a quick answer about it are, alas, all deceased.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 1, 2006 at 10:15 am

I doubt it, since the ‘Lafayette Theatre’ shown on this map is quite a large structure, taking up half of a city block.

Also shown on the same 1928 map is the ‘Arlington Theatre’, at the corner of Arlington, Chandler, and Tremont streets. It was previously called the Castle Square Theatre. I have not added it to CinemaTreasures because I don’t know if it ever showed movies. The Boston Athenaeum says it was razed in 1932.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 1, 2006 at 8:26 am

I have no information about the Lafayette Theatre. I never heard of it before. It is not listed in my 1921 and 1895 lists of Boston theatres; nor is it mentioned in J. Paul Chavanne’s essay on the theatres of the South End. It is not mentioned in the text of Donald King’s 2005 book “The Theatres of Boston”; however, in Appendex 1 at the rear of the book he writes “1908 – Idle Hour Theatre. Tremont Street, near Castle Square Theatre. Short-lived motion picture house”. Possibly this was a little cinema which later was renamed the Lafayette.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2006 at 6:26 pm

And now a question, for Ron Salters or anyone else:

This 1928 map shows a large building labelled ‘Lafayette Theatre’, on the east side of Tremont Street just south of Broadway, two blocks from the Wang (Metropolitan) Theatre. It is near the top left corner of the map.

I’ve never heard of this theatre, and have found no references to it in various histories of movie or stage theatres in Boston. Any information on it would be appreciated.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 25, 2006 at 2:03 am

This 1928 map shows the Metropolitan Theatre near the top right corner. West is at the top of this map.

The METROPOLITAN BLDG. is on Tremont Street, at the corner of Hollis Street, just south of the Wilbur Theatre. The METROPOLITAN THEATRE is just behind (east of) this building.