Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 101 - 125 of 144 comments

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 27, 2006 at 9:26 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 5:03 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.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 24, 2006 at 11:12 am

When the Wang began its Monday night movie classics series, I believe that they referred to their screen as “the largest in New England”. A rather ominous note was sounded during the 2005 movie season when they dropped admissions and made the showings free.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 24, 2006 at 6:58 am

Sadly, I must report that the Wang Center has discontinued its Motion Picture Mondays film series. I confirmed this with a phone call to the theatre this morning.

No movie has been shown here since last spring. I think the last one was “Dirty Dancing” in April.

Boston still has some old movie palaces operating … but it no longer has any movies showing in them.

Time to take “Movies” off the Function: listing at the top of this page.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2005 at 11:55 am

I think that Jess Cain is still among us— in addition to his radio work, he was also an occasional actor in local productions. As for the old Metropolitan, one aspect of it that I liked was that if you went into the theatre when it opened about 9AM on a sunny morning, the huge inner foyer was flooded with sunlight coming from the windows on the south wall. Outside of that wall there is a fine decorated facade which nobody ever sees because it’s now out of the way. The alley there was formerly Hollis Street, which ran down to Washington. Diagonally across from that facade when the Met was new was the Hollis St. Theatre, one of Boston’s legit houses. There were no buildings across from the east wall of the Met, or few buildings, so that you could get a good look at it, unlike today. And there was a narrow street which ran in back of the stage and alonside the north wall of the Wilbur Theatre. In other words, the Met’s rear stage wall was even with the north sidewall of the Wilbur, so you can see that the Met stage was not very deep. I saw the Metropolitan Opera on tour from NY at the Met in April 1958. Their scenary was in tents and trailers outside the theatre. The opera was there because the old Boston Opera House on Huntington Ave had been demolished in Jan-Feb. 1958. I went there during the summer of 1962 after it had been renamed Music Hall by Ben Sack, and the show was an excercise in 1929-era nostalgia, with the organ operating and a mini-revue on stage in addition to the movie. The organ was removed to a private collector sometime in the 1970s, I believe. The house seats about 3600 today. The ring of loges around the orchestra floor is not original and were installed during the 1990-era renovations.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 13, 2005 at 12:27 pm

WHDH radio 85 (really 850) no longer exists. The frequency now belongs to WEEI Sports Radio, home of the Red Sox. No idea if Jess Cain is still living.

IanJudge
IanJudge on October 13, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Great Stuff, Bill! I have a couple of old Playbills for Camelot at the Saxon and Sound of Music at the Gary – the old ads are funny as well in these. The Statler is now the Park Plaza Hotel.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on October 13, 2005 at 10:24 am

I just noticed that the ad for the “Hungry Pilgrim” at the Statler Hilton implies that the restaurant served an After Theater supper up until noon the next day. Now, we all know that “Cleopatra” is egregiously over-long and that patrons would have been famished after it; but did restaurants discover that the After Theater crowd would keep arriving until the following day’s lunch hour? All those hungry women no doubt created a niche market, too.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on October 13, 2005 at 9:34 am

Here’s a Playbill for “Lizpatra” at the Wang Center, aka Music Hall, in July ’63.

View link

View link

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Though my NYC origins should have dictated that I’d see the film at Manhattan’s Rivoli Theater, the elevated price scale and the difficulty of getting reserved seats there prompted me and a friend to see it in Boston. As a college student at the time, I had a network of undergrad pals in Bean Town, so we used our contacts there to get tickets and crash-out overnight. It proved surprisingly easy: if I remember correctly, we bought the tickets on the day of performance (the Rivoli required a wait of several weeks). The size of the theater no doubt allowed for the availability of seats even in the cheap sections at peak times.

I remember that the film’s presentation was superbâ€"grander and more impressive than it would have been at the smaller Rivoli. The orchestral overture thundered through the huge house, and as the lights dimmed, the sweeping curtains parted majestically on the Fox logo. Splendid. Though the film was laughable, right down to Hermes Pan’s crowd-scene choreography, we enjoyed it immensely, even as we began to nod off around midnight with almost an hour of the nonsense left to go.

The ads in this program are a thrill in themselves. I thought you’d especially like the one of features at other Sack theaters. But my favorite notice comes on the title page with the “Thirsty Pilgrim” at the Statler Hilton, “serving light lunches for men only.” Boston famously offered such places at the time, from the sublime Locke-Ober to ridiculous street-corner bars. For each one, so many hungry women. When my aunt had lived in the area a decade or so earlier, many (all?) local taverns allowed women to enter only when accompanied by men. On family visits, I remember playing with my cousin outside drinking spots while my grandfather escorted my mom and her sister inside for a highball or two. Fathers debauching daughters! Children left to their own devices! And all in the name of propriety! But who could complain when the Music Hall was showing “Cleopatra.”

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on August 24, 2005 at 9:19 pm

What is the current seating capacity of the Wang?. I can’t believe a theatre seating over 4000 seats was reduced to 2900 which is listed on this site. Smaller theatres list more seats than the Wang.brucec

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 24, 2005 at 4:54 am

The THEATRES OF BOSTON mentioned above this post, can be obtained at a discount through the Theatre Historical Society via the link on the front page of their web site: www.historictheatres.org for a limited time, so don’t delay!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 23, 2005 at 7:33 pm

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, the Metropolitan opened on October 17, 1925, with 4407 seats.

“The Metropolitan presented a first-run film, symphony orchestra overture and ballet, followed by vaudeville. It booked famous stars like Amos and Andy, Kate Smith, and Rudy Vallee, whose acts were not completely absorbed by the house’s vastness and grandeur. Such huge auditoriums hastened the demise of vaudeville, whose very intimacy had been its greatest attraction.”

In February 1938, the Metropolitan droped its stage shows. Ben Sack took it over and renamed it the Music Hall on July 13, 1962. During Sack’s operation, the Music Hall presented occasional road stage productions, opera, and ballet, as well as movies.

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 10, 2005 at 12:19 pm

Recent color photos of this theatre can be found on the site: “America’s Stunning Theatres” by photographer and stagehand Noah Kern at: http://www.pbase.com/affablebeef/theatres Comments and information may be left there without registration; such can be public view or only to Mr. Kern. Scroll down the page to find the name, and then click on the sample image above it to be taken to the page of photos of it.

Coate
Coate on May 20, 2005 at 10:57 am

Something noteworthy about this place when it was known as the Music Hall was that it was the venue selected for the 1977 world premiere of “A Bridge Too Far.” (The Boston area engagements were held elsewhere.) Also, in 1971, a special 70mm print was struck specifically for the Music Hall engagement of the X-rated 3-D film “The Stewardesses.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 26, 2005 at 3:37 pm

A picture postcard of the Metropolitan, described here. It was made some time between 1925 and 1930.

A 1930 night photo, described here, showing the Majestic’s marquee and the Metropolitan’s vertical sign.

A 1947 photo, described here. You can’t see the marquee or the entrance, but you can see the vertical sign.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 30, 2005 at 10:06 am

Here’s a 1959 photo of what was then the Metropolitan Theatre. The photo is described here.

The theatre’s marquee says “MET” and advertises “John Paul Jones”. Next door at the Wilbur Theatre, a live stage, is “A New Comedy” called “Golden Fleecing”.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 20, 2005 at 12:35 am

According to an unpublished draft manuscript by Douglas Shand-Tucci entitled The Puritan Muse (available in the Fine Arts room of the Boston Public Library), the last show as the Metropolitan was on May 31, 1962. Ben Sack reopened it as the Music Hall in June, 1962.

The theatre was originally intended to be named Capitol rather than Metropolitan. Over the years it moved from the M&P chain to ATC to New England Theatres, and finally to Sack.

Broan
Broan on March 1, 2005 at 10:35 am

Some interior photos and restoration information are available at http://www.conradschmitt.com/CaseStudies/wang.asp

bunnyman
bunnyman on February 8, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Sacks policy for movies at The Music Hall could be very odd. For awhile it was the james Bond house and other big attractions. But you could also find things like an obscure blaxploitation western called ‘Thomasina & Bushrod’ playing.

Odd story I heard about the place was that the boxoffice had a pneumatic tube connection to the managers office which was used to send cash to be counted. One of the capsules broke in transit and so loose bills kept showing up for weeks afterward when a capsule was sent.

Tom10
Tom10 on January 5, 2005 at 8:37 am

Ron—Thanks for the archive reference. Much appreciated.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2005 at 8:34 am

If you have a library card in Massachusetts, you can get to them here:

http://www.mmrls.org/homeaccess.html

Go to “NewsBank” after entering your library card number.

Tom10
Tom10 on January 5, 2005 at 8:27 am

Ron—Where do you access the Globe archives? On-line?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2005 at 12:47 am

Looking through the Boston Globe and Herald archives, I see that the theatre officially changed over from Sack Theatres' Music Hall to the Metropolitan Center on July 7, 1980.

The last show to be presented by Sack was a seven-week live production of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, starring Herschel Bernardi.

IanJudge
IanJudge on January 4, 2005 at 4:56 pm

Perhaps I am confusing my Travolta… could it have been “Saturday Night Fever” that played the Music Hall?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 4, 2005 at 3:57 pm

Right, that was the second time around for the Metropolitan name.

Technically, I think it’s now called the “Wang Theatre” rather than the “Wang Center”, because the latter is now the name of the umbrella organization that operates both this venue and the Shubert across the street.

But most people I know still call this theatre the “Wang Center”.