Comments from chCinema

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chCinema commented about November Theatre on Mar 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hello. I joined this site so I can find clarification on something about the Empire Theatre in Richmond. I hope please that someone can help me.

I lived in Richmond in the 1970s, leaving in ‘79 (I’m now in New York area). I was recently searching online for info regarding the re-opening of the Empire around 1977, but it seems like all the information I’ve found seems to not mention this event, and even suggests the theatre was not re-opened until around 1980. I know for a fact that the theatre reopened at that time, because I worked on the launching of the restored venue, and I also attended a couple performances at that time there (Dave Brubeck, and The Eagles). The place was wonderful, I thought for live music such as these acts. However, naturally I’m curious why this “era” seems to be omitted from the various histories of the theatre I’ve been able to find.

Some background: I did some work for a small ad agency in Richmond as an art director in the late 70s, and one assignment was to do a couple illustrations and ads for the restoration of the Empire Theatre at 118 W Broad Street. I still have the original illustrations in my files, as well as photocopies of the two advertisements which ran I’m sure in the Richmond Times Dispatch (I could post somewhere if you like). The ad copy (I did not write) speaks of restoration of the venue to its original billiance, mentions things like “architectural classic” and that “the era of elegance and grandeur is now brought back…”; that performances “will range from Symphony and Opera to contemporary artists”; as well as mention of historic performances once on the theatre’s stage by Kit Carson, Mary Pickford, Al Jolson, Wallace Beery, etc. The ads acknowledged that the theatre’s name a various times had become the Strand and then the Booker-T.

Obviously, since I left Richmond so long ago the theatre has survived in whatever iteration it now hopefully thrives in. Still, I hope someone on this string (thanks in advance) can acknowledge the existence of this 1977-era chapter.