Colonial Theatre

106 Boylston Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 3, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Today’s Boston Globe reports that Emerson College will close the theatre after the October run of “The Book of Mormon” ends, as the Wang Center’s lease on the Colonial is expiring. The future of the theatre is quite unclear.

Boston Globe story

Patsy on December 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

This theatre is the current home of the I Love Lucy Live On Stage production. If you haven’t seen this show and you are in Boston….go! And if you haven’t ever been to the Lucy Comedy Festival in Jamestown NY….go! Jamestown is the birthplace of Lucille Ball, the First Lady of Comedy.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

In the entertainment section of today’s Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger there is mention of the musical “Memphis” which it says is now playing “at the Citi Performing Arts Center Emerson Colonial Theater”. How’s that for a mouthful !

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

I can’t remember the titles, but they are two touring shows, both musicals, I think. One is booked in Dec., and the other in Feb. Both are part of the Broadway in Boston line-up. Ads for them have run in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger; it was in these ads that I noted the change in the theater name.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

What are the two shows? Are they a joint venture between ArtsEmerson and the Wang Center?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

The Colonial has been closed since early-summer 2011. Now there are at least 2 touring shows booked for this 2012-2013 theatrical season. The theater’s name as printed in the ads for those shows is: “Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre”. Oh, barf.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

The Colonial has been closed and unused during the present 2011-2012 theater season. But that will change next season because at least 2 or 3 shows have been booked there.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

I walked by the Colonial yesterday and it’s totally dead and dark with posters for shows at the Boston Opera House in its poster frames.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

I have heard that the booking of attractions at the Colonial will be handled by the Wang Center; I don’t know how accurate that is. And further to the comments above of May 10: notwithstanding what was listed in the Julius Cahn guide, I believe that the Colonial’s stage is 55 feet deep, not 45.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

The Colonial is closing this weekend with no future shows scheduled, due to a disagreement between Emerson College and Broadway in Boston. Emerson would like to bring in another promoter, but that has yet to happen. Read more in this Boston Globe article

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm

The Colonial is included in the 1906 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. The proscenium opening was 38 feet square, and the stage was 45 feet deep. Seating: Orchestra 618, sofas 39, 1st balcony 552, 2nd balcony 368, 12 boxes 60, 4 loges 16; total: 1,653 seats.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

Emerson College did not renew Broadway in Boston’s lease for the Colonial Theatre, according to this Boston Globe article. It’s not clear what Emerson intends to produce or bring into the Colonial next season. Seems to me they already have their hands full with the Cutler Majestic and Paramount, so I find this decision puzzling.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 3, 2010 at 10:18 am

Yes, this could easily have been the case. Sometimes in these busy arch. firms, one person designed the basic structure while another was responsible for the interior design. George Page might well have done substanial work on the Colonial project, under Blackall’s supervision.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2010 at 2:04 am

For what it’s worth, I’ve found a single source indicating that the architect of the Colonial Theatre was George N. Page, then working in Clarence Blackall’s office. In 1902, Page moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he opened the firm of Blackall & Page. Partner Blackall remained in Boston. The firm was listed in Cleveland directories as late as 1913, according to this web page from Cleveland’s Landmark Commission.

The source that attributes the design of the Colonial to Page is the trade journal The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder, in an article in the issue of September, 1911. Here is a quote:[quote]“The firm of George M. Page and J. W. C. Corbusier was formed in November, 1908, as the outgrowth of the firm of Blackall & Page.

“Both these gentlemen had their early training in the Mechanics' Institute at Rochester. N. Y., Mr. Page beginning his architectural work in Buffalo and going from there to New York City and thence to Boston where he became identified with that greatest of theater
experts, C. H. Blackall. While there he designed the famous Colonial Theater of Boston. He then came to Cleveland where his work has since become so well known.”[/quote]Given the fact that there is only this source for the attribution of the Colonial to Page, I’d be reluctant to remove the design from Blackall’s credits, but considering how busy Blackall’s firm probably was at the time, and the fact that he was willing to open a Cleveland office with Page in charge as his partner, only two years after the Colonial was built, it does seem plausible that Blackall could have let Page handle this important commission.

Bway on May 26, 2009 at 8:13 am

Here’s a street view of the Colonial Theater….

View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 7, 2009 at 10:46 am

Key Brand Entertainment, which I think is a British company, has purchased the operating contract for the Colonial from Live Nation. Key Brand also took over the Charles Playhouse from LN.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

In the old Boston Post of Dec. 21, 1950, theater critic Elliot Norton paid tribute to the Colonial on its 50th birthday. He states that show people like it because of its large stage, ample storage space, big scene dock, many dressing rooms and large, very nice star dressing rooms on the stage level at stage-left. His brief history of the theater up to 1950 does not mention movie shows, unfortunately.

rnoyes on January 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

One of my favorite aspects of the Colonial is the double helix staircase that provides access to the mezzanine or the balcony, depending on which set of steps you take to start. It’s a brilliant piece of architecture and just makes a trip to the Colonial that much neater.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 11, 2008 at 11:00 am

It showed films from time to time, not on a regular basis, from the 1910s into the 1930s, maybe into the early 1940s. (see various comments above). It has always been primarily a live theater.

Bway on November 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Wow, thanks for that link. This is a stunning theater.
When did it stop showing movies and go back to live performance? How long did it show film?

MPol on September 30, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Boston’s Colonial Theatre is a beautiful theatre, both inside and out, and a great place to see live shows, to boot. Among the live shows I’ve seen at Boston’s Colonial are Movin' Out, a revival of Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, and a stage production of West Side Story.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 18, 2008 at 9:25 am

The url doesn’t work for the above.

chrismahan on June 18, 2008 at 9:23 am

The Colonial now has an offical website. There is a full history and some internal pictures. [url=][/url]

starsweeper on January 14, 2008 at 1:04 pm

According to her journals, Lucy Maud Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame) saw D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Fall of Babylon’ starring Constance Talmadge at the Colonial on Thursday, July 10, 1919. She went with her sister-in-law Flora Eagles which whom she was staying in Braintree. She even kept the ticket stub in her scrapbook.

Here is her summary of the event: “Flora and I went into Boston this afternoon to see the much advertised ‘The Fall of Babylon.’ Like the curate’s hackneyed egg it was very good in spots. The siege of Babylon was wonderful. But the heroine, the so-called ‘mountain maid’ was nothing but a very sophisticated chorus girl and there was never for a moment a illusion of anything else.”