Locust Street Theatre
1411 Locust Street,
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The Fox-Locust Theatre was built as part of a 22 story office building. The exterior and interior were Gothic in design. There were 1,580 seats (Orchestra 1053, Loge 375, Balcony 152). There were organ chambers, but no organ was ever installed.
The Fox-Locust Theatre opened March 20, 1927 with the movie "What Price Glory" with the Fox Orchestra of 55 men (later expanded to 65 men), and vaudeville acts. The theater showed "The Jazz Singer" for 10 weeks, sharing it with the Fox on Market Street. The October 29, 1929, Philadelphia Inquirer emphasized the novelty of sound in a movie, when reviewing the film “Sunny-Side Up” at the Fox Locust. As the movie district was concentrated on Market and Chestnut Streets, movies did not bring in enough customers. The theater closed and reopened October 17, 1931 as the Locust Street Theatre for legit shows.
The Locust Street Theatre again showed movies in the 1930’s. Alexander Boyd, having sold his namesake Philadelphia theater, operated this theater, as he did the Fox on Market Street, to show Fox movies. Boyd wanted to install a larger movie screen for the 1933 movie "Cavalcade" but was told lens were insufficient to adequately project on the screen. Boyd inquired and found that lens could be imported from Czechoslovakia to solve that problem, and so that’s what he did. The theater was renovated for the reserved seat showing in November, 1937, of the movie "The Hurricane"
In 1958, William Goldman took over operations and for awhile the theater was renamed the New Locust Theatre. Chandeliers from the demolished Mastbaum were installed in the lobby, foyer, and under the mezzanine. Throughout its life, the theater never had air conditioning.
Stars appearing on stage from 1933 included Tallulah Bankhead, Frederich March, Milton Berle, John Gielgud, Paul Neuman, Ethel Barrymore, Boris Karloff, James Earl Jones, Carol Channing, Richard Dreyfuss, Henry Fonda, Anne Bancroft, and Al Pacino.
The final show was "Rocky Horror Show" in 1980. Over objections of preservationists and the actors union, much of the auditorium was demolished in 1982 for construction of a parking garage. Remodeled, the remaining interior became a restaurant. A successor restaurant is still advertised on the Locust Street marquee. A theater chandelier was reinstalled in the remodeled Broad Street entry. The rest of the furnishings were sold off. Some of the furnishings went to the main floor lobbies of the Plaza residential building on Rittenhouse Square.
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