Stadium Theatre

329 Main Street,
Woonsocket, RI 02895

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SingleScreen on July 9, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Returned here in the summer of 2017 for the first time in 28 years. So pleased to see The Stadium has been restored to its former glory! Saw a wonderful live show here.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the M-G-M Theatre Report for the Stadium; it’s Card # 566. There is an exterior photo taken April 1941. Address is “Monument Square”. Condition is Good. The house is 15 years old and shows MGM product. Seating: Orchestra 748, Balcony 500, Loges 24, total 1,273. What they call the “balcony” would have been the raised portion of the main floor, to the rear. The 1940 population of Woonsocket was 49,300.

jrgaz on October 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I saw both E.T. and Ghostbusters in that theatre. E.T. is still one of my favorite films of all time…

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 14, 2012 at 6:04 am

This place is gorgeous! Quite an unexpected find in an otherwise pretty depressing city center.

HowardBHaas on March 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Showtime TV’s “Brotherhood” series Season 1, episode 7 has a story plot with a fictional account of the saving of this theater.

lucy_chauvin_nielsen on March 1, 2012 at 3:33 am

My Mother brought me to my first movie at the Stadium about 1955 to see Oklahoma. I was born in Woonsocket, and seeing the change that has taken place is amazing, especially the Stadium. I moved away in 1967 and I believe that the Stadium had been closed for years. Woonsocket sure has come along through the years, and I’m glad.

Metritype on December 21, 2011 at 2:57 am

Stadium hadn’t been built in 1925. Opera was at Park Theatre (Opera House).

GeorgeStrum on July 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thank you Stadium for hosting EMCATOS on 7/02/11 for a screening of the silent Sunrise with Steve Ball on the Wurlitzer organ.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm

In the October 30, 1961 issue of Boxoffice Magazine, an ad was run showing how many mainstream theatres were showing Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, a subtitled Italian movie. This theatre was one of those in Rhode Island. LINK

TJB on October 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm

also theirs only one now! =(

TJB on October 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

OK so The Stadium had 2 Steinway Grand Pianos and it is believed that sometime during the 50’s one disappeared. CHET I was hoping you may be able to solve the mystery!(Maybe even reunite the brother and sister once again)If anyone knows the old management staff, Manager Ben Greenberg and Ass’t Manager Claire Larkins family and you think they could help please comment!!!

Narragansett55 on September 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I saw Robert Redford’s “The Natural” at the Stadium when it first came out in 1984.

On September 7, 2007, the Stadium hosted the premier of the film “You Must Be This Tall” about the history of the Rocky Point amusement park: View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, February 4, 1956:

“In the most extensive cooperation promotion ever seen in this area, 14 Providence and nearby houses used record-breaking newspaper advertising space in heralding the joint premiere of "The Day the World Ended” and “Phantom from 10,000 Leagues.” Virtually taking over the amusement pages of the local press for several days, the following houses united in the ad: Elmwood, Hope, Uptown, Liberty, Castle, all in this city; Community, Centredale; Strand, Pawtucket; Union, Attleboro; Hollywood, East Providence; Palace, Cranston; Community, Wakefield; Park, Auburn; Palace, Arctic and Stadium, Woonsocket. A brief checkup of local houses indicated that opening days were solid."

TLSLOEWS on June 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm

By the way Mike we showed Uncle Clints movie at the LOEWS CRESCENT still have the one sheet,now back to the Stadium…….

TLSLOEWS on June 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Nice looking marquee at the STADIUM.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Good old “Uncle” Clint in 1980 photo!

ChetDowling on January 19, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Gerald: That Providence Journal article left out a few details. When I worked there in the forties the seating capacity was 1272. When it opened in 1926, it was leased by Publix Theatres. Their logo appeared on the Marquee. It was later an M&P Theatre (Martin Mullin & Sam Pinanski) When they split, Mullin took over and called his company, New England Theatres Corp. The Headquarters for all the above were at 60 Scollay Square in Boston. The article states that “Vaudeville played there on a regular basis thru the early 50’s”. This is not true. The only time a ‘live’ show took over the stage was on a WWII Bond Rally, An Amateur Hour that travelled thru the circuit, a Midnight Spook Show called “The Asylum Of Horrors”, and an Annual Dance recital.. Two interesting features in the lobby are always forgotten. The first is the Tile Water Fountain which had a secret. door that when opened, coould hold a block of ice to keep the drinking water cool. And second, it was the only theatre in town that had a cloak room where you could check your hat and coat.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm

From an article on Woonsocket theatres in The Providence Journal.

Copyright Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin May 16, 1985

“WOONSOCKET —– At one time they were numerous. In the days before television when textile employment was still booming and it was hard to find a spot to stand on downtown sidwalks on a Saturday night. But now only one of Woonsocket’s old moviehouses is still standing, and you can still settle into its throwback opulence on a weekend to catch a new film.

“The Stadium was always the showpiece of the city’s six theaters since opening on September 6, 1926 at a cost (along with a connecting four-story office and retail building) of $1 million. Both buildings, on the National Register of Historic Places, stand pretty much as they did nearly six decades ago.

“BUT BACK then the Stadium’s competitors were not the multi-screen shopping center cinemas. There was the Olympia, successor to the city’s original theater, The Music Hall, which opened around 1850. Located at 40 Main St., across from what is now Bob and Ray’s Furniture (for many year’s Kornstein’s), it became the Nickel Theatre and, in 1900, the Strand. It has at least one claim to local theatrical fame – the great actor Edwin Booth played Hamlet there on Thanksgiving Day, 1872.
…So attention was turned to the Stadium, still in fine physical condition, but deteriorated culturally into an X-rated cinema with occasional nude dancing.

“The Stadium was hatched by the manager of the vaudeville-strong Bijou. He convinced the Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky circuit that the city needed a first-run movie theater and a wealthy widow friend put up the money.

“Darman, who’d left home at age 14 for a road show called "Humpty-Dumpty” and later was a successful Springfield, Illinois restauranter, helped secure the original Stadium mortgage and took over the project when the widow’s financing faltered.

“He expanded its scope to include the equally elegant office building and embellished the theater’s design. Darman didn’t want the gaudiness of the moviehouses of the day. Along with Paramount’s head designer, he settled on an elaborate but stylish look that has held up well.

“The long, low lobby features Adamesque relief work, painted floral arches, Dutch-influenced murals, Italian Renaissance-modeled side tables, chairs and benches, and distinctive drinking fountains of Art Noveau-patterned tiles in a classical framework.

“The auditorium’s configuration was considered ideal for medium-sized theaters, sweeping the seating upward without the use of a suspended balcony. The absence of pillars (the so-called stadium plan) gave the theater its name.

“For 36-year-old Darman, the Stadium was another statement of his civic commitment. At the time a deluxe movie house was regarded as a prime physical and cultural asset, and an educational one as important as a library or school. In his later years, he proudly noted his theater’s capablities, "If there’s anything in the world that is good in theater and Woonsocket wants it, we can get it.”

“Forty-four curtains and backdrops are still at the ready to host most any kind of production. The Wurlitzer concert organ has been scrupulously maintained and can produce the sounds of horses' hooves and thunder and lightning.

“A typical show in those early years (there were three, starting at 2 p.m.) included an overture from the 12-piece orchestra, an organ concert – often with singalong, a chorus girl rountine, vaudeville act , newsreel and feature film.

“Darman’s close rapport with the head of the Publix Pictures managing circuit (the expanded product of a Paramount merger) and their shared opinion that "Rich people can go to New York for amusement. I want the working man to be able to get just as good right here at home” kept big name acts coming to Woonsocket (aided by Darman’s reputation for generous hospitality). That commitment to live entertainment made the Stadium one of the last places in the country where vaudeville played on a regular basis (into the early 50’s) .

“THE LATE industrialist was never an absentee owner. Darman’s daughter, Sylvia Medoff, remembers his "tremendous capacity for detail… He always had a finger on it, was always active in it.”

“That involvement intensified in 1956, when Publix’s regional subsidiary stopped managing the Stadium. Darman assumed management by forming the AIDCO Corporation and invested in alterations that included a new marquee, air conditioning and more spacious seating.

“For some 18 years, he continued to operate the theater at a substantial loss. Darman leased the Stadium to a Boston outfit in 1974 that assured him, "Don’t worry. We’ll be able to get enough pictures.” He was shocked when they began showing X-rated films and didn’t set foot in the theater during their tenure, but he was powerless to break the seven-year lease.

“There were police raids in 1975, but the city found itself without legal grounds to revoke the new operator’s entertainment permits. The pressure was stepped up when historical and arts groups succeeded in getting the Stadium placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The turning point was the city’s changeover from phone cable to radio-connected fire alarm systems. The porno promoters balked at the installation cost and the last movie was shown on New Year’s Eve, 1976.

“Boosters of the local arts scene active in the Opera House fight, Paul Lawhead and Larry Leduc, approached Darman about returning the Stadium to family films and live entertainment. A deal was struck and the two high school teachers reopened the Stadium with "The Pink Panther Strikes Again” four months later.

“Their weekends-only policy helped cut overhead and tapping Darman’s experience, the newcomers were able to confound predictions that they wouldn’t last a month. Lawhead says it’s taken a few years to learn the ropes (and jettison a booking agent that "had us booking along with NBC and ABC”).

“NOW, they’re enjoying "one of the best quarters we’ve ever had,” according to Lawhead and continuing to lure back downtown moviegoers who had deserted to the suburban malls. He sees a trend where “the theater experience” of a giant screen, resonant sound and big hall is proving an attraction over small, sterile cinemas.

“Not only that, but Lawhead says because the cinema complexes "are cutting their own throats” by having too many competing high-priced screens, more recently-released films are available for the $2-a-seat Stadium to choose from (“If it’s top ten, eventually we’ll get it.”).

“The new broom at the Stadium has swept live shows back in. The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Arthur Feidler and the Boston Pops, country and western music, hometown jazz great Dave McKenna and the Alexander Peloquin Chorale are among the live acts that have brought life back to the Stadium stage.

“The Northern R.I. Council on the Arts is in its third year of live presentations bringing in student audiences from as far away as South Kingston and Framingham, Mass. The next one (open to the general public as well) May 7 has a double bill of one-man shows, Ken Richer as Mark Twain and Jerry Rockwood as Edgar Allan Poe.

“At this rate, the Stadium may revive its advertising motto of the 40’s, "Woonsocket’s Finest Theatre – The Biggest Show Value in Town.”"

jbrunelle on January 28, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Beatiful,ornate, clean, well lit, wall to wall tapestry carpeting. Grand dual staircases we would run up and down on during intermission to the well stocked candy counter of mint jullips etc. A huge ,spacious mens room smoking salon where we could sneek a butt?? Unobstructed views of the screen (unlike the Park or triple stack Bijou balconies). Michelangelo style cieling paintings and best of all, the grand price of about 35 cents to get in for usually a double feature, plus cartoons. Definetly the place to be during the late 50’s and early 60’s for me.
Thanks for the memories and saving the place to hopefully make more for other people.

ChetDowling on June 26, 2007 at 6:33 pm

From 1946 to 1951 I worked as an Usher, then Chief of Staff at the Stadium under Manager Ben Greenberg and Ass’t Manager Claire Larkin. I’m thoroughly familiar with every aspect of the theatre’s operation back in those days..If I can answer any questions, I’d be happy to do so.

mp775 on August 31, 2006 at 9:22 pm


The “decaying marquee” on the Leroy was installed just for the filming (similar to the Times Square Restaurant across the street becoming the “Riverside Diner”). In its last days as a concert hall, the Leroy just had a flat sign mounted on the wall above the doors.

Getting back to the Stadium, it reopened in September, 1996 with a concert by Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 31, 2006 at 8:05 pm

I hear it’s quite beautiful today.

It is indeed. It is beautifully restored to its original look. The Theatre Historical Society of American visited here in June with three busloads of old-theatre enthusiasts from across the nation.

SingleScreen on August 31, 2006 at 7:31 pm

I went to the Stadium many times as a child. In fact, the earliest film I recall seeing in a hardtop (my parents had previously taken me to drive-ins) was at the Stadium, and it was a matinee of DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (Rated G – which would never happen today). I saw many films there in the late 60’s and early 70’s (BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, DIE MONSTER DIE, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, YOG MONSTER FROM SPACE, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, MAD MONSTER PARTY). During the min-70’s, for a brief time, the Stadium showed soft-core adult films. The manager gave me access to a storage room (located under the balcony) and allowed me to look through a file cabinet full of one-sheets and stills, and let me take what I wanted. The last film I saw at the Stadium was WHEN HARRY MET SALLY in 1989. The theater was in a state of decay at the time, the projector lamps had not been changed in a while, seates were torn, etc. I no longer live in RI and have not been back since, but I hear it’s quite beautiful today.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 26, 2006 at 10:14 am

In response to the above post on the Stadium, there was another use of a RI theatre in a movie production. Michael Corrente’s film American Buffalo, with Dustin Hoffman, had several scenes shot outside the decaying marquee of the Leroy Theatre in Pawtucket, RI. It was Pawtucket’s most beautiful movie palace and no plans to save it ever came to fruition. It was demolished not long after the film’s completion.

jackeboy on August 26, 2006 at 12:49 am

Showtime is currently running a series set in Rhode Island called Brotherhood.On the current episode one of the stories involves the saving of an old theatre. The theatre used is the Stadium and there are scenes set in the theatre (both inside and out.)One scene takes place under the marquee, and while the two characters are talking you can hear the buzz of the neon from the sign overhead. A very nice atmospheric detail. Sort of the aural equivalent of standing outside and smelling the popcorn