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The Warner Bros. Beacon Theatre was opened on December 24, 1929 with Monte Blue and Lupe Velez in “Tiger Rose”. It was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager who also designed the Roxy Theatre in 1927. The Beacon Theatre was considered to be a little sister of the Roxy Theatre. Inside the auditorium a polychrome sunburst plaster canopy projects above the stage, supported at the corners by two great lances. Seated golden lions on either side of the balcony are silouetted against bright murals by Danish artist Valdemar Kjoldgaard depicting caravans of traders. It is equipped with a Wurlitzer 4 manual 19 ranks theatre organ. It was operated by Warner Bros. until 1932. By 1950 it was operated by Brandt Theaters.
Until 1986, the Beacon Theatre was the largest surviving picture palace in Manhattan. However, later that year the Beacon Theatre was bought by new owners who announced plans to convert the theatre to a discotheque, thus altering the original 2,657 person seating capacity of the theatre.
Despite opposition by the general community, the Beacon Theatre was granted permission by the city landmarks commission to convert the building’s interior to a nightclub. In 1989 the Beacon Theatre was designated a national landmark and is now on the Register of Historic Places.
The Beacon Theatre hosted concerts, and the theatre ‘starred’ in Martin Scorsese’s documentary “Shine a Light” about the Rolling Stones 2006 shows at the theatre.
In November 2006, Madison Square Garden Entertainment(MSG), a division of Cablevision, began operating the Beacon Theatre under a twenty year lease from the Beacon Broadway Company, which has long owned the theatre. After a seven month, $16 million restoration, the Beacon Theatre reopened February 13, 2009 with concerts by Paul Simon. New dressing rooms, a maple stage floor and new air conditioning were installed. Paint was removed from the Broadway ticket booth to reveal brass, glass and marble. Original murals were restored or replicated. 2,100 square yards of wool carpet in gold, yellow, green and maroon was replicated after a remnant was discovered. New draperies with gold tassels replaced long gone originals. Since 2018 in April/May the Beacon Theatre has been used by the Tribeca Film Festival.
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