Jazz Theatre

1751 Larimer Street,
Denver, CO 80202

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The Jazz Theatre was open in 1926 when it seated 498. An office building is now at this address.

Contributed by chrisphilip1982@yahoo.com

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Chris1982 on April 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

At one time this theatre was also known as the Zarra-Jazz.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

The 1928 and 1929 FDYs list a Zazza-Jazz Theatre and a Jazz Theatre, both with the address 1751 Larimer Street. (I recall having seen the name Zarra-Jazz somewhere on the Internet, too, but I can’t recall exactly where.) However, I think it’s likely that the FDY made a mistake, conflating two theaters.

There was another house called simply the ZaZa Theatre, located down the block from the Jazz (at 1727 Larimer Street according to this web page.) The ZaZa was one of the childhood haunts of Neal Cassady in the 1930s. The FDY didn’t include addresses for Denver theaters in 1930, and while the Jazz Theatre is not listed that year the ZaZa Theatre is. In 1931 the Jazz is listed as closed, and the ZaZa is open. In 1932, both theaters are open again. 1933 is the last year the Jazz is listed, and it is again listed as closed. The ZaZa was last listed in 1941.

An out-of-print book called Denver’s Old Theater Row: The Story of Curtis Street and Its Glamorous Show Business, by Forrest Johnson, mentions both the ZaZa and Jazz Theatres in a brief passage that is cited in one of Paul O'Malley’s papers on Denver theaters. In 1922, a Mr. Frank A. Milton took over operation of the Rivoli Theatre, and O'Malley quotes Johnson thusly: “For about two years, Milton had been running the Folly, ZaZa and Jazz [theaters], as Girlie-Girle shows….” So the Jazz Theatre could have been in operation by 1920, and was certainly in operation by 1922, but had either closed permanently or perhaps gone back to some sort of live performances by 1933.

In any case, while there was a Jazz Theatre and there was a ZaZa Theatre down the block from it, odds are that there never was a house called the Zazza-Jazz (or Zarra-Jazz) Theatre, but if there was it was most likely the house later called simply the ZaZa, not the Jazz.

Chris1982 on May 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm

My error, in my comment it should have been Zazza-Jazz

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on December 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on December 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm (remove) The Film Daily Yearbook of 1928 lists both the Jazz (seating 498) and the Zazza-Jazz (no seating count listed). With that said, both these individual listings share the identical address of 1751 Larimer St.

Like Joe, I too have read and am familiar with “Denver’s Old Theatre Row: The Story of Curtis Street and its Glamorous Show Business”(well written book filled with awesome pictures and great for reference-a must have if you find a copy) and if memory serves, I would agree that these were recounted as separate theatres and the FDY listing I mentioned makes one wonder if the mistake was them being listed as two venues or if it was in the same address being listed for both of these individual houses; it appears fairly clear there was a mistake of some sort. I suppose it may be worth entertaining the idea, however, that perhaps 1751 Larimer was an extremely large building, possibly consuming the entire block, which had two theatres under one roof.

We all know the FDY, while a godsend to us historians, was often plagued with misprints and erroneous information. I have yet to find any such issues with “Denver’s Old Theatre Row” however one must kee in mind that A. Me. Johnson was, like the editors of FDY, only human (an elderly on as well at the time he wrote it) and possibly made a mistake or two himself and/or had a slip of memmory B. A common handicap it dared with the FDY was that it too was published nearly 40 years ago; long before Internet/free calling/email and other such modern accoutrements that make research today more accurate/easy and C. The history contained in this book is from the 1880s-mid 1920s- there are not many human beings from the latest er even alive anymore, let alone anyone who was an adult at the time so an error would be much less noticeable/much harder to find the true fact than one found in, let’s say, a 1945 FDY issue.

Hopefully someone can set this right before much more time slips by.

robboehm on December 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Check out Denver: Curtis Street – Denver’s Old Theatre Row on Skyscraper. A lot of good info and photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 5, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Neal Cassady’s autobiographical book The First Third mentions the Zaza Theatre several times. Several books about Cassady give the address of the Zaza as 1727 Larimer, right next door to the barber shop where Cassady’s father worked. On page 65 of Cassady’s book he says that the Zaza was later renamed the Kiva Theatre (Google Books preview.)

Confirmation of the name change can be found in an item in the November 28, 1942, issue of The Billboard headed “Tab Show For Denver” (scan at Google Books) which says that the 400-seat Zaza Theatre had been renamed the Kiva and reopened with a new policy of tab shows (tabloid shows, which were live performances of excerpts from popular musicals, the shows usually lasting no more than an hour) and movies.

It’s possible that the name Zaza (or Zazza) was added to the Jazz Theatre after the original Zaza became the Kiva. I think we must be dealing with two different theaters, though, the Zaza at 1727 Larimer and the Jazz at 1751 Larimer.

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