1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
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National Theatre (Official)
Functions: Live Theatre
The first theatre on this site was opened December 27, 1835. It has burnt several times and has been remodeled several times. A 1922 remodel removed the supporting columns in the auditorium and the balcony was then supported by a giant steel girder. The world premiere of the musical “Showboat” was staged at the National Theatre in the 1920’s. It screened Cecil B. DeMille’s “King of Kings” for two weeks in December 1927. The premiere of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” was held on May 12, 1941.
After many more years as a live theatre, it was remodelled in 1948 to the plans of architects John and Drew Eberson and converted into a movie theatre. A new projection booth was built above the second balcony and the mezzanine lounges were given a Chinese style makeover. Its first movie was Norma Shearer in “The Red Shoes” on October 15, 1948. Films continued to play until new management took over in 1952, and it returned to live theatre use.
In 1982, a two-year restoration of the interior was carried out to the plans of interior designer Oliver Smith. It re-opened with the musical “42nd Street” on January 23, 1984, and shows were booked by the Shubert Organization.
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