No Fat Lady Singing At This Opera House

posted by Ross Melnick on September 25, 2002 at 3:22 pm

BOSTON, MA — The final legal hurdle has been removed in Clear Channel Entertainment’s battle to restore and reopen the aging Opera House/Keith’s Memorial in Downtown Crossing thanks to a Superior Court judge who ruled in favor of the city and against a condominium complex which had sought to block the theater’s expansion efforts.

According to the Boston Globe, with the ruling, Clear Channel now plans to spend $30 million to redevelop, renovate, and restore the 2,500-seat palace into a venue for touring Broadway productions. The theater has been closed for over a decade and is need of substantial repair.

The early Thomas Lamb theater was built as a memorial to B.F. Keith and was a popular vaudeville venue for years. The theater later switched to movies as part of the RKO circuit and was the jewel of the Sack Theatres empire when it was known as the Savoy.

It was taken over by Sarah Caldwell in 1991 as a venue for opera, but the project ran out of money and the theater has changed hands and arrangements several times over the last decade. It appears, thankfully, that the Opera House will be back and better than ever.

Mayor Thomas Menino, who helped spearhead its revival, is proving to be one of the best friends a movie palace could have in goverment office and is now moving ahead with more plans to “revive” the Paramount and Modern theaters which are just a few doors down from the Opera House.

If all three of these theaters go back in operation and the Wang Center, Orpheum and Majestic are still delighting patrons, Boston would become a must-see destination for historic theater fans. When was the last time you could say that?

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