The Savannah Theatre, first opened in 1818 and located on Bull Street, at Chippewa Square, in Savannah, Georgia, is one of the United States' oldest continually operating theatres. The structure has been both a live performance venue and a movie theater. Since 2002, the theatre has hosted regular performances of a variety of shows, primarily music revues.

The Savannah Theatre
Address222 Bull Street
Savannah, Georgia
United States
Coordinates32°4′32.7″N 81°5′32.1″W / 32.075750°N 81.092250°W / 32.075750; -81.092250
OpenedDecember 1818
Years active201
ArchitectWilliam Jay

History Edit

The Savannah Theatre opened its doors at 5:30pm on December 4, 1818, with a performance of "The Soldier's Daughter".[1] The original structure was designed by British architect William Jay,[2] whose other notable works include the Telfair Mansion and the Owens-Thomas House, both located in Savannah. During the 1850s and 1860s, it was sometimes known as the Athenaeum.[3] On March 21, 1861, Alexander H. Stephens delivered the Cornerstone Speech at the theatre.

The image here is the 1906 remodel which resulted in a new brick facade, with cast terra cotta panels. Many of the windows were filled in

The original structure suffered severe damage due to a hurricane that hit Savannah on August 31, 1898, tearing sections of the roof off the building and flooding the auditorium.[4] Additionally, the Theatre has undergone two notable structural overhauls as the result of fires in 1906[5] and 1948.[6] Following the 1948 fire, the building was transformed to its current Art Deco style.

Notable players Edit

Advertisement for The College Widow featuring Ty Cobb from The Savannah Press, 1911

Over the past two centuries, the Savannah Theatre has showcased an array of talented performers, including Fanny Davenport, E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, Otis Skinner, Oscar Wilde[7] Sarah Bernhardt, W. C. Fields, Tyrone Power, and Lillian Russell.[8] Edwin Booth played several engagements at the Theatre in February 1876, with Shakespearean roles including Hamlet, Iago, and King Lear.[9] It is unknown as to whether or not Edwin's younger brother John Wilkes Booth ever performed at the Savannah Theatre.

In 1851, the New York Dramatic Company leased the Theatre briefly. Among the players was Joseph Jefferson, whose most well-known role was that of Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle". However the company's stand failed to succeed, as their "lineup of standard hits failed to tempt Savannah audiences."[10]

In November 1911, baseball player Ty Cobb appeared in The College Widow at the theatre.[11]

The theatre today Edit

Savannah Theatre in 2017

Beginning in 2002 with the music revue "Lost in the '50s",[12] the theatre has housed live performances of several productions.

References Edit

  1. ^ William Harden (1913). A History of Savannah and South Georgia. Lewis Publishing Company. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  2. ^ Luciana M. Spracher (2002). Lost Savannah: Photographs from the Collection of the Georgia Historical Society. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-1487-1. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  3. ^ "An Ordinance". Savannah Morning News. Savannah. February 27, 1869. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  4. ^ The Morning Herald, September 1, 1898, "Havoc In Savannah", Baltimore
  5. ^ Boston Evening Transcript, September 22, 1906, "Savannah Theatre Burns"
  6. ^ St. Petersburg Times, January 13, 1948, "Fire Damages Famed Theatre In Savannah"
  7. ^ Cooper, John. "Oscar Wilde's 1882 Lecture, Savannah". Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  8. ^ John W. Frick; Carlton Ward, eds. (1987). Directory of historic American theatres. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-24868-9.
  9. ^ Arthur W. Bloom, Edwin Booth: A Biography and Performance History, McFarland, 2013, Page XVIII, ISBN 0786472898
  10. ^ Benjamin McArthur (2007). The Man who was Rip Van Winkle: Joseph Jefferson and Nineteenth-century American Theatre. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12232-9. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  11. ^ The Savannah Press, November 11, 1911, Advertisement
  12. ^ "'Lost in the '50s' ... this show shakes, rattles and rolls". The Savannah Morning News. August 12, 2002. Retrieved August 1, 2013.

Bibliography Edit

External links Edit