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Neon lights at Tower Theatre turned on again


The neon lights of the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City glowed with life for the first time in nearly five years Friday as a preview for its spring reopening as a performance venue and bars.

The Associated Press reported:

Scott Marsh, chief operations officer at Levelland Productions, is planning a “soft opening” by early April for the venue while the adjoining two-story Savings & Loan Bar is set to open later this month. […]

Marsh said talks are underway with area universities to stage plays in the theater, and plans are still in place for the Tower Theater to also regularly feature movie screenings.

The Oklahoman newspaper reported:

[…T]he balcony will feature the original seats that were refinished and reupholstered.

The remainder of the theater can be seated or standing admission, with seating for the entire auditorium totaling 747. Marsh estimates standing room capacity will total 1,200.

The theater’s marquee briefly was relighted in 2010 with the help of a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program cost-share grant. But the renovation of the theater itself will allow it to reopen for the first time since 1989.

NonDoc OKC reported the owners want to turn the Tower into a music destination like the historic Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.

“We get skipped over all the time,” he said. “For Tulsa, anybody coming from Kansas City, to Dallas down to Austin, they skip over Oklahoma City because there’s not a venue of this size, of this calibre that kind of brings in the types of acts that Oklahoma City’s wanted for years.”

For lovers of live music, Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa remains the state’s premier venue with regard to the size, consistency and frequency of their headlining acts. Cain’s boasts capacity of 1,700, and, although the Bricktown Events Center has a capacity of 1,800, Marsh said he hopes the Tower Theater — even at a projected standing-room capacity of about 1,000 — can attract the kind of acts that book at Cain’s.

NonDoc OKC produced this video during the ceremony Friday:

According to Cinema Treasures, the Tower Theatre opened July 15, 1937. It once seated 1,500 people. The theater sits on Northwest 23rd Street, which was Route 66 from 1926 to 1954.

(Image of the Tower Theatre marquee at the relighting ceremony in 2010)
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