Motown legend Diana Ross will perform the inaugural concert at the revitalized Kings Theatre (1027 Flatbush Avenue) on February 3, officially kicking off what is expected to be more than 200 performances each year at the historic site that has been shuttered for nearly four decades and is undergoing a $93.9 million renovation of the architecturally stunning space, the theatre announced yesterday.
Tickets for the Diana Ross performance will go on sale today (Friday, December 12) at 12pm at the Kings Theatre’s website and Ticketmaster’s website. You can also call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 for tickets. According to a theatre representative, tickets will cost between $70 and $125, but he noted that not all future tickets will be as expensive.
With 3,000 seats, the space will be Brooklyn’s largest theatre, and, according to a press release sent out today, the 2015 programming at the site “will feature a wide range of performances by major international, national, and local talents across a range of disciplines, reflective of the diverse Brooklyn community.”
Matthew Wolf, executive director of the Kings Theatre, said in its press release:
One of the most beloved movie palaces of old New York, the Kings Theatre was once a centerpiece of the Flatbush community, and a major force in Brooklyn’s cultural landscape. We are thrilled to welcome New Yorkers back to this historic space and to launch a new era of presenting live entertainment at the Kings with an opening performance by Diana Ross, one of the great living legends of American music.
As part of the grand opening celebration, the Kings Theatre will welcome the community with free events, including open houses and theatre tours. (If you want to get a glimpse of the renovation work, you can see some of the photos we took on a tour in September.)
Theatre representatives said their line-up of performances and community events will be announced in the coming weeks.
One of the five “Wonder Theatres” built by Loew’s during the opulent 1920s, the Kings Theatre opened on September 7, 1929 with a performance by Dolores del Rio in “Evangeline” and shuttered in 1977, after which it fell into disrepair, sustaining decades of water damage and vandalism. After it closed, the city acquired it in 1983 because of the owner’s failure to pay taxes, and a number of people tried, but failed, to resuscitate it (including Magic Johnson). Along with attempts to revitalize it over the decades, there were those who wanted to demolish it and put in its place a shopping center, or another movie theater.
Ultimately, former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz spearheaded efforts to save the theatre from the wrecking ball, and, in 2008, the city Economic Development Corporation launched a search for an entity to undertake a major renovation of the site, with the goal of reviving it as an economic engine and cultural hub. The Kings Theatre Redevelopment Company – a consortium of ACE Theatrical Group, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, and the National Development Council – was tapped to lead this effort in 2013.
When the project’s leaders, Martinez+Johnson Architecture, EverGreene Architectural Arts, and Gilbane Building Company first saw the theatre after years of standing dormant, it was a mess. (You can see a video of how the groups conducted a “historic finishes investigation” at the Kings Theatre here.)
“The ceiling was caved in, vandals had come in – anything that was worth anything, they stole,”EverGreene President Jeff Greene told us when we took a tour of the theatre in September. “It was an urban wreck.”
In today’s press release, the theatre said:
Before falling into disrepair, the Kings Theatre featured high curved ceilings, ornate plaster walls, gold-leaf ornament, crystal chandeliers, and a glazed terra-cotta ornamental façade. These original, signature elements have been restored wherever possible, and faithfully recreated when damage to the original was too great.
Now, city and business leaders said the restored space will, in addition to offering a variety of programming, bring needed jobs to the area (you can see what jobs are available here).
City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball said in the same press release:
The revitalization of the Kings Theatre extends beyond the remarkable physical work underway; it promises significant economic stimulation for the neighborhood and borough, creating jobs and bolstering foot traffic for the surrounding business community. And as a renewed center of culture in the heart of Brooklyn, this architectural treasure will present valuable community benefits while supporting New York City’s continued rise as a global capital of commerce and culture.
What do you think of the incoming theatre? Are you planning on going to any of the opening events?