The Pantages Then and Now

The Minneapolis Pantages Theater opened as a vaudeville house in 1916. The original, Beaux-Arts style building, designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Kees and Colburn was originaly  operated by Winnipeg theater tycoon, Alexander Pantages’ entertainment consortia. At the height of his empire, the Greek immigrant owned and operated 84 theaters in the United States and Canada. The first show to hit the stage was a vaudeville lineup of singers, comedians, pretty girls and a banjo player. By the 1920’s, the Pantages Theater switched to a flickers for flappers format. In 1922, renowned theater architect Marcus Priteca was hired to remodeled  and update the venue. Priteca added a spectacular stained glass dome that managed to survive the next three or four remodels and can be seen on the cieling to this very day. In 1945, Edmond Ruben bought the Pantages and RKO did an extensive renovation. . The theater was  reopened as the RKO-Pan with a screening of “Gilda.” on April 14, 1946. Fifteen years later Ruben sold the Pantages to Ted Mann. The old theater was renovated. Mann hacked off anything that protruded from the walls, painted it battleship gray and hung drapes over it.

Then he hired Liebenberg & Kaplan to moderize the lobby with gold aluminum and sputnik lights.  again before reopening the Pantages as the Mann Theatre on March 15, 1961. A couple months later  United Artists previewed “West Side Story” at the Mann. The movie won ten Academy Awards and may have inspired Robert Wise  to preview “The Sound of Music ” at the theater. The movie ran there for almost two years. That’s why your grandma still hums  “My Favorite Things” when she’s baking cookies. The Mann made it all the way through the 70′s and even hosted the Twin Cities premiere of “Annie” before it was boarded up in 1984. The old place rotted behind First Avenue until the city was convinced to to buy an begin a five-year effort to restore the theater. After a $9.5 million refurbishment, The Pantages reopened  as a live theatre on November 7th 2002 .