UPDATE: As of August 7, 2013 – I’ve been advised by the CAPA tour office that one additional tour date has been added thanks to an enthusiastic response to this past weekend’s article in the Columbus dispatch about the Ohio Theatre’s very own Clark Wilson! August 17th is all booked, but August 24th is now available for folks still interested in taking a tour. Click here to learn more and to sign up – reservations are definitely required! (Trust me – it’s worth it!)
Earlier this summer, I learned about Ohio Theatre tours that were being offered, so I signed up for one this past Saturday. Along with about 150 other people, I spent about an hour learning about the history and architecture of this beautiful theatre. After the tour itself, we were treated to a performance of the resident organist, Clark Wilson. While the docents gave us a tour of the theatre and Mr. Wilson gave us a tour of the “Mighty Morton” organ which was the original organ installed in the Ohio Theatre back in 1928!
Built in the late 1920s and officially opened on St. Patrick’s Day 1928, the Ohio Theatre was originally built to be a combination house which means that it was built for both the silent movies and vaudeville performances. Because of that, we were told that the Ohio Theatre theatre therefore has both dressing rooms in the back and an orchestra pit in front. Though we didn’t see anything we couldn’t normally see on a performance night (except for the lounge area of the men’s restroom), we did get to see everything with far fewer people around and had free rein with our cameras, so that was nice!
Built in a Spanish baroque style, it was designed by the same architect, Thomas Lamb, who build Madison Square Garden in New York city as well as our own Palace Theatre here in Columbus.
1 : a college or university teacher or lecturer
2 : a person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery
Breaking into about six tour groups, we each had a docent who guided us around the seating and lobby areas of the theatre itself. in the picture below is our docent. I feel bad, I missed her name, so if anyone seeing this knows her, would you please tell her I thought she was absolutely great? She knew so much about the theatre and at one point, told us she could probably go on and on for hours. I don’t know about the others, but for my part, I could have listened for hours!
I mentioned earlier that this was originally going to show silent films – the Ohio Theatre has the orchestra pit for the Orchestra and also a great pipe organ to help set the mood in the silent pictures. Of course, the Jazz Singer then came out…not so many silent pictures after that, I suppose! She did mention that she thought it was a little bit funny to put so much detail in something like the ceilings and such for a theatre that was going to be dark most of the time. She definitely raised a good point. That’s OK – I’m fine walking into a gorgeous theatre like this!
Our docent told us about how the Spanish style of architecture reflects the Spanish love of gold. Heck – they brought enough of it back from the New World, so it worked its way into the architecture as well. Look at the detail above in this picture of the Mezzanine lobby area. Gorgeous!
Have you ever taken a tour of the Ohio Theatre? What did you think? Someday, I’d love to get a behind the scenes / backstage tour as well. In the meantime, I took lots more pictures, so I’ll post more of them a little bit at a time. I also managed to get a little video of Mr. Wilson playing the Mighty Morton organ, too. Can’t wait to share that!
P.S. There’s one more tour available on August 17. I didn’t get my first choice date (I asked at the last minute though) so I’m not sure if it’s booked up yet. Here’s the link which has the Email address to which you can sign up as reservations are required. Shoot them an Email – Anna in the office there is super helpful and will be glad to help you out! HMB Aug 7, 2013 update: August 17 is booked, but August 24th has been added!