121 Broadway, San Diego, CA, USA
Seats (approximate): 1466
The Spreckels Theatre has been in continuous operation since its opening on August 23, 1912. It was commissioned by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the Pan American Exposition held in San Diego in 1915. When completed, San Diego's oldest theatre was the largest of its kind west of New York City. It was inaugurated with rave reviews for its beauty, architecture, acoustics, and as a perfect setting for the shows that graced its stage. The Spreckels opened with the New York production of Bought and Paid For. The auditorium is open with no pillars or columns obstructing the sightlines. Servicing for the backstage is outstanding. It is possible for trucks to enter the stage on either side from two different streets. This feature allowed a full scale production of Ben Hur to play the Spreckels, complete with a horse drawn chariot race that entered through one stage door, galloped across the stage, exited through the other door and returned around the back of the theatre. The theatre's decor is in the Baroque style. Allegorical paintings by Emil Mazy of Los Angeles decorate the proscenium and ceiling. The murals depict two angels sprinkling a horn-of-plenty and Neptune bringing San Diego the riches of the ocean. A large medallion in the ceiling depicts Dawn and four smaller medallions have motifs of Air, Water, Fire and Earth. The walls, ceiling and stairs of the grand lobby are finished in Predora onyx. The theatre was first managed by "Jack" Dodge for 17 years. In 1931 it was acquired and run as a movie house by motion picture pioneer Louis B. Metzger, former sales manager of Universal Pictures. After his death his daughter, Jacquelyn Metzger Littlefield, took over the theatre operation. She later purchased the building in 1962. Subsequently, the exterior was painted, air conditioning was added, the elevators were renovated, the lobby was redecorated, seating was made accessible to the disabled, the dressing rooms and public restrooms were redecorated and the theatre was restored to accommodate stage productions. The Spreckels was designated a National Historic Site on August 4, 1972. In its long history many luminaries have graced this stage including Abbott and Costello, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, John Lionel and Ethyl Barrymore, Enrico Caruso, Ray Charles, Katherine Hepburn, Al Jolsen, Eva LaGalliene, Kenny Loggins, Bela Lugosi, Anna Pavlova, Julian Bream, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Pierre Rampal, Will Rogers, Arthur Rubenstein, John Phillip Souza, Thompson Twins, Julie Harris, Paul Whiteman and Ed Wynn. It has also hosted many Broadway plays (Equus, Godspell, Raisin, Matter of Gravity, Belle of Amhurst, Greater Tuna), Moscow's Kirov Ballet, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Martha Graham as well as San Diego Opera, San Diego Symphony, San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego Ballet and the Old Globe Theatre. The Spreckels Theatre hosts live theatre, music, and dance as well as corporate events. It is also a popular location for film, television and still photography.