The rehabbed Capitol Theatre should open next April. (Photo: gordonsquare.org
Cleveland’s gay community got an ego boost from City Hall during yesterday afternoon’s ribbon-cutting for the Capitol Theatre on the West Side. Get this: Even trannies will be welcome in the once-glorious vaudeville and silent-movie house. Popcorn, RuPaul?
In an hour-long dog-and-pony show, Mayor Frank Jackson joined other movers and shakers to break ground on today’s start of rehabbing the theater in the Gordon Square
complex near the corner of Detroit Avenue and West 65th Street. The $70 million facelift will help bolster The Great Bearded Bureaucrat's mission to turn Cleveland into the Las Vegas of the Midwest. ...
The debuts of Marlin Kaplan’s Luxe Kitchen & Lounge and Pete Leneghan’s Stone Mad restaurant will also help bring the neighborhood back to life this year. “I want us to be a 24-hour-a-day city. The same will be here (in the Detroit-Shoreway district),” said Jackson to the 300 people gathered in the theater. “The Capitol adds another tool to promote your neighborhood. This is your downtown.”
The program started with Cleveland Muni Housing Court Judge Ray Pianko giving a 15-minute history lesson on the neighborhood, where “the most nationalistic” Irish, Italian, and Transylvanian immigrants settled by 1921. That same year, the velvet curtains first parted at the Capitol, a two-story structure with a stage, 70-room hotel, and indoor farmers’ market. It was even used as a West Side bomb shelter for potential nuclear raids in the ’50s. But by 1985, the theater had fallen into such disrepair that the city shuttered it because of arson, utility shutoffs, and foreclosure.
With a low-interest loan from the city and a $500,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation, the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization is now spearheading the theater’s renaissance. With a grand opening set for April 9, 2009 – on the 88th anniversary of the theater’s original opening – the Capitol will house three screens to unreel indie flicks in the same complex where the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgendered Community Center of Greater Cleveland is located. “Sometimes, I feel like I’m walking through the remnants of a civilization,” said Pianko, who was the first director of the Detroit-Shoreway group in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Regardless if you’re Latino or African American, yuppie or guppie, Transylvanian or transvestite, the Capitol Theater will attract and please.” -- Cris Glaser