Golden Gate Theatre, home to the big shows

By Alex Estrada goldengatetheatre

Huddled on the corner of a San Francisco street corner, tucked away only one block away from a historic main street, people stand next to the entrance of a city landmark.

The Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco hosts a number of musicals throughout the season. It sits on the corner of Taylor Street, in downtown San Francisco.

Originally operating as a vaudeville show theatre, the Golden Gate Theatre opened in San Francisco in 1922. Since then the Golden Gate Theatre has gone through a number of entertainment changes. Over the years, many contemporary popular musicals have shined their performances in the Golden Gate Theatre. Musicals from Sweeny Todd to Mama Mia, and Chicago to A Chorus Line have all made their runs through the Golden Gate Theatre. American Idol’s Taylor Hicks and the touring company of Grease parked and performed at the Golden Gate Theatre during the early months of 2009.

Located at the foot of San Francisco’s historic Russian Hill neighborhood, the Golden Gate Theatre sits on the corner of Taylor Street. At 8 stories high, a dome and octagonal base sit on top of the building, looking out onto San Francisco’s historic Market Street.

Hanging lights arch the interior of theatre. An illuminating circle at the center of the ceiling helps light up the red sea of seats on both floor levels. Two vertical signs with the words “GOLDEN GATE” cascade down the top six stories of the building.

The Golden Gate Theatre is located in Downtown San Francisco, making easily accessible by public transportation and foot. The Golden Gate Theatre once served as a motion picture theatre in the 1960s. It showed double features but the interest diminished and lowered the movie quality to blaxploitation films and the San Francisco movie venue returned into a performing arts venue in the early 1970s. The transformation from motion picture to theatre came with a cost. The Golden Gate Theatre went under renovation in the early 1970s. A portion of the San Francisco’s theatre’s structure, including an elevator, sheet rocks, thousands of square feet of plywood, and a few tons of steel, were removed in the process of the renovation.

Legally Blonde: The Musical, made a Broadway preview at the Golden Gate Theatre before making its way to the Big Apple Broadway scene. Currently the Best of Broadway series, produced by San Francisco SHN Broadway, helps bring and produce many of the popular shows the Golden Gate Theatre including Legally Blonde: The Musical, and Chicago.

The Golden Gate Theatre is part of a three theatre production company in San Francisco. The SHN Broadway Company, owned by Broadway producers Carole Shorenstein Hays and James Nederlender, helps produce and owns the shows at the Golden Gate Theatre since the late 1970s.