A closer look at SF’s Curran Theatre

By Alex Estrada


Outside an elegant looking performing arts theatre, ticket holders to one of the city’s latest performances await to enter a historic Broadway auditorium. Once the home of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera for five years in the nineties, the Curran Theatre in San Francisco sits in the heart of San Francisco, only blocks away from its sister theatres: The Orpheum and Golden Gate. Originally opening in 1922, The Curran Theatre is one of the few remaining Broadway theatres still standing in the country from that era. The Curran Theatre is also one of the last original theatres still standing in San Francisco. The Curran Theatre opened up as a Schubert Theatre. Like many other theatres, The Curran Theatre was not just a San Francisco performing arts venue. For several years, the Theatre Guild made their presentations at the Curran Theatre. The Curran Theatre presents a comfortable elegant atmosphere in the diverse San Francisco city for theatre goers wanting to enjoy plays such as the classic Les Miserables the more contemporary RENT. The Curran Theatre is owned by Broadway entrepreneurs Carole Shorenstein Hays, a Tony winning Broadway producer, and James Nederlender, of the famous Broadway Nederlender family. Their company, SHN, also own 2 other San Francisco Theatres: the Orpheum and Golden Gate theatres. Famous actors and artists such as The Marx Brothers, Victor Garber, Patti LaBelle, and Angela Lansbury have performed on the historic Curran Theatre stage at one point or another. The San Francisco Opera has also performed several showings of their Spring Opera series at the Curran Theatre for several years in the 1970s. In 1977, under San Francisco’s SHN Best of Broadway, the musical Shenandoah played under the Curran Theatre’s new management. The beloved classic, Annie made its west coast debut at the Curran Theatre stage. The Curran Theatre’s interior displays a classic performing arts auditorium with gold trimmings and a set of box seats on each side of the theatre. A large chandelier hangs from the center of the ceiling of the Curran Theatre and illuminates the gold trimmings of the box seats and rest of the theatre. A cascading sign with the name “Curran” runs down the far right edge of the building. Three tall black arches stand over the center of the building. Scenes from the 1950’s movie, All About Eve, were filmed at the Curran Theatre, replacing a New York Broadway theatre and reeling the film crew from Hollywood to San Francisco. The Curran Theatre made its debut TV appearance when the cast and crew of The Streets of San Francisco filmed an episode inside and outside the historical building. The Curran Theatre is named after its first owner Homer Curran. However, the San Francisco landmark went through several names before settling with its current permanent name. Its elegance, structure, and style, has earned the Curran Theatre to be called a true Broadway theatre in San Francisco.